Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

How did it get back so quick? Gosh, it hasn't been that long has it? Or has there been just so much happening for these past 50 weeks (50 weeks!), that it really is here? I know, communications and things like that have speeded up, but really, can this put time in fast forward? Be that as it may, we are here and so is Christmas. You know, they say that the distance between two points is the same forward or backwards. Not always true. It is 51 weeks from New Year's to Christmas and only one week from Christmas to New Year's.

I am not sure where to begin this time, so I think it'll be an event I had a part in for the first time for me.

Dr. Ralph's Story

I was privileged to be asked to introduce the Ralph Stanley Story at Baxter Avenue Theatres. Having watched the video version I got from Ralph, I really enjoyed seeing it on the "big" screen. My guess, good or bad, was that the theater was about two-thirds full. A good turnout. I received a number of comments regarding the film, one of which was an e-mail during my program, Sunday Bluegrass, the following Sunday. The comments were something to the effect that this listener had been a longtime Ralph Stanley fan. After seeing the movie he stated that he had gained an increased respect for Ralph over that which he already had for him.

On the Homefront

Also this past month I welcomed the opportunity to be a part of a Homefront taping. Good friend John Gage, who puts the show together, was kind - or perhaps I should say adventurous -- enough to invite me to be a part, and allowed me the opportunity to introduce JD Crowe and the New South to the audience. An opportunity that is always one to look forward to. These are taped for National Public Radio at the Kentucky Theater, 4th Street in Louisville. Don't miss one of these shows, especially when a bluegrass act is featured. The theater was packed and as if that wasn't enough, there was jamming in the lobby by anyone who wanted to join in when the show was over until ... I have no idea. Thanks, John, very much, and can I do that again?

New from Hank Sr.

As I have suggested, it was a very active month. There was a book signing event at Hawley-Cooke Booksellers with authors Colin Escott and Kira Florita. The book, "Snapshots From The Lost Highway," about Hank Williams. This book contains pictures, handwritten notes and the like, of and by Hank, previously unpublished. About 50% were provided by Marty Stuart, who had obtained them from Hank's sister. A lot of interesting material here and something I would suggest as an excellent Christmas surprise gift.

Lewis Family Visit

Also had a very good visit with the Lewis Family at Mitchell, Ind., on the 16th. Every seat was sold. Ain't that something! They have a new video, " This Old House." It was done at Pop's birthplace at Pickens, S.C. It struck me as one of the best, if not the best, one they have. Another really good one. Probably another good Christmas gift for someone on your list.

Coming Attractions

A bit of advance warning, as the time will be here so quickly: New Year's Day, as of now, I will have the Hank Williams show - four hours. A show that I look forward to doing each year. All Hank Williams SR. I do not know the time yet, but past experience tells me most likely early- to mid-afternoon.

Several exciting new things to play came my way in the past few weeks, and one I really want to tell you about. A new CD from Randall Hylton - you read it right - a new CD from Randall Hylton. Something new for Randall he wanted to try. Something I knew he was really excited about and anxious to see what he could do with it. He was just getting into slide guitar and blues. I don't know the recording date(s) of this CD but it had to be shortly before he left us.

Just noticed a line saying that he completed the album in November 2000. The finishing touches are in place and the results are now available. To borrow a bit here from a statement written by Randall concerning this recording, "In the dozen or so conversations I had with Bill Monroe, he always made this statement: `I added the blues to my music.' For years, fans at bluegrass shows had asked to do some blues on stage." He goes on to explain that he was given seventeen 90-minute cassettes of the blues. "I was amazed. I didn't know guitars could be played that way." Those of us who knew him, saw and heard him play, and sat there in awe of his ability and talent, can hardly imagine Randall Hylton saying that. I believe it is a winner. I find it a bit ironic that Randall Hylton, left us with the blues in more ways than one.

Where do we go from here?

Well, let's see. How about:

Music Ranch USA, West Point: Dec. 1, Country Classics Jamboree with guest Gina Emerson. Dec. 6 (Thurs.), Country Jazz concert. Dec. 7, Gospel Jubilation Quartet and Sharon Beavers. Dec. 8, Grant Bennett, main Guest, with the Classics. Dec. 14, Rockin' Rancheros. Dec. 15, Kevin Drane, guest, with the Classics. Dec. 21, Rancheros special Christmas Show. Dec. 22, Talent Roundup finals. Dec. 28, Rancheros. Dec. 29, Country Classics.

Shepherdsville Music Place: Dec. 7, The Sunnysiders. Dec. 14, Bluegrass 101 and Blue Tradition. JAN. 4, 2002. DR. RALPH STANLEY.

Barretones: Hog Operation every Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

The Hideaway, Bardstown Road: Johnny B's Bluegrass, every Sunday 9 p.m.-12 a.m.

Can't find a place to go? Re-read this paragraph.

The Meaning of Christmas

Friends, as Thanksgiving probably has done, this Christmas should take on new meaning for some, reinforced meaning for many, and the spirit of the TRUE meaning of this day and season for all like none in recent memory. Keep it safe, observe in faithfulness, togetherness and, above all, peace.

Seasons greetings, a merry and blessed Christmas to one and all. Let's all be back in the new year. Keep in tune to Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK, 91.9 FM each Sunday evening, 8-11 p.m. Share us with your friends everywhere by letting them know about our web site and streaming audio. With all sincerity, observe the season.