Bluegrass Today Weekly Top 20 Countdown podcast

Just recently, 11 years after we launched Bluegrass Today and our Weekly Airplay Chart, a pair of bluegrass radio hosts in the Pacific have launched a podcast based on the chart. Called, plainly enough, Bluegrass Today Weekly Top 20 Countdown, a new episode is posted each Sunday counting down the Top 20 songs based on radio play as reported by our participating hosts.

The podcast is the brainchild of Caroline Wright in Hawaii and Mike Kear in Sydney, Australia who take our chart each Friday morning, and create a new show ready for its launch two days later. In addition to playing each of the Top 20 songs in turn, the hosts add some background to the tracks and include interviews with artists and newsmakers in the bluegrass world.

Bluegrass Today Weekly Top 20 Countdown is available at no charge from the many podcast aggregators online, like Apple Podcasts, Player FM, Podomatic, or whichever is your preferred platform. Mike and Caroline are now five weeks in, and have got the format down to a very smooth production running about an hour and 15 minutes per.

Both of the hosts should be well familiar to bluegrass lovers. Wright is the founder of Bluegrass Hawai’i, the island state’s bluegrass association, and co-author with Tim Stafford of Still Inside: The Tony Rice Story. She is also a former editor at Bluegrass Now magazine. Kear is the longtime host of Music From Foggy Hollow, broadcast for 22 years on Hawkesbury Radio in Sydney, Australia. The show is also carried on Bluegrass Country, whose online signal is available worldwide.

Mike tells us that by producing the podcast through Hawkesbury Radio, they are able to include full songs, which US hosts find problematic.

“We think this is a worthwhile project and should become quite popular with bluegrass fans. Australian copyright law is different from US law, which means we can have music podcasts playing full songs so they sound like a radio show, and be fully covered for copyright and licensing purposes. It’s not something that American-based podcasts can do because of the licensing laws In the USA.

For the first time in 22 years, I have a show that Australians can listen to any time they like, rather than have to stay up in the wee small hours of the morning. It’s a similar situation with other places around the world, too — Europe for example, and Asia. Hawaii is home to lots of military people stationed there who haven’t been able to pick up bluegrass radio conveniently before. We’re offering them a way.”

Bluegrass Today Weekly Top 20 Countdown is not strictly a chart review, as Mike and Caroline share a number of different features in each show, as well as a weekly news roundup. They offered this list of items they have already run or have planned for the show.

  • Pickin’ on the Planet – Did you know there’s bluegrass in Ireland? In India? In Iceland? Meet a bluegrass act from somewhere far from the bluegrass heartland.
  • Field Pickin’ – A short segment featuring listeners from around the world who have spectacular bluegrass stories.
  • Pickin’ on the People – Profiles of the incredible people behind the bluegrass scenes – people who aren’t famous bluegrass musicians themselves, but who love and support the music.
  • Who Did It Best? – “For this segment, we’ll play a few different versions of the same song by different artists,” says Kear. “Who did it best? We’ll let our listeners decide for themselves.”
  • Let’s Celebrate A Bluegrass Birthday – Spotlighting a birthday artist with fascinating stories, revealing interviews, and deep cuts from their personal musical libraries.
  • Bizarregrass – The name says it all!

As regular podcast listeners know, pod software will automatically download any new episodes for a show to which you have subscribed, so they are there on your phone or device when you are ready to listen. What a great way to keep up with what is current in bluegrass music, especially for folks who don’t have access to bluegrass radio where they live.

Best of luck to Caroline Wright and Mike Kear with Bluegrass Today Weekly Top 20 Countdown!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.