Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

August - I guess we're halfway there - halfway between the wonderful, refreshing season of Spring and the wonderful last hoorahs of that season of Fall that begins to condition us for Winter. It's all coming so fast. I guess, depending on your personal preferences, it's sort of like a good bluegrass festival. We leave one glad that it's over and looking forward to next year's at the same place. We're a strange bunch of critters, don't you think?

Cool Charlotte Bluegrass

The Charlotte, Mich., festival is behind me now and yes, I'm looking forward to next year. Now, after 18 years, it's very much like a family reunion. No exception, as usual it turned out to be a really good weekend. Not a real surprise, but this year it was a "cool" one all the way. That's cool, as in 47 degrees Thursday night and folks were leaving the shade for the sunny spots during the day. It was a three-jacket weekend. Jackets I have learned to take with me. One light jacket if it's cool, one medium jacket if it's chilly and one cold jacket. Used them all this time.

Photo of Wade & Julia Mainer
Photo By Berk Bryant
Wade & Julia Mainer

Can't Keep a Good Man Down

There was the usual good lineup of good talent. My highlight for the show was the appearance of the legendary Wade and Julia Mainer. They played one show Saturday afternoon. Wade had had a pacemaker put in within the week before they were there. He wanted to play a second show but felt it would really be better for him to go on home. At 97, he and Julia gave a most extraordinary show. The playing and singing of both are fantastic. Wade, as he has done for so many years, played harmonica in addition to his banjo + and at the same time. There was more than one remark regarding their appearance to the effect, "This is musical history." Amen!

Jesse and Bobby

Jesse McReynolds was there and going strong. Playing fiddle for Jesse these days is one of the top fiddlers down there in Opry/Nashville land, Bobby Hicks. I enjoy seeing Bobby and having little snippets of visits with him.

I recall the first time I saw Bobby Hicks. He was playing with a local group down home, Smokey Graves. We bring up a little something about those days + days of about 50 years ago + every time I see him. Bobby was getting his fiddle out, case was standing open and there were pictures of a couple of young ladies. Bobby's niece and granddaughter. Course I had to show him my pictures of my daughter and granddaughter and great- granddaughter. I was on stage introducing them, or getting ready to, waiting for the mike arrangements to be completed and Bobby came on. Then it hit me and I told the folks, "I can't believe I was standing back there swapping baby pictures with Bobby Hicks." I have watched that go on at places like the Opry and never entertained a thought that I would someday be doing that. Ain't this a great thing to be a part of?

Lewis Family Surprise

The Lewis Family was there and a big surprise to me was that bass player Travis is no longer with them. He quit. They have a good new CD out and as you might suspect or expect, you will be hearing it on Sunday Bluegrass.

IBMA Awards

This past month, the first-round ballot for IBMA awards came. I filled mine in and mailed it back. There's something in the voting requirements and has been, that I really don't understand why. When you vote, you are required + required + to vote for 5, no more, no less. This applies to each category you vote in. You do not have to vote in each category, but the ones you do vote in, it is 5, no more and no less. This creates a situation in which you may have to vote for nominees that you otherwise wouldn't, in order to vote for the one or ones you wish to support. That just doesn't exactly compute with me. I guess it does with someone, not with me. None of us should have to vote for someone we don't want to in order to vote for those one, two or three we do want to vote for. If you've got the answer to this, let me know.

Pickers and grinners around this month

King Fish Restaurant, River Road and Zorn Ave., Louisville: August 1, Blue Hollow. August 8, Hog Operation. August 15, Kentucky Ramblers. August 22, Hog Operation.

Music Ranch USA, West Point, Ky: August 7, Stephanie Boyd and Jackie Dixion. August 14, The Legend Band of Bagdad, Ky. August 28, Faye Kessier, Ryan Ross and Bobby Dean.

Corydon, Ind. Bluegrass On The Square: August 28, 4- 8, Old Louisville Express and Storefront Congregation.

Owensboro, Ky., Riverpark Center: August 7, 2 p.m., The Wilders. August 14, 2 p.m.: IIIRD Tyme Out.

Shepherdsville, Ky., August 28, 11 a.m., Bullitt County Fairgrounds: Bluegrass 101, Paul Williams, Royal Blue, Stringtown, David Parmley and Continental Divide, Osborne Bros., Tommy Brown and County Line Grass, Wendell Cornett and The Gumbranch Heartbreakers.

Sunday Bluegrass on Radio and Internet

Now, there you have it. Keep your Sunday-night radio dial on 91.9 FM and that's where you will find Sunday Bluegrass. Remember to pass the word to folks on your e-mail list who are out of our signal area, that they can listen on the Internet. We, WFPK, are streaming audio. Go to and click "listen live." Recently added to the web site, played list for the previous Sunday program. At the top of the page, click on "What's on when." Scroll down to Sunday Bluegrass and click on that. When the page opens, click on "View the playlist from the BB. " (right above the picture). E-mail me during the show at Thanks! And stay tuned.