Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

As the line in the song goes, "March winds are gonna blow my blues all away." March winds sweep the winter winds away and sweep in Spring. Springtime is my time. Just like a new year, Spring offers a new beginning.

Great Show, Surprises at Shepherdsville

Larry Sparks was at Shepherdsville last month. Besides Larry's great show, a couple of great surprises. Art Stamper was there and played the whole show with Larry. As most of you know, Art is undergoing or has been undergoing chemo treatments. He had had a treatment the day before the show, but seemed to be doing well. A scan showed the tumor on one side of his chest had shrunk by two-thirds. He and Kay said that he would be having some rough days for about a week. Art, it was good to see you there and hear you. Another surprise was that Andy Ruff, Dobro player, also played with Larry. Good to see Andy playing. If you need a good Dobro player, give Andy a call.

Redd's Website

Something else I learned about last month. A website has been established for Redd Stewart. Redd's son Billy and his wife Sharon have set up the Redd Stewart website. To find it, use www.reddstewart.com. Sign the guest book and add your comments to support an attempt to have Redd put into the Country Music Hall of Fame, as he definitely should be. All too many of the great, earlier country music stars have been sadly neglected and are long overdue. Contributions made to country music over the years by many of these artists should not be neglected any longer. If you go to this website you will find a lot of good information, background and pictures of Redd Stewart. Give it a look and visit today.

Hay, Art _

Here I am, three days before deadline and decided to go visit Art Stamper. I had a video I wanted to take to Art. I got there, knocked on the door, knocked again, peeped in and it looked dark and quiet. OK, nobody home, so I returned to the car to find a bag I could leave the video in and tie to the door knob. As I closed the trunk lid and turned back towards the house, I spotted Art walking from the barn behind the house. He had been loading hay someone had ordered and was due to pick up.

Art, you are something else. A week and a half before on Thursday you had a chemo treatment, Friday night you played with Larry Sparks. Saturday and Sunday a week later you completed a new CD. If I remember correctly, Vince Gill, Tim O'Brien and some others were there for that. Art's not sure just when it will be released. I'm sure he will let us know.

A little over a week later I come to see you and what are you doing? Loading hay. More power to you my friend. James Alan Shelton said, "That sounds just like Art."

We went inside for a visit and some music. Art had some CDs he wanted me to hear some of. His son Blake has a new Country CD. It is good. Got a flavor of traditional country. I noticed a banjo in a chair and asked Art if he plays banjo. He does. Not bluegrass banjo but great old-time banjo. Not knowing about this, I was surprised. I shouldn't have been, but it was a pleasant surprise. Art plays several other instruments, as to be expected, among which are mandolin and guitar. He is concentrating on old-time music. His first love anyhow. I suggested he should pull a real surprise on audiences by bringing out the banjo and playing a couple of those good old tunes. Most of us think of Art as primarily a fiddle player and not just a fiddle player but one of the best in the country. Keep it going, Art.

Homefront

Valentine's Day and there were two good Kentucky Homefront shows at the Kentucky Theater. Kentucky Homefront, as many of you know, is a locally produced radio program aired on Public Radio. The usual bit at one of these is to tape two one-hour shows. It is a range of folk, bluegrass and other bits.

This time it was Wild Carrot, The Cantrells' first show and Steve Rector with Krystal Miller, followed by the Phelps Family Band. Yep, that was my question, too. That was Alan Phelps, Dobro player extraordinaire of the left-hand persuasion.

Steve Rector, thumb-style picking from Merle Travis, Mose Rager country. Along with him, Krystal Miller, a young lady of 17, or soon to be, with a dedicated aim at guitar picking. Her aim was dead on and not only does she do creditable picking that does the style proud, she sings a pretty doggone good song . Keep it up, young lady, you are a credit and inspiration to your peers.

Alan Phelps brought the gang to Sunday Bluegrass [Berk's radio show] that Sunday night and glad to have them. Alan, son William, grandson Matt and Hickory Vaught put in an excellent hour that night. The reports in from all over the stream were very positive. We have got to do that again. Thanks to all of you very much.

In-Your-Lap Bluegrass

This past month can't go without a mention of Joe Isaacs at Shepherdsville Music Show. Among the folks making up that ensemble were Dan Jones, Wayne Lewis, Heather Norwood and at this point I have used up all available memory. My apologies to any I failed to mention. These folks put the bluegrass in your lap. Two former bluegrass boys and more. They will be back, I'm sure.

Who's Next?

Music Ranch USA, West Point, Ky.: March 6, The Knott Bros., Leitchfield. March 13, Rebekah Wellman Moore. March 20,TBA. March 27, Narvel Felts ROCKabilly and, of course, The Classics.

Shepherdsville Music Show: March 5, Clyde & Marie Denny & The Moron Bros. March 12, Wildwood Valley Boys. March 19, Big Country Bluegrass. March 26, Doyle Lawson & Quick Silver.

Bardstown Bluegrass

H. Perkins asked me if I would include this in the column. Names not being one of my strong points, I gotta admit that I can't come up with the "H" part, so we will let it go at that. Anyhow, he has started "BLUEGRASS on the RADIO," Wednesdays, 6-8 p.m., 1320 AM, WBRT, Bardstown, Ky. Now there it is, so give him a listen.

Signing Off

Well, I think it's about time and place to call a halt to this for this time. If I think of anything else I'll tell it on Sunday Bluegrass or write it down next time. Thank y'all and stay tuned to "the shortest, fastest and bestest three hours in radio," Sunday Bluegrass, 8-11 p.m., WFPK 91.9FM and streaming audio and bluegrass to the world from website WFPK.org. Listen live.