Toy Heart with Tom Power (A Podcast About Bluegrass)

Tom Power

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. Episodes will be released bi-weekly on TheBluegrassSituation.com and wherever you get your podcasts.


PRODUCED BY: Tom Power and Amy Reitnouer Jacobs / BGS

CO-PRODUCED AND EDITED BY: Stephanie Coleman

THEME MUSIC BY: Chris Eldridge and Kristin Andreassen

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Episódios

Jody Stecher
Há 4 dias
Jody Stecher
For the latest episode of Toy Heart, we embark on a journey through the primordial, musical ooze that birthed bluegrass, old-time, and country music with the incredible Jody Stecher. A multi-instrumentalist adept in many styles and traditions – he even plays sarod, a Hindustani instrument – Stecher’s entire career is a fascinating case study in the interconnectedness of American folk music styles. Host Tom Power begins their engaging and philosophical conversation by asking Stecher about his childhood in New York City. A grandchild of eastern European immigrants, he “discovered” country and bluegrass like many in his generation, listening to the Wheeling Jamboree radio program on WWVA and hearing first generation pickers like the Osborne Brothers and Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys, including “Baby Crowe,” a young, just-hired banjo player who went by “J.D.” Soon after, Stecher replaced mandolinist (and one-day industry power player) Ralph Rinzler in bluegrass band, the Greenbriar Boys, before joining another group, the New York Ramblers. From those early years, cutting his teeth in local, regional, and eventually national outfits to iconic albums like Going Up On The Mountain and his current status as a venerated expert and acclaimed elder in American roots music, Jody Stecher utilizes music and his expertise to demonstrate how blurry the lines really are between these folk genres. Power and Stecher discuss teaching, David Grisman – and collaborating with Jerry Garcia! – meditation and music, early sounds and recordings by folks like Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, being a member of Peter Rowan’s band, his duo with Kate Brislin, Utah Phillips, and so much more. Whether you're a lifelong fan of roots music or new to these scenes, Tom Power and Jody Stecher’s Toy Heart episode will inspire, highlighting stories, traditions, and techniques that make bluegrass, old-time, and country music exactly what they are today. Presented by BGS (The Bluegrass Situation)Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/toy-heart-with-tom-power-a-podcast-about-bluegrass3537/donationsAdvertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Tim O'Brien
26-03-2024
Tim O'Brien
Our latest guest on Toy Heart is bluegrasser, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter Tim O’Brien. His conversation with host Tom Power begins by remembering the music of his childhood, growing up in Wheeling, West Virginia listening to Chubby Checker on his crystal radio set and attending the nationally renowned country variety show and radio broadcast, the Wheeling Jamboree. Encountering the music of Merle Haggard and Doc Watson via local radio and television, he fell in love with music as a kid before a few friends introduced him to Bill Monroe’s mandolin playing while smoking a post-gig joint as a teen. After dropping out of college, O’Brien hitchhiked west to Wyoming, before landing in Colorado and eventually founding Hot Rize in the mid to late ‘70s with newly married and relocated Dr. Banjo himself, Pete Wernick. Over the course of their winding and dense conversation, Power and O’Brien chat about Gibson mandolins, the burgeoning Colorado string band scene, working with Bill Monroe, and the strange, circuitous story of his fiddle’s provenance. O’Brien’s career, as multifaceted as it has been, is a wellspring of stories, anecdotes, and yarns about the bluegrass scene of the ‘80s and ‘90s, Irish music, writing hit country songs, working with and alongside so many first generation bluegrass legends, and the inception of Hot Rize’s alter ego band, Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers. Having recorded and performed with the Chieftains, Darrell Scott, the Transatlantic Sessions, and so many others, Tim O’Brien’s career is a melting pot of styles and sounds with one primary throughline: the true originality of his own musical vocabulary. As Power puts it, “I ​couldn't ​tell ​you ​what ​Tim ​O'Brien ​sounds ​like, ​but ​I ​know ​Tim ​O'Brien ​when ​I ​hear ​it.”Our Toy Heart episode examines O’Brien’s expansive and impressive career at a fascinating juncture in its span, as he shifts from being a bluegrass and Americana workhorse to a forebear, mentor, and roots music elder to entire generations of young musicians. Presented by BGS (The Bluegrass Situation)Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/toy-heart-with-tom-power-a-podcast-about-bluegrass3537/donationsAdvertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Laurie Lewis
12-03-2024
Laurie Lewis
