September 23rd, 2014

Thank You, Alumni, for a Great 2014!



Though a final count has yet to be determined, early estimates indicate attendance at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2014 is another record breaker. Friday’s performances by Emmylou Harris, Moon Taxi, Sturgill Simpson, Red Molly, Caveman and Willie Watson proved legendary; Saturday’s headliners Jeff Tweedy, the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, J. Roddy Walston & the Business, The Black Lillies, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and St. Paul & the Broken Bones were off the hook. And on Sunday Billy Joe Shaver, Dale Watson & His Ameripolitan Review (ft. Amber Digby & Roger Alan Wade), Parker Millsap, The Kruger Brothers, and Folk Soul Revival rounded out the annual event on the highest of notes.

More than 7,500 people from as far away as Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the United Kingdom watched portions of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion online. The livestream, provided by ETSU Online and BVU Optinet, was viewed in 34 of the United States.

“We work so hard all year,” says Birthplace of Country Music executive director Leah Ross, “when Sunday comes, it’s very emotional. We are proud to see the birth of a new festival year after year, but when that last note is played you can’t believe it’s already time to move forward with plans for the next.”

The festival known for emerging artists, Bristol Rhythm’s supporting cast also gets rave reviews. Newcomers White Denim, Sundy Best, The Dustbowl Revival, Swear and Shake, Truth & Salvage Co., Jarekus Singleton, Andrew Combs, The Harris Brothers, Mandolin Orange, and Goodnight, Texas earn high marks for stellar performances. Festival veterans The Whiskey Gentry (featuring a surprise visit by Roger Alan Wade), Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Sol Driven Train, King Super & the Excellents, and Old Line Skiffle Combo brought their “A” games with energetic performances that whipped crowds into a frenzy. The New Familiars’ Grateful Dead Tribute was also a festival highlight.

“More than 55,000 volunteers, artists, vendors and fans attended Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in 2013 and preliminary statistics tell us we did see an increase,” says Ross. “This year was a big success, and we are grateful to our sponsors, our cities, and everyone who attended for supporting us. It’s been a great year for the Birthplace of Country Music!”

And what a year it has been.

The success of the 14th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion comes on the heels of an award-winning year for the event. Besides being voted “Best of Show” by Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, “Best Festival” by Southeast Festival & Events Association, and achieving Bristol’s Mayors’ Award of Distinction, Bristol Rhythm ranked among the American Bus Association’s Top 100 Events of North America. The museum’s grand opening ceremony, held in August, received press on NPR and Reuters.com, in Rolling Stone Country, Music Row Magazine, and American Songwriter.

A number of festival artists and visitors toured the museum during the festival. Some were surprised to find their own images included among the exhibits.

“We were/are humbled and over the moon with joy,” stated Jackie Merritt, one-third of M.S.G.-The Acoustic Blues Trio.
“Only regret, John (John Cephas) wasn’t still here to see our smiles. We stand on the shoulders of those who have paved our way and we realize we have big shoes to fill. Thank you, Bristol!”

“Artists like The Black Lillies and M.S.G.-The Acoustic Blues Trio toured the museum and were excited to be part of our exhibits,” says Ross. “Festival artists are part of Bristol’s music legacy and show the impact of the Bristol Sessions on the music of today.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2015 is scheduled for September 18—20, 2015.


Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion now ranks among the American Bus Association’s premier Top 100 Events in North America for motorcoach tour groups. Each year tens of millions of tourists visit destinations in North America as groups on motorcoach trips. The American Bus Association has released the entire list of Top 100 Events in North America. This list is the annual announcement for group travel in the United States and Canada. It’s published as a guide for travel professionals and the general public when planning group tours and vacations.

“We are grateful to Tennessee Department of Tourist Development for nominating Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion for ABA’s Top 100 list,” says executive director Leah Ross. “The honor will bring tourists from all over the world to the festival and to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.”

Each spring, the Top 100 Selection Committee, which is comprised of group travel professionals, selects the winners from hundreds of nominated fairs, festivals, parades, exhibits, theaters and shows based on their broad appeal, accessibility to large groups, and other criteria.

The Top 100 Events will be published as a special supplement to the September/October issue of Destinations magazine. You can also find a full listing of the winners at http://www.buses.org/News-Publications/Top-100.

The American Bus Association (ABA) is the trade organization of the intercity bus industry, with more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour company members in the United States and Canada. Its members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. Another 2,800 members are travel and tourism organizations and suppliers of bus products and services who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry.

For more information about the American Bus Association and its Top 100 Events in North America, contact Dan Ronan, Senior Director of Communications, dronan@buses.org.

Moon Bound Girl Book Cover

Bristol, Tennessee native Leigh Ann Agee followed her “moon bound” dreams of living her life as a visual artist. Those dreams landed Agee in Nashville where she made a name for herself as an in-demand muralist, taking on a number of large-scale projects that include creating storybook themes for a children’s ward at a hospital, depicting Noah’s ark for a wing of a church, and composing lush nurseries for country music stars.

