Best of 2013: Daniel Mullins vs. Billboard

BillboardBillboard, who publishes the (supposedly) quintessential music charts, have released their year-end chart of the Top 15 Bluegrass Albums of 2013.

15. Leaving Eden – Carolina Chocolate Drops
14. Brothers of the Highway – Dailey & Vincent
13. The Living Years – The Isaacs
12. Ahoy! – The Punch Brothers
11. Hammer Down – The Steeldrivers
10. The Gospel Side of Dailey & Vincent – Dailey & Vincent
9. The Goat Rodeo Sessions – Stuart Duncan, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile
8. Who’s Feeling Young Now? – The Punch Brothers
7. Best of Bluegrass: Collector’s Edition – Steve Ivey
6. Stars & Satellites – Trampled By Turtles
5. Timeless Hits From The Past Bluegrassed – Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out
4. Carry Me Back – Old Crow Medicine Show
3. Deep Roots – Steven Curtis Chapman
2. The Bluegrass Album – Alan Jackson
1. Love Has Come For You – Steve Martin & Edie Brickell

Based solely on Nielsen SoundScan sales numbers, the Billboard bluegrass charts can sometimes be a misrepresentation of what is actually popular in bluegrass music. Part of this comes from the fact that many bluegrass bands (and labels) do not report to SoundScan. Also, Billboard’s definition of bluegrass may be a bit more liberal than some might like, knock more mainstream bluegrass acts out of the running.

Regardless, being based only on sales figures can often skew the results when trying to determine the tops in bluegrass. The Billboard bluegrass chart stays relatively stagnant for most of the year. Out of fifty-two weeks of chart data, the Billboard bluegrass Top Ten only featured forty-nine different albums!

Other than the fifteen projects listed above, here are the rest of the albums which cracked their Top Ten in 2013.

  • Slidawg’s Redneck Christmas – Slidawg
  • Foggy Mountain Special – Various Artists
  • A Tear In The Eye Is A Wound In The Heart – Black Prairie
  • Why Can’t We – The Isaacs
  • Music To My Ears – Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  • Nobody Knows You – Steep Canyon Rangers
  • God Didn’t Choose Side s– Various Artists
  • Down Side Up – Old Man Markley
  • They Called It Music – The Gibson Brothers
  • Bluegrass Power Picks: 25 Mountain Classics – Various Artists
  • Sweet Tennessee – Judah & The Lion
  • The Old School – Peter Rowan
  • On The Edge – Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
  • Gypsy Runaway Train – The Roys
  • This World Oft Can Be – Della Mae
  • That’s Just The Way I Roll – Dave Adkins & Repulik Steele
  • Wide Awake – Joy Kills Sorrow
  • Southern Sunday Hymns: Bluegrass Gospel – Various Artists
  • Roll Me, Tumble Me – The Deadly Gentlemen
  • Red River Drifter – Michael Martin Murphy
  • Ten – Nu-Blu
  • New Day Dawning – The Roys
  • Walking Song – Ron Block
  • Dear Sister – Claire Lynch
  • Cluck Ol’ Hen – Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby
  • Tell The Ones I Love – Steep Canyon Rangers
  • Memories & Moments – Darrell Scott & Tim O’Brien
  • Streets of Baltimore – The Del McCoury Band
  • Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe – Noam Pikelny
  • Bluegrass Gospel – Various Artists
  • Three Chords & The Truth – James King
  • I’m A Stranger Here – Devil Makes Three
  • Dark Holler Pop – Mipso
  • Live At First Avenue – Trampled By Turtles

Sales should not be the sole criteria when determining the best albums in any genre, but particularly in a niche market such as bluegrass. Our music has so many facets and styles, it’s nearly impossible to concoct a “be all, end all” list catered to everyone’s taste. However, sales figures alone is surely not the way to attempt such an endeavor.

Some of our genre’s best albums of 2013 failed to crack Billboard’s Top Ten. Below are, in my humble opinion, some of the best albums which they missed in 2013.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Time Machine – Newtown
  • Sideline: Session 1 – Steve Dilling, Skip Cherryholmes, Darrell Webb, Justen Haynes, and Jason Moore
  • Second Time Around – Jason Davis
  • No More Rain – The Steel Wheels
  • Battlefield – Mountain Faith
  • Gathering – Aaron Ramsey
  • Mercy Road – The Churchmen
  • Never Thought Of Looking Back – Terry Baucom
  • Build Me Up From Bones – Sarah Jarosz
  • Love Has Wheels – The Bankesters
  • Long Gone Out West Blues – Pharis & Jason Romero
  • Today Don’t Look Like Rain – Trinity River Band

continued – see Daniel’s Top 10 on page 2 

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About the Author

Daniel Mullins

Daniel Mullins is an IBMA award-winning journalist and broadcaster from southwestern Ohio, with an American Studies degree from Cedarville University. He hosts the Walls of Time: Bluegrass Podcast and his daily radio program, The Daniel Mullins Midday Music Spectacular, on the Real Roots Radio network. He also serves as the station’s music director, programming country, bluegrass, and Americana music.