Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

February - the turning point of winter. In this case, a rather harsh winter. Valentine's Day certainly suggests the coming of spring. Hold on to that thought. It's a good thought to hold, as it may be just the thing to get us through the next few weeks to SPRING. Spring - when the breezes warm, flowers bloom, birds sing and so do bluegrass festivals. That's another thought to hold on to.

Ralph Always Shows

Well, Jan. 8 brought the same question from several different sources and for several days following. I was asked a number of times, "Is Ralph going to be at Shepherdsville?" (You know the Ice Age imitation we endured at the beginning of the year.) Answer, "As far as I know, he will." Ralph always shows. They were there and, as I understand it, so were about 120 fans.

I was not present, as much as I would have like to have been. But some very discouraging and highly influential aspects of going and coming prevailed. Just to mention a couple was the ice pack approximately one-half-plus inches thick on my drive and street, enhanced by the rain on top of it, and the prospects, no, the promise, of sharply dropping temperatures by the time I would be coming home. Just for good measure, throw in the fact that I am not too sure Route 44 between Shepherdsville and 31W has a high priority on the road crew clearing agenda. There was always Muldraugh Hill on 31W, if I got that far.

I heard they did a really great show, as Dr. Ralph always does, and that Ralph expressed his understanding why a lot more folks didn't show. Next time, Ralph, next time.

Decent Turnout for IIIrd Tyme Out

The 15th was the night for IIIrd Tyme Out at Shepherdsville. They had a pretty decent turnout. I guess folks were just waiting for a good chance to get out, see a good show with a favorite group, and also visit and mingle with each other. An award-winning group with an award-winning show. They said they would be back next year, same time, meaning of course the appropriate date the same weekend. OK, fellows, great, come on back.

Full House at Opera House

Doyle Lawson was in Mitchell, Ind., on the 16th. The Historic Mitchell Opera House holds about 500, I believe. Well, folks, all 500 were there. It's that way just about every time I go up there. Sometimes I think those folks must like their bluegrass music a little better than a lot of the "fans" around here. Just a thought.

Hank Sr. Show Well Received

I have had a lot of good feedback concerning the Hank Williams SR. show we did on New Year's Day. I appreciate the comments and support for that program. I hope to continue with this program each year. The support and feedback from all listeners to the station, WFPK, program directors and manager is the way to keep it. Again, a big THANKS!

Good News, Bad News

Alan Phelps came in to the station a couple of times last month. On the 10th he came with news. On the 17th he came to play, and play they did.

Back to the 10th first, and the news. I was glad he brought the news, but I didn't like the news he brought. Alan had been called right at the first of the year by Uncle Josh Graves and asked to fill in for him at the Jekyll Island, Ga., festival. An annual New Year's (23rd), from Dec. 31-Jan. 2. Alan says he told Josh he couldn't fill in for him - nobody can - but he would go down and play in his place. Seems Josh was in the hospital with pneumonia and fluid on the lungs. Word was it was pretty bad. As of this writing I do not have an update, but I sincerely hope that by the time you read this Josh will again be up and picking. Certainly one of the all-time masters of the dobro and one who contributed greatly to this music we call bluegrass.

Alan was back on the 17th with son Alan Ray and killer. They came to play, and they did just that. They played and the phone rang, and this went on for about two hours of the program that night. There are a lot of popular musicians who just drop in for the show [Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK 91.9 FM, 8-11 p.m. Sundays], and I am most glad to have them. Alan Phelps is certainly one of those high on the list. Alan is working on a CD, something that many folks have asked for over the last few years. He says it is coming and probably in another two-three months. As soon as available, he will "just show up" one Sunday night, smile on his face and new CD in hand. I will be looking forward to that. Thanks, Alan, thanks very much for all of your support. Continue to "just drop in."

What's Up, Berk?

What I know of coming up in February is:

Feb. 5, Shepherdsville Music Place: Larry Sparks and The Lonesome Ramblers.

Feb. 12, Shepherdsville Music Place: Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, and Vince Combs & The Shadetree Grass.

Feb. 13, Gary Brewer and The Kentucky Ramblers will be at the Mitchell Opera House, Mitchell, Ind.

An announcement I received by e-mail concerns the Hoosier Fiddling Association, which meets the first Saturday each month at Pekin Community Center, Pekin, Ind. They would like for you to come out and be with them.

Keep in Touch

Stay tuned. I'll keep you up with what's going on as I have the information. In the meantime, if you have a comment, request, or just want to make a contact, use my e-mail address at the station: I check for mail each Sunday night when I get to the station. Keep in touch.M