14 episodes

Fiddler Patrick McGonigle and music journalist Emma John uncover bluegrass music one iconic record at a time in The Breakdown, a new 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.

The Breakdown Emma John and Patrick McGonigle

    • Music
    • 4.8 • 63 Ratings

Fiddler Patrick McGonigle and music journalist Emma John uncover bluegrass music one iconic record at a time in The Breakdown, a new 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.

    Toy Heart Podcast - Ricky Skaggs

    Toy Heart Podcast - Ricky Skaggs

    In lieu of new episodes of The Breakdown, co-host Emma John introduces an episode of "Toy Heart", the most in-depth podcast about the origins of bluegrass ever created.


    Hosted by CBC radio host Tom Power ("q") and distributed by BGS (The Bluegrass Situation), Tom 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.


    On this episode, 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.


    PRODUCED BY: Tom Power and Amy Reitnouer Jacobs / BGS
    CO-PRODUCED AND EDITED BY: Stephanie Coleman
    THEME MUSIC BY: Chris Eldridge and Kristin Andreassen

    • 1 hr 6 min
    The Seldom Scene - Live at The Cellar Door

    The Seldom Scene - Live at The Cellar Door

    The Seldom Scene's classic 1975 release "Live at the Cellar Door" is featured, and if ever there was a party of a bluegrass album, "Live at the Cellar Door" is it.


    Patrick and Emma talk to original band members Tom Gray and Ben Eldridge to find out what was really going down on that mad and marvelous night in 1975.


    Season 2 of The Breakdown is sponsored by The Soundtrack of America: Made In Tennessee.

    • 49 min
    O Brother, Where Art Thou?

    O Brother, Where Art Thou?

    It's the movie that brought bluegrass to a new generation, and sent dozens of musical careers into the stratosphere. This week, Patrick and Emma dissect the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou, with a little help from their friends Chris Thomas King and Dan Tyminski. Fake beards not required.


    Season 2 of The Breakdown is sponsored by The Soundtrack of America: Made In Tennessee. Visit TNVacation.com to start planning your trip.

    • 46 min
    Bill Monroe - The High, Lonesome Sound of Bill Monroe

    Bill Monroe - The High, Lonesome Sound of Bill Monroe

    It's high, it's lonesome – it's The High Lonesome Sound. Unpacking Bill Monroe's bluegrass legacy through this 1966 compilation of Decca recordings is no small task – so Patrick and Emma have enlisted some high-profile help, including the legendary Sonny Osborne (a 14-year-old debutant on this album) and the wonderfully insightful Laurie Lewis.


    Season 2 of The Breakdown is sponsored by The Soundtrack of America: Made In Tennessee. Visit TNVacation.com to start planning your trip.

    • 46 min
    Alison Krauss and Union Station - So Long, So Wrong

    Alison Krauss and Union Station - So Long, So Wrong

    It was the album that nearly broke them – but instead, it made them. If you weren't in love with Alison Krauss and Union Station by the end of their third album, So Long So Wrong, you needed to check your pulse. Patrick and Emma find out the stressful story behind the second best creation of the 90s (after Pop Tarts, of course).


    Season 2 of The Breakdown is sponsored by The Soundtrack of America: Made In Tennessee. Visit TNVacation.com to start planning your trip.

    • 46 min
    Jim & Jesse - The Jim & Jesse Show

    Jim & Jesse - The Jim & Jesse Show

    Season 2 of The Breakdown Podcast continues with an in-depth exploration of Jim & Jesse's 1975 live album "The Jim & Jesse Show."


    Bluegrass and Japan are like peanut butter & jelly – it might not seem the most obvious match up, but boy, does it work. Patrick and Emma talk to Jesse McReynolds, one of the oldest living Opry members, about Jim and Jesse's 1972 trip to Tokyo – and the awesome live album it resulted in.


    Season 2 of The Breakdown is sponsored by The Soundtrack of America: Made In Tennessee. Visit TNVacation.com to start planning your trip.

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
63 Ratings

63 Ratings

Nedlydorite ,

I want more!

I Love this series! I want more episodes! There are so many more albums you could do! Old and in the Way, a New Grass Revival album or two, The Bluegrass Album Band come to mind. PLEASE, make more! I’m dyin’!

Don't test software ,

Great Education on Pivotal Recordings

I’ve listened to all of the podcasts and learned something new on each one.

My major complaint as echoed by other reviewers is with the recording levels. I can barely hear Emma, except for the Punch Brothers where she’s had some cocktails prior to recording.

Fix that and it’s perfect.

Thanks Jerry Douglas for the recommendation!

MonroeJunkie ,

You may learn something

It’s a talk show ABOUT bluegrass recordings. They do a good job but if you don’t know the album you won’t have a clue. I disagree with something they say almost every episode. So now I listen for that😀. Keep going.

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