Props from Country Standard Time

One of the aspects of Bluegrass Today we are most proud to celebrate is our Weekly Playlist Chart, which measures actual radio spins within our market.

The response from artists, labels and radio programmers since we launched two weeks ago has been extremely positive, and our list of reporting stations has grown to 94 in this short space of time.

Today, we got some love from Country Standard Time, whose Donald Teplyske had nice things to say. Following a quick overview of other bluegrass charts, along with their shortcomings, he introduced our new offering.

“The latest bluegrass chart comes to us from the folks over at Bluegrass Today, the website that grew out of The Bluegrass Blog. Based on weekly airplay from reporting stations, the chart not only itemizes the songs but shows the number of plays each song received the previous week. As a result, songs move up and down rapidly.

This week Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad hit #1 on the chart with their song Big River having had 262 plays, up from 165 a week ago in their debut week which had the song at #24. Sharing the #1 slot with PMR is Blue Highway, who was at the top the previous week. Two weeks ago I Ain’t Gonna Lay My Hammer Down was at #20. The new Doyle Lawson tuneLove on Arrival debuts at #2 (really three when you consider the tie at the top) having received 233 spins.

What is also interesting is that Help My Brother, the current Bluegrass Unlimited #1 song is nowhere to be seen on the Bluegrass Today list. Their Walkin’ West to Memphis climbs to #7 this week, having received more plays each of the three weeks the chart has appeared.

With reporting available at the click of a button, the timely nature of the Bluegrass Today chart is appealing. Being so responsive, and with the chart based on weekly plays, songs are going to move up and down on this chart at a pace that is rare in the bluegrass world.

Also interesting is the lack of importance placed on cumulative spins. A Far Cry from Lester and Earl, from Junior Sisk and Rambers Choice’s excellent new album, has had 506 total plays over the three weeks, but comes in tied for the last chart spot at #20 based on the past week’s 160 plays. Over the three weeks, the song has had many more plays than the DLQ song as well as this week’s #3 from The Expedition Show, but this chart is weekly making all previous plays and positions moot.

It will be interesting to watch this chart develop. It has the potential – depending on who is reporting to it – to become as influential and respected as the long-established Bluegrass Unlimited charts. I believe the danger comes in the same factor that is its greatest appeal: its immediacy. With a chart that changes so quickly, bluegrass becomes that much more disposable and fleeting – what is hot today could be gone tomorrow. Our attention spans are already short. With the chart changing dramatically week-to-week, do we risk having bluegrass music’s ‘hits’ become less established, less lasting and impactful than they might be in a three, four, or five month journey on the BU charts?

Donald clearly gets what we have in mind for this chart – an accurate measure of what is happening on bluegrass radio right now. Please note that his comments are based on the previous week’s chart, dated September 30.

Our Weekly Playlist Chart is updated each Friday. Check it out – and tell a friend!

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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.