Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

When March winds blow, can April's showers and most welcome springtime be far behind? Well I certainly hope not!? Oh yes, March provides a mixture, usually, of sometimes trying to hang on to the fading death rattles of winter, all the while hinting at the rebirth of flowers, greening of trees and lawns, and the sweet gentle breezes of spring soon to turn to summer. Bring it on, bring it on.

Did I see it? Oh, brother, did I!

Did you see the movie yet? You know, the one that's been getting all the talk, as much about the music as the "stars." The one that features bluegrass and old time music from stars we know. If you haven't seen it, then the title must apply to you: "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" We went to it on a Saturday afternoon and my wife told me Sunday, "I've been hearing `Man of Constant Sorrow' all day." Folks are going to it who wouldn't ordinarily be drawn to "our" music and coming away with not only praises for the movie, but also the music. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? In this case, the music. Not only does it have all of this going for it, but it is very entertaining, funny. You could see this one again and, when it is ready, add it to your video library. Check it out if you have been putting it off.

Big Bill-ll . . . Big, Bad Bill

BIG Bill Lister. Where have you heard that name? Well, one place I know was during the Hank Williams show New Year's Day, and since. "Big Bill," because he is a 6'7" tall, slender Texan. Big Bill opened the show for Hank Williams SR. I am fortunate to have seen him do that on the one occasion I saw Hank. Big Bill has a deeep voice, did a lot of novelty songs and tells great stories about life with Hank. In fact, these stories - well, some of them - have been put on a new CD by Big Bill: Big Bill Lister Remembering ... Hank Williams Through Story and Song. As soon as I knew about this CD I rushed an order off for it. I always liked Big Bill, had quite a few of his records and played him regularly on my Country shows back then. One of my favorite songs of his - and the one I remember best - was "Give Me An RC Cola and a Moon Pie, Play Maple On the Hill." I don't remember too many of his, but there was "Countryfied," which Bill talks about and sings on the CD, "Beer Drinking Blues" and "What The Heck Is Going On." On the CD there are 22 tracks of stories and songs. Big Bill sings a few of Hank's numbers, not like Hank, of course, but in tribute to one of the all time greatest country singers and songwriters this business will ever know. If you are a Hank Williams fan to any degree, this is a CD that should be ordered today. If you have computer access, go to a site hillbillyhits.com. Click on Big Bill and look around a bit; you'll find quite an interesting bio about Bill. No computer? Contact Tracy Pitcox, 1701 South Bridge, Brady, Texas 76825, or call (915) 597-1895.

Back 'er Up

Skipping back up for a moment. I had a note from Janeen (Jim's daughter of Jim & Jesse), and she told me an interesting tidbit concerning the movie. It seems that Jim was offered the part of one of the politicians in "Oh Brother." She wasn't sure which politician, as she hadn't seen the movie. Jim felt he had to turn it down because of travel to California and other travels, as well as keeping up their shows. That could get to be a little too much for a fellow. I would like to have seen him in it, but we do have priorities.

Upcoming Local Grass

Appearing locally in the near future ... Before I get into that, this artist, billed as the Southern Gentleman, had many No. 1 hits; his first one was No. 1 for nine weeks. He had a "run" starting in March 1967 that found his next 16 chart records all at No. 1. He was ...? With that asked, let's go to:

West Point and Music Ranch USA: March 3, Andrea Warner and Jimmy Jack; March 9, Rancheros; March 10, Gospel Theme; March 17, Kevin Drane and Rebekah Wellman; March 23, Rancheros; March 24, Narvel Felts; and March 31, Grant Bennett and Theresa Dunn.

On to Shepherdsville and bluegrass: March 2, The Sunnysiders (local gospel group); March 9, Randall Hylton and Eddie & Martha Adcock; March 16, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; March 23, Clyde & Marie Denny; March 30., Dean Osborne & Eastbound; THURSDAY, April 6, The Lewis Family and Jim & Jesse. "Murder On Music Row" is coming; listen and look for it.

In Tompkinsville, Ky., at the Old High School: March 31, Blueridge and Ernie Thacker & Route 23; Saturday, April 14, Doyle Lawson.

Bluegrass abounds at Renfro Valley in March: March 10, The Reno Bros.; March 17, IIIRD Tyme Out; March 24, Dr. Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys; and rounding the month out on the 31st, The Osborne Bros.

The jam pickin' - for everybody - is building up steam every week, so I hear. It is open to all pickers from "I just got this guitar this week" to "Oh, I've been pickin' for a while now." It takes place on Wednesday nights at The Lighthouse, 1800 Frankfort Ave. Starts at 7 p.m. Call 891-0990. Incidentally, the Southern Gentleman was/is Sonny James.

Spring Fund Drive

WFPK and, well, Public Radio Partnership in general, is deep in the first half of the Spring Fund Drive. All went well last night (February 18) for Sunday Bluegrass. Our dedicated friends and listeners came through as always for a successful night. Deep appreciation and thanks to each and every one. There were pledges from Texas and other far-reaching places.

During the show I was featuring little segments of some of the various music I use. That's what we (PRP) really want to get across: the variety of programming, the hard-to-find-on-your-radio-dial music and listening entertainment that far too many listeners are virtually starving for. During a segment of Hank Williams I had the very good fortune of contacting, and including in the show, Big Bill Lister. It was a real special bit for me. I was also able to have friend John Hartford on. These are the kind of things and program surprises that are not found on "routine sameness" radio. A true thanks again from myself and all of PRP to all of you who listen, support us in every way and for being there.

Wrapping Up ...

Well, now, friends and listeners, I suppose this just about does it for this time. It won't be long before we'll be listing festivals, and that means it's time to prepare to travel. Let me encourage all of you again to visit the web site: wfpk.org. Check out the station's site and you'll find out a lot. Mark it as a favorite. Be sure to tune in to Sunday Bluegrass, 8-11 p.m. Sunday nights. That's WFPK 91.9 FM. Remember, my studio number is (502) 814-WFPK. Six lines coming in, so if you call, please just hold on until you get an answer. We all welcome your calls. You can e-mail also at studio@wfpk.org. Thanks, and you keep in touch and we'll be there.