Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

T for Texas, T for Tennessee, T for Texas, T for Tennessee, T for the turkey, that made a full man out of me. Sorry about that, Mr. Jimmy, just couldn't resist.

Anyhow, it is that time again and we can all begin to look forward to the season that puts off all inhibitions till we find out for sure what devastating effect, if any, the dreaded happy Y2K bug-a-boo is going to deliver. But let's not dwell on that for now; let's look back to a really good October. Yes! October brought many surprises and good events.

Tennessee Fall Homecoming

The Tennessee Fall Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia was really good, really good in spite of the much-needed rain that came all day Saturday and part of the day Sunday. I got a few short video bits of some of the special folks I have wanted to get for a couple of years. Among those, Mr. Bob Douglas, old fiddler and a very good, vigorous one, who knows all the old tunes. Has won many contests in his 99 years. You read that right, Mr. Douglas will be 100 in March and expecting to be back for next year's homecoming.

I'm getting better acquainted each year with "Uncle Charlie." Left-handed fiddler, cousin to Roy, Charlie Acuff is a joy to visit with and talk to. Then there is Will Keys, masters of the banjo tour a few years ago; Claud Lucas, a wonderful fiddler; and so many others.

A special treat - especially for me - this year was a visit from Wade and Julia Mainer. Sunday morning, the 3rd, I had a surprise phone call from Wade. He told me they were planning to come down on Friday and go out to the museum on Saturday. Wade asked me to see if I could get Mr. Irwin to let them guest and perhaps do a couple of numbers on the show. I promised to do what I could by telling John Rice and asking him to give them a shot. He told me he wanted to meet Wade and we could do something. It came down to they could do a couple of numbers. I was really surprised when Mr. Irwin turned to me after he had told the crowd that Wade and Julia were there and said "Berk, why don't you introduce these folks, you know them better than I do and know more about them. Now, John Rice, don't get mad at me, but when Wade, now 92, hit his banjo and started into their first number, the expression on John Rice's face was a masterpiece. He couldn't leave, just stood there on the front of the stage in awe. And Julia, a voice of power that could ring out across that lot like someone much, much younger.

They thought they were through, but that wasn't to be. A spontaneous standing ovation that demanded more. They were asked if they had a couple more like they had done that they could do. He also asked them if he could get them back next year. In all of that, he made a point of telling the crowd that Julia had driven the 500 miles from Michigan the day before. It just made me feel so good.

So many special groups and lesser known artists that should be on everybody's favorites list. Lesser known in the sense that they are not nationally known household names with the big label recordings.

A fellow and his partner who really caught my attention last year were Rob Mashburn and L. B. Solesbee. When these two do a song, it reaches every member of the crowd. There is feeling in the voices and the blending of their harmonies that just engulfs the listener and transfers that feeling, emotion and sincerity to the listener. They appear a lot with Raymond Fairchild at his place in Maggie Valley, N.C. They played with Raymond on all of his shows at the museum.

One particular song that you will be hearing on my show (Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK, 91.9 FM, Sunday night 8-11) is a fantastic number called "November Fields." It was requested on every show they did and sometimes twice, although they didn't do it twice on the same show. The rest of the CD is excellent also. To mention a few of the other 19 numbers, there is "My Wildwood Flower,""Sleepy Eyed John,""Maggie,""The Picker,""Carolina Mountains,""Misty Mountain Morning,""The River" and more top tunes.

Ricky Skaggs was there on Sunday. He was well received by the crowd, perhaps helped by the fact the rain stopped during his performance. I will have to admit that during the time of his show I grabbed the opportunity to get around a little, see some folks I had not had the time to see and visit. All in all, it was a very satisfying weekend for me.

New CDs

I have a couple of other new CDs I want to mention and make you aware of. John Hartford, Good Ole Boys. This is one of his I have been waiting for and looking forward to. It has his song about Bill Monroe, "The Cross-Eyed Child," in it. Released on Rounder, it is full of good stuff: "Good Ole Boys,""On The Radio,""Billy The Kid,""Dixie Trucker's Home,""Keep On Truckin'", plus. For John Hartford fans, you will like this one. It is, as he is, John Hartford.

Then there is Dolly. Oh yes, Dolly is back and this time it is BLUEGRASS. The Grass Is Blue from Sugar Hill Records. I think this may be Dolly's first all-bluegrass album/CD, but it is not her first bluegrass recording. A few years ago she recorded "Mule Skinner Blues" and possibly some others, not sure. Some years ago, Dolly and Porter Wagoner were a top duet team. A number of very popular recordings. How many of those were #1 hits? Dolly treats these 13 cuts very well. Oh, it definitely is Dolly, no question about that. "Travelin' Prayer,""Cash On The Barrelhead" (a Louvin Bros. song), "A Few Old Memories,""I'm Gonna Sleep With One Eye Open,""I Wonder Where You Are Tonight," and more. Check it out. I will be playing from it on the show.

IBMA Report Next Month

Will have to let you know next month what happened at IBMA. At the time I'm writing this - deadline and time to do it - I haven't been there yet. Still a couple of days away.

Shepherdsville will be back in operation with Tommy Brown and County Line Grass on Nov. 5; Mountain Heart and Dale Ann Bradley on Nov 12. Beyond that I don't have the schedule at this time.

West Point: Nov. 6, Once Again Patsy, starring Theresa Dunn, Fairdale, as Patsy; Nov. 13, Armistice Day tribute; Nov. 20, Gospel featuring Bob Geary of Louisville and Linda Hunt of Radcliff; Nov. 27, "Last Millennium," in which band leader Glen Phillips reviews some of the history of country music with guest Rebekah Wellman of Paoli.

Cedarcrest Lodging & Entertainment Campground, Campbellsville: Nov. 5, Kentucky Blue; Nov. 6, David Parmley & Continental Divide; Nov. 13, Melvin Goins; Nov. 19, The James King Band, and Nov. 27, The Chapmans.

Happy Thanksgiving

I think I'll call it quits along about here. I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family and a huge turkey. Porter & Dolly only had one, no, not a turkey, only one #1 hit with their duets. Drive carefully, the life you save may be me; and stay tuned to WFPK Sunday nights.