Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant


I got it right, quit writing '06 and start writing '07. I'm not sure how long this will last but usually I'm reprogrammed in about six to eight weeks. Yesteryear is now past; today is fleeting and tomorrow, actually is always a mystery of the unknown. We'll find out ....... tomorrow. The best we can hope for is to accept whatever comes, there's always a purpose in what comes our way, be they blessings or challenges.

Now that we've got the New Year started, let's review a few things of the fading '06.

Among a number of the good things that come our way, one of these was a very kind e-mail from a friend concerning my thoughts on Uncle Josh. I'll drop a part of it in right here:

Hey Berk.

I read your terrific article for November. You do a great job.

I was especially touched by your story about Uncle Josh. I spent several hours with him and Kenny Baker at Josh's home doing an interview.

I am including this because I want to tell you a little about this friend. You have seen and heard some of this before and some of you will recognize him. Barry Willis is a writer, I am not and never claimed to be. Among other things, besides surviving enough years as a commercial airline pilot to retire, Barry wrote a book a few years ago, America's Music - Bluegrass. Being a musician himself and making an effort to further bluegrass music in Hawaii, Barry knew where he was going with the contents of this book. I should be clear that the book was written before retirement and Hawaii. A very good book filled with interviews and other good information on our kind of music. This is how I met my friend, no not an interview with me, in a booth at IBMA a few years ago when it was still here in Louisville. Too bad nobody saw fit to make all of the proper effort to keep it here. As evidenced by the new calendar, it would be a little late to get one as a gift for a bluegrass friend for Christmas '06. All is not lost; here is an idea of what to do with some of that Santa "green" you may have located in a cute little envelope under the tree. Get one yourself. Just a thought. Good work Mr. Willis and keep the five going in the land of ALOHA. Want to contact "Cpt" Barry, feel free, Thanksmy friend, and a great '07 to you and January.

There were dark shadows at times that fell across '06. Josh Graves, Burkett Howard ("Uncle Josh") Graves passed into eternity September 30 from congenial heart failure. Josh's last performance was at The J.D. Crowe Bluegrass Festival in Wilmore, Kentucky on September 2. Uncle Josh Graves, the man that put the Dobro into bluegrass. More recently, December 9 to be exact, highly respected mandolin player Dempsey Young passed on. In 1973 the band Lost & Found was formed with Dempsey, Alan Mills, Gene Parker and Roger Handy. I was fortunate enough to have been acquainted with Dempsey and Alan for many years. I was always greeted and made to feel like a friend every time I saw them. Another blow to our music.

There were good moments in the past month for me. Some, of the kind I really like. Good example, an email I received with this:

Hi there,

It's two of your biggest fans from Shepherdsville Kentucky, again.

We just listened to your show and we loved your Old Christmas Country Music, especially "Reindeer Boogie" by Hank Snow (we had never heard that and we have to have it in our collection). The very last song you played was wonderful, we loved it and of course, we have to have it!! But, who did it? It was Mule Skinner Blues.

It's getting material to listeners that have never heard it before and won't, most likely, because not enough others are playing the traditional music, both country and bluegrass. I am also glad that I am able to provide the information about the numbers, sometimes including where they may be able to obtain a copy. I find this exciting, especially when the listeners asking for the information sound excited about it.


Shepherdsville, 5 January 2007 - Dr. Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys plus Tommy Brown & County Line Grass; 12 January - The Sullivan Family; 19 January - Kentucky Blue; January 26 - Drivin' Rain; February 2 - Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers.

Well, friends and neighbors and readers, keep good thoughts and happy hearts. I hope your Christmas was everything you had hopes for and that we are all ready to go boldly forth into the New Year with great expectations for an exciting time. Thanks to all of you who have been with me these 171/2 years doing "Sunday Bluegrass" and thanks to you who may have just gotten with us this past year. Always a good thing to learn of new listeners. Please, to all, stop and say hello wherever you might see me. Lock that dial to WFPK 91.9 FM each Sunday night from 8 - 11. If you don't, you have no idea what you might miss and neither do I! Bless you all and to all a good year. Do it right, you know the difference.