Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion celebrates its 20th anniversary on Sept. 10-12 by bringing the likes of Tanya Tucker, Rhonda Vincent, Jim Lauderdale, Blackberry Smoke and more to the Tennessee-Virginia line.
The music festival returns to the Birthplace of Country Music after the pandemic forced the cancellation of its 2020 edition.
"Everyone at BCM is thrilled to be in the final stages of planning for what promises to be a memorable Reunion!" said BCM Executive Director Leah Ross at a press conference held at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (as quoted in a press release). "Very soon, we will be dancing together again on State Street to some great live music - and for that, we are truly grateful."
Around 100 bands will perform across multiple stages around historic downtown Bristol, including performances by bluegrass acts Lonesome River Band and Darin & Brooke Aldridge at the mural which celebrates the 1927 Bristol Sessions: the spark which led to country music's initial "big bang" of popularity and the introduction of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family to a broader audience.
The festival announced in August that it would not require attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
"After exploring all options, we have concluded that we cannot impose a vaccine mandate or negative test policy at this time without a state mandate," read a statement (as reported by local news outlet WJHL).
Jason Isbell, who's only performing with his band the 400 Unit at venues and events with the opposite policy, dropped out as a headliner.
"We won't be appearing at the Rhythm and Roots Reunion this year," Isbell tweeted. "Y'all be safe!"
We won’t be appearing at the Rhythm and Roots Reunion this year. Y’all be safe! https://t.co/7hWS2DQZ3X
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) August 18, 2021
WJHL reports that the festival will follow these safety precautions:
- Continue to follow health and safety mandates set forth by the states of Tennessee and Virginia, local health departments and the CDC.
- Masks will be available at the festival gates.
- Hand sanitizing and hand washing stations will be available within the festival.
- Additional sanitizing measurements will be provided throughout the festival footprint.
The Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2021 lineup also lists such country, folk and Americana heavyweights as Dr. Dog, Hayes Carll, Amythyst Kiah, Charley Crockett, The SteelDrivers, The Steel Woods, Yola, Ian Noe, Son Little, Town Mountain and Morgan Wade.
"We worked hard to keep our lineup as consistent as we could with the lineup we had hoped to have at last year's cancelled event, but the pandemic forced us to make some difficult decisions," says Leah Ross, executive director of the Birthplace of Country Music, the nonprofit that is the parent organization of the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion (as quoted by The Boot and other outlets). "The music and tourism industries have been hit hard by COVID-19, and our downtown businesses are struggling to survive. We hope our festival provides a boost to Bristol's economy to help get us back on track."
For the full lineup and ticket information, check out the festival's website.