June 30th, 2015

Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band Added to Lineup


Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) has announced that indie folk-rock singer/songwriter Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band is booked to perform at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion this September following news that headlining act Vintage Trouble had to cancel.

“Josh Ritter has been on our music committee’s wish list for some time,” said Leah Ross, executive director of BCM, the parent organization of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. “He has been praised as one of the best songwriters of his generation. Adding Ritter to the roster with Steve Earle and The Dukes and Delbert McClinton keeps with our festival’s tradition of bringing ‘musician’s musicians’ to Bristol.”

The son of two neuroscientists, the Moscow, Idaho native was on his way to follow in their footsteps when he discovered Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” in high school. Ritter has since released several critically-acclaimed studio albums and has been named one of the 100 greatest living songwriters by Paste Magazine alongside Dylan, Springsteen, and Neil Young. Joan Baez has covered one of his songs; Stephen King named one of Ritter’s albums the best of recent years and David Letterman has requested him three times.

Ritter’s albums include So Runs the World Away and The Animal Years. His debut novel, Bright’s Passage, was published by Random House to wide acclaim.

“…he sets out to carry a world of ideas on a few basic chords….there is no limit to the depth and ambition of his songs.” – The New York Times

“How refreshing and inspiring it is to encounter a young artist whose achievements match his ambitions.”
Washington Post

“If you love music and have a device on which to play it, you should listen to Josh Ritter…”
—Mary-Louise Parker in Esquire

An extension of Vintage Trouble’s successful run as the supporting act for legendary rock powerhouse AC/DC’s Rock or Bust World Tour led to the band’s decision to cancel Bristol Rhythm.

“Though we are sad Vintage Trouble can’t make it to Bristol this year, we are extremely excited for the band’s success and for them to have this opportunity,” said Ross. “There are no hard feelings and we certainly hope to have them back on the lineup in the future.”

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion takes place in Historic Downtown Bristol, TN/VA September 18-20, 2015 with Weekend Passes currently on sale for $75. However, local residents and visitors will have the opportunity to purchase Weekend Passes to this year’s festival at a discount during Border Bash as part of Celebrate Bristol’s Star-Spangled 4th of July Celebration. Weekend Passes to Bristol Rhythm 2015 will be sold for $65 exclusively at BCM’s booth located at Cumberland Square Park starting at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 4 only.

Now that you know the lineup, shouldn’t you have your Weekend Passes? Just a few days left to purchase Weekend Passes to Bristol Rhythm 2015 for $65! Take advantage, price goes up to $75 May 1st! CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!



Bristol, VA/Tenn. (April 22, 2015) — Birthplace of Country Music (BCM), parent organization of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, revealed a stellar lineup of artists for the 15th annual festival. The 3-day music celebration honoring Bristol’s unique music history as the site of the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions will be held September 18 — 20, 2015 in Historic Downtown Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia.

Deborah Denney, this year’s festival chairwoman, welcomed media, city leaders, and visitors to the press conference held Wednesday in the Performance Theater at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. A festival volunteer for more than a decade, Denney talked about how the festival has grown and stressed the important role volunteers play at the event.

“We had more than 60,000 visitors, artists, vendors, and volunteers last year,” said Denney. “Already we’ve seen an increase in ticket sales from this time last year. Volunteers are the backbone of the Reunion and we are grateful to everyone who has served.”

BCM Executive Director, Leah Ross talked about additions and changes to this year’s event, as well as old favorites that will return.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since we held our first Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion,” said Ross. “Every year we listen to our visitors and volunteers to see what can be improved upon and added for the following year, and what they enjoyed. Among the improvements planned for this year’s festival: increased shuttle services and tent camping options.”

Measures will be taken to ensure more buses and better communication in order to help decrease wait times at shuttle stops for those who choose to park remotely or camp. The new RFID wristbands used last year helped to identify peak times when buses were needed and where the heavy entry points were. This will play a major role in developing a strategic plan to better serve our visitors.

Ross also discussed plans to remove the Dance Tent Stage in order to relieve congestion on State Street and accommodate growing attendance. It will be replaced by a larger outdoor stage (similar to the 6th Street Stage) to be located in the parking lot at Shelby and 7th Streets.

“With the 100-year-old L. C. King factory and the old Bristol Post Office within view, an outdoor stage at that location adds a fresh atmosphere for visitors who may have only viewed those landmarks in passing upon entering or exiting the festival. The buildings and their past are part of Bristol’s unique history.”

BCM is partnering with Thunder Mountain Campground and Holston River Brewing Company to bring festival-goers a unique camping experience during Bristol Rhythm that includes 100 primitive campsites, pop-up, camper, and RV camping packages, and after-hours entertainment at the brewery. Packages will be sold exclusively through www.BristolRhythm.com. Thunder Mountain will provide limited shuttle service to and from the festival, and event shuttle buses will also provide services to the site. Holston River Brewing Company is located near Bristol Motor Speedway on Volunteer Parkway beside Earhart Campground. Shuttle service is also provided for carpoolers who choose the free parking option at Earhart Campground.

Visitors will be getting more information about a special partnership with Music Maker Relief Foundation and an outdoor exhibit at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum during the festival. Located downtown but outside festival gates, visitors are urged to tour the museum to learn more about Bristol’s history as the birthplace of country music and see the special exhibit “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music.”

Several Reunion favorites will return this year. This includes the festival’s free Children’s Day events in Cumberland Square Park. With more than 800 participants and growing, the 5k Run/2 Mile Fun Walk isn’t going anywhere. However, there will be routing changes in 2015. The start/finish line will move to Anderson Street Park. Changes will be made to the route but will still take participants through both states. Amateur chefs will still be cookin’ at the tastiest competition at Bristol Rhythm, the Chili Cook-off. BCM will also bring back the popular Wernick Method Bluegrass Jam Camp and Youth Music Competition. Applications and entry forms can be found at www.bristolrhythm.com.

A festival tradition since its inception, the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion poster artwork is an event in itself. Each year fans are as anxious to collect the poster — and poster t-shirts — as they are to see the lineup. This year the award-winning fantasy artist Charles Vess was contracted for the design and helped present framed prints to the mayors of Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia, Lea Powers and Catherine Brillhart, respectively.

Following the poster presentation, Bristol Rhythm Music Committee Chairman Brent Treash was called to reveal the 15th annual artist line-up, saving top headliners until last.

“As Music Committee Chair, I can say with all honesty that every year I am surprised by what we are able to achieve,” said Treash. “We are a festival that appeals to today’s youth and more mature listeners. We do our best to balance the music so it has broad appeal, and that’s very exciting.”



The 15th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion will announce its 2015 line-up on Wednesday, April 22, at 10:30 a.m. in the atrium of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Everyone is invited to attend. Line-up will be posted online at 11:00 a.m.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion (BRRR) music festival has been designated one of Southeast Tourism Society’s (STS) Top 20 Events. The best events across 12 southeastern states compete to receive the prestigious Top 20 Events designation.

Through a nomination process, Southeast Tourism Society chooses the Top 20 Events in the southeast for each month of the year and publishes the list of winners quarterly. Events must have more than 1,000 in attendance and be in at least its third year of existence. Judging is based on unique aspects of the event including the economic impact to the community, community involvement, attendance, or other awards the event has won.

“Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is, beyond a doubt, a community event even though it draws people from all over the world,” said Leah Ross, executive director of Birthplace of Country Music, the parent organization of BRRR. “From our cities, our board and staff, to our hundreds of volunteers and community sponsors, our success is the result of their support.”

This year Bristol Rhythm also achieved ranking among the American Bus Association’s premier Top 100 Events in North America. In 2014, the festival took home the “Best of Show” Pinnacle Award from Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, “Best Festival” Kaleidoscope Award from Southeast Festivals & Events Association, and received the Bristol Mayors’ Award of Distinction.

The Top 20 Events publication is sent to over 1,600 newspapers, magazines, radio stations, TV stations, AAA publications, and others.

The 15th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival takes place September 18-20, 2015 in Historic Downtown Bristol, TN/VA. For tickets and more information visit www.BristolRhythm.com.

Cast your vote for Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion to win “Best Ameripolitan Festival” at the 2015 Ameripolitan Awards!

Voting has begun online at www.Ameripolitan.com and continues through Friday, January 2, 2015.

The awards celebrate Honky Tonk, Rockabilly, Western Swing, and acknowledges artists whose work does not readily conform to the tastes of today’s “country” or other music genres and organizations.

There are categories for artists, venues, and DJs who support “Ameripolitan” music. The Ameripolitan Music Awards will be held Tuesday, February 17, 2015 in Austin, Texas.

Click here to vote!


Discount Weekend Pass wristbands to Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2015 are now offered at the minimum pre-sale price of $50 (plus Bristol, VA admissions tax) through December 31! CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!


Just in time for the holidays, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion will offer a special, limited edition holiday gift box when you order wristbands during December.

Decorative, holiday-themed gift boxes securely house your RFID (radio frequency identification) wristband(s) to Bristol Rhythm 2015, no gift wrap needed. They make perfect stocking stuffers!

Once received, individuals are encouraged to register their wristbands online at www.BristolRhythm.com so they can be replaced if lost or stolen.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2015 pre-sale Weekend Passes may be purchased exclusively at BristolRhythm.com, The Museum Store at Birthplace of Country Music Museum, The Bristol Mall Customer Service Desk, and the Bristol, TN/VA Chamber of Commerce. Check location websites for addresses and hours of operation.

The award-winning Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2015 and booking for the event has already begun. Be sure and watch for the festival’s annual 12 Days of Christmas Artist Reveal starting Sunday, December 14 in the Bristol Herald Courier and on Facebook, Twitter and BristolRhythm.com.

Mark your calendars now for Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, September 18-20, 2015!


Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion is kicking off a Throwback Thursday Contest!

Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion is asking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter users to tag their favorite #tbt Bristol Rhythm and Roots photo with @BristolRhythm and #BristolRhythmntbt. Each Thursday during the contest period, we will pick one lucky winner and post their old festival picture on our FB, Twitter, and Instagram.

The weekly winner will qualify to win a grand prize, which includes two (2) weekend passes to the 2015 Rhythm and Roots Reunion, September 18 – 20, 2014. The grand prize winner will be announced Friday, December 19, 2014. Photos can be funny or serious, but the most original pics will win! Dig through your photos from the past 14 years of BRRR and submit your best one.

Weekly winners will be posted each Friday during the contest period, so keep an eye out and see if you won!

Official Rules


The Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion Throwback Thursdays contest (“Contest”) will begin on Thursday, November 13, 2014 end on Thursday, December 18, 2014 (“Contest Period”). This Contest will be conducted exclusively online. One (1) winner will be awarded the grand prize, which includes one (1) pair of Weekend Passes to the 2015 Rhythm and Roots Reunion, September 18 – 20, 2015 in Downtown Bristol TN/VA.

HOW TO ENTER / EXECUTION: Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion (BRRR) is asking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter users to tag their favorite #tbt Bristol Rhythm and Roots photo with @BristolRhythm and #BristolRhythmntbt. Each Friday during the contest period, we will pick one lucky winner and post their old festival picture on our FB, Twitter, Instagram.

The weekly winner will qualify to win a grand prize, which includes two (2) weekend passes to the 2015 Rhythm and Roots Reunion, September 18 – 20, 2014.

The grand prize winner will be announced Friday, December 19, 2014. Weekly winners will be posted each Thursday during the contest period, including November 13, November 20, November 27, December 4, December 11, and December 18, 2014.


1. Contest participants must submit a photo that they are authorized to and have the rights to submit the photo entry. The Birthplace of Country Music organization is not responsible for the photos submitted.

2. To enter contest, upload a past BRRR to Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook tagging @BristolRhythm and #BrstolRhythmtbt to