Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

What a month this has been. June, that is. It "has been" as you are reading this, but I am in the middle of it as I am writing this. So much to put in here, some of which I hope you are interested in reading about. I have a list and hope Paul [editor] has room enough for my list.

Tenth Anniversary Guests

Starting with the wiik of 6th, I knew that John Hartford was going to be in Louisville Saturday and Sunday at Churchill Downs. I thought, if this is ever going to happen it will be this Sunday. I told him it was strictly his call, either way. I asked him if he would consider staying over a bit and joining me on my show [Sunday Bluegrass] that night. We chatted a bit and John said he wold. My Excitement meter shot right off the top. What a way to celebrate 10 years. Yes, that Sunday marked 10 years that I have been doing the Sunday Bluegrass show, thanks to YOU, dedicated and faithful listeners.

Back to John. He and the group with him came in for a good hours and really had a good time. Thanks to John, Larry Perkins, Jamie Hartford (John's son), Chris Sharp and Bob Carlin. All great guys. I had a lot of calls, all with compliments on what they were doing and how much the folks were enjoying the program. Some were saying it was so easy to tell everyone was having such a good time.

After it was all over and I was picking u and packing up to leave, I spotted a small black bag on the floor with a red cap laying on it. John had forgotten his bad. I knew he needed I and I took it with me wwith the intentions of calling him the next morning and mailing it to him. When I got him he had called several times and was going to call again. He did and I told him, yes, I had it.

They were preparing to head back to Nashville. As they were on I-65 I told them to get off at the E-town exist and I would meet them at Cracker Barrekk, Hard to believe he arrived at exactly the same time. At one A. M. John was very glad to get his bad and I was glad to have been able to get it to him. John, once again, as I said on the show, I really don't have the words to thank you enough for being there, to you and all the other guys. Please come back.

Pickin' Party at Fox Hollow

(Nashville, that is …)

That same Sunday, before going to the station I had a call at home that went something like this. Is this Berk? Yes it is. This is Dixie Hall. We are having a press pickin' party at Fox Hollow and would like to have you come down to it Wednesday night. Talk about surprises. Think about being surprised with an invitation to Tom T. and Dixie Hall's. Did I go? A question that needs not to be asked. There were a lot of folks there and local friends such as Gary Brewer, and Art Stamper, I saw and met for the first time Charlie McCoy and Chris Jones. Chris was such a pleasant young man to talk and visit with.

Speaking of visiting, I spent about 20-30 minutes sitting and talking with Earl Scruggs. Among other things, I asked Earl if he would do any more recording. The answer, yes. Columbia had been after him to record and it is all set to happen. The only delay at the moment is making final decisions on who they are going to have on with him. I asked Earl if it would be bluegrass. He said it would be part bluegrass. You have to put some of the other on it to sell it. A strictly bluegrass album won't sell and (my words) that is a big fat shame. Earl said that he wished it could be all bluegrass. It was a wonderful gathering and I felt privileged to have been there.

Horse Park Pickin'

I was at the Horse Park Friday and Saturday. I must tell you, the Kruger Bros (Switzerland) stole the show Friday. WOW, what a reaction. They received a demanded encore, a well-deserved encore, followed with a complete and spontaneous standing ovation. They had Michael Cleveland join them for a couple of numbers. Michael, you did a great job. These guys really like you and your fiddle, in fact so much they said they are going to get you to Switzerland to let the folks over there know what fiddling is all about bluegrass fiddling, that is. They are also having Michael guest on their next CD.

The Krugers then joined me on Sunday night. Such response I have never had for a show. Responses, calls, remarks contained words and phrases like "fantastic," "unbelievable," and "those guys are absolutely great." Other calls expressed how much they cold feel the 'good time and enjoyment" we were all having doing this show. Everything they played was and is not strictly bluegrass but the sheer talent they displayed overpowered the thought and any objections to not being bluegrass. They are an uplifting joyful experience to watch, hear and to know; let's emphasize know. Don't miss them; they will be back in October for IBMA.

