Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Hi, babe. No, not talking to the ladies. Babe, this time, is named 2003. It is still an innocent youth, as years go, that will mature FAST and at this point heading down a path to ... . Wherever it is, most of us will be going along in some way in varying degrees. Where does it end? 2004. But then we are back at the beginning. How far is the beginning from the end? Just think, it is one week from Christmas to New Year's, BUT, it is 51 weeks from New Year's to Christmas. I suppose you are appropriately confused by now. Well, don't be confused by the following.

Big Mon's Son

I've got the word that James Monroe is completing a new CD for release this month, I think. I don't have a lot of details as I am writing this six days before Christmas and three days before the last show before Christmas. As of now, I hope to talk to James on the show [For you newcomers, The Country Gentleman hosts "the show" "Sunday Bluegrass" every Sunday evening on WFPK] and there the details will come along. If that happens, many of you will know the story.

James Monroe was born into and grew up alongside the bluegrass music of his father. James is not his father, but here is another case that the apple did not fall too far from the tree. For several years now I have been well acquainted with James. I see the dedication to continue the name, music and the legacy of Bill Monroe.

I really didn't know too much about James before the opportunity came along to make his acquaintance. I have been received and treated well by him every time I have seen him. I have known him to take the time to meet fans who were not really able to go to him. He has made it a point to do this. Someone out here wants to meet you, you need me out there right now, let's go. And he took the time to visit with folks beyond glad to see you, here's you handshake, thank you, bye.

His last CD, My Father, In Memory of Bill Monroe, brought a lot of the story together in "Bean Blossom Memories." I'm looking forward to the new one and you will be hearing it on Sunday Bluegrass. A very good way to start a New Year.

The Good & the Bad

This past year was a good year for many and a tough year in other ways for some. Thankfully, we did not lose as many of our top folks and entertainers as last year. Health problems have dogged some. Then there's the other side of the coin. It was a mighty good year for Dr. Ralph. He will be at Shepherdsville Music Place on the 10th. Ralph has emerged as a benchmark for dedication, uncompromising integrity and faith in what you are doing. Successes piled high in 2002 with such tours as "Down From The Mountain II," a recent tour in London, England, sold out weeks in advance and other recognitions.

New Ears

I was very pleased to gain some listeners this year from among the folks and pickers I meet and know from Norris, Tenn. C.F. Bailey has become an Internet listener from Tazewell, Tenn. C.F. is among some of the topnotch pickers at the Homecoming each year. I am particularly pleased to have CDs of folks like him, Earl Bull and others. Thanks much to all of you folks down there.

A Peek at the Pickers

· Music Ranch USA, West Point, Ky.: January 4, Johnny Polinsky & Christiana Lawrence. January 11, Beth Omera Harris & Jack Lucas. January 18, Dean Weddle. January 25, Peggy Jo & Sammy Wise. Feb 1, Al Hilbert & Lonie Jones.

· Shepherdsville Music Place: January 3, Kentucky Blue. January 10, RALPH STANLEY & Tommy Brown. January 17, Open Highway. January 24, Larry Stephenson Band. January 31, Larry Sparks.

· Kentucky Blue: January 3, Shepherdsville. January 4, Clay City, Ky. January 23, Bluegrass Brewing Co., Louisville.

Play the Hand You're Dealt

Each New Year has its own unrevealed mysteries which unfold from day to day. Surprises, some difficulties and some tragedies. It is like shuffling a deck of cards and the hands that are dealt are the test of each player. How will you play it? May we all be dealt a royal flush for the coming year. Realistically, that will not happen. Also realistically, we must play each new deal. We must play it and do not allow it to play us.

Resolve to Watch Sunday Bluegrass

Best wishes to each for the best the future has to offer. Take what comes and make the best of what comes. Watch those resolutions and remember one of the easiest to keep: Sunday Bluegrass every Sunday night, 8 to 11, 91.9 FM and streaming audio, WFPK.org.

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