The Bluegrass Today monthly airplay chart for December has been published. Based on November spins, the chart is free of surprises.
A Far Cry from Lester and Earl was the month's most played song with 1187 spins. Blue Highway's Bluebird Days was a dozen behind, sitting firmly at #2 for the month. Other radio staples in the Top 5 included Terry Baucom (with Jamie Dailey and Lou Reid) with Do You Wrong Kind of Girl, Larry Sparks' Almost Home, and Shannon Slaughter's The Working Man. Pretty Little Girl from Galax came in at #6 just ahead of Charlie Sizemore's Heartache Looking for a Home. The highest charting female on the list is Sierra Hull with Don't Pick Me Up at #9. I'm always interested in what just scraped into a chart; closing out the chart this month were Larry Cordle's Justice for Willy and Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers' Me and Paul Revere at #19 and #20.
You may recall that when the Bluegrass Today chart appeared a couple months back, it was a pretty volatile listing of songs garnering airplay. Songs could streak up to top positions only to see their fortunes sag the next week and then reappear a week later, again at the loftiest heights. Well, things settled over the past five or six weeks with the same 15 or so songs comprising the bulk of the chart, trading positions depending on the week and being surrounded by a few visitors who would stick around for a week or two before disappearing. Change became gentle and gradual.
And then I woke up this past Friday morning. True, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out's Pretty Little Girl From Galax has again journeyed to the top of the chart to sit at #1 after being #14 last week- it was #1 two weeks ago. Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice is hanging just outside the Top 10 with A Far Cry from Lester and Earl at #11. And Darin and Brooke Aldridge have been on the chart for about eight weeks with Lonely Ends Where Love Begins, sitting this week at #15.
But after that, it's a whole new chart. Walking to Memphis, last week's #3- gone. Shannon Slaughter's The Working Man, last week #4, gone. Almost Home? Gone. They are all off the chart this week- Terry Baucom, Audie Blaylock, Sierra Hull, Donna Hughes, Dailey & Vincent, The Grascals, AKUS, Steve Martin & Steep Canyon Rangers, Clay Hess...all replaced. It appears radio hosts and programmers finally decided to delve a bit deeper into some albums that have been littering their studios and found new tunes to play.
In the place of the chart mainstays are a new slate of 22 songs (allowing for ties), 20 of which make their chart debut and a pair that previously appeared very briefly on the Bluegrass Today chart.
After Pretty Little Girl from Galax we have Blue Highway continuing to accumulate the radio spins at #2 with the chart re-entry of Restless Working Man. DLQ hits #3 with Better Times A'Comin while Del McCoury Band takes Brakeman's Blues to #4 in its chart debut. Carolina Road reaches the Top 5 for (I think) the first time with Cold Carolina Snow while New Found Road takes Tom T. Hall's That's How I Got to Memphis to #6.
I didn't record the first few Bluegrass Today charts, so I don't know for a fact but believe that the following artists are all making their chart debuts this week, none of which I've heard on the radio: Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen (#7 with Ominous Anonymous and #20 with Tarred and Feathered), Russell Johnson with Emily Kirsch (#8 Wishing Well Blues), Snyder Family at #9 with Goose Down Pillow, and Joe Diffie's Ink at #10.
Dale Ann Bradley returns to the chart with Somewhere South of Crazy #12. What is notable about that positioning is that it marks the first time since I've been paying attention that a song with double-digit spins, only 98, appears on the Bluegrass Today listing. The next twelve songs on the list- including Charlie Sizemore's Bluegrass Unlimited #1 No Lawyers in Heaven (#13), Donna Ulisse's Let It Rain (#14) and a pair from Balsam Range (Gonna Be Movin' #17 and The Other Side #19) received between 92 and 83 spins.
Also of note is the Bluegrass Today chart debut of the venerable bluegrass outfit David Parmley & Continental Divide. Two songs from their recent excellent "Church House Hymns, Volume 2" album- Get In Line Brother (#17) and Power in the Blood (#19) appear on the chart for the first time.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the Bluegrass Today chart in coming weeks- which of these songs will other radio programmers jump onto for frequent spins and which tunes will fade away even more quickly.
Other charts have a different story to tell, of course. As previously mentioned, Bluegrass Unlimited's number one song this month is Charlie Sizemore's No Lawyers in Heaven while their #1 album continues to be The Gibson Brothers' "Help My Brother."
Bluegrass Music Profiles top album is Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out's "Pryme Tyme" The Missy Werner Band (who?) is at #2 with "Three Kinds of Loneliness." Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice sit at #3 with "Heart of a Song" while the latest from The Gibson Brothers, Grasstowne, Dale Ann Bradley, and Nu-Blu follow. Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa, Terry Baucom, and Darin & Brooke Aldridge round out the top ten albums.
Their Top 30 songs is capped by A Far Cry from Lester and Earl while IIIrd Tyme Out is at #2 with If Your Heart Should Ever Roll This Way Again. Four songs from IIIrd Tyme Out are on the chart. Other songs of note include Coal Minin' Man from The Roys at #13, Larry Cordle's Pud Marcum's Hangin' at #16, From Rock-n-Roll to Bill Monroe by Tommy Webb at #17, and Volume Five's Anywhere Is Home Again at #26. Interestingly, Pretty Little Girl from Galax is only #27 on this chart.
On the Billboard Bluegrass Chart, we have "The Goat Rodeo Sessions" at #1 while AKUS stays is #2 with "Paper Airplane." Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers sit at #3 with "Rare Bird Alert."
According to eMusic's Chart feature this morning, the #1 Bluegrass album download this past week is "Not for Kids Only" from David Grisman and Jerry Garcia. At #2 is The Del McCoury Band's "Old Memories: The Songs of Bill Monroe" with Greensky Bluegrass holding down #3 with "Handguns."
The closest we come to bluegrass on this month's Freeform American Roots chart is Danny Barnes' very enjoyable "Rocket" at #17.
So concludes this weekend's look at the bluegrass charts. Now, go listen to some fine bluegrass music. Might I suggest an album that hasn't shown up on any of the charts? John Reischman & the Jaybirds' "Vintage & Unique" is a powerful release. I'll be reviewing it soon.