Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

It's sparklers, fireworks, picnics, hamburgers, hot dogs and Happy Birthday time. No, no, not my birthday - that was last month, and besides, I wasn't quite that old. Happy Birthday America, USA, Old Glory, freedom, on the birth of the nation. "Freedom," now there's a word that means a lot and has a lot of meanings. Among those most familiar, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and, by golly, FREEDOM of bluegrass music, festivals, recordings and radio. Maybe this really comes under freedom of choice, so exercise it.

Attended a good, growing festival at New Haven last month. A number of good local groups such as Bluegrass 101, Blue Tradition, Inquire Within, and others. Sammy Adkins and the Sandy Hook Boys were there. A gentleman who joined Sammy for a couple of numbers, Russell Wilson of the Wilson Brothers, and I got acquainted. I have an older LP from Old Homestead Records of these folks and was glad to meet Russell. The folks that invited me down to MC the show had a very nice birthday cake for me. Taking care of it in the cooler until I left proved fatal. Regretfully, I forgot to pick it up when I headed home. Knowing how disappointed I was with myself, an "offer" was made to make it up next year by having another, this time with a girl to pop out of it. I asked if I could pick the girl.

Back a moment to Russell Wilson. He gave me two of their CDs, both gospel and both very good. You will hear them on Sunday Bluegrass. Very reminiscent of the Stanley Brothers. The two I have are, Wilson Brothers Time To Pray and Lonesome Old Home. They are on the CrossCut label and available from Smitty's Tapes, 2864 Pine Top Road, London, Kentucky 40741. (606-878-8375). Russell is completing a new CD, "Trooper Lee", which should be available about mid-summer. Listen for them, these guys are good ones.

June 9th I had a remembering John Hartford show. John was a good friend, a fantastic entertainer who fought a battle with everything until eventually the cancer and the reaper won. Events made the date of his funeral one that I can remember all too well. I attended John's Funeral, it was on my birthday last year. My wife comments from time to time that it still doesn't seem like he's gone. John and Randall Hylton both. We had a good time on the show remembering. Jean & Tom Metcalf, Bill & Becky Ray, Sheila Nichols, and this time, a real pleasure to have Captain Kevin Mullens from the Belle of Louisville join us. My thanks many times over to all of you. Cpt. Mullens has promised we will get a "whistle blow" from the grand old lady during some of these summer Sunday night cruises. Bring it on Kevin, bring it on.

During my Sunday bluegrass show Father's Day weekend, I had a very pleasant surprise during the show by way of email. As you know we (WFPK) are streaming audio. For a while, my wife thought I was saying screaming audio and wondered what in the world I was talking about. The email came from my English friend, Chris Clark, in Wolverhampton, England. The following is what he had to say:

Berk, I listened to the first 45 minutes of your show and taped it. Very good presentation and the the numbers you played were superb and the sound quality excellent considering I am in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England. It is almost 2 am here our time so I will reluctantly have to get up them wooden hills to the sack so keep playing the good stuff. Best wishes to all yor listeners and incidentally it is Father's Day here too, Colin gave me four Bluegrass cds today. Chris

LMN BG col. July 2002 cont.

I read his note on the air, expecting Chris would be gone and then another surprise. "Berk, I caught the answer to the e-mail just before I switched off. That's fast going for correspondence. Chris."

Folks, that's what this email stuff is all about. I encourage those of you that have email friends out of our area, to send our web site address,, to all of them and they too can join us on Sunday night. A listener called the same night to ask for the site so she could inform friends. Makes you feel good to be able to reach like this and share with others, in this case our (yours and mine) bluegrass, traditional country and old time country music with the world. They need it!

Picking when and where: Music Ranch USA, West Point, July 6 - Brigitte London , Austin, Texas, 13th - 50s Rock and Roll Show, 20th - Nathan Jackson and Candace Lynn, Winchester and Lexington w/Country Classics, 27th - Texans Bob Shaw (Gilmore, TX) and Adelle Little (near Dallas) w/Classics to close Texas month at the Ranch. Renfro Valley, July 4-6 - Osborne Bro., Dale Ann Bradley & Coon Creek, IIIRD Tyme Out, The Moron Brothers, The Lewis Family, Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain, Don Stanley & Middle Creek, Larry Stephenson Band and more. C.R. Wilson, Cedar Valley Park, Derby, IN., 12 - 13, Fri. Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Fri./Sat. Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show, Sat. Melvin Goins & Windy Mountain,Fri./Sat., Tommy Brown & County Line Grass, Fri./Sat. Clyde & Marie Denny and Fri./Sat The Sunny Siders. Xenia, Ohio, Vince Combs' Bluegrass Festival, 19th - 20th. Friday - Wildwood Valley Boys, Sullivan Family, Vince Combs and Shadetree Bluegrass, Don Stanley & Middle Creek, Bill Grant & Delia Bell, Red Spurlock & Rainbow Ramblers. Saturday, Doyle Lawson, Sullivan Family, Vince Combs, Wendy Smith & Blue Velvet, Bill Grant & Delia Bell and Bluegrass Mountaineers.

Whoo, goodness, about enough for now. Folks, have a good, safe, celebration of the birth of our nation and it's guaranteed freedoms. A country unlike any other in the world. Let's keep it that way and in a safe and sane manner. Let's remember it when and maybe we can get it back where it used to be. There's nothing really wrong with "old fashioned" when it meant knowing and doing right from wrong for all of our people. Remember too how we got to be the "land of the free and the home of the brave" this fourth of July.