Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

How was your Christmas and New Year? Mine was ... well I can't actually say, as a result of these little time controllers called DEAD LINE. This has to be written, by necessity, before either of the aforementioned events actually occurred. Sooo, what do I do now? I'll just go forward with "IF." If things went as planned (or anticipated), I went to Virginia to spend Christmas with my daughter and great-granddaughter. I got there Monday before Christmas, had a time doing a little shopping and visiting cousins and others I haven't had much visiting time with the past few years. Also, there was quite a bit of taking it easy and entertaining ourselves and each other in one way or another. Then, of course, the day of return came along and it's back in the saddle routine again. Now, what did you do?

Give Jan a Listen

Last month - December - I was able to connect up and listen to Jan Dale. Some of you may know Jan from IBMA visits for several years now. Jan has a show somewhat similar to mine. One of the biggest differences is, she is in Australia and I am here in Kentucky. Of course, this means they are streaming, as we are. Jan Dale is on from 7 - 9 p.m. our time, Monday night. That is 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Tuesday, Melbourne time. Ain't this 'puter stuff something else! Anyhow, that is a Public Broadcast station like PRP and they have fund drives also. They did that the night I was listening. Naturally, I e-mailed Jan after the show to inquire as to how she did. Here is he response:

Dear Berk, Thanks so much for your support. Glad you enjoyed today's show. The fundraising went very well for me, because Southern Style raised more than any other show on the station and that included the weekend shows, which are supposedly the most popular!! Hurrah for Bluegrass and Old Time music lovers. Best wishes, Jan

I'll vote for that. Congratulations, Jan and keep up the good work.

If you should decide to give her a listen, the address is www.pbsfm.org.au . If you try, you may have to "fish" around the site with a click click here, a click click there and a click click everywhere and you'll eventually find the magic click. For my part, I would recommend giving Jan Dale a listen.

Bluegrass Down Under

On the subject of Australia and bluegrass music, Dan Jones had a few comments in a recent conversation about playing there. Dan's observation was that they love bluegrass, that the audiences he saw was starved for bluegrass and old-time music. He was impressed with the attention the audience gave every song, instrumental and performance everywhere. He specifically mentioned how they were quiet, not talking when the band was playing. He enjoyed a trip there tremendously. No, I'm not sure when he was there, but whenever it was it left a lasting impression on Dan Jones.

Thanks, my friend, for sharing that.

Dan also brought in a CD of his for me, Dan Jones with Arthur Hatfield & Buckcreek. Dan does his usual fine job on all of these. Listen for it; you'll be hearing it on "Sunday Bluegrass."

Remembering Pappy

A note of interest to many of us came in a card last month. Here is the content: "Someone told me you liked my dad, Clayton McMichen. Recently I received a CD from Scotland featuring my dad's band, to include `Slim' Bryant, who turned 97 on 7 December '05, his brother `Loppy,' Ken Newton, Jerry Wallace and my Dad. Then I got another from London, England, which was of my Dad alone. They called him `The Legendary Fiddler.' Made me very proud. Thought this might interest you. - Clifford & Juanita McMichen Lynch."

Interesting to me and, I feel pretty sure, to many of our readers. It is not uncommon for Clayton McMichen's name to come up in conversations, especially regarding "the old-timers." Thank you, Juanita, for that note and New Year's best to you.

The good, the bad and the ..... ?

Last year deposited many ups and downs on all of our doorsteps. I lost my wife and several friends. We had gotten a new car earlier in the year. I had the opportunity to make a trip home to Virginia, long overdue. That trip renewed bonds with many cousins I grew up with. I also got better acquainted with my great-granddaughter.

I, as did many other bluegrass enthusiasts, recognized much promise in some rising youth bluegrassers. To name a couple, the local group that is known as Sassafras is going great guns and then there is the young lady I met last year at Norris, Tennessee - Abigail Moore, The Little Indian Princess. I hear folks mention the youngsters.

Don't leave out Cherryholmes and their much deserved win - IBMA Entertainers of The Year. Can't wait to see these folks again sometime soon. It's sort of like sitting down, looking back and coming up eventually with a balance after all. Can't you just hear Lester Flatt, "And I know all the good things outweigh the bad," reinforced with Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick's, "Count Your Blessings." Just do that, be honest and recognize some you might not have before and those blessings will add up.

Time To Make Your New Bluegrass Year's Plans

Shepherdsville: January 6, Dr. Ralph Stanley and Tommy Brown & County Line Grass. January 13, The Sullivans. January 20, Kentucky Blue. January 27, Driving Rain. February 3, Larry Sparks & Lonesome Ramblers.

Wrapping Up

I guess that puts the wrap on 2005 and a peek into the unwrapping of 2006. While you're peeking, be sure to peek at the clock Sunday nights at, oh, let's say 8.That means "Time now for Sunday Bluegrass," WFPK 91.9 FM, bluegrass, traditional country and old-time country.

Sixteen and one-half years of America's music. Thanks to all who have been with us all these years and to everyone who takes time to read this:

Happy New Year !