Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

CHRISTMAS IS HERE ALREADY!! An old German saying on a souvenir item has it, "The hurrider I go, the behinder I get." If that's the case and applies to a year, I'll never be ready for the current Christmas. All of this means another year has passed at Mach speed and gaining. Don't blink, we'll be in the middle of next year before you know it; we call it Spring. Watch the trees; we call it Fall. Watch the leaves; we call it Summer. Feel the breeze; we call it Winter; feel the freeze. Hope your turkey was good and you weren't it _ the turkey.

I am starting this column way early to meet the deadline. Main reason I'm starting so early is to do a bit I usually shy away from _ Review.

June's Last Recording

I got the Dualtone release, June Carter Cash _ Wildwood Flower. For my part it was much more than a listen to a new CD; it was an experience. This is June's last recording and the last time she and John recorded together. Something I didn't expect was included in the CD: video clips of the making of this recording. Not in a studio somewhere, but in the old home of June's mother and daddy. Nostalgia set in as I watched and listened. I was acquainted with Maybelle, June, Helen and Anita years ago. Here is June, aged as we all must do, changed from that image we all remember. Only the image has changed. The spirit, life, the attitude and the cut-upness is still evident. Perhaps not to the extent of 40-50 years ago, but still there. Singing carefully selected Carter Family and other material for this final curtain. Some she wrote and some "borrowed." "Keep On The Sunnyside," The Road To Kaintuck," "Kneeling Drunkard's Plea," Storms Are On The Ocean," "Temptation," "Big Yellow Peaches," "Alcatraz," "Sinking In The Lonesome Sea," "Church In The Wildwood/Lonesome Valley," "Cannonball Blues," "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone," "Anchored In Love" and "Wildwood Flower."

If you are a Carter Family, June Carter (Cash) or Johnny Cash fan to any degree, this is an excellent addition to your collection. It is a great addition to any collection, and right now there is time for Christmas giving. I'm sure you know somebody who would love to find this under the tree or in their stocking, the one hung by the fireplace _ not the one they are wearing.

Songs of Our Elders

Kentucky Theater folks are working a series, Songs of Our Elders. What's this all about? To recognize, celebrate, demonstrate and help preserve, through exposure, the musical cultural background of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. None of these are bad words _ southern, Appalachian or mountains. Our country's early beginnings were here and expanded from there. The first in this series was last month, on the 7th. Each will have a film from Appalshop, followed by artists playing, interviews and question-and-answer sessions.

The November show was about the "banjo pickin' girl," Lilly May Ledford. Lilly May headed up the original Coon Creek Girls, the first all-woman string band. String band _ this goes to the flavor and background of the series. String band is not a term commonly used as it once was. Growing up I saw the terminology "progress" from mountain music to string music, to hillbilly music, to country and western music, to a fork in the musical road that gave us bluegrass music as such and whatever that is they now call country.

But I roam, so now back to the Lilly May show. Following the film, Carrie Ann Norris, Lilly May's granddaughter, took the stage to give remembrances of her grandmother, provide some tunes passed on to her and answer questions. It was an interesting evening. There is more to come; dates are not set as yet. In the works: Morgan Sexton with Lee Sexton, Morgan's nephew, playing and of course including his hit version of "Whoa Mule." Sourwood Mountain Dulcimer, featuring I.D. Stamper. Hazel Dickens, the lady from West Virginia, will also be scheduled. There is much to look forward to in this series. For additional information concerning these or any events at the Kentucky Theater, contact Jeanette McDermott at 502-585-1566, Fax 585-2260, or e-mail

What's Coming Up

Take a look at what's coming up around the area. Actually, I don't have too many notices.

I do have Shepherdsville's, and get ready: December 5, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. December 12, Cherry Holmes Family Band. (A very good friend told me that she saw them recently and they are a band NOT to miss. She said they are hot bluegrass.) December 19, Bille Rena and Cumberland Gap. December 26, no show.

Happy New Year everybody. It's Kentucky Blue on January 2. January 9, Dr. RALPH STANLEY & The Clinch Mountain Boys, and also Tommy Brown and County Line Grass.

Wind up Twenty Ought Three right and start 20-04 off just as right.

Plugging Away

Better get my own plug in. We've had another successful "Sunday Bluegrass" year thanks to the listener support. As of this reading, 14½ years. New Year's Day our annual Hank Williams Senior special. It's all Hank from noon to four. Make it a New Year's afternoon of you and me and Hank. Do that and I'd say we are in pretty good company. Remember too, all of you with a computer, spread the word to your e-mail friends and family that WFPK is streaming audio and can be heard by going to and clicking on listen live. Also, you can e-mail me during the show using


Well, dear hearts and gentle readers, my thanks for your participation all of this time as a reader, listener or both. It is a sincere wish from The Country Gentleman, all the folks at Louisville Music News and WFPK Public Radio, that YOU have a safe and blessed Christmas and a New Year to look forward to and remember. Keep it in the family, and best and blessings to all. Stay tuned, 8-11 p.m. each Sunday night. If you are up on the roof Christmas morning, watch where you step, there may have been reindeer up there last night.