Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

SPRING, SPRING, SPRING! What took you sooo long? Where have you been hiding? I know - behind the cold and chilly winds, somewhere Jack Frost couldn't find you and somewhere among the snowflakes. But now here you are. WELCOME, take a bow and DO YOUR STUFF! You are as welcome as an extra dog in an igloo.

I guess by now you've got the idea I'm glad Spring is here.

Remembering Art Stamper

I will start off by regressing a moment to include something I wanted to get in last time and had that nagging feeling I had forgotten something. That was because I had. When Art Stamper passed on, I sent Laurie Lewis a note, as I did to many others. I knew Laurie knew Art; I didn't know how well. As always in her gracious manner, I got the following note from her.

Dear Berk, I am so sorry to hear about Art. He was a great spirit and a wonderful fiddler. I knew him, but not well. I'm going to take out my fiddle now and play a few tunes for him.Take care of yourself. Laurie

That's Laurie Lewis and, as I've said before, a class act and lady among class acts.

While I'm on the subject of Art Stamper, I would like to say congratulations on a well-done piece in the March issue of Bluegrass Unlimited by a very good mutual friend here in Louisville, Sheila Nichols. The article and your pictures made for an excellent and fitting tribute to Art. Way to go, lady.

Seasoned 'Grass

Since I can't always trust myself to remember everything, I do things when I think of them. Our very, very dear friend Wade Mainer will celebrate his 98th birthday the 21st of this month of April. Wade, a pioneer of the music and originally from North Carolina, has had a legendary career. He and his dear wife Julia performed at the Charlotte Bluegrass Festival last June and did a great job of it. It has been a great pleasure to know Wade and Julia for nearly 19 years now. A tip of the bluegrass hat to you, Mr. Wade Mainer and may you have many more. (If any reader would like to send Wade a much-appreciated card, address it to 3327 Herrick St., Flint, MI 48503-4063.)

New Festival in Town

I recently received the following e-mail:

Hey Berk, FYI, I am presenting another festival. It's an early bird (April 8 & 9), at Doe Run Inn in Brandenburg, Ky. It's free!! Are you available to MC the show? It's the same theme as Strictly Bluegrass, starts at 5 on Friday till 10 and Saturday from noon till 10. Camping is available and of course all food will be handled by the famous Doe Run Inn! Their food is the Best! Please start plugging it asap. Hope you can make it. So far, I have Gary Brewer and the Kentucky Ramblers (I hear they are really HOT! Ha Ha!), David Davis, The Cagle Family, Dean Osborne and several more. I am calling it "The Hillbilly Jamboree Music Festival." It has an old-timey theme! Hog calling, kids area, etc.... Thanks GB [Gary Brewer].

I couldn't tell it any better and so there you have it, straight from the source.

Attention Pickers, Grinners And Jammers:

Press Release

Every Saturday and Sunday at the American Flea Market (16 miles north of Louisville at the Memphis, Ind., Exit 16, on I65 North), small children, grandparents and everyone in between are gathering to play Bluegrass, Mountain, Country and even some Gospel American music. People are invited to come and bring their instruments, voices, or both and join in a nice family oriented music jam. Saturday mornings have developed into more classical traditional bluegrass, but you never know who will show up or which retired Opry player will sit in the music circle and play or sing. If you are looking for a place to meet nice folks and join in the musical jams, everyone is welcome. Lots of passing through truckers who have talent also stop. Bobtails are welcome, all you truck drivers and there is a place to park.The jams begin around 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. every weekend. There are plenty of chairs for sitting and enjoying the music. DONALD RAY PENNINGTON, JAM SESSION director, AMERICAN FLEA MARKET, MEMPHIS INDIANA 1-812-752-7053.

What's Going On Around Here For April?

SHEPHERDSVILLE: April 1, Doc Mercer, Wayne Lewis and the Cumberland Highlanders. April 8, Melvin Goins & Windy Mountain, Tommy Brown & County Line Grass. Now pay attention! THURSDAY, April 14, The Lewis Family. April 22, David Peterson & 1946. April 29 (Season closer), Sammy Adkins & Sandy Hook Mountain Boys, Tommy Brown & County Line Grass.

Surprise Package

Quite often e-mail is like a surprise package. Sometimes you are not sure who it's from and a real surprise when you open it. I got a real one of those this last month. This was from a fellow that took me back 47 years. The gentleman that the note came from works at Ch. 6, WTVR Operations Engineer in Richmond, Va. His name is Louis Power. That's now, but 47 years ago when he was just a pup, at best, is what the note is all about.

Louis' uncles played in a local band around home at that time and one of them gave him a mission to attempt to find pictures and maybe a recording from that time. Louis traced me through the WFPK website and made contact. He said that reading my bio as posted on there he found many parallels relating to the time and his kin, so he rightly concluded I was the one he was searching for. Upside of all of this: a new friend and more, for correspondence, swapping of stories and the like to come. Downside: I don't have any pictures or recordings to offer. I've already provided him with some "amazing" stories concerning his uncles and others in the band. Looking forward to a continuing friendship and correspondence.

Enough for this time. I do hope your Easter was all it should be. Make your preparations now for bluegrass festival season and attend the festival of your choice. Also continue or start listening to Sunday Bluegrass every Sunday night from 8-11 p.m.,WFPK 91.9 FM. We also stream audio from WFPK.org., Bluegrass, traditional country and old-time country. See you on the radio or at a festival. Let's watch for each other.