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Berk Bryant

Bluegrass Beat
By Berk Bryant

If the time between now and the first festivals of the spring/summer passes as fast as the time between column deadlines, I'lI probably be late at alI of them. So here we go again.

• Hearts of Bluegrass

First, an update on a couple of friends. Oscar Sullivan. former Grand Ole Opry member, had a heart attack February 4. The latest I have is that evidently it wasn't a damaging one. Oscar spent a couple or so days in the hospital at Glasgow. Ky. and as of this writing should be home and, hopefully, back to his activities. (Take it a little easy, Oscar. It ain't all got to be done today, and we want you around for a long time yet.)

Next, "Pop" Lewis of the Lewis Family underwent angioplasty procedure December 15 for two blocked arteries in his heart. Pop is doing fine and has been back on the bus, on the road, for about six weeks now. Mom Lewis is improving from her assorted problems and should also be back on the road in the near future. Best wishes and prayers for both of them.

• Here Come the Festivals!

I am going to keep the information on fcstivals coming. You a) need the reminders; b) may have missed the information up to now; c) need to support these events that they may continue fur the enjoyment of all.

For the Otter Creek Festival in May, the price is unbeatable for the lineup they we offering. The bottom-line best priccs for that show are the advance tickets. Three days for $20, before March 15; March 15 to May 15, $30. And these tickets include rough camping. The daily gate price is one of the best available, but why not grab on to the advance?

There are other festivals on the way but I have not received detailed information about them as yet. Some to look forward to will be Red Mile in Lexington mid-May; the Festival in the Bluegrass, Lexington Horse Park; the Charlotte, Mich., festival that I MC every year, last weekend in June; and July 1 at Renfro Valley.

• Save Our PB

I am sure that most of you are aware by now of the desire in congress to "zero out funding" for public broadcast (PB). PB, as used here, will refer to both TV and radio.

Most of the emphasis in the media seems to he directed towards TV, without telling you that this also means radio. This done under the guise of budget cuts. It will do that all right. but whose budget? The amount of the federaI budget would be loss than a fraction of 1%. It could conceivably close some smaller stations in smaller areas. In quite a few areas it would mean jobs — right, jobs of some taxpayers.

For the record, the show that I do at WFPL, Sunday Bluegrass [89.3 FM, 8:30-11 p.m.], is strictly volunteer. I am not and have not been a paid employee or paid volunteer.

If the idea is for PB to privatize, then each of these stations would in effect become another commercial station. Commercial broadcast for the most part will not program the programs that PB does so well. Scan the dial on your radio and you will find very little difference from one station to the other.

You will very unlikely find a jazz program, blues show or bluegrass, traditional country or old-time. Never, anywhere, "pop" music, defined more these days as "middle of the road" or somewhere in that range.

PB offers concerts, both radio and TV, documentaries, nature programs, educational programs and the like. This should not go away. If these and similar programs would be carried by commercial broadcast stations, they would already be in their schedules. To affect PB stations in such a way that would cut programs of this type, knowing that similar programs would not be included on commercial stations, is in effect censorship. From sketches of reports I have seen, there is apparently some "big business" interest in all of this somewhere.

PB needs your support. Contact your congressman, encourage continued funding for PB. I think the quoted amount of money for this, per citizen, per year, is around $1.50, of that 29 cents for public radio. A minute price to pay for quality and alternative program selections. A means to help preserve programs and music of the kind so many of you support and love.

• More Bluegrass

At Shepherdsville in March will be Jr. Blankenship & Ernie Thacker with special guest, Johnny Collins. On the 3rd; Jim McCall & Walker Mountain Boys with Union Springs Bluegrass, the 10th; on the 17th, the Boys from Indiana; the 24th, Randall Hylton and Charlie Sizemnre; and finally in March, Fields & Denick.

April will finish the bluegrass shows for the season with Alan Phelps Bluegrass Band (I'll bet Cyndi Ruff will be there) on the 7th and The Eddie Adcock Band on the 14th.

At White Acres Campground at Bardstown, C. R. Wilson presents Ernie Thacker & Junior Blakenship with guest Johnny Collins, March 4; Jim McCall & Walker Mountain Boys, March 18; and Tommy Brown & the County Line Grass, April l.

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