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The Bluegrass Charts- October 22, 2011 Edition

Donald Teplyske  |  October 22, 2011

Every few weeks I like to take a look at the bluegrass charts. While what is riding high (or dropping fast) doesn't have a great impact on me personally, I like to keep abreast of what is popular, gaining ground, and falling out of favour. It offers me a chance to champion albums and songs I truly appreciate and mention artists who deserve a plug. It also allows me to shake my head at the enduring popularity of Steve Ivey releases and Pickin' On albums.

The newest chart belongs to "Bluegrass Today," and each week they publish a listing of the Top 20 songs from their reporting stations. This week, seven songs make their chart debuts and the number one song is a tune that had previously occupied the top spot before falling the last two weeks.

Blue Highway returns to #1 with I Ain't Gonna Lay My Hammer Down after a couple weeks at #8. This song, which previously topped the chart for two weeks, experienced a more than 50% increase in spins this past week.

Darin & Brooke Aldridge moves up to #2 after several weeks in the middle of the chart. If what I'm hearing on "Bluegrass Junction" is an indication, Lonely Ends Where Love Begins is a good bet for #1 next week. The venerable Larry Sparks continues his impressive run on the chart, sitting this week at #3 with Almost Home.

Blue Highway has five songs on this past week's airplay chart, a first I believe for the chart which is only in its second month of existence. In addition to I Ain't Gonna Lay My Hammer Down, BH has Drinking from a Deeper Well at #4, If You Got Something to Say at #5, the former #2 Bluebird Days at #8, and Sounds of Home #19. That is quite impressive and perhaps reveals the independence of bluegrass programmers and hosts.

The Gibson Brothers stay in the top 10 with Walkin' West to Memphis hanging out at #6. Shannon Slaughter climbs a bunch to #7 with The Working Man from his very listenable "The Sideman Steps Out" album. I didn't record the first few "Bluegrass Today" charts, so I don't know if his Julie previously charted but I suspect it isn't far behind .

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice slips from the top spot on the chart down to #9 with A Far Cry from Lester and Earl. It is likely time for another song from their excellent "Heart of the Song" album to start gaining some spins. New Found Road, who had nearly slipped off the chart three weeks ago, continues to sit in the middle of the bunch; We Ain't Going Down without a Fight is at #10 this week.

Making chart debuts this week are Go Away, Stop, Turn Around, Come Back (#16) from Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, Blue Rocking Chair (#17) by Grasstowne, Trailblazer (#18) from Canadians The Roys, Trains I Missed (#18) from Balsam Range (perhaps an echo of the Song of the Year honours the song received at last month's IBMA awards show), and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver's Gone Long Gone (#20).

The most recent "Billboard" Bluegrass Album chart has Alison Krauss & Union Station continuing their engagement at #1 with "Paper Airplane. Meanwhile, Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers are at #2 with "Rare Bird Alert." Interestingly, the remaining albums in the "Billboard" Top 10 (sales and airplay) do not have a representative song on the "Bluegrass Today" listing of songs receiving airplay with Dierks Bentley, Sarah Jarosz, and The Wailin' Jennys rounding out the Top 5.

The current "Bluegrass Music Profiles" chart is for October, and has Almost Home from Larry Sparks on top while the #1 album is "The Boxcars." The #2 song is Valerie Smith's Blame it on the Bluegrass, co-written by Elizabeth Shrum and Becky Buller who recently announced her departure from Liberty Pike. The song has also had an extended run on the "Bluegrass Today" chart, climbing to #12 this week.

The new "Bluegrass Music Profiles" chart should be published next weekend as should the new "Bluegrass Unlimited" chart.

According to eMusic's "Chart" feature today, the Number One bluegrass album over the last month has been Greensky Bluegrass' new "Handguns" with #2 held down by The Del McCoury Band's tribute "Old Memories: The Songs of Bill Monroe;" my purchase of both those albums through eMusic was likely insignificant to the results. #3 on eMusic is Dale Ann Bradley's "Somewhere South of Crazy," which held down the #1 spot for much of the past month.

Also in the eMusic Bluegrass Top 10 are albums from Trampled by Turtles and Mountain Heart as well as a couple "Pickin' On..." releases. Warming my heart is the appearance of two deep catalogue releases, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard's "Pioneering Women of Bluegrass" (#7) and "Elementary Doctor Watson" (#10) from Doc and Merle Watson.

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