Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Did we skip a week or two somewhere? I mean it can't be time for a column this soon. I don't think I'm ready. I gotta start keeping better track of the old calendar and making better notes. Well, let's see what I can remember of the last month.

The Road to Milan

Early in the month it was another good trip to Milan, Michigan. There were a few side effects, but all in all good. Up there right in the festival area for a few miles + road construction. I've about decided that anybody looking for a job and can't find one should contact some of these road construction outfits. That's one job they can't send out of the country and it's in full force everywhere you go. Well, so much for that; we survived it. and everybody got there sooner or later. Actually one of the best crowds I have seen on an early Thursday afternoon.

Got acquainted with Everett Lilly, of the famous Lilly Brothers. They will be at IBMA. Bea wasn't able to be there; however, Everett and sons did a great show + two of them. Several groups in this vein were real crowd-pleasers. The Flint River Boys were real crowd-pleasers for two shows also. Their fiddler did one heck of a show closer with "Orange Blossom." Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain were right there in the thick of it. Melvin had some good news in that his wife's operation was very successful and, if I remember correctly, he said they got all the cancer.

Karl Shiflett was running a little behind, as was Dave Evans. Karl called in and advised he was running late. Dave had water pump problems and Karl was a little too far away. A couple of shuffles in the program kept everything in order. Karl got in when supper break would have been, did a show and everything fell right back into place. Incidentally, Jake is no longer with him and no more drum (singular). The Osborne Bros. did a segue show, I call it. They started, went from song to song with a minimum of talk for the whole time. A fantastic showing. The Lewis Family was at Little Roy's usual high octane best. Polly and Janice told me that Pop was doing very well. That's good to hear.

Lost & Found very graciously did one long show to help take up slack where it was needed. Once again the true grit of the bluegrass community comes through to show that "family" takes care of family. We're all in this together and give cover and comfort where cover and comfort is needed. Lonesome River Band once again repeated their "know what this audience wants" kind of show. I feel sure they will be making return engagements next year.

There were stellar performances from groups that do not, as yet, have the widespread recognition of some of the others: Morning Harvest, Nitro Hill, S&S Express and Jericho Road. File these names away in your natural RAM and seek them out if the opportunity presents itself. Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, raged on with the audience. Rhonda came in with two buses. The sponsorship bus of Martha White and another bus of , uh, well, I think about the best and be close to right would be a super bus. Rhonda described it to the audience. I didn't catch all of what she was saying but must be full of good technology and gadgets.

Got the traditional rain one day and an amazing crowd sat through it. A little lightening didn't stop the show. There was one lady (I found out later she was new to bluegrass) who sat right there in the rain with neither umbrella, rain coat nor cover. Just her shorts and T-shirt. The bluegrass bug really bit that gal. I asked the audience to give her a hand when the rain stopped. Dedication is where it's at. The next night a gentleman came to me and told me she was still there and was tickled to death that I had said something about her and would I mention that again.

Road construction revisited: Leaving Dundee, Mich., Sunday morning, I found entrance to the highway was blocked. Not real sure of the cause, but I think there was a wreck a day in that area while I was there. The road was blocked all the way to Toledo, so I was told. This in turn required an unscheduled tour of some of the farm country and back roads of Southern Michigan. Well, I guess you know how that can be when you are headed into uncharted territory. My neighbor at the counter in Bob Evans had given me some directions on how to do a bypass of the construction area. He drew me a small map, clear and easy enough. I started on my way and missed a turn onto one of the main roads I was supposed to follow on the map. One turn was left off the map. A short ways down the road I stopped for an up date on the directions I had. The young lady in the gas station informed me that following the map would not have worked anyhow because the road was closed there also. She is the one that told me folks didn't know it but the road was closed to Toledo. Then she gave me the simplest instructions I have had. These were several miles, but go to the flashing light, turn right, go to the stop sign, turn right and it will take you to 23. Worked good and I was just about on the bypass at Toledo and on my way to I 75 and back to Kentucky. There is always a little uncertainty in situations of this nature but I stayed the course and made it.

The Big One That Got Away

By now you all know that the IBMA World of Bluegrass will be here next year + 2004 + and then it's bye- bye, Louisville. Another victory for the anti-bluegrass faction in the area. "Officially," it had outgrown the facilities available + something the Derby and basketball will never be able to do, no matter how big either gets.

What is going on around

J.D. Crowe & The New South at the Derby Dinner Playhouse, Monday, September8. Doors and buffet open at 6 p.m. and show time is 7:30. Call 812-288-8281 or go to

Gary Brewer Strictly Bluegrass Festival, September 12 & 13 in New Albany, Ind. Featuring Jimmy Martin, James Monroe, Gary and the Ramblers, Melvin Goins, Dean Osborn, Dean Sapp & Harford Express, Larry Sparks, David Davis & Warrior River Boys and many more. Not only that, it's FREE! or e-mail

Kentucky Bourbon Festival, September 19-20. Pickin' Time, Nashville Bluegrass Band, 1946 and more. 114 N. Fifth Street, on Spalding Hall Lawn.

Poppy Mountain Festival, September 16-20.. IIIRD Tyme Out, Doc Watson, Seldom Scene, Lonesome River Band, Dr. Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys, plus many more.

Vine Grove, KY, September 26-27. David Peterson & 1946, Gary Brewer, Boys From Kentucky, Tommy Brown, Moron Bros. and many more. Take your pick.

Well, enough of this. If I've got any more to tell you, just listen to WFPK 91.9 FM or go to and click "listen now." Y'all be good now and come back, you hear!