Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

Let me get this straightnow. This is December, the month of shopping, visiting, gift givingand Christmas! I thought there were supposed to be eleven othermonths, but they are now just a blur. Well, for the uninitiated,that's what you have to look forward to in your "golden"age. And don't blink; it gets here quicker than you think. Ohwell, guess when you come right down to it we wouldn't have itany other way. SO, let's get down to it – get ready forthis wonderful season in every way.

Dr. Ralph at Shepherdsville

Back before the turkey hitthe table last month I had – for me – a great start. Dr.Ralph Stanley and all the Clinch Mountain Boys were atShepherdsville. I don't have to tell you I always look forwardto a visit with Ralph and the band. I had an enjoyable pre-show visitwith Ralph on the bus. During our conversation, someone brought upWade Mainer's name. I'm pretty sure I was the one. Wetalked a bit about Wade and that he is approaching 102. The exactdate is April 21.

I asked the Dr. if he wouldlike to talk to Wade, and he said he wouldn't mind. So I gavethe Mainers a call. Julia – Mrs. Mainer – answered asusual and passed the phone to Wade. Ralph enjoyed that, and I'mglad I could make it happen. Ralph said Wade had a lot of good thingsto say about him. To me it was a good feeling listening to twohonest-to-goodness legends of the music we love talking about.

Unfortunately, must say theattendance was down from what it normally is when the Clinch MountainBoys are there. There are many influencing factors at work now toslow things down. Ralph has a new CD and so does Nathan. Ralph'snew one is all clawhammer, with several numbers previouslyunreleased. It is a good one. Nathan's new one is all gospeland, of course, papa is on it helping out. I've got to sayNathan is going great. Singing more and singing well. He has takenhis place in the band and holding his own.

Box Set for Hank

On the subject of CDs,there is a newly released box set of Hank Williams, with previouslyunreleased songs by Hank. These are not studio recordings, but aretaken from Mother's Best Flour transcriptions: Hank as afeatured act on an early morning radio show, made for use when heknew he could not be in the studio live because of travelingcommitments. (That's what I do when I know I can't be inon a given Sunday.) These are available on the internet from Amazon.Check it out. Hank Williams SR., considered by many as one of thegreatest influences on country music of the 20th Century andcontinuing on in this century.

JD on KET

Got to do this, as always,while I'm thinking about it and remembering:

I hope you saw the KETdocumentary last month titled "The J.D. Crowe Story." Anexcellent piece on one of our favorites from the beginning to thepresent. I have seen JD a number of times and this for me sort ofpoints out the things that make you like him personally withoutrealizing exactly why. He has always been the congenial gentleman whois good at what he does, and you can recognize that for yourselfwhile watching, listening and taking in his performance. A trueprofessional and, rightfully, in the legend status. Thanks, JD, it'sa privilege to be an acquaintance.

Back to Hank

Getting back to Hank forthe moment, a reminder for you: I will be doing my annual HankWilliams New Year's Day show starting at noon and going untilthree. It is something I have been doing for years, starting with thefirst one I did in 1955 or 1956 on my 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift. I wason commercial radio doing a country show back then in my hometown ofLynchburg, Va. For obvious reasons, I have not done this continuouslysince that time. I don't remember exactly when I started itwith WFPK, but it was sometime in the early- to mid-90s. Time doesfly.

The response has alwaysbeen very positive to the point of being grateful. In my book, HankWilliams Sr. was one of the most influential artists –especially in country music – of the 20th Century. I feel thatthe release of previously unreleased material to a new generation andthe generation faithful is a good indication. It is still sometimesdifficult to realize that New Year's Day will mark the 56thanniversary of Hank Williams' death. This reminder is actuallyan invitation to be listening that day.

OH, if you still havesomeone on your list that you haven't really decided what towrap for them for Christmas or for a special stocking stuffer, Iwould suggest the new set mentioned above.

Who's Pickin'

Guess I'd better moveon now and check out who's pickin' when and where.Starting with the Jam list:

* Colesburg Baptist Church,Friday nights, The New Silver Heights Bingo Hall, 9206 Blue LickRoad, Louisville, 5:30 pm till ??

*Leitchfield Bluegrass Jam,Friday nights at South Gate Mall near Haye's Music Store.

*Ray's Monkey HouseCoffee Shop, every Tuesday night.

*Vine Grove bluegrass jams,every Friday night in the Vine Grove City Hall.

Everybody's welcometo come visit, listen, pick, learn to pick and make new friends.

Shepherdsville: Dec. 5 –Larry & Cheryl Chunn and A Step Ahead. Dec. 12 – Men Of TheWeek Band. Dec. 19 – Gene Thompson & Crossroads. Dec. 26 –Cherryholmes. Jan. 2 – Kings Highway.

Doe Run Inn, Brandenburg,Old Time and Dulcimer Christmas Music Gathering: Dec. 13, 12 noon to10:30 p.m.

The Corydon, Indiana,Dulcimer Society and Elizabethtown Dulcimer Club: Something foreverybody. There will be jamming, bluegrass and all kinds ofactivities. Takes place in the lobby and the old mill room.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all andto all a good year! Keep it safe and trouble-free. This is a specialseason and I hope it is that way for you. Check in with SundayBluegrass each Sunday night from 8-11, WFPK 91.9 FM. Nineteen and ahalf years this month. Stay warm, and blessings to you.