Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

February 2, Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day and Other Outstanding Events

Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow that day, it means six more weeks of bad weather. Without benefit of "legend," if C.R. [Wilson, promoter] sees his shadow, it means twelve more weeks of good bluegrass at Shepherdsville. Let's hope the groundhog oversleeps and that way we should have good weather for bluegrass.

Now don't you go pulling a "Punxsutawney Phil" out of his hutch with enough floodlights and cameras around and say he saw his shadow. I guess he did with all of that light all over the place. Wait for the sunshine. Poor ole Phil, wake him up, drag him out into all of that. I think he ought to bite somebody.

Bluegrass Kick Start

January gave us a real kick start on the 6th when Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys made their annual appearance at Shepherdsville. The attendance was down just a little from the normal for them. I think in part that a number of factors, including times, are a little tight right now for many folks. Personally, it was a very good visit.

Ralph is still recovering from his bypass surgery. He sat out the second show because of some weakness he was experiencing. Two (Ralph's son, fondly referred to as Two), did a great job of carrying on and leading the band. This young man has been well grounded in his stage presence and leadership from a great source of experience and has learned his craft well. Nathan, Ralph's grandson, is now a full member of the band, playing mandolin. His first CD release is due out soon. His performance was impressive, very impressive. Nathan is my buddy.

One more bit here on the subject, Congratulations to Ralph II and his beautiful wife Kristi on the birth of Ralph Stanley III.

Ralph - Dr. Ralph - has a new CD on his own label and it is obtainable only from him. It is really good and very definitely Ralph Stanley. "Ralph Stanley Sings His Favorites Now and Then" has 25 cuts, several of which I can't recall having heard. If it's the pure Stanley sound that you want, I definitely recommend this CD. A couple of those I had not, or don't recall, having heard include, "How Could I Dream Such A Dream," "Ringing Of The Hammer" and "Old Rail Fence." Jack Cooke, longtime - very longtime - bass player for Ralph has a new CD also. Jack has promised to send me a copy.

Oops!

There is a fellow I intended to mention several times in this column and before I knew it I had shipped the ramblings off to the editor and forgot to include him. Well, not this time. If you go to Shepherdsville with any regularity you will have seen him and you would have applauded him. So, OK, who is this guy? The name is Kanapple, David Kanapple. Or perhaps you've heard him referred to as "Longlegs." Yep, that's him, the guy with the beard who dances big time, right down front, much to the delight of the audience. He is an Indiana State Champion Clogger and once you see him, you know why. David is good and adds a little extra treat. So, what does he do for a day job? Well he is a tree trimmer. I'm told that when the cherry picker has run out of stretch but not out ot tree, Longlegs is the man to call. He takes over and heads up the tree. He knows his job and does it as a professional. Actually I think clogging is his real vocation and this tree stuff supplements his groceries. Always a smile that lights up a dark spot.

More about Ralph

Another word about Ralph Stanley before I forget. Ralph's 79th. birthday is the 25th of this month. If you would like to send him a card - birthday, get well, friendship or whatever - he is always glad and appreciative to receive them. Ralph Stanley, 7455 Dr. Ralph Stanley Hwy.Coeburn, VA 24230

I guess they put in new 911 addresses in Coeburn. I'll bet you with an address named after you that you will always get your mail!!!

Calendar Worthy

There are some upcoming events worth putting on your calendar NOW.

Let's go ahead and start with ...

_ Shepherdsville Music Place: February 3, Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers. February 10, Grass Strings. Feb 17, Cherryholmes (IBMA Entertainers of the Year). February 24, True Gospel Echos (all gospel). March 3, Big Country Bluegrass.

_ Music Ranch Usa, West Point. Country shows every Saturday night.

Bare Cupboard?

Well, the bluegrass cupboard is a little bare this time of the year, but there are many events a few weeks down the calendar and I'll be filling you in on those as they get a little closer.

Will just remind all of you again to tune in WFPK 91.9 FM for Sunday Bluegrass every Sunday night, 8-11.

Something else to mention: For those of you who may be interested, my Sunday Bluegrass played list is on the Public Radio Website. Go to wfpk.org, click on program guide, scroll down to Sunday Bluegrass, click on it and when the window opens up it tells you how to find the list.

Sweets for the Sweet?

Don't forget your sweetie on the 14th. That's Valentine's Day, you know. Also, February is our shortest month.

B.O.T.O.

Here's something to mark down now. This is an effort to bring bluegrass back in a way to take up the slack or fill the void left by the fast train south IBMA saw fit to take. Support it.

The Banks of the Ohio Bluegrass Festival will be an annual event held in Louisville, Ky., beginning March 24, 2006. Tickets and accommodations are still available. Book your space early to guarantee your place in history!

The list of performers includes The Betweeners, J.D. Crowe, Audie Blaylock & Redline, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Dale Ann Bradley, Hog Operation, Cherryholmes, Lost Mill String Band, Michael Cleveland and Mountain Heart.

Plus, there'll be two days full of workshops, open jams and good ole family fun.