If June is an indication (that's when I'm writing this), July is going to be hotter than a Jens Kruger instrumental. So you may as well get ready. Ice a big watermelon – at least two a week as needed – a daily cooled/chilled cantaloupe, stay in the shade, plenty of good cool water, your lawn chair, all located at the festival (bluegrass, that is) of your choice and you will survive. Of course, a couple of good burgers and steaks won't hurt. A little patriotic gathering on the Fourth. Come to think of it, it is patriotic to attend a bluegrass festival. Well, isn't it?!
Things happened in June, several notable events. As many of you know, June was my 70th. Then there was the big "open house" at Public Radio Partnership's new facilities. It was GOOD! So many of our supporters showed up to see what we have justifiably been bragging about. All agreed that we are really in tall cotton. The Public Radio Partnership, WFPK-WFPL-WLOU, together in one location, with the state-of-the-art equipment in place, is certainly one of, if not the best public radio facility in the country.
Readers and those of you who missed the paper or this column, our sincere thanks to you. Listeners, individuals and corporate sponsors and others, some grants I think, anyhow have combined to make this all possible. I have had many comments on how much better we sound. These observations come from many folks I meet here and there as well as seconded by so many of our visitors at open house. See what can happen when we all do it together? Remember, in public radio, you, the listeners, are really the boss.
I met a lot of my listeners to my show for the first time during this get-together. Strange sometimes how things work out.
The next night, Sunday, the 11th, when I got in Michael Young was on with his Roots and Boots show. (Michael comes on just before me.) We discovered that the phones into the studio that listeners use to call us weren't working. Horrors, our listeners can't call us tonight. That ranks right up there with a third-degree crises as far as Michael and I are concerned. Of course, he told his listeners we had a problem and we couldn't take calls. When I got on I, of course, made the same announcement. Michael was still picking up and I had him join me for a few comments about the successful open house and party of the day/night before.
About 8:30 I repeated the announcement and commented that after all of the bragging we did about all of the great equipment – and now the phones don't work. Nobody at the station knew how or what to do with it. A call to Mac, our engineer/technician whiz brought the advice that the folks who put this in had a computer that any problems would show up on. If nobody had shown first thing Monday morning he would give them a call. In less than thirty minutes one of the guys I met the night before and his partner were there – not as a result of the computer – and we were back in business with the phones.
BLESS YOU, MR. PHONE MAN! As I know many of you know, I am pretty bad with remembering names. But I do remember this much, Tom and Bill were listening at their bar-b-que and came right over. Replaced a "DEAD" circuit board. Thanks, guys, from all of us. Thanks very much.
June also was the month for the Festival of the Bluegrass. I didn't go, for the first time in a long time. I did get some reports on the Kruger Brothers. From two separate sources, the comments were very tight for being the same. I quote, "They STOLE the show again at the Festival Of The Bluegrass. Their afternoon gig was great but their 7 p.m. was a knockout. The whole crowd stood and cheered. As they left the stage, the crowd started yelling 'One more.' The MC said 'Sorry, tight schedule.' The crowd started screaming Boos and One Mores and would not stop it. Silly MC … finally had to back up and let them encore." A very reliable source and eye/ear witness.
It does not surprise me at all. I hear more and more positive comments concerning the Kruger Brothers. It is agreed that everything they play is not all hard-core bluegrass or bluegrass. The listeners, however, are overcome by their sheer talent and ability, and fully accept them on this basis. Yes, I know, there are some sour grapes, but just consider the vine. They will be joining me on Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK, in October.
Also in October, our friend Randall Hylton is coming the first Sunday. I will be going with him to Ohio for a show on Saturday and we will come back on Sunday. He will come in for Sunday Bluegrass. Thanks for that, Randall.
Let's see where the music/festival hot spots are for July.
• At Music Ranch USA, West Point:
July 8, Legacy tribute to Merle Haggard, featuring David Berry of Lebanon Junction.
July 15, Grant Bennett of New Hope and Jaclyn Shields of Campbellsville.
July 22, Rebecca Wellman, Paoli; Philip Melton, Frankfort fireman; and Jim Roberts (Jimmy Jack), Elizabethtown.
July 29, Touch Of Gospel with Jennifer Pinkston and Mike Fryman from Lexington. Don't let me interrupt your chain of memory here, but I have a question. Travis, as in Merle Travis, had two No. 1 hits. Interestingly and coincidentally, both were at No. 1 for 14 weeks, the first was on the chart 23 weeks, the second on the chart 22 weeks. If that were not enough, the first one was September 21, 1946; the second, January 25, 1947. What were they? There will be another question that goes with one of them. Let's see now, where was I? Oh yes,
• July 8, Dry Branch Fire Squad will be at The Opera House, Mitchell, Ind. Show time 8 p.m.
• Cedar Valley Park, Derby, Ind., July 7-8:
On the 7th, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; the 8th, Larry Sparks & Lonesome Ramblers, Eddie & Martha Adcock; the 7th & 8th , Tommy Brown & County Line Grass, Clyde & Marie Denny and the Sunnysiders.
• On to Xenia, Ohio, for the 14th & 15th. Friday, Gary Brewer & Kentucky Ramblers, Wendy Smith & Blue Velvet, Don Stanley & Boys From Middle Creek. Saturday, Ralph Stanley, Doyle Lawson, Dean Osborn, Bill Grant & Delia Bell, Ernie Thacker & Highway 23. Fri. & Sat., Vince Combs and The Sullivan Family.
• Old Time Fiddlers Contest, Rough River Dam State Park, July 21-22.
Just before finishing this, had a call from Gary Brewer during the show, Sunday Bluegrass. Gary passed on some information, a bit of which I already knew.
• First bit is that there will be a show at the Riverfront Amphitheater in New Albany on July 4. Gary will be there, along with James Monroe and J. D. Crowe.
• Then, July 22, at Indiana University Southeast, there will be quite a show. Bluegrass 101, Gary Brewer and the Ramblers, Hog Operation and at 8 p.m. — Ricky Skaggs.
Open stage at 1 p.m. (Contact Kyle Ridout or Rebecca Beardsley at 812-941-2544 by noon the 22nd. Number of open stage acts limited to four. Amount of time allotted is dependent on number of acts.)
First scheduled act at 2 p.m. One show for Ricky.
You know how I sometimes get side-tracked, well, let's get back for a moment to the Merle Travis question. The first of those two No. 1 hits was, "Divorce Me C.O.D." No. 2 was "So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed." Follow-up question: What was No. 2 referring to? The title was taken from a well-known slogan of the time.
Skipping back up: The tickets for the IUS Fest will be $15 in advance or $20 day of show. Tickets available by calling Kentucky Center for the Arts at 584-7777, or if you are outside of the local calling area, 1-800-775-7777. The Ogle Center Box Office (IUS) is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-12 noon and 1 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
I suppose I have used up about enough print, paper, and/or column space for this time. Have a SAFE and happy fourth and watch out for that fifth. Just a wee hint concerning the follow-up question: LSMFT! If you can remember that, you can remember that little "button" in the floor board on the far left you stepped on to dim your headlights. Check in on Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK 91.9 FM every Sunday evening from 8-11 p.m.