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Birthplace of Country Music

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The mountains of southern Appalachia have long been recognized as a breeding ground for traditional music. The earliest settlers brought their instruments and musical traditions, which were fused together to form country, blues, folk, and other styles of popular American music.

In 1927, Ralph Peer – a record executive from Victor Talking Machine Company in Camden, New Jersey – traveled to Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia to find the makers of “hillbilly” music. He set up a portable recording studio in the Taylor-Christian Hat Company building on State Street, advertised for auditions, and waited for the music makers to come to him. Over the course of two weeks, Peer recorded 76 songs by 19 different acts, including Ernest V. Stoneman with various friends and family, The Carter Family, known as “The First Family of Country Music,” and “The Father of Country Music,” Jimmie Rodgers. It was with these recordings that the foundation of country music was laid and its soundtrack begins.

These recordings met with commercial success and continue to influence musicians today, and in 2002, the Library of Congress ranked the 1927 Bristol Sessions among the 50 most significant sound recording events of all time. Johnny Cash said that “these recordings in Bristol in 1927 are the single most important event in the history of country music.”

The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) was established to preserve and promote the rich music heritage of our region. This grassroots organization was first formed through the cooperation of civic, educational, tourist, governmental, and music-related interests on April 7, 1994; it became a nonprofit in 1996. In 1998, the US Congress passed a bill that officially recognized Bristol as the Birthplace of Country Music.

The Birthplace of Country Music promotes and celebrates Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia as the birthplace of country music. BCM celebrates Bristol’s role in the birth and development of country music through the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, WBCM Radio Bristol, and educational outreach and programming.

Upcoming Events

November 2017

The Luthier’s Craft: Instrument Making Traditions of the Blue Ridge

November 3, 2017 @ 10:00 am - March 4, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

Luthiers – skilled makers of stringed musical instruments – are both keepers of tradition and innovators. They carry on the old ways of working wood and string to create beautiful and functional instruments, while also bringing new creativity and technology to the fore in their pieces. The Luthier’s Craft explores and documents the traditional arts of fiddle, guitar, banjo, and dulcimer making in Southern Appalachia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Featured craftspeople include guitar maker Wayne Henderson, fiddle makers Audrey Hash Ham and Chris Testerman, banjo…

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February 2018

Farm & Fun Time: Willie Watson, Larry Sigmon & Martha Spencer

February 8 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Radio Bristol presents the Farm & Fun Time variety show, live from the Birthplace of Country Music Museum with modern folk artist Willie Watson and the unique mountain sound of Larry Sigmon & Martha Spencer. Farm & Fun Time, the historic Radio Program broadcasting from Downtown Bristol, was a staple to listeners across the Southeast during the 1940s and 1950s on the former WCYB Radio. Radio Bristol breathes new life into the classic program with a fun, energetic show broadcasting…

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1927 Society Concert: MerleFest on the Road

February 23 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Birthplace of Country Music Museum, 520 Birthplace of Country Music Way
Bristol, VA 24201 United States
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$85

Merlefest on the Road makes a stop at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum for an intimate 1927 Society Concert experience featuring live music from The Way Down Wanderers, The Barefoot Movement, and Andy May. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and adult beverages included. Date: Friday, February 23, 2018 Doors Open: 6:30 p.m. (Heavy hors d’oeuvres and adult beverages included.) Concert: Time: 7:30 p.m. Location: Birthplace of Country Music Museum (520 Birthplace of Country Music Way, Bristol, VA) Tickets: $85 (taxes, fees included) 1927 Society Members:  Tickets…

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March 2018

Farm & Fun Time: Bumper Jacksons and Roochie Toochie & the Shepherd Kings.

March 8 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Birthplace of Country Music Museum, 520 Birthplace of Country Music Way
Bristol, VA 24201 United States
+ Google Map

Radio Bristol presents the Farm and Fun Time variety show, live from the Birthplace of Country Music Museum with the rootsy jazz of Bumper Jacksons and the tin pan alley sound of Roochie Toochie & the Shepherd Kings. Date: Thursday, March 8, 2018 Time: 7:00 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Must be in your seat by 6:50 p.m.) Location: Birthplace of Country Music Museum BUY TICKETS ABOUT FARM AND FUN TIME Farm and Fun Time the historic Radio Program broadcasting from Downtown…

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