Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

In the dark of night, the crowd gathers. Most are filled with anticipation. They stand together and make small talk. Expectations are big. Suddenly the sky lights up with a resounding BOOM! The fireworks have begun and of course they have; after all it is the Fourth of July, Independence Day. It's all about remembering the beginnings of our great country, America, the USA!

Shooting the Anvil

Close to a hundred years ago in some areas when fireworks were not available, a lot of people in Appalachia and other parts of the country improvised, something they were skilled at. They had an anvil shoot. Wait a minute, did you say `anvil shoot'? Indeed I did. I have had the opportunity to observe an anvil shoot and videotape it.

The Museum Of Appalachia at Norris, Tennessee, for years has had folks who knew their anvils well enough to demonstrate "shooting the anvil" on special holidays such as the Fourth, New Year's, etc.

An anvil is inverted, set upside down on the ground. In the base of the anvil there is a scooped-out place. This is filled with a measured amount of gunpowder and a fuse. A metal plate is placed over this and a second anvil - 125 pounds or so - is set on top of the plate. The fuse is lit and the fuse lighter moves out swiftly. Very swiftly.

You know for sure when the fire hits the powder. It sounds like Fort Knox on a tank range. The top anvil goes pretty much straight up 75 to 100 feet, depending on the load. I watched three "shoots" one day and none of them landed over six feet from the base anvil.

What does this have to do with bluegrass? Nothing, except they have a lot of good bluegrass and old-time music down there.

PRP's Party

I had a really great experience on the 15th of last month. The Public Radio Partnership had their annual Volunteer Recognition Day party at the PRP studio's building. This year I was the only recognized volunteer. The staff of PRP put a really great party together. Friends, staff, guests and previous recognees (is that a word?) [No, Berk, but in law there are `recognizees.' - Your friend, Jean] were on hand for the event. The award was a really nice clock. It now sits on the shelf right over my computer. Inscription reads, "Public Radio Partnership 2006 Volunteer Honor Roll." After my introduction and a few minutes of ad-libs by yours truly, the attendees had very kind and gracious comments. A lot of pictures were taken; you take a lot, in hopes of getting a good one - or an embarrassing one. I appreciate all of the effort that went into this by the station personnel, I really do. THANK you, maybe we can do it again in another 17 years.

Bardstown Bluegrass

June started off with Bluegrass 101's festival at Bardstown. All around good show. Sassafras was in good form. These youngsters are just getting better and better. They are working on a new CD, which I am looking forward to. Other crowd-pleasers during the two-day show included Paul Williams and The Victory Trio, New River Line, Kentucky Blue, Tommy Brown and County Line Grass and Phillip Akemon Phillip, as many of you know, is Stringbean's nephew. I had a good, enjoyable visit with Phillip.


Writing this before the deadline hits, I am looking forward to ROMP! - River of Music Party at Owensboro. Going to be seeing friends and folks I haven't seen for a while - my good friends, The Kruger Brothers and The Dillards, among others. Closing the weekend show, Cherryholmes. WOW, these and many more in one weekend.

If you haven't done so by now, give some serious thought to becoming a member of the International Bluegrass Museum. A great effort, a great project and great results are happening at the museum.

Preservation of the music we all love and the great, the legendary, musicians who started it, developed it and legends-to-be who are keeping it alive. It does take support and members go a long way in that department. I am a member, how about you?

Looking to the weeks ahead

West Point Music Ranch USA

July 1: Michael Goodman Experience. Independence Day Weekend show with vocalist Christy Miller and Matt Lyerla, plus Paul Penny to include an Elvis Tribute Show.

.July 8, 2 p.m.: Gospel Matinee with Expectation, a mother-daughter duet from Alabama, plus Face to Face, Louisville/Shepherdsville.

July 8, 7:30 p.m.: Buck and Leah, plus Country Class with Glenn Philips.

July 15: the renewed original Country Classics with guests The Kentucky Sisters of Fairdale.

July 22, Gospel, 2 p.m.: Heavenly Reign.

July 22, 7:30 p.m.: Country Jamboree with Slick Andrews and Crooked River Playboys. .

July 28, Jamboree style show produced by Sharon Reynolds, Valley Station.

July 29, Ivan Jennings and his band from Missouri.

Derby Indiana Bluegrass Festival, July 7-8: Sammy Adkins and Sandy Hook Mountain Boys, Carolina Road, Vince Combs & Shadetree Grass. Friday, Tommy Brown & County Line Grass, Kings Highway. Saturday, The Moron Brothers and Honi Deaton and Dream.

River Heritage Bluegrass Festival, Brandenburg, Kentucky, July 15: 2006: Don Rigsby & Midnight Call, Gary Brewer, Pine Mountain Railroad, Bluegrass 101 and Tommy Brown. Show starts 2 p.m.

Vince Combs Bluegrass Festival, Bean Blossom, Indiana, July 20-22: Vince Combs & Shadetree Grass, James King Band, Gillis Brothers, Carolina Road, Joe Isaacs & Red Lick Mountain, John Cosby & Bluegrass Drifters and more.

No Excuse.

Well now, you ain't got no excuse for not having someplace to go. Me, I'm going to Virginia to see my daughter and great-granddaughter with an added bonus of a family reunion on my cousin's side. Now y'all have yourself a good Fourth and don't you be holding on to those firecrackers. Man, that really smarts if you do. Play it safe, real safe. If you have just one or too much "Kool-Aid," let somebody else drive. I need you around on Sunday night to give me a really good reason for doing the Sunday Bluegrass Show. Every Sunday night from 8-11, WFPK 91.9 FM and streaming audio to the world by way of