Twin cities Bristol, Tenn. and Bristol. Va. celebrate their roles in the birth of country music throughout September as part of the 17th annual Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.
The roots music festival takes place held Sept. 15-17, with additional events the weeks before and after.
Bristol’s rich musical history dates back to Ralph Peer of Victor Talking Machine Company’s historic 1927 series of recordings in the Taylor-Christian Hat Company building. Among the artists recorded were the legendary Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. Peer set up a portable recording studio in Bristol and invited local and regional talent to record “sides” for 78 RPM records.
Since 2001, this festival has celebrated such regional traditions as country, folk, Americana, bluegrass and Piedmont blues. The 2017 lineup demonstrates a wide swath of genres and talents, featuring Dwight Yoakam, Amanda Shires, Mandolin Orange, Son Volt, the SteelDrivers, Deer Tick and others.
Around 50,000 fans visit the twin cities each September for the 20 stage, 130 act festival.
For the 90th anniversary of the Bristol sessions, festival goers will get to watch a special Sunday screening of Born in Bristol, a film about the cities’ historic role in country’s birth and commercial development, at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. The docudrama features guest appearances by Dolly Parton, Vince Gill and other country luminaries.
Bristol Rhythm Kickoff Concert Featuring Jason Ringenberg – Sept. 14
The event’s official kick-off features roots-punk renegade Jason Ringenberg. You can catch this alt-country pioneer and recipient of the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s Performance Theater.
May It Last: A Portrait of The Avett Brothers screening, Sept. 12
Longtime fans and film makers Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio gained unprecedented access to the North Carolina band’s careers and personal lives for two years. The end result is this documentary. It’s one night only screening event across the country coincides, perhaps by chance, with the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.
Museum Day Live! featuring a Screening of American Experience: Tesla, Sept. 23
Bristol’s observation of Smithsonian magazine’s 13th annual Museum Day Live! takes a break from country-specific programming. A free day at the museum centers on a screening of a PBS special about Nikola Tesla. The film will be presented as a companion piece to Things Come Apart.
90th Anniversary Celebration of the 1927 Bristol Sessions – Sept. 17
Mark the anniversary and ongoing influence of the historic 1927 Bristol Sessions by attending this incredible event. Jerry Douglas, Elizabeth Cook and Langhorne Slim are among the top talents set to perform on the State Street Stage. You can find out more about the event and view the full lineup here.