In the latest episode of Toy Heart, we explore the roots and evolution of bluegrass in the modern era by examining the story of legendary bluegrasser, singer-songwriter, and recording artist, Laurie Lewis. From her tales of growing up in Berkeley during what Lewis jokingly calls the “folk scare” of the '60s to finding the joy of music through her father's classical background and eventually becoming a pioneer for women in the genre, her lifelong career in American roots music is a perfect example of how the innovation and tradition-bending tendencies of bluegrass’s first generation continue full force today. Lewis’s musical transformation over the course of her life shows the entrancing power of bluegrass to steer and alter the course of hers and so many others’ lives. In our Toy Heart interview, Lewis chats with host Tom Power about the magnetic pulls of Chubby Wise's fiddle tunes, of albums by the Greenbriar Boys, and of a formative live show by the Byrds. She talks about studying modern dance, “disappointing” her father by “rebelling” and choosing folk music forms over classical, and what eventually led to late-night jams, fiddle contests, and navigating the Bay Area's bustling bluegrass, folk, and women’s music scenes. Their conversation closes with a reflection on the ways bluegrass has affected Lewis the most, and, how it continues to shape the identities of its artists and listeners with an intractable, ineffable pull. Power and Lewis point out how current generations – from Molly Tuttle to Tatiana Hargreaves, both mentees and collaborators of Lewis – continue in these same traditions. Plus, Lewis shares what it was like to tour and sing with Dr. Ralph Stanley, himself.This Toy Heart episode dives deep into the many layers of the genre, helping to demonstrate just some of the many ways bluegrass interweaves itself into musicians’ and fans’ personal and musical identities. Lewis shows there are countless joys in staying true to one's artistic vision amidst an industry that is always in flux; her insights offer a soulful perspective on continuity and change within the genre, echoing the sentiments of a community that, much like a family, supports and evolves with its members – and that continues to rightly hold Lewis up as a trail-breaker and standard-bearer for the entire genre.Presented by BGS (The Bluegrass Situation)Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/toy-heart-with-tom-power-a-podcast-about-bluegrass3537/donationsAdvertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Mike Compton
27-02-2024
Mike Compton
Bluegrass fans know Mike Compton from his long and eclectic resumé, including decades of touring and recording traditional Monroe-style mandolin with greats like John Hartford, Doc Watson, Peter Rowan, Ralph Stanley, Alison Krauss, and David Grisman, as well as venturing into more mainstream music with with Sting, Gregg Allman, Elvis Costello, and many others. He was also heard on the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou? and traveled with the smash hit tour, Down from the Mountain, which highlighted the artists and musicians on that incredibly popular soundtrack. But, as Toy Heart host Tom Power points out, it’s not just virtuosity that makes Compton stand out as a mandolinist – it’s just as much about the heart, feel, and grit that he brings to the instrument.Tom speaks with Compton for over an hour for this exclusive Toy Heart interview, walking through his life and career, from the musical influence of his great grandparents and growing up in Meridian, Mississippi to the indelible mark left on his own playing style by Bill Monroe. Compton also recalls his childhood, skipping school to hide out in a “dirt pit” to practice all day, his time in Nashville – including a historic visit to China with the Nashville Bluegrass Band – and recounts his collaborations with the legendary John Hartford. You’ll also hear Compton discuss the impact that playing on O Brother, Where Art Thou? had not only on himself and his own career, but on bluegrass as a whole.Presented by BGS (The Bluegrass Situation)Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/toy-heart-with-tom-power-a-podcast-about-bluegrass3537/donationsAdvertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Bobby Osborne in Conversation with Tom Power
07-07-2023
Bobby Osborne in Conversation with Tom Power
On a special edition of Toy Heart, we remember Bluegrass Music Hall of Famer, Grand Ole Opry member, seven-time Grammy Award nominee, CMA Award winner, and roots music legend Bobby Osborne. “This is what I started with when I was 15 years old,” Osborne says as the episode begins. “Ain’t never quit, ain’t going to now… If He calls me home, I’ll give it up quick.” He succeeded– he never quit. When Osborne died on June 27 at the age of 91, he still had future shows and appearances on his calendar. He had performed on the Opry as recently as May 19 of this year with the Rocky Top X-press, the band he formed when his older brother and bandmate, iconic banjo player Sonny Osborne, retired from their duo – and from touring and performing – in the early 2000s. Toy Heart host Tom Power (CBC Radio’s Q) visited with Osborne at his home in Gallatin, Tennessee in the summer of 2022, a handful of months after Sonny’s passing. The conversation that resulted covers Bobby’s experiences within the earliest days of bluegrass (like having performed with the Stanley Brothers and Jimmy Martin), the conception and popularity of the Osborne Brothers’ signature harmony style (and how Bobby’s voice changed higher rather than lower), and his service in the U.S. Marine Corps and the harrowing experience that resulted in his earning a Purple Heart in Korea. They discuss Bobby’s broad impact and influence – even Bob Dylan was a fan – and iconic Osborne Brothers songs like “Ruby,” “Roll Muddy River,” and yes, “Rocky Top,” too.Upon the loss of such a gigantic figure in this music we are so grateful for the time we got to spend with Bobby Osborne and for how accessible he made himself to all of us in bluegrass. His enormous legacy will live on, well into the future, and we’ll never forget the music, stories, and laughs he so readily shared with all of us, especially in this Toy Heart tribute to his life and career. Toy Heart will be returning in early 2024 for its second season. Stay tuned.Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/toy-heart-with-tom-power-a-podcast-about-bluegrass3537/donationsAdvertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands