Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Falling leaves, falling temperatures, warm moderate days, windy days, rainy days - all pointing to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving - WOW - can Christmas be far behind? For those who draw a weekly paycheck that means about four, maybe five, shopping days left ... but I am getting ahead. Let's not do that until we catch up with what has transpired since the last time I sat down to do this.

Great IBMA World of Bluegrass

Well, starting with IBMA week, it was a great time. Got better acquainted with a lot of good folks, picked up a bunch of very good new material, and looking forward to using it and hopefully getting listeners better acquainted with many of them also.

This year, The Old Tyme Opry Variety Jamboree (the hit of the whole shebang two years ago) moved from the Roots Stage to the Main Stage. My apologies to acts not mentioned here; it's this senior thing and three weeks back blended, mixed and all stirred into one with the Museum of Appalachia Fall Homecoming.

Those I can remember on that Opry show included Leroy Troy, Mike and Lester Armistead, The Case Brothers, Doc Wilhite, Brett Howland and many others. Another great show. Keep it up guys, we are still here - we being the rather large audience who appreciate the true country music, which includes or included the music we now refer to as bluegrass.

Hartford Tribute Cruise

One highlight of the week was the John Hartford Tribute Cruise on the Belle of Louisville. Well attended and highly praised. There was a little rough start with the sound, but thanks to the efforts of a "volunteer" sound man from the crowd, everything was smoothed out. Thanks - sincere, heartfelt thanks - go to all of the folks who took part. Our good friend Bill Ray (now formerly of the Belle full time) was very instrumental in pulling this together. The ticket proceeds went to the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center. I didn't get a final figure, but I do know it was well over $3,000.

Among the folks who jumped at the opportunity to perform: Hog Operation, Leroy Troy and the Nashville Mafia, Doc Wilhite, Chris Sharp with Jamie Hartford, Dean Sapp, Kentucky Wild Horse, Laurie Lewis and Dry Branch Fire Squad. During the cruise, Capt. Kevin Mullins presiding, there was the traditional Whistle Blow -- one long, two shorts - in honor of John. A very special moment: Jamie ended the Chris Sharp set by singing one of his father's songs, and a most appropriate choice, "I Wish We Had Our Time Again." A wish we can all share with you, Jamie. Thank you for coming. Thanks, too, to all of the acts. Laurie came from California, Dry Branch from Ohio and Colorado, some from Nashville, and all thanked us for the opportunity to be a part of this. Just can't say enough to all of you.

Following are words/view from Laurie Lewis: "I have just returned from the International Bluegrass Music Association's annual convention in Louisville, Ky., and banjos are a-ringin' in my ears. I was honored to take part in a tribute to the late John Hartford (songwriter, fiddler, banjo player and riverboat captain, to name just a few of his accomplishments) aboard the 1891 sternwheeler Belle of Louisville. It was bittersweet to be out on the Ohio River listening to Jamie Hartford singing his father's songs, accompanied by Chris Sharp, long-time member of the Hartford String Band, and the cha-kunk, cha-kunk of the wheel turning behind them. Then I got to visit the pilot house and watch the boat being docked, which was fascinating."

Those Kruger Boys

There was a brief visit with our friends the Kruger Bros. early in the week. They were unable to stay for the whole week; had to leave Wednesday morning for Oklahoma. Did get to hear them play to a packed room Tuesday night. For my two cents, there is no question that Jens Kruger should make the final balloting in the banjo category of the yearly IBMA awards.

Moving right along, which is pretty much what I did, on to The Tennessee Fall Homecoming at The Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tenn. Four great days there, with just a bit of rain a couple of days. Not too serious, just enough to duck for cover a couple of times for a few minutes. Many top-notch acts there. Many of them do not make it to this area and are well worth going there to see and hear. Just ask anyone you may talk to if they have been and how it is. One of the craftsmen I look forward to seeing is Mr. Sherman Wooten, chair maker. Mr. Wooten is usually located very near the stage I manage, and when the music is really getting with it and moves him, he comes over and dances, much to the delight of the audience. Maybe I should mention, Sherman is 91. This is just one example of the wonderful folks you can meet there.

Sunday Bluegrass Program Note

I got the word that I will have the New Year's Day Hank Williams show again this/next year. Four hours of all Hank Williams. A show I started in 1956. I have not been able to do it continuously since then, but hoping to establish it as a regular New Year's Day event.

Not Slim Pickins'

Pickin's around the area:

Music Ranch USA, West Point: Nov. 2, Gospel night. Nov. 3, Country Classics (CC) with Pascha Hammer, Nashville, and Jory Hutchins, New Haven. Nov. 9, Rockin' Rancheros. Nov. 10, CC with Paul Penny, Johnny Polinsky. Nov. 16, Adam Davis w/CC. Nov. 17, Rockin' Rancheros. Nov. 23, Rockin Rancheros. Nov. 24, CC with Theresa Dunn. Nov. 30, Verland Hatmaker Tribute to Elvis.

Shepherdsville Music Place: Nov. 2, Dave Evans & Riverbend. Nov. 9, Dale Ann Bradley and Coon Creek. Nov. 16, James King Band & David Davis & Warrior River Boys. Nov. 23, Don Stanley & Middle Creek. Nov. 30, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.

The Lighthouse, Frankfort Ave., Jam every Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Barretones, Hog Operation, every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

Hideaway, Bardstown Road, Johnny B's Bluegrass, every Sunday at 8 p.m.

Wrapping Up

Once again, true thanks to those who attended, those who took part in, and the Belle folks for a great tribute cruise to John Hartford.

Join me each Sunday night, 8-11 p.m, for Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK, 91.9 FM and streaming. Tell all of your e-mail friends around the country, around the world, to go to and join the show. E-mail during the show to

And just one more thing. Get the friends and family together for Thanksgiving thanksgivings. If we ever say a prayer, now is the time to say one for the leaders, the country, the real heroes of our country who go to work knowing that day they could very well be required to sacrifice everything and who do it willingly. The firemen and police officers certainly set the example in New York this past September. Ironic wasn't it? - 9/11 or 911.