Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

August really strutted its stuff with h-o-t days, then a bit of near-chilly mornings. I think it was sort of a mix of "this will be the past and here's what's coming. " Get ready. We'll probably have more mix before it's over. A little seasoning into the mix with the start of school. Give me a break. After all, if you're over ten years old, you should know by now what to expect with the changing of the seasons. After all, we ain't in charge and there's nothing we can do about it, so get over it.

Old Friends, Plus

I made the trip to Milan, Michigan, again this last month. A good lineup, including folks/bands like Larry Stephenson, Grascals, Rhonda Vincent, Junior Sisk, Lonesome River Band and more. Trips like this have a big plus for me in that I have the chance to keep in touch and visit with old friends that I sometimes don't get to see too often. Then there's the plus factor of meeting new friends and seeing some groups whose recordings I've been playing for a long time but had never seen their show. That's always a plus.

Big Surprise

I spent time with my longtime friend John Morris, of Old Homestead Records. I always find something for my collection and for Sunday Bluegrass. What I'm about to tell you about was a really big surprise to me: two albums originally released by the Puritan label, the first in 1972 and the second in 1974. The one I have is on Rebel, released in 1989, and contains both of the Puritan albums. After the "big" buildup ... it is by Kenny Baker & Josh Graves. Even more surprising, at least for me, Kenny played lead guitar. I never saw or heard of him as a guitar player and a pretty doggone good one, too. He played finger style, and also played some fiddle on the album. Josh sang three or four numbers, but the recording is primarily instrumental. When I got back here and could finally listen and pay attention, it got me. By now if you listen to Sunday Bluegrass you will have a track or three from it. Kenny and Josh made a good pair and I am thankful I got to see them several times and several years at The Museum of Appalachia.

Calendar & Event Stuff

Now is a good time to work on your calendar. September has pretty much to offer. Labor Day is the first Monday, but by now you know. I never quite understood why it's called Labor Day when everybody is off work for the day. Then let's not forget September 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed the surrender, ending WWII. On September 17, 1787, our Constitution was adopted. Fall begins on the 22nd. Seems to me that Fall, Summer, Winter and Spring go by their own schedule and not the specified date on a calendar.

That was calendar stuff. Now for event stuff: September 12-14 in Owensboro at the International Bluegrass Music Museum is the once-in-a-lifetime Bill Monroe 100th Birthday Celebration. This will be an exceptional bluegrass event if all goes as planned. The lineup of intended attendees is outstanding. There are many exhibits, plus the premiere showing of the documentary about Bill Monroe, as told by the Bluegrass Boys. I suggest you go, with friends, family and camera. Not too late to get information. Call 270-926-7891.

If that's not enough, you can round out the month with the Vine Grove Festival, Thursday, Sept. 22 Saturday. Sept. 24. Other featured acts include Rhonda Vincent on Thursday and Friday; Ronnie Reno (son of Don Reno), Saturday; Karl Shifflett plus IIIrd Tyme Out. How much more can you wish for?

Others for the month: the various jams around the area continue.

Looks as though I may have just about used up my space, so I'd better stop. Besides that, I've run out of something to tell.

Be sure to tune in to Sunday Bluegrass, WFPK 91.9 FM, every Sunday night from 8 until 11 p.m. Thank ya, and I'll see you on the radio.