Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

"Beautiful Star of Bethlehem," "Silent Night," "Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men." It is that season, a season, a time, when it really isn't such a bad thing to be a bit "old-fashioned." You can't deny that a certain attitude settles over the land and its people during the time of the Thanksgiving /Christmas/New Year's holidays. It is a blanket of warmth, calm, friendship and brotherhood that is unfortunately cut on and off like a light. Can't we just leave the light on so we don't have to cut it back on next year?

Coming Home With Homecoming Music

I have been playing a lot of material on my WFPL show Sunday Bluegrass that I brought back from Norris, Tenn., this year. In the past few weeks I have been getting a number of calls and e-mails during the show that reinforce for me my purpose in being there. Several listeners have contacted me about songs I have played, sometimes just a few minutes earlier, wanting to know how and where to get them. It's either the song, or an artist new to them, just an old memory coming back, or a combination of the above.

Several of these inquiries have been about groups I have played from the Norris visit. One night, following something from C.F. Bailey, Earl Bull and The Hammer Sisters, a listener expressed his appreciation of my playing the groups from the Homecoming. I don't know if we should call many of those folks among the best kept secrets in old-time, mountain, bluegrass music we can find, or simply say that there is a wealth of great music and musicians in that area that should be heard everywhere.

I am glad I can have a hand in introducing some of these fine acts to my listeners across the land and across the water. If you don't know, that's what satisfaction is all about. I will be looking forward to getting more material from these folks to share with you folks. Tell you what: Plan now to go down there next October and see, hear and meet them all for yourself. Oh, one more thing, tell them you heard them on Sunday Bluegrass up in Louisville.

Hank Sr. Show's A-coming

Not only is Christmas near, but it is almost time to get used to writing 2003. That's right. Can you believe another full year has flashed by and another is rushing this way like an out-of-control freight train? I told you that to tell you this: New Year's Day, noon to 4, will be the annual Hank Williams SR. show.

As many of you know from years past, this is a show I actually started when I was a country DJ in the '50s. I haven't been able to do it continuously since them, but have established it on WFPK 91.9 FM over the past few years as an annual program. Thanks to your support as listeners and the recognition of that by the folks at WFPK. There have been some called great, some called legends, some that actually were great country singers, some that truly are legends and then there is Hank Williams SR. If this seems to put him a notch above, here is why: It does seem like a long time, and yet not half a century, since Hank Williams walked the boards, went to the mike and poured out enough heart and bared enough soul to penetrate the conscience and hearts of the millions who heard him. And the millions that have heard and learned of him since. He's up there because there are dedicated fans today, young and old, who instantly recognize his name and music and ... had not breathed life's breath when Hank Williams was discovered dead in the back of his car on a cold winter's night in Oak Hill, West Va., January 1, 1953. That's the mark.

Holiday Music Time

"Christmas Time's A Coming," sings Bill Monroe and others; "Silver Bells" by others; Christmas stories in narrations by Bill Grant & Delia Bell that have become so popular with many of the fans; and there among many other of the seasonal songs is one of the brightest, "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem." At the time I am writing this, I have already had it requested. The two most equally popular versions I have are by Dr. Ralph Stanley and Emmylou Harris. If it hasn't been done, I'll have to check: I would really like to have a copy of Ralph and Emmylou doing that together.

Why stop there? Why not a whole Christmas CD of Ralph and Emmylou, and Patty Loveless and Laurie Lewis. While we're at it, Emmylou, Patty and Laurie. Talk about a trio, a Trio Three worth having. But I stray. "Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem" is easily the most requested Christmas song I have. It will be coming your way on Sunday nights, possibly before you get to read this.

Upcoming On Area Concert Stages

· Music Ranch USA, West Point, Ky.: Dec. 6, Gospel, 8 p.m., Melanie & Sharon Beavers, also Michael Goodman. Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, 7:30 p.m., Tom McGannon with Legacy (a young trio from Bagdad, Ky.) also Beth Harris. Dec. 13, Bluegrass by Skynny Lynyrd, 8 p.m. Dec.14, Paul Penny guests. Dec. 20, Gospel with the River of Peace Trio. Dec. 21, Misty Rae Sereff and Kentucky Sisters.

· Shepherdsville Music Place: Dec. 6, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Dec. 13, The Bluegrass Legends. Dec. 20, Morning Harvest. Dec. 27, NO SHOW. Jan. 3, Kentucky Blue.

· Larry Cordle will be doing a special show, 7 p.m. at Tompkinsville, Ky., Old High School Auditorium. Larry will do two 45-minute shows. Opening act will be Southern Express. One dollar from each ticket sale will go to Relay For Life and American Cancer Society.

· Then there's the Christmas in the Smokies, The Larkins Bluegrass Festival, Dec. 12-14 in the Grand Hotel & Convention Center, Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Some of the acts all present and accounted for will be: The Larkins, Mike Snider, Lonesome River Band, Dr. Ralph Stanley (Fri.), The Lewis Family, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Goldwing Express, Mountain Heart, David Davis & The Warrior River Boys, Paul Williams, The VW Boys and more.

· Not done yet. Right here in Louisville, Bluegrass New Year's Eve at the Galt House: IIIRD Tyme Out, The Cluster Pluckers and Dale Ann Bradley and Coon Creek. There is a full package for this and information can be found at (502)-589-5200.

· The Third Annual CHRISTMAS BENEFIT CONCERT FOR THE HOMELESS, Dec. 8 at The Station Inn, Nashville, Tenn., 7 p.m.: "They're not faceless or nameless. They are just homeless." Hosts are Eddie & Martha Adcock, Donna Stover & June Johnson. Suggested donation at the door, $15. Who's there to help make it all worthwhile going? Larry Stephenson Band, Jim Hurst & Missy Raines, Leroy Troy, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, Tim Graves & Cherokee, Alan O'Bryant, Harley Allen Band, Kathy Chiavoila, Eddie & Martha Adcock, Dean Sapp & Harford Express, The Abeels, Tommy Flint, Jolena Foster and special surprise guest. Considering that Martha & Eddie show is at the Station Inn, Nashville, folks, there is no telling who the surprise guests will be. But you can bet it will be great.

A Present For the Editor

Probably time to give our illustrious editor a Christmas present and cut this off for this time. The Best of Blessings and the true spirit of this most revered season and holiday time for all. Keep it safe for you; no one else can do that for you. Keep it close to heart, home, friends, and especially family. Let this all carry over to the New Year.

Join me at 91.9 FM, WFPK, each Sunday, 8-11 p.m., for the "shortest, fastest, and bestest three hours in radio." Three hours of traditional bluegrass, traditional country and old-time country. You'll hear why "old and old-fashioned" really ain't that bad after all.