On Sunday, September 21, 2014, at 2:00 p.m., Agee returns to her Bristol roots to launch her children’s book, Moon Bound Girl: Melody’s Music, at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum as part of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion’s annual music festival (September 19-21). Seating is limited.

The illustrations in Moon Bound Girl: Melody’s Music are an extension of her Moon Bound series featuring lively, red-booted girly-girls with windblown locks that ascend to the heavens. Each illustration portrays Moon Bound Girls living their star-studded—and often-musical—dreams.

“I’m so proud of Bristol and how it’s grown by leaps and bounds,” says Agee. “The museum is amazing and I’m completely honored to be launching my dream, Moon Bound Girl: Melody’s Music, in my gorgeous hometown! And how perfect is the timing? I mean, what a perfect opportunity to get to do it at Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion. I’m a very blessed Moon Bound Girl!”

“Birthplace of Country Music is thrilled that Leigh Ann chose to launch Melody’s Music during Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion,” stated BCM executive director Leah Ross. “We are huge fans of her work and are elated to offer Moon Bound Girl original artwork and prints in the Museum Store.”

The Sunday book launch for Moon Bound Girl: Melody’s Music will include a book reading by Agee inside the Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s Performance Theater, followed by a reception with children’s activities in the Blue Stocking Club Learning Center. Light refreshments will be served. Books will be sold at the museum store that day. There is no entry fee, but seating is limited and visitors will need a festival wristband to enter.

Guests are encouraged to RSVP for this event in order to guarantee seating. Email your RSVP to Tracey Childress at tchildress@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org no later than Wednesday, September 17. Visitors who wish to tour the museum before or after the book launch should purchase tickets at the museum store at regular pricing.

Moon Bound Girl will also have a booth at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion all weekend on the 600 block of State Street. For more information visit www.BirthplaceofCountryMusic.org. For more information about Leigh Ann Agee and Moon Bound Girl, visit www.MoonBoundGirl.com.

Moon Bound Girl Leigh Ann Pic


Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is proud to announce a weekend-long Kid’s Zone at Cumberland Square Park during the festival with pony rides, clowns, face painting and more. Festival wristband required for entry, some fees may apply.

There are also two additions to their BVU Children’s Day: the Wells Fargo Stagecoach and Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures Dental Van.

BVU Children’s Day will be held Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in Cumberland Square Park and is free to the public. All activities during Children’s Day are free.

The Wells Fargo six-horse stagecoach comes from Wells Fargo’s real history of using, owning, guarding, and operating them. They still own and display 10 originals in their history museums, 13 authentic reproductions on display in their buildings, and a fleet of 17 that roll almost every weekend in parades across the nation. The Wells Fargo Stagecoach is a symbol of the company’s image, heritage, and values. The legendary stagecoach is priceless, and Wells Fargo strives to present it to their communities.

The Junior League of Bristol TN/VA will also bring the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures (BSBF) Dental Van to Children’s Day to provide free children’s dental health education and prevention. Colgate BSBF will provide free dental screenings and treatment referrals to children aboard a 32-foot customized recreational vehicle. Colgate BSBF screening program is staffed with program coordinators, hygienists and local volunteer dental professionals. Children up to 12 years old will enjoy this fun and engaging program aimed at empowering children to take control of their dental health and disease prevention. For more information about the Colgate BSBF, contact Dawna M. Fields (212) 310-2816.

Sunday, September 21, from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Friendship Ram of Bristol will host Kid’s Day the Friendship Way with face painting, cornhole, inflatables, and Raminator Monster Trucks on the corner of State and 5th Streets during the festival. Festival wristbands are required for entry.

UPDATE! Bristol Rhythm 2014 Shuttle Stops
Park and ride to the festival from a number of convenient stops, including The Bristol Mall.
Shuttle passes are $10 for the weekend, $5 each way from all shuttle stops.
Shuttles are cash only, children 12 and under are free. Shuttles drop off at the gate
located at the Downtown Center off Shelby Street, behind the Country Music Mural Stage.

Shuttle Schedule:
Friday: 4:30 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Shuttle Stops:
The Bristol Mall Entrance (Exit 1, Gate City Hwy.)
Earhart Campground (Volunteer Parkway)
Sugar Hollow Park (Exit 7, Lee Hwy.)
Motel 6 (Exit 7, Clear Creek Rd.)
Holiday Inn/Courtyard Marriott (Exit 7, Linden Drive)
Baymont Inn & Suites (Exit 7, Old Airport Road)
Comfort Inn (Exit 5, Lee Hwy.)
Super 8 (Exit 5, Lee Hwy.)
Econo Lodge (Exit 3, Commonwealth Ave.)
American Inn (Exit 74, West State Street)
Hampton Inn (Exit 74, West State St.)
Days Inn (Volunteer Pkwy.)
Budget Host Inn (West State Street)


The story of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion comes full circle with the opening of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. For the first time, visitors to the festival have the opportunity to explore Bristol’s origins as the birthplace of country music—the reason Bristol Rhythm was created. Everyone is encouraged to share this important story of American music during the festival; it is an interactive, state-of-the-art experience unlike any other. Featuring touch-screen technology, cinematic film experiences and acoustically perfect sound quality, the museum is a “festival” of sights and sounds that visitors from all over the world have heralded as one of their favorite museum experiences of all time.

