Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Spring has finally made it, after wrestling itself loose from the grip of winter. Kind of started off a bit strong, resistant to change, and a bit of a cold attitude. Well it's here and greatly improved I HOPE. All of this so far has been guess work as I started it early last month. So be it; on with the show.

Boffo B.O.T.O.!

Since I am here near the first of last month, let's start with the end of March. To be exact, B.O.T.O.!! - Bluegrass On The Ohio. This has the makings of being the "replacement" for IBMA. It has the makings, BUT it can't be done simply by being there. As with any venture of this nature, it must have the support of bluegrass fans. Lip service won't do it, participating will, and participating beyond the halls of the hotel.

There were attendees from miles away, which is a good thing. It should show us that there is an interest in having a good festival here in Louisville. As far as I know now, it will go on again next year, but next year could be a make-or-break show. A big show is much better than no show, and no show can result in no show, big or otherwise. It's up to us. If we, the fans and bluegrass lovers, want the return of a great bluegrass festival to Louisville, jam at home and plan to be there next round. Support it, talk it up to everybody you know, and let's put a first-class bluegrass festival back here where it should be.

Sassafras performed Friday night and proved they are going to be an act to be reckoned with. These youngsters have got talent, skill, stage presence, and no jealous or ego problems within the group. They are very comfortable together on stage and it projects to the audience. Watch them go!

Cherryholmes was also there. That midday they made an appearance on WFPK's Live Lunch, along with Michael Cleveland's band. Now that was a live lunch sho nuff. I believe Cherryholmes improves every time I see them. This family operates as smooth as a Swiss watch filled with WD40. Everybody is in place right on their note. Interchange reminiscent of Flatt & Scruggs, and they made it a part of the show - one microphone, five pickers. They are something to watch as well as to listen to. When Cherryholmes went into their dance routine, they hit the audience with a full charge of electricity. Watching them, I decided the Energizer Bunny must go over to their place to get a recharge. With acts like this and the others that were there for the weekend, what decent straight-up bluegrass fan wouldn't want to do what we can to keep this show going.

West Point

A week later, Leroy Troy and Sassafras were at West Point. By the way, Leroy and his bride Kendra are expecting "Liza Jane" May 22. Congrats, my friends. For this reason Troy couldn't make it into the station, but Sassafras did. That was the Sunday night of the storm. Gave us problems getting them on - and keeping them on - the air. They actually had to delay leaving, waiting for the storms to pass. Some had to go to Boston and some had to go about halfway to Cincinnati and school the next day. Real troopers and a great job anyhow. Come back again any time you can, and thanks much.

One more B.O.T.O. mention: I was taken by surprise Saturday night when being introduced on stage, "under false pretenses," in order to get me up there to present me a specially made plaque recognizing my soon-to-be 17 years at WFPK and Sunday Bluegrass. My friend Bob Mitchell instigated this by going to Mike B. (as most folks know him, and I am afraid I'll misspell his last name) and seeing if he would be in favor of this. A very appropriate and nice plaque in the form of a weathered poster. Made to order by Nostalgic Signworks. My sincere thanks to all involved: Bob, Mike B., and to Michael Bright from PRP who came down to take part. And to you, the supporters of bluegrass music and my program. Kinda lets you know you really are wanted.

Gordon Terry

This past month I found a notice in some e-mail I get concerning the passing of another fine musician - Gordon Terry, fiddle player for the likes of Bill Monroe, Webb Pierce, Faron Young and Merle Haggard, to name a few. I first met Gordon when he was playing for Bill. I got to know him pretty well back then and occasionally got a postcard from somewhere on the road.

Photo of Gordon Terry
Gordon Terry

When he was playing for Faron Young, they were on a package show in Roanoke, Va. My high school buddy, Jack Huffman, and I headed off to the show. As was my custom, I headed back stage to greet friends. Gordon happened to be on the stage at the time, setting up for Faron's show. He saw us come up, called to me and came over. There was another fellow along with him. Gordon said, "Berk, here's a fellow I'd like you to meet. His name is Elvis Presley and I would appreciate it if you would play his records all you can. He's really going to go places."

The last time I saw Gordon Terry was at Rosine a few years ago. Unfortunately, too much time had elapsed, and health problems had caused a lapse of memory and he didn't remember me from those many years earlier. Then, too, I had much more reason to remember Gordon than he had to remember me. His recording ventures were many. One that sticks with me: He recorded an album with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. Of course he played "Orange Blossom Special."

I Can See Clearly Now...

I had cataract surgery last month on my right eye. Everything went well and I can see better than I ever have. It's going to take some getting used to going without glasses. I have been wearing them for 65 years, and old habits are among the worst/hardest to break. I'll do it, and oh what a relief it is!

Up & Coming

I want to get this one in: WFPK APPRECIATION CONCERTS. These will take place at the Brown Theatre May 19 and 20. Friday, the 19th, the line-up is, Los Lonely Boys, Umphrey's McGee, World Party and The Bottle Rockets. Saturday, the 20th, Drive-By Truckers, Dr. Ralph Stanley, Yonder Mountain String Band, Alejandro Escovedo and Alexi Murdoch. I guess it's pretty obvious that Saturday night is my night. Tickets on sale at the box office. Show time is 7-11 each night.

Festivals

May 13, 11 a.m., 3rd Annual Clear Creek Bluegrass Festival, Clear Creek Park, Shelbyville, Ky.: Brushfire, Moron Bros., The Kirby Knob Boys, Bobby Jenkins and Blue Ridge Grass, Bluegrass 101, and host band Kentucky Blue.

May 17-20, Stringbean 5th Annual Memorial Mountain Music Festival, Jackson County, Kentucky: Royal Blue (WED), The Fritts Family (THURS), Ralph Stanley II, Philip Akemon & Flatlick, No Tools Loaned (FRI), Larry Sigmon & Barbara Poole, Bluegrass 101, True Gospel Echoes and others each day.

FOREST FEST at Jefferson Memorial Forest, Fairdale, Ky., May 20. Bands include, in order of scheduled appearance, The Old Louisville Express, Kentucky Sassafras, Stone Hollow, The Old Louisville Express, Hog Operation, Kentucky Sassafras, Stone Hollow, and Hog Operation. Information: tonya.swan@louisvilleky.gov or 502-366-5432.

WOW, kinda made up for the last couple of months with this one. Spring is finally here and time to make those festival plans. Get out and enjoy supporting your favorite festival, show, artist and whoever this summer.

I know we all will have to choose carefully our destinations this year, "thanks" to the oilmeisters. Collectively, I wonder if we could come out ahead with a chartered bus? Be all that as it may, thanks again for reading LMN and listening to Sunday Bluegrass, 8-11 each Sunday night, WFPK 91.9FM, and streaming audio from WFPK.org. Keep in touch, will ya!