It's the June month, the transition month. You know, when Spring becomes summer, and the festival season is really getting geared up, and another birthday comes my way. Can't complain about that. [Happy 39th, again, Berk! - Ed. Em.]
There are times I have to write portions of this column rather far in advance. I do that because the event is relatively fresh in mind. In this case, the event took place in April, the 22nd to be exact. Some of the absolute finest in bluegrass - those that could make it - came together at Shepherdsville, Ky., to provide a benefit show to demonstrate their support, dedication, concern and love for one of their/our own. As most of you know by now, I'm sure, our friend and one of the finest old-time fiddlers in the country, known and respected around the world, Art Stamper, has throat cancer. Art was unable to attend. He had been in the hospital and was to be in the hospital for a few more days. Several reports to me by friends who had been by to see him that day all indicated that he was doing pretty good after a rough week, a very rough week.
It was through the efforts of Gary Brewer, C.R. Wilson and others that this benefit came to fruition. A big round of thanks for those efforts. It couldn't have been done without the cooperation of the likes of Dr. Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Martin, J. D. Crowe, Melvin Goins, Larry Sparks, Vince Combs, Nancy Moore, Wayne Lewis (with Joe Isaacs on Banjo and Tom Ewing filling in on bass), Hog Operation, Tommy Brown and Gary Brewer. All of these folks and their bands. If I missed any group, my apologies. I am always afraid of missing someone that should be included. The word I got was that a total of $10,000 would go to Art. Most of it came from the show; other and earlier contributions were made to Gary prior to the show.
Let's not forget the fans, for you deserve many thanks, all 650 of you in attendance and those that had to be turned away. The place can only hold so many. Everyone involved, as mentioned above, can rest with the peace and satisfaction that comes from knowing you are part of a good thing done for our fellow man. You all have my personal thanks; you helped make bluegrass as a whole very proud that day. Best to you, Art. Continue to improve. You can do this; there will be many prayers with you.
Larry Cordle strikes a nerve
Again, affected by deadlines, back to April, and this time the 27th. Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time closed out the bluegrass sessions at Shepherdsville Music Place for this season. A very enthusiastic audience was in attendance. Really enjoyed talking with Larry and getting acquainted. There's no doubt, from the audience reaction every time he does "Murder On Music Row," that he has struck a nerve. A nerve that shouts "Amen!" from the fans and is as raw as a non-deadened tooth getting a root canal with the powers that "control" the music business and are making every effort to bury good country music. Remember when Khrushchev told the U.S., "We will bury you"? He didn't get it done, and good traditional country music supported by an unbelievable number of fans across the country isn't going under either. Thank you, Larry, for telling it like it is and taking a stand and not giving ground. Great show, man!
I had a note concerning Art just before finishing the column for this month: "It [the benefit] was great and he [Art] was tickled to death. He has finished all of the therapy and is home." He still can't talk and will be a while before he can play. "But sooner or later he will, so until then, we still keep praying." Let's all do that. Here's a list, starting with Art, and I'm sure it doesn't include everybody (it's the birthday/forgetfulness age thing). Add these to the list: John Hartford, Terry Eldridge, Brother Oswald (Beecher Kirby), Ron Thomason, Johnny Russell, Wallace Lewis and Redd Stewart.
Where the pickers are.
• West Point, Music Ranch USA: Every Saturday, The Country Classics, with guests: June 2, Judy Peach and Dean Waddle, with Emily Poe on the fiddle. June 8, Rockin' Rancheros. June 9, Sarah Breit and Dickey "Butterbeans" Moore. June 16, Linda Hunt, Grant Bennett and Jimmy Jack. June 22, Rockin' Rancheros. June 23, Theresa Dunn and Kevin Drane. June 30, Verland Hatmaker.
• New Haven, Ky., City Park: June 2, Bluegrass 101.
• Light House, Frankfort Ave.: Jam session every Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
• Festival of the Bluegrass at the Horse Park, Lexington: June 7-10, featuring Dan Tyminski, Lonesome River Band, Lonesome Standard Time, J.D. Crowe, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Seldom Scene, Lewis Family and more.
• Bardstown Bluegrass Festival, June 21-23. Thursday, open stage; Friday, J.D. Crowe, James Monroe and Gary Brewer (every day); Saturday, Larry Sparks, Dean Osborne and Tommy Brown.
No question this month, so you didn't miss it. Make festival plans now and go. Our kind of music is enjoying a big boost from the movie "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" and now is the time to keep the momentum going. Enough has been said; it is now action time.
Turn your radio on each Sunday night for Sunday Bluegrass from 8-11. Where? 91.9 FM, WFPK. Where else? wfpk.org to get in on the stream, or e-mail me at email@example.com or during the show at firstname.lastname@example.org. Turn it on and turn it up, it's summer time.