Bristol Sessions Super Raffle & More in September
State Street in Historic Downtown Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia will be filled with music as 40,000-plus visitors from all over the world converge on the site of the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions for the 19th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival – the award-winning event that honors those legendary recordings with a three-day celebration of more than 100 acts performing on 20 stages across several blocks in the heart of the twin cities. The festival takes place September 20–22.
Designated by Congress as the official “birthplace of country music,” visitors may dance in two states while taking in some of the most celebrated roots music acts performing today. This year’s stellar roster includes headliners Wynonna & The Big Noise, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Patty Griffin, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Sam Bush, and many, many more.
“Bristol Rhythm is known for booking musician’s musicians,” said Leah Ross, Executive Director of the Birthplace of Country Music, parent nonprofit of the festival, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution), and WBCM Radio Bristol. “We also have a knack for finding those under-the-radar acts that eventually become headlining artists. Additionally, visitors and musicians alike love coming home to the our beautiful downtown to pay homage to the place where The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers made their first recordings. Bristol is a special place, and Bristol Rhythm is a very special event.”
Festival headliners are a big draw, but it’s the artists in the lower tiers of the lineup that have proven to be Bristol Rhythm’s bread and butter. St. Paul & the Broken Bones is a fine example of an act that cut its teeth at Bristol Rhythm in its infancy. Past lineups have included acts like The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops – a few examples of other bands that played Bristol Rhythm before hitting it big.
Artists from a wide range of genres are represented at Bristol Rhythm, from traditional bluegrass and old time to rock, blues, Americana, jam grass, and country.
“We do this to symbolize that vast influence the 1927 Bristol Sessions continues to have on the music of today,” stated Ross. “Just visit our museum, and we’ll take you from the Bristol Sessions to Nirvana in just a few steps!”
Speaking of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the Smithsonian Affiliate is conveniently located just outside festival gates. This year visitors may experience the new special exhibit by one of the event’s headliners. American Ballads: The Photographs of Marty Stuart is a stunning display of intimate, behind-the-scenes depictions of legendary musicians, images of eccentric characters from the back roads of America, and dignified portraits of members of the Lakota tribe in South Dakota – a people introduced to Stuart by his former father-in-law, Johnny Cash. The exhibit is organized by Nashville’s Frist Art Museum and is on display in the Special Exhibits Gallery at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum through January 31, 2020, but Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion wristband holders may tour the exhibit at a reduced cost (regular admission rates apply when touring entire museum).
During the festival week, BCM will also be hosting the VMFA on the Road Artmobile, which will be parked in front of the museum. Sixty-five years after the launch of its original Artmobile, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is once again bringing traveling art exhibitions and educational offerings to audiences across the state! This state-of-the-art mobile museum and education studio will be available for free school group bookings on September 18 and 19, and open for free for festivalgoers to explore on September 20–22. With art from a variety of VMFA Fellows, engaging and educational hands-on activities, and a family visit guide, the Artmobile is sure to be a wonderful experience for adults and children alike!
WBCM Radio Bristol, which broadcasts from the Birthplace of Country Music, will also host its popular Farm and Fun Time variety show live from the Paramount Bristol stage during Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion with special performances by Dustbowl Revival and Hogslop String Band. Hosted by Radio Bristol producer Kris Truelsen and his house band Bill & the Belles, the program pays homage to the classic WCYB Farm and Fun Time show that broadcast from downtown Bristol in the 1940s and 1950s. The classic program helped build the careers of The Stanley Brothers, Curly King, and Jim & Jesse McReynolds. Only Bristol Rhythm wristband holders will be allowed entry to the show, which will broadcast live on the air on 100.1 FM in the Bristol area, online at ListenRadioBristol.org, and through the station’s free mobile app. The show will also simulcast on WBCM Radio Bristol’s Facebook page.
Other events to be held during Bristol Rhythm include the 10K Run–5K Run/Walk, a free Children’s Day event, and Yoga Rocks at Cumberland Square Park. Additionally, registrations are now open for the annual Wernick Method Bluegrass Jam Camp, which takes place off-site the week prior to the festival.
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is also looking to fill volunteer slots for this year’s event. Volunteers receive a single day festival pass for each four-hour shift they work and a festival t-shirt.
For information, volunteer applications, and registration related to all of the above offerings, visit BristolRhythm.com.
Winners of the Bristol Sessions Super Raffle will be announced on Sunday, September 22 outside the Birthplace of Country Music Museum during the festival. A fundraiser for the museum, the raffle gives lucky winners the chance to walk away with $250,000 in cash and prizes including a new Ford Ranger, Subaru Crosstrek, Chevrolet Trax LT AWD, an all-inclusive trip to Jamaica, a Disney Cruise, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, $25,000 in cash, and much, much more! To purchase a raffle ticket, see contest rules, and view all the wonderful prizes, visit BristolSessionsSuperRaffle.org. You don’t have to be present to win.