In lieu of new episodes of Toy Heart, host Tom Power introduces an episode of "The Bluegrass Breakdown" podcast featuring a deep-dive into the making of Second Generation Bluegrass by Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley. Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley were only 17 years old when they recorded Second Generation Bluegrass. Ricky Skaggs joins The Breakdown to talk about this iconic album. Both went on to be country megastars – until Whitley died of alcohol poisoning at 34. Bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs joins us to explain how two teenagers managed to perfectly replicate the bygone sound of the Stanley Brothers – and share his final moments with Keith. On each episode of "The Breakdown", Fiddler Patrick McGonigle and music journalist Emma John uncover bluegrass music one iconic record at a time in The Breakdown, a limited series from The Bluegrass Situation. Peeling back the layers of a sometimes under appreciated genre, The Breakdown reveals the bizarre, compelling, and often completely mad stories from bluegrass players past and present.
For the final episode of season one of Toy Heart, we have host Tom Power’s 2019 sit down with legendary artist, musician, and sideman Jerry Douglas at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual business conference in Raleigh, NC. Douglas talks all about hearing “Uncle Josh” Graves for the first time with Flatt & Scruggs and, in the early days, using a toothbrush to turn his own guitar into something like a Dobro. He tells stories of his father’s band, the The West Virginia Travellers, and being discovered by the Country Gentlemen. He shares about his lifelong friendship with Ricky Skaggs — and his connections with Tony Rice, J.D. Crowe, Alison Krauss, Ray Charles, to O Brother, and more. Jerry Douglas will go down as one of the finest American musicians of his generation, but for this episode we focus on his true love — his life in bluegrass.
1 hr 28 min
Host Tom Power speaks with progressive banjo legend Tony Trischka at the home of his friend and former student, Béla Fleck. Trischka and Power talk about the time he saw and met Bob Dylan when no one was sure how to pronounce his name, and when he went to the first bluegrass festival weekend. An innovator on an archetypically traditional instrument, Trischka also discusses how he fuses jazz and experimental music with bluegrass, the intersection of the folk boom and bluegrass, and the time he played "progressive" banjo in front of Ralph Stanley. The episode covers ground from his recording debut with the band Country Cooking, to his first solo album, Bluegrass Light, having had Bill Monroe over for dinner when he was a kid, his teaching Béla, to carving out a life in acoustic music (and about what the term "bluegrass-adjacent music" means, too).
Host Tom Power talks to Bluegrass Hall of Fame member Jesse McReynolds of Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys about his career in bluegrass. One of the last founding fathers of bluegrass, Jesse McReynold’s story is the story of bluegrass — a music that emerged out of the country, into rural schoolhouses, onto rural radio, finding sponsorship along the way, enmeshing itself into the mainstream of American culture. McReynolds tells the story of his grandfather, who played in the first recorded country music session, talks about being offered a gig with the Stanley Brothers, serving with the armed forces in Korea and singing alongside Charlie Louvin. He relates hunting down record deals and successes with his brother Jim, starting their own label, being sought out by counter cultural icons like the Grateful Dead and The Doors. Now nearing the age of 91, McReynolds spends some time reflecting as well, on his brother Jim’s death, his own struggles with the Opry, and how he feels about his legacy in the music. This is an icon of American music whose story isn’t often told, and we’re honored to play a part.
1 hr 6 min
Banjoist and record label head Alison Brown speaks with host Tom Power from her studio at Compass Records headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. They begin with her early records made with Stuart Duncan, "finding her people," and winning the Canadian National Banjo Championship (as an American). Brown then headed to Harvard, and playing banjo became "something you'd talk about at cocktail parties." She describes the moment she decided to leave investment banking and commit to music full time, her cocktail napkin dream, and playing with Alison Krauss, Indigo Girls, and Michelle Shocked. Power and Brown talk women in bluegrass, women in banjo, and the First Ladies of Bluegrass. The story they dive into together is ultimately about figuring out what makes you happy, and pursuing it bravely, against all odds.
1 hr 8 min
On this episode of Toy Heart, Béla Fleck talks to host Tom Power from his home studio and for the first time, he tells his story in bluegrass. Fleck started out in New York hearing Earl Scruggs for the first time, learning from Tony Trischka, and then making the decision to go (new) south to learn from J.D. Crowe. He auditioned for Bill Monroe, but eventually found 'his people' and joined New Grass Revival. He tells of mistakes the band made along the way, the hard decision to leave that band and start the Flecktones, recording with his hero Earl Scruggs, and how he found his way back to bluegrass after all. He also unveils the one change he thinks anyone can make to their practicing to become a better musician.
1 hr 26 min
Old-time legend and Bluegrass Hall of Fame member Alice Gerrard talks to host Tom Power at her kitchen table in North Carolina. Gerrard tells stories of how she and other college students from the northern U.S. found bluegrass and old-time, of the lifelong influence of the Antioch College folk scene, meeting her Hall of Fame partner Hazel Dickens and making some of the greatest records in the genre. She goes on to describe her split from Hazel, her work since, the creation of print publication The Old-Time Herald, of which she is the founding editor. In tender moments, she shares the last time she ever spoke with Hazel, and describes what she sang to "sing her back home."
1 hr 21 min
Bluegrass legend and Country Music Hall of Famer Ricky Skaggs talks to TOY HEART host Tom Power about what it was like to grow up as a child prodigy, the real story of how he got pulled on stage by Bill Monroe, how meeting Keith Whitley changed his life forever — and the last time they ever spoke. Plus, a never before told story of how Bill Monroe thought Ricky would make a “fine Blue Grass Boy.” It’s the story of Ricky Skaggs… but the one that you may not expect. Skaggs is a notable entry point to bluegrass for many listeners and fans — like our first guest, Del McCoury is as well. Though his story is familiar: From playing the Grand Ole Opry as a tot, joining Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys, and going on to perform and record with J.D. Crowe and the New South, to his own smashing success in mainstream country and eventual return to his now dynastic bluegrass career. Still, Tom Power displays Skaggs in a fresh light, with stories from and impressions of the icon that even veteran fans will find refreshing and illuminating. Subscribe to TOY HEART: A Podcast About Bluegrass wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes drop every other Thursday through May.
1 hr 5 min
Del McCoury talks to Tom backstage at the Opry about how he started playing banjo, his (interesting) time in the military, joining Bill Monroe's band, being replaced by Bill Keith, starting over, playing music with his sons, and how he found his way to becoming a legend of Bluegrass music - and to some, defining the whole thing. Presented by BGS (The Bluegrass Situation).
1 hr 6 min
CBC radio host Tom Power ("q") and BGS (The Bluegrass Situation) bring you the most in-depth podcast about the origins of bluegrass ever created. Power sits down with luminaries of the genre such as Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Alice Gerrard, Jesse McReynolds, Jerry Douglas and more for an intimate conversation about their origins within the world of bluegrass music. Premiering March 5, 2020, full episodes will be released bi-weekly on TheBluegrassSituation.com and wherever you get your podcasts.