Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Hot diggity dogs, it's been a hot one, so far. Well, that's what summer's for and it suits me. Hope yours has been good and you enjoyed the 4th. Summer is certainly moving on. We take it as it comes and be thankful we're here to enjoy it.

Deadlines put us in a sort of `catch-up' situation. Deadline is the 20th of each month and often good things happen between then and the end of that month. That's what I'm starting with this time.

IBMA Owensboro ROMP

The ROMP (River of Music Party) put together by the International Bluegrass Music Museum at Owensboro was something to regret missing, if you did. Thursday night featured Hall of Honor pioneers and the placing of Curly Seckler and Bill Vernon's plaque in the Hall. Music on the museum stage in the afternoon and in the big Cannon Auditorium that evening. A most satisfying weekend starting with this day.

A part of the program included a Jimmy Martin Tribute, with a performance by his children. They proved to be crowd-pleasers in true Jimmy form. They indicated they hope to be taking the act on the road. Go for it, y'all.

A tribute to Art Stamper included video clips of a work in progress (documentary) by our good friend Sheila Nichols. Sheila made some brief comments about the project and then Kay Stamper made a few emotional comments about Art.

Also - and a big feature to me - Wade and Julia Mainer performed. It was my privilege to introduce them to a most enthusiastic audience. They received three standing, sincere, heartfelt ovations - one when introduced, two when they "finished," and three for their encore number. To see this, be a part of this, especially when you know them on a personal basis, brings out a feeling of pride for them and they deserve it. There was much talk about the show, much of which bordered on amazement at Wade (98) and Julia's performance.

Last and certainly not least, Curly Seckler and friends took the stage to complete not only a great evening but also a great day. Playing with Curly were a couple of old friends from back home: Tony Ellis, who I have been fortunate enough to see several times in the past few years, was the banjo man. And Lester Woodie, a fiddle player I probably had not seen in over 20 years. Lester was from down home. We did a little catching up.

The Heart of Bluegrass

As most of you know by now, Dr. Ralph Stanley had heart surgery this past month. He did not have a heart attack. Ralph went in for a checkup, said he had felt a few indications and was feeling tired. He was advised to have surgery. They told him he would have a heart attack, as he had 90% blockage. Timing is everything, as they say and this couldn't have been better. He came through the operation in good shape. He was well enough to take a call during my Sunday Bluegrass show the 17th, about two weeks after the operation. He sounded really good, said he had been getting out, doing a good bit of walking and improving every day.

Ralph is anxious and looking forward to being back on the road, but he isn't going to rush it. His first time out will be a show in Arkansas and said he will be at The Tennessee Fall Homecoming, Museum of Appalachia in October.

I must say, Ralph has been very kind to me over the years and I truly appreciate it. He has time for everyone that meets him at his shows. Best to you, Mr. Stanley, for continued improvement and many more years of dedication to your kind of music. It is among the best there is.

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines

Well, I guess we'll go to the who, what, when and where next. Here I am thinking deadline, the 20th and in comes a note from the editor this morning screaming copy, copy, copy; today is the 18th. Nothing will blot out whatever you're trying to remember to include, short of a delete button, than a note like that. Hence, this may be a tad bit short.

Who's Up to What

· West Point, Music Ranch USA, is undergoing changes in their programs and is working out a rotating basis for bands. They will get this pretty well fixed in the near future. Meanwhile, back at the ranch: August 6, Joe Lambert and friends. July 13, Buck & Leah & The Hired Guns return.

· The Milan Bluegrass Festival, Milan, Mich.: August 11-13, Alecia Nugent, Osborne Bros., Marty Raybon, The Lewis Family, Lonesome River Band, Cherryholmes, New Found Road, Carolina Road Band, Bob Paisley & Southern Grass, Vince Combs, Continental Divide, S&S Express, Harbour Town, Gerald Evans & Paradise, The Larkens, Melvin Goins, Tommy Brown and R&L Express.

· Bluegrass 101 Second Annual Bluegrass Festival, August 27, Bullitt County Fairgrounds, Shepherdsville, Ky., August 27: Bluegrass 101, Southern Gentlemen, David Davis & Warrior River Boys, Dean Osborne Band, Tommy Brown & County Line Grass, David Peterson & 1946, Big Country Bluegrass and me.

Just Another Reminder<

Until folks get used to it: Sunday Bluegrass played list, followed by concert announcements on the show, will be posted early in the week on the WFPK station web. Go to, click on program guide, scroll down to "Sunday Bluegrass" and click on it. When the page opens, at the top of the column click on the played list.

Thanks to you all for being a listener and/or a reader. "Sunday Bluegrass" is heard locally and streaming audio to the world each Sunday night from 8-11 following "Roots & Boots," hosted by my good friend Michael Young, from 6 to 8. We share a lot of listeners.

To join in the streaming, go to, click Listen Live and follow the instructions from there.

Not time to go get a doughnut right now but, it is time to hit the send button.