Dry Branch Update

Other noteworthy items of item picked up at the Horse Park. Suzanne Thomas has left the Dry Branch Fire Squad. There is no question that she is, and will be, missed with them but we wish her well in her pursuits.

Getting There Is Half The Fun?

Visiting Oscar

On the way to Nashville, I stopped off for a couple of visits. One was to check in on our friend Oscar Sullivan, the original Oscar of Lonzo and Oscar. Oscar had been having a problem with his knee, and a newsletter said he was using a crutch. Evidently it was getting much better, as he was managing to gt around without crutch or cane, crawling around in a small pump house working on the campground pool pump. Oscar said the doctor told him he was in good health. That was part of the problem; he goes as if he was 18 and the body knows it ain't so. Just asking the rest of him to keep up with how he feels. A lot of that going around.

And Leroy Troy

A little farther down the road I stopped for a long-awaited visit to Leroy Troy. I wa so glad I finally got there, after numerous invites from Leroy. He has a very impressive collection of memorabilia of the Opry and Opry stars. A lot of Roy Acuff and the band a favorite group he and I share a great fondness for. I want to come back and really look it all over closely. Didn't have the time that trip. Thank you and your folks for your hospitality and treasure friendship.

Name That Tune

Forty-five weeks in the Top 40 20 of those at No. 1. The year was 1956. One of the all-time top country singers (in my opinion and many others), and still is, got an early from Hank Williams SR. OK, Ray Price is man. Now see if you can figure which of his many great recordings that was.

Review Time

Thanks to Pinecastle for allowing me to review the video of one of their artists with whom I have gotten fairly well acquainted over the past few years. He is another of many top bluegrass and country artists to come out of my home state, Virginia The Olde Dominion. This young man is a favorite of many here in this area. It is The Larry Stephenson Band In Concert at Cypress Gardens. I have watched it more than once and it is in fact playing now as I write this.

My first observation is how well this video is done. The setting is exceptional and gives one the perception of perpetual springtime. The beauty of Cypress Gardens, the flowers, waterfalls and all of the landscaping is a breath of fresh air. Larry and the band do a superb job. It is well-edited and paced in a manner that takes Larry and the band in and out of the theater setting to enhance and brighten the show.

The material selected for this is Larry Stephenson, like having a private LS concert any time you have the desire. Twenty-four songs done ion the unmistakable Stephenson sound. Songs that Larry has done on so many concerts and I am sure have proved to be favorites that prompted them to be included here. There are the fast songs, instrumentals which were used as an opportunity to show the band having fun in the park, ballads and a generous flavoring of the great gospel songs Larry does so well. Songs from some of Larry's latest released are included, such as the one he is singing right now, "The Sound (That Set My Soul On Fire)." "Timber," "I Know One," "When I Left East Virginia," "Alabama Jubilee," "Born To Sing," "When The Rolls Is Called Up Yonder I'll Be There," "Poor Ellen Smith," "Here I Am In Love Again," "Lovin' You So Long" and "I See God." These are only a partial listing of the many fine songs contained on this excellent video.

The entire band is here, the band you see in the road concerts and many of you have come to know and appreciate. Larry (mandolin), Booie Beach (guitar), Mickey Harris (bass). If you like the high lonesome, if you like fine pickin', if you like your music with fantastic backdrops, or if you just like bluegrass music, you will enjoy this video of Larry Stephenson Band In Concert At Cypress Gardens. Really! Wold I lie to you? Available at Larry Stephenson concerts or Pinecastle Records, BOX 456, Orlando, FL 32802. Write for a free catalog.

And that Ray Price song I asked about up the page remember? It was "Crazy Arms."

Stay tuned. You never know what you might miss on Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK, 91.9 FM. Sunday from 8-11. E-mail me at bbryant@wfpk.org