Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

February, you bring us closer to SPRING. And you bring us - watch it - that pesky(?) Cupid fellow. Careful now, with sharpshooter fame, he'll get you with one of those love-dipped arrows - and get you right where it does the most good. You know, it's that Valentine's Day bit. S-o-o-o-o, don't fight it; just go ahead and get that special - very special - someone that card, heart-shaped box of chocolates, a flower or flowers, 'cause now you've got a perfect excuse to come out of that shell and get it said: CUPID made me do it!

With all of that said, a great Valentines' Day to all of you and YOU. Of course, you can do it like we used to do it when we were kids: Slip up to the front door, leave it in front of the door, ring the bell, then run and hide. Naw, that ain't gonna get it.

Sassafras at Shepherdsville

January 11 found Kentucky Sassafras at Shepherdsville for the first time. Another first that night, Maggie (my apologies, but I can't remember the last name), the new fiddler, made her first appearance on a show. This young lady did a very fine job and will fit in with the band very well. The crowd was good. Very good. All of the group performed great, with a lot of comments from the crowd directed towards all of them. Amelia, Chloe, Tyler and Turner all got high marks.

I have said I'm not going to refer to you as kids anymore, so I'll say "Keep it up, young ladies and gentlemen. You are on the right path and have a good grip."

Checking out the IBMM

Bobby Smith, "floor manager" of the Vine Grove Friday night jams, had a couple of days off and wanted to use one of them for a trip to the International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) in Owensboro. Bobby called me a few days before making the drive and was kind enough to invite me to go along. I did. Bobby was well pleased with what he found at the Museum. Among new exhibits, they have the great fiddler Benny Martin's fiddle on display.

Because of commitments, we had brief meetings with Gabrielle Gray and Mike Lawing, Director and Assistant Director of the Museum. Gabrielle graciously interrupted work on a very important museum project to come over and meet Sgt. Smith and thank him for being a new member.

There is a lot - make that A LOT - happening down there. The 2008 mandolin camp planning is under way. The dates will be September, 12-14. The 13th is Bill Monroe's birthday and, of course, that will factor into the planning.

The 2008 Membership Drive is on. A special incentive to new and renewing members will be the 2007 ROMP Legends Show on DVD. It features performances by Don Rigsby, Dismembered Tennesseans, Doyle Lawson and more. Not a bad perk. Get all thedetails you need at www.bluegrassmuseum.or call 270-926-7891.

Another tidbit for you: Jam sessions are continuing at the Museum. They are held on Thursdays, 6-9 p.m., and the museum is open to all who wish to pick or just attend. Suggested donation $1; members free.

During our visit to the Bluegrass Music Museum, I picked up a couple of DVDs in the gift shop. Volumes 3 and 4 of the Martha White, Flatt & Scruggs shows. These are being released from the Country Music Hall Of Fame on the Shanadie label. They are well done, the picture and sound quality is very good and are full screen onyour TV. There are two shows on each disc. Volume 3 is listed as November or December 1961 first show and January 1962 for the second show. The first show on Volume 4 is undated and the second show is March 1962. It should be on a must list for Flatt & Scruggs fans.

RBI

A little reminder, or maybe first-time information to some of you, about RBI. RBI, you say? That's short for Radio Bluegrass International broadcasting from IBMM. They are fully licensed and are streaming. It is a non-commercial, 24-hour Internet radio station. Check the Museum website mentioned earlier. There is a fee of $4 a month for uninterrupted stream to non-members of the Museum; free to members. Gee - another perk. Check it out.

Thriving Jams

The Vine Grove jams (Friday nights, 6 until about ? are thriving. On January 18, a cold night, a chili plus potluck for all brought a very good turnout of pickers and other friendly folks. Some were first-timers and if you are one of those, you should come down sometime. Bring your instrument. No matter what stage of beginner or picker you may be, you will be welcome, encouraged and tutored. Now how can you beat a deal like that.

Bluegrass Benefit for Homeless

Eddie and Martha Adcock missed the annual Christmas Bluegrass Benefit for the Homeless, which they are a big part of every year. They had finally gotten a trip to Japan and one they were thrilled with. The benefit was a tremendous success, with many top names and others volunteering their talents. Way to go, bluegrassers.

Who and Where Bluegrass

Shepherdsville: February 1, Larry Sparks. February 8, Dean Osborne Band. February 15, Honi Deaton and Dream, February 22, True Gospel 1/4 All Gospel. February 29, Rick Prather and Midnight Travelers. March 7, Michael Cleveland and Flame Keeper.

This announcement by e-mail to me from Cari Norris: Kentucky musician, Cari Norris, is organizing a benefit concert for the social justice and environmental protection lobbying group, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. The concert will focus on raising funds to increase awareness around the issue of mountaintop removal in eastern Kentucky. KFTC will be present and will do a short educational presentation on this practice. Literature will be available.

The concert is sponsored by the senior youth group at the First Unitarian Church where the concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 2. The location of the church is 809 S. Fourth Street. There is no charge for admission, but there is a suggested donation of $15.

The concert features Kentucky roots music by the Reel World String Band, Cari Norris, Rich Kirby and the Po Folks, Randy Wilson and Nora Ben and Eli. Writer, Wendell Berry will be present and will give a brief address on the issue of mountaintop removal. For more information call 502-456-0783.

Also this item: Sarah Elizabeth - Murder Ballads and Love Songs at The Rudyard Kipling, 422 West Oak Street (near Fourth St.), Louisville, Kentucky, 502-636-1311, Saturday, February 16, 2008, 10 p.m.; 18 and over. Sarah's handmade, duct tape Valentine tickets now available exclusively at ear X-tacy. www.myspace.com/barefootsongbird .

Take heart, dear friends and readers; spring is coming. So keep warm until then. Now, remember that Valentine and you know who she/he is. Let 'em know, or at least drop a pretty good hint along with that card and candy. That Cupid kid is aiming for you.

Keep listening to Sunday Bluegrass, Sunday night 8-11 on WFPK 91.9 FM. For those of you struggling so hard to get this together, it's the shortest, fastest and the bestest three hours in radio.