August, you brought some fun, a good trip and some pretty good stories for the telling. Ah, but September, the promise you hold of more festivals, school already in session, and a transition period - be it gradual or fast - to fall, autumn and all of those things. The fading of summer as a long slow sunset.
The festival at Milan, Michigan, this year was a fun and grand time. Lots of good acts there, and some personal highlights.
Tombstone for Curly Ray
During Melvin Goins' act, he told the audience that he was trying to collect money enough for a tombstone for Curly Ray Cline. Melvin pointed out that Curly Ray has been gone five years and has an unmarked grave. He also passed along that Curly's wife is very ill, and her desire was for a marker for Curly's grave. Melvin was hoping to get together enough for a double stone for them.
As the show continued, a long line almost immediately formed and passed across the front of the stage, making donations in a coffee can. Melvin told me just before his second show that a total of $960 had been collected. That was close enough to the goal needed for the purchase of the stone. Simply put, it just goes to show once again what kind of people bluegrass fans are and what they're made of. Bless 'em all.
New Member for Osborne Bros.?
The Osborne Bros. did a great show. Really enjoyed seeing them and visiting a bit. During their performance, while Sonny was introducing the band, I stood off at the far end of the stage and took some pictures. Sonny looked right over to me and said something to the effect, "On the far end is Mr. Berk Bryant," and something about me being their photographer. All of this with Sonny's laugh. I asked him afterwards if this meant that I am an official, unofficial member of the Osborne Bros.
Sometimes a good story sneaks up on you when you are not looking and, of course, not expecting it. I visited my friend John Morris in Brighton on Sunday, while I was in the neighborhood. On Monday morning before I left, we were having coffee when one of his customers called. I could tell from the conversation that the talk was about Wolverton Mountain. Remember that one?: Claude King , they say don't go on Wolverton Mountain, and Clifton Clowers' beautiful daughter, etc. Well, it turns out the lady on the phone is married to the brother of the girl on W..M. As some of you may already know, this is a true story.
Wolverton Mountain is in Arkansas and there really is/was a Clifton Clowers. As best as we could come up with, Merle Kilgore wrote the song and is the one who pursued, courted and married that gal. Looks like everyone won here. Clifton C. got a son-in-law, Merle K. got a wife, and Claude K. got a hit song that was at No. 1 for 9 weeks and on the charts for 26 weeks.
Dr. Grandpa & Randy
I was talking to Ralph Stanley at his table and felt a tug on my sleeve. I looked around and there was my little buddy Nathan, Ralph's grandson. He had his dog with him and was playing around with it. Nathan told me he thought I looked like Randy Travis. I hadn't heard that one before; I did tell him that some folks have told me I sort of sound like him on the radio. Nathan then had to consult "grandpa" and Ralph agreed with him.
The night of the 19th, Steve Cooley of Hog Operation fame, dropped by Sunday Bluegrass to let me hear the first three cuts (at that time) of a new CD they are putting together. Talked with Steve and played the three. For me, it is a real kick to be given the opportunity to be the first to play something like that on the air. Especially in view of the fact that it was an unfinished project at the time. It is going to be another good one. You guys keep at it. And thanks, Steve.
Old Time River Man
I will let you in on an event still in the making. Keep in mind, it is still in the making, with high hopes and expectations that it is going to happen. As of this writing, plans are being made for a tribute/benefit cruise-show on the Belle of Louisville for John Hartford during the first week of October. The money collected will go in part to the Sarah Cannon (Minnie Pearl) Cancer fund and some part for the preservation of Louisville's grand lady, the Belle of Louisville. It has the blessings of John's family, Keith Case (agent), and many other folks involved in one way or another. I, for one, feel sure John would be pleased and honored.
Bluegrass coming up
• West Point, Music Ranch USA: Sept.7, Heartland Dulcimer Concert and Music Ranch 4th anniversary. Sept. 8, Country Classics with Gina Emerson, Dickie "Butterbeans" Moore and Emily Poe. Sept. 14, Rockin Rancheros. Sept. 15, Country Classics with Sarah and Samantha Breit, and Brad Yancy). Sept. 21, Gospel with The Legends of Clarksville, Tenn., and a new quartet of Glen Philips, Louann Denham, Bob Geary and Aaron Rich. Sept. 22, Country Classics with Linda Hunt, Judy Peach, Wayne Wardle and Emily Poe. Sept. 28, Don Taylor with Rockin Rancheros. Sept. 29, Mike Lunsford.
• Johnny B's Bluegrass at the Hideaway Saloon, 1607 Bardstown Rd., every Sunday, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., with Johnny Berry, Alan Phelps, Hickory Vaught, and Blue Murphy.
• Gary Brewer's Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Sept. 7-8, Riverfront Amphitheater, New Albany, Ind. Line-up includes Ralph Stanley, Osborne Bros., Larry Sparks, Sullivan Family, James Monroe, Dean Sapp, Fritts Family, Vince Combs, Wendy Smith, Dean Osborne, Don Stanley, Robert White, Wayne Brewer and Gary & The Ramblers. And it's FREE!
• Bluegrass Festival, Optimist Park, Vine Grove, Sept. 22, with Boys From Kentucky, Reynolds Family, White Oak Bluegrass Band, Logan County Grass, A Step Ahead, Perfect Tyming (dance team) and Joanna Allen (a young Minnie Pearl impersonator).
I guess that rounds it off for this time. Stay tuned for Sunday Bluegrass, 8-11 p.m. each Sunday,WFPK 91.9 FM and streaming. Tell your faraway friends, wfpk.org. Have a great Fall!