Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Summertime ¼ and those lazy, hazy days are bound to be around. A relaxing time for some, busy times for others. And as for me, between it and spring, my favorite time of the year. I think summer is generally a more nostalgic season, with specific holidays excepted, than any time. I like the sounds of summer: The buzzing of whatever buzzes in the outdoors, gentle breezes and shade trees. Traffic that passes near or a short way off. Lawn mowers and neighbors doing whatever they may be doing - playing, working or maybe partying in the yard. But that's a bit of memory play because there's not as much of that as it was when I/we were growing up. To put it another way:

An Old Front Porch Swing

Do you ever miss the old days

And sitting in a front porch swing

When you would wave to a passing neighbor

And listen to the song birds sing

Or at the end of a long hard day

Just rest and feel the gentle breezes blow

And the rush of the day would just melt away

But then, I guess you wouldn't know

This modern world, with it's rush and whirl

And it's mighty TV set

Has taken us in from the old porch swing

And I regret, has made us forget

I remember when mama and papa

Would gather on the porch and chat

And a neighbor on a walk, would stop and talk

I wish we could get back to that

Front porches are gone, like many old songs

There's no romance in the air

I'd like to live there again, in an old porch swing

I'm sure romance would return right there

So turn away from the TV set

Let's try it again in the spring

We'll sit on the porch and wave to a friend

And just relax in the old swing again

No, it won't be the same, mama and papa are gone

And the old friends are not passing by

But I think we could find, new friends in time

So Lord, I think I'll give it a try.

Now let's get on with the here and now.

Jimmy Martin's Passing

I suppose one of he big items for this time is the passing of Jimmy Martin last month. Another case of "we could all see it coming," and yet it still comes unexpectedly. On May 14, 2005, at 77, Jimmy Martin passed away.

By the time you read this I will have played Tom T. Hall's "Bluegrass Gathering In The Sky." It surely is taking place somewhere out there. The King of Bluegrass has entered the circle.

As I commented on the tribute show I had [on Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK], many will remember that at one time Jimmy had a reputation for being hard to get off the stage. There are many stories about this. Mine is that, for whatever reason, whenever I was MC for a show that Jimmy was on, I never encountered that problem. No question, J.M. could work and hold a crowd. He was an entertainer.

We've all heard stories of the differences Bill Monroe had with selected other entertainers and longstanding "feuds." Dana Cupp, Bill's last banjo player, told me this: On one of Bill's last Opry appearances, Jimmy was there and standing backstage. When Bill came off he walked over to Jim and stood there for a minute. Jimmy looked at Bill and asked him, "Bill, what do you want me to do?" The reply, "I want you to shake that hand." Dana said he was really glad to see that.

More Detailed Grass

I want to mention a couple of upcoming festivals and shows separately for the purpose of being a bit more detailed with them.

Bluegrass 101 has taken over the Bardstown Bluegrass Festival at White Acres Campground, 3.5 miles west on Highway 62. Friday's show, 6-10 p.m., features Bluegrass 101, Pine Mountain Railroad, Stringtown and Kentucky Wind. Saturday, noon till 10 p.m., Bluegrass 101, David Davis & Warrior River Boys, Sassafras, Hwy. 62 and Royal Blue. I have been hearing a lot about this young group Sassafras and am anxious to hear them, along with all of the rest.

R.O.M.P., WHAT!, ROMP, no, not that kind, I'll spell it out for you. That's River Of Music Party. Big show put on by the International Bluegrass Museum at Owensboro the 23- 25 of this month. Thursday will feature IBMA Hall of Honor Legends Kenny Baker & Josh Graves, Curly Seckler, Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys.

Jimmy Martin was scheduled to be there. A decision has been made to use what would have been Jimmy's allotted time as a tribute to him and Art Stamper. A very good idea, I think. Friday and Saturday: Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Tim O'Brien, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Mountain Heart, Uncle Earl, Stringtown, Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time, Ronnie Reno & The Reno Tradition, Kruger Bros., Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, Audie Blaylock & Redline, Grascals, Dismembered Tennesseans and the Betweeners and more to be announced. Plus many activities, including Bluegrass Masters Film Festival: 5 World Premieres.

What more could you want? Believe it or not, there is more and this is it. The Legendary Pioneer of our music will be there and is expected to perform: Wade & Julia Mainer. Wade, now 98 - that's right, 98 - performs as strong as many half his age. I don't know why anybody would want to miss this.

I needed some details and got them just in time to add here. These came from the director of the Museum: Basically, the breakdown is like this: Thursday is at the museum, period, until night then we walk across the hall to RiverPark Center's Cannon Hall. Thursday is very cool indeed because in addition to having all five film premieres - complete with filmmakers, musicians and interviewers present - we also have a big unveiling ceremony and reception as the Hall of Honor plaques of Curly Seckler and Bill Vernon are entered in the museum's IBMA Bluegrass Hall of Honor. Then the Legends Concert, which is going to be awesome and that's just all there is to it - just awesome. Friday and Saturday all events are at the museum (air-conditioned!) during the hot daytime hours of 9 a.m. till 3:30 p.m. Then we go to English Park from 4 p.m. till midnight. Big discounts (over half price) for students and active military. Kids 12 and under get in free. Tickets are REALLY reasonable at $55 for a 3-day pass, PLUS we went down on our ticket prices $5 a day to try to help people out with their added gas expense. Who else is doing that??

Other events

_Festival Of The Bluegrass, June 9-12, Georgetown, Ky.: IIIRD Tyme Out, Pine Mountain Railroad, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Seldom Scene, Dry Branch Fire Squad, King Wilkie, J.D. Crowe, Blue Highway, Mountain Heart, Sierra Hill, Kentucky Blue, Stringtown, Katie Penn Band, Billie Renee' & Cumberland Gap, The Moron Bros., Pickintime.

_ Cavehill Bluegrass Festival, Science Hill, Ky., June 16-18: Lynn Hall Band, Cumberland Grass, Blue Shades Of Grass, Chimney Rock Boys, Rural Route 2, The Mystery Mountain Boys, The Tommy Webb Band, The Daltons, Wild Blue Yonder, Col. Larry Fuller Band, Lost-N-Lonesome.

_ Old Joe Clark Festival, Renfro Valley, June 30, July 1 & 2: Dale Ann Bradley, Newfound Road, The Moron Bros., The Lewis Family, Honi Deaton & Dream, Lonesome River Band, Kenny & Amanda Smith, Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show and more.

_ Charlotte, Michigan, Festival, June 23-25: Alecia Nugent, Don Rigsby, Osborne Bros, Gary Waldrep, Marty Raybon, Karl Shiflett, Audie Blaylock, Grand Ole Country, Vince Combs, Continential Divide, R & L Express, Harbour Town, Wildwood Valley Boys, The Larkens, Bluegrass Thoroughbreds, Tommy Brown and the Lewis Family.

Enough, enough. Be sure to join me each Sunday night 8-11 p.m., WFPK 91.9 FM, for Sunday Bluegrass. In fact come early - 6 p.m. - for my friend Michael Young with Roots & Boots. Tell your friends out there in the Back 40 of radioland to get on that computer machine, hunt up WFPK.org, take a shot at Listen Live and join all of the other listeners from England to Hawaii for the real thing in the way of bluegrass, traditional country and old-time country. Don't just sit there, DO IT!!