Special museum hours during Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion are Friday and Saturday, September 19-20, 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 21, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Festivarians are encouraged to purchase tickets to the museum early in the day so they can explore in one or more trips throughout the day if needed. Museum day passes allow multiple entries on the day of purchase.

Tickets to tour the museum are $13 for adults, $11 for children 6-17, seniors, students (with student ID), and military. Children 5 and under are free.

Note: There is no charge for festival goers who wish to participate in the Moon Bound Girl book launch event Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. Visitors must have a festival wristband to gain entry. Those wishing to attend the book launch will need to RSVP by Wednesday, September 17 to tchildress@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org.


If you’re experiencing issues with wristband registration, we feel your pain. The tech gurus at Vendini can help you out. Call (423) 793-3450 if you are having trouble registering online. 

See this cute little box? Inside is love. From us. Your wristbands. They’re being mailed now and will be delivered to your door any day now. For those who have been patiently waiting, we hope that this little gift box makes you smile! Don’t forget to register your individual wristbands in your name when you get them! See you in September!


Bristol Rhythm’s 2nd annual Wernick Method Jam Camp is moving to new Birthplace of Country Music Museum!

September 17-19, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. daily

Tuition $249 includes lunch & complimentary festival pass.
$120 deposit holds your spot!

Closet pickers, this is for you!

Did you know there’s an etiquette to jumping into a bluegrass jam? Want to know how to find melodies and fake solos? That’s what the Wernick Method is all about, and we can teach you this year at Jam Camp! If you play guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, bass, or dobro, you got this!

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion’s Bluegrass Jam Camp, taught by Gilbert Nelson using the Wernick Method, happens Wednesday-Friday, leading up to the festival.

Click here to sign up for Jam Camp!

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tourism and music industry representatives gathered today for a special press conference to officially announce the August 2 grand opening of The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, TN/VA and the creation of “Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited.” It was further announced that a national search is underway for a new band to perform the last track on the “Orthophonic Joy” recording project, produced by multi-Grammy Award-winner Carl Jackson.

Famed Opry host Eddie Stubbs emceed the event with special remarks and musical performances by country music celebrity Marty Stuart, as well as The Church Sisters, The Shotgun Rubies, The Chuck Wagon Gang and Carl Jackson. Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Chris Canfield, Virginia Tourism Corporation, also brought remarks. The event was fittingly held at The Country Music Hall of Fame ® and Museum.

This Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum is dedicated to preserve the legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions and their lasting influence on American popular music. Johnny Cash referred to the famous Sessions as “The single most important event in the history of country music.” Also known as the “Big Bang of Country Music,” the legendary recordings by Ralph Peer took country music to a new level and produced pioneers of the genre, such as Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.

Set to be released in October, “Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited,” features entertainment legend Dolly Parton, as well as country music stars Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Marty Stuart, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and Ashley Monroe. The recording project includes 16 of the original songs from the Bristol Sessions.

The idea to recreate the Bristol Sessions had been discussed within the Birthplace of Country Music organization for years, but the serendipitous connection between board member John Rainero, veteran songwriter Rusty Morrell and producer Carl Jackson helped bring “Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited” to life.

“My dear friend Rusty Morrell approached me with the idea to produce a project honoring the original 1927 Bristol Sessions,” Jackson said. “He was very aware and fond of a couple of other multi-artist ‘tribute’ projects I had produced and felt I was the guy who could bring his vision to life. In my opinion, the importance of those ’27 recordings cannot be overstated, and I am truly honored that Rusty asked me to shine a new and loving light on some of those classic works.”

In the spirit of Ralph Peer, Jackson and the Birthplace of Country Music organization is launching a nationwide search for a new artist to record the final track on the album. Emerging and independent artists may submit ONE of the following selected Bristol Sessions songs: “The Storms Are On the Ocean,” “Darling Cora,” “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow,” or “I Am Bound For The Promised Land.” Deadline to receive submissions is July 10. Four artists will be selected for Jackson and a panel of judges to review.

“The 1927 Bristol Sessions have often been honored for their impact on the world’s music,” said Leah Ross, executive director, Birthplace of Country Music. “With the opening of the Museum, the release of ‘Orthophonic Joy,’ and the nationwide search for new talent, BCM and the team of irreplaceable partners who are part of these endeavors are ensuring the legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions lives on for generations to come.”

Today’s event was hosted by the Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol TN/VA Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, and Virginia Tourism Corporation.

For a complete list of contest rules and more information on the Birthplace of Country Music, visit www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org.