Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

February. Looks like it and feels like it as I am writing this. How about if we rewind to the week before this one when it was in the 60s. Is it cold enough for me? It was cold enough for me last August. Couldn't it warm up a bit for Valentine's Day? It's bad enough to have those "Cold Cold Hearts" (Hank Williams) running around spreading "Ice Cold Love" (Benny Martin). Let's get back to those secret Be My Valentines with a bit of sincerity and, well, you know how it is, it's the flowers and candy in a heart-shaped box thing. Can't keep it a secret too long; there's that Cupid-fellow-with-his-arrows factor in there somewhere. So, let's not fight it; have a very wowee Valentine's Day.

Wade's News

I was talking to our dear friend Wade Mainer during the holidays. Wade has a new CD. He didn't know exactly when it was going to be ready for him to get some, but assured me I would get one when he had them. I and many of you will be looking forward to that with great anticipation.

Show Must Go On

As most of you probably know by now, Dr. Ralph Stanley was scheduled for his annual January appearance at Shepherdsville. Unfortunately Ralph had been hospitalized with pneumonia the Tuesday before and could not make it. Ralph II brought the band and did a very commendable job. "Two," as he is affectionately known to friends and band alike, proved he is very capable. He did his dad proud.

Jack Cooke was also absent and for the same reason. Jack, however, had been in the hospital about a week longer than Ralph. If I recall correctly, James Alan Shelton said that the last time he was at the hospital to see Ralph he heard that Jack still had some fluid in his lungs.

We interrupt this message ...

An update on Dr. Stanley came in and I am adding it right here. A January 17 note from James Alan Shelton had this to say: "Ralph got out of the hospital on the Saturday night his band played Clay City. He rested at home until last Thursday. We went out and did four days this past weekend. It was tough, but he got through it because, as you know, he is a trouper. I spoke to him on the phone yesterday and he sounded in good spirits.

The doctor told Jack to stay at home and rest awhile so that's what he's been doing. I heard they removed 3 or 4 liters of fluid from his lungs."

Skipping Around

I had a note last month from Laurie Lewis, with a good story that further confirms the good folks in and associated with bluegrass music. Willing to help out in a "crisis." Here's the situation as Laurie told it:

"On December 1, Tom and I had a near-disaster when our guitar didn't arrive with us on our flight from Chicago to Harrisburg, Pa. We were on the last flight out of Chicago before the big storm hit and all flights were cancelled for at least 24 hours. As a duo, we NEED that guitar! So I called the C. F. Martin Company in nearby Nazareth, Pa. They were so helpful!

Our thanks go out to Chris Thomas, the artist liaison, who outfitted us with a very nice Martin Marquis D-28. He didn't even ask for a driver's license or credit card imprint. We were able to play it that evening in Wilkes-Barre, where intrepid residents risked flooded streets and the detritus of a nearby tornado to come out to see us. The next day, our guitar did arrive and we dropped off the loaner at Alley Cat Music in College Station. Ahhh.. life on the road!"

Three class acts that night, Laurie & Tom, Chris Thomas & The Martin Company and the show that was able to go on. And that's the way the bluegrass community - family, if you will - sticks together. And there are some folks who wonder why we like bluegrass.

BOTO Fest

Now we move on to a question several folks have asked in the last few months concerning B.O.T.O. Inquiring bluegrass fans want to know. Here is the answer straight from the man who has the answer, Mike Bucayu:

"Unfortunately BOTO Fest has been postponed for 2007, but 1/4 George has done a wonderful thing to help keep bluegrass music at the Galt House in Louisville!!!"

"What has George done, you ask. And I'm going to pass it on right here: The 'ITCHIN' TO PICK' Bluegrass Jam Session is going to take place whether we have 5, 50, or 500 people in attendance. This is a no-charge event. But there may be a request for a $2 donation from each participant to help me cover some of the ancillary expense associated with setting this thing up. The details have been completed for our arrangement with the Galt House Hotel in Louisville (800-626-1814) to host this event. The dates are March 30 & 31, 2007. We do have special room rates for this event - the same deal as BOTO (The Bluegrass On The Ohio Bluegrass Festival that is NOW POSTPONED).

FYI: For those who may not know, this is going to be a function just like any other indoor bluegrass event, with the exception of having to buy a ticket to see the bands perform, because there will be no bands performing or presenting a staged show. IT'S A WEEKEND JAM SESSION - nothing more 1/4 or less.

Nothing else is going on that time of year for bluegrass, so why not join us? This is the time of year that most are 'itchin' to pick,' thus the name has evolved for this same event. We can pretty much pick anywhere we want to in the Galt House, but PICKING IN THE ROOMS MUST CEASE at 10:p.m, the reason being that we are not big enough to have them reserve an entire floor for this first time out of the box and they have to consider their other guests as well. Should we get lucky and reserve enough rooms, they will designate a 'picking floor' with no time restrictions. Hopefully, we can all BAND together and reserve enough rooms collectively to make this happen. Either way, we can pick all night if we want to - but NOT IN THE ROOMS that are being set aside for the special rates.

We will be using the EAST side of the Galt House, where the rooms are all suites and have just been refurbished within the last year. A suite with two double beds for four people is approximately $150, with all taxes included; $20 extra per person for a roll-away bed. "Call 1-800-626-1814 to make your reservation at the Galt House. Do it now so they will know we are not fooling around. The more rooms we have, the more they can do for us.

The ball is now in our court1/4make your reservations asap or immediately, if you want this thing to take off. It will take a huge word of mouth effort to make this thing happen. At this point there are no advertising flyers - just word of mouth." You/we wanted it - now is the time to stand up and be counted!!"

Who's where?

Shepherdsville Music Place: February 2, Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers. February 9, David Parmley & Continental Divide. February 16, Honi Deaton & Dream. February 23, The Gospel Echoes (all gospel).

West Point: March 18, 2 p.m., The Tennessee Slicker - Leroy Troy!

Gadah, gadah , uh, That's All Folks for this edition. Remember Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK 91.9 FM, every Sunday 8-11 p.m. Remember your valentine and be nice. Hey, why not visit the International Bluegrass Museum; it would be a nice outing one day.