Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Well, it's summer now. In "The Good Old Summertime" we experience "Those Lazy Hazy Days of Summer." This next one, as I am trying to write this, is no exception. Kinda brings to mind Lew Childre's song, "Everybody's Fishing." I don't do that much anymore. I used to fish a lot when I was a kid, which was well over a half-century ago last month. I thought when we got older things (time) would slow down. I've got a senior secret for you: It seems to speed up to the point you do things you didn't know you were going to do before you knew you did them. Now that I have you sufficiently confused, I'll attempt to get on with the rest of the column.

Bardstown Grass

The Bardstown Bluegrass festival came off pretty good last month. They had a good lineup, some were friends I've known for a while and there were some I didn't know too well or at all. I had heard comments about the youth band Sassafras. Experience has told me "OK, we'll see and proceed with a grain of salt." After only a couple of numbers it became clear - NO salt needed.

Chloe Blayne, at 15, has an impressive voice, a love for the traditional vein of our music and proves it playing claw hammer banjo - and well. In chatting, she said they had thought it would be something to do the claw hammer alongside the bluegrass banjo in a group. The numbers they chose to do that way worked very well.

Next we have, Tyler - Tyler Mullins. At 13, he plays several instruments and can carry his part like a pro. Next is the fiddler, Jory Hutchens. Jory is 14 and has learned his craft from the likes of Art Stamper and Jeff Gurnsey, among others. And learned he did. His sights are set on a career as a performer and a college degree in traditional music. What a vision.

Turner Hutchens, 10 and going on 11 in September, is the mandolin player in the group. He has performed a lot at West Point, Kentucky. Already among his favorite memories is a jam session with Roland White and Charlie Sizemore.

Another thing about the band is a very unusual promotion item. They have a CD that comes in a CD case, the likes of which you've never seen. It is a crafted wood box and there is a color montage picture of the four young pickers, mounted on a piece of material - I can't remember the name of it now - that serves as the cover and can be removed to get inside.

Stick with it, Sassafras and don't loose your vision. We, the bluegrass community plus, will be hearing much about you. I'll be seeing you in August at Bluegrass 101's festival.

Photo of Tommy Brown & County Line Grass
Tommy Brown & County Line Grass

Reaction to Ralph

New stuff you will have heard by now. I don't really try to do "reviews," will leave that up to Bob Mitchell and others. So this ain't a review - it's my reaction.

I got a new CD and did something I do not recall having ever done before. I didn't just give this one an initial scanning, I put it on and let it play all the way through and then played it complete again. That's the way it caught me. Now, before some of you who know me jump in, it is a well-known fact that I am a huge Ralph Stanley fan. Ralph's latest from Rebel - Shine On - is all gospel and all equally good.

To me, there are a couple here that on the first and following play-throughs, I stopped what I was doing to listen. Listen and pay attention. There are fourteen tracks: "King Of All Kings," "The Roses Will Bloom," "The Old Church Yard," "This Little Light Of Mine," "My Main Trial Is Yet To Come," "Sing Songs About Jesus," "Palms Of Victory," "On A High High Mountain," "The Lowest Valley," Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "I'll Fly Away," "Shine On," "Why Should We Start," and "Fear To Die and Let Your Light Shine Out." This is a CD to add to the music collection of any fan of our music.

Country Gentlemen at Peak

And then there was the other CD that came with it: Joe's Last Train, by the Country Gentlemen. Twelve tracks of The Gentlemen at a peak. This is a re-issue of an album started in April 1976. This crew consisted of Charlie Waller, Doyle Lawson, Bill Yates, Bill Holden, Mike Auldridge and Ed Ferris. I gotta tell you, this is also a super CD. The cover picture is something else. Take a look at it; can you find Doyle?

`Twas A Very Good Month

Well, this should indicate June was a good month. Can't tell you about it now because of my deadline, but June also had the ROMP. The International Bluegrass Museum River Of Music Party. I hope you did not miss it.

Crossed another line in June. I woke up on my birthday and that is a good thing. I woke up that morning and had crossed the three-quarter century mark. [Happy Birthday, Berk - Your Humble Column Tweaker.]

Here's the event list, so read closely.

# The Bluegrass Jams At The American Flea Market, 16 miles north of Louisville up I-65 at exit 16, are going strong, according to reports I've been getting. Every weekend, 9 to 5. Plenty of chairs, handicapped accessible and all pickers are welcome.

# Lake McNeely In Louisville has jamming every Thursday starting at 5 p.m.

# Old Joe Clark Festival At Renfro Valley, June 30 and July 1-2: A big lineup for them.

# July 8-9, Bluegrass Festival At Derby, Indiana. Friday And Saturday, Pine Mountain Railroad, Carolina Road Band, Sammy Adkins and Sandy Hook Mountain Boys. Friday, Tommy Brown and County Line Grass, Driving Rain. Saturday, Taylor Ridge Band, Vince Combs and Shade Tree Grass.

# Bluegrass Festival By The Lake, Shelbyville, Kentucky. - July 22 and 23: Tommy Brown and County Line, Kentucky Blue, No Tools Loaned, Brushfire, Stringtown and Glorybound.

# Red Lick Bluegrass Festival, Irvine, Kentucky. July 21-23: 21st, free bean supper, Clarence Baker and The Commonwealths, Borrowed Time and Crossroads Reunion. 22nd, Bluegrass 101, Higher Vision, Karl Shiflett and Big Country Show, Southern Harvest, Wilderness Trail and Crossroads. 23rd, Larry Sigmond and Barbara Poole, Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain, Sammy Adkins and Sandy Hook Mountain Boys, Kirby Knob Boys, Spanky Moore and Bluegrass Gang and Bluegrass 101.

# Vince Combs Bluegrass Festival, Bean Blossom, Indiana, July 28-30. Lonesome Whistle Band, Jerry Paul and Lost Mill String Band, Sullivan Family, Larry Gillis Band, Vince Combs and Shadetree Bluegrass, David Davis and Warrior River Boys, Joe Isaacs and Red Lick Mountain, Valerie Smith, David Peterson and 1946, Rick Prater and Midnight Travelers and Dean Osborne.

And there you have it; take your pick.

I guess enough is enough, so I'd better save this before something takes it away. Don't forget, every Sunday night, WFPK, 8-11, it's "Sunday Bluegrass," streaming audio to the world.

First Sunday last month, by the way, made 16 years of "Sunday Bluegrass," thanks to all of you out there. Hey, tune in at 6 p.m. and get primed for the rest of the evening by my buddy Michael Young - you know, the "Roots and Boots" guy.

Oh, something else: For our played list, go to, click on program guide, scroll down to "Roots and Boots" and/or "Sunday Bluegrass" and click on them. Festivals as mentioned on "Sunday Bluegrass" will also be listed following the played list. Thank y'all!