Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

It's JULY, wheee. July? Know what that means? The year 2003 is half over! Good grief, another overused oxymoron. If the year keeps going like it has been so far, this will be the August column. Time and life seem to be getting together. You've heard it said, "You're living too fast." I'm beginning to wonder if we're living fast enough; can't hardly keep up. Let's see what I can remember of the last three-four weeks that just flashed by.

Did Dry Branch Got Wet at Horse Park?

Went to the Festival of the Bluegrass, at the Horse Park. And rain, didn't it rain children. Did get a brief visit with some good friends I don't get to see nearly often enough: Dry Branch Fire Squad. Ron was up to his usual entertaining self. You really have to pay attention or he'll slip something right past you and you're thinking, what was that? Worse, everybody who was paying attention is laughing and it's either laugh, feel a little foolish, or laugh anyhow not really knowing why.

Mary Jo and Charlie Leet have a new CD called Duets. It's good and I really like the picture on the cover. You should see it. You should have one. Also good to know that the Fire Squad has a new CD "in the can" and it will be on the way to us none too soon.

I told you that to tell you this. Where have you heard that before? Mary Jo sent me an e-mail to let me know they would leave my name on the guest list at the gate. Same message went to a lady DJ in Cincinnati + Gracie Muldoon at WOBO. Turns out she does a bluegrass show up there. Sent me an introductory note and gave us a listen Sunday night. Just goes to show you when, where, how or why you meet some folks. So I say, Gracie, thanks and thanks for the very kind comments to WFPK on my behalf. Keep listening. She said the station she is with isn't streaming.

As one thing leads to the next, chatted with a fellow from Chicago at the Horse Park. Told him about my show and he says they can't get anything around there like that. I of course followed through with all the information and hope to find out he is listening. Another link in the chain of events.

There are more.

Somehow this reminds me of the John Hartford song, "(If I Had Not Been There), I Would Not Be Here." Jan Dale, a very nice lady DJ from North Australia who I met at IBMA several years ago and who has a show similar to mine, recently sent me a note concerning an Australian Bluegrass Band. Jan's note said she had told this group about my show and she thought their CD would be suitable for me. Received a note from Karen Lynn to tell me about the band and the CD. The CD is Blue Mountain Rain, Karen Lynn & Martin Louis featuring Acoustic Shock. I told her, as I do so many folks who want to send me material, "I'll listen and if it fits what I play I'll use it." Fair enough. She chose to send a copy and I played it. It is a good one.

A local fellow who plays when he can and who many of you know, Buddy Martin, called after about the third play from it telling me how much he likes it. Buddy doesn't do that too often unless something really gets his attention. The last thing before this was an LP I sometime play from, Carl Smith Sings Bluegrass.

But, back to the folks from Australia. Buddy also mentioned the banjo picker on there. He is impressive. Name: Martin Louis. I hope when they have other releases available we'll be fondly remembered.

Kind of full circle now and back to John. If I hadn't been there (IBMA and met Jan) I wouldn't be here (telling you about this very good group, proving once more BLUEGRASS music has a universal appeal). Thank you, Jan Dale and thank you, Karen Lynn, for heeding her suggestion. Best for much continued success.

More Than Just Music

Additional proof that the wonderful world of bluegrass is just so much more than the music itself. The music is worth it all, but the added incentives and bonuses just can't be equaled. There is a lousy retirement plan and I guess that's because, who really wants to retire from bluegrass and all that goes with it? Benefits and bonuses are many. You can understand the words of the songs, both in knowing what the words are and how to really relate to what they mean. This is due to bluegrass singers being an oasis in the desert of screamers and thunka, thunka thunka sound. Think about the people, folks, peers you have met, encountered, conversed with and, in many cases, made friends.

Now that's a benefit made possible by attendance at a bluegrass concert/festival.

Then there are the artists, stars and legends of the business that you have met, become somewhat acquainted with and the few you are fortunate enough to have formed a friendship with. Do you need a better reason for going to an event that is strictly family-oriented and that all ages (generations) of a family go to, enjoy and are together, not because they have to, because they want to.

Read on; I'll include a number of just such events down the page.

Surprise, surprise, surprise

Some of you heard this and I want to include a very sincere thanks for an unexpected surprise last month. My birthday was on the eighth. Michael Young and bride Kris, along with Scott Mullins, gave me an on-the-air birthday party/surprise. During the show they all came in with an excellent birthday cake and sang, with apologies that Ralph wasn't available so they filled in.

Thank you all and I am sure Dr. Stanley would have approved. I sure did. It's friends like this that are just another example of the benefits of bluegrass music. Scott does the Blues show and I do the blue(s)grass show and Michael is right there between us connected on both sides. Thank you, my friends; these things really mean a lot to me.

They pick `em and you pick `em

_ Music Ranch USA, West Point, Ky.: July 5, Chad Geldhaus, Jennifer Bobay & Melanie Rogers guests. July 12, The Kenucky Sisters, Jimmy Jack. July 19, Jordan Young, Jack Lucas and Theresa Dunn guest. July 28, Kevin Jenkins, Bobby Dean and Amanda Priddy.

_ Bluegrass on the Square, Corydon, Ind.: July 19, Lost Mill String Band & Skynny Lynrd.

_ Buffalo Crossing, Shelbyville, Ky.: 1-6 p.m., IIIRD Tyme Out, Kentucky Blue, Wayne Fields & Driftwood, Storefront Congregation.

_ C.R. Wilson Derby (Ind.) Festival: 7 p.m., July 11 & 12, Melvin Goins, Sammy Adkins, Tommy Brown, Clyde & Marie Denny, The Sunnysiders and (SATURDAY) Doyle Lawson.

_ Old Time Fiddlers Contest, Rough River Dam Site: July 18 & 19.

Have a Happy, Safe 4th

Looks like a good place to quit for this time. Now you can all read, educated, mature and I shouldn't have to tell you: Don't do anything stupid, dumb, careless, reckless or that will make you or someone else regret the day. Have a happy and good fourth. Let your conscience be your guide, deflate the ego and macho so you can read the next column, go to the next festival and listen to Sunday Bluegrass, 91.9 FM WFPK, every Sunday night 8-11. Some fellow said, "The fourth was great; it was that fifth that nearly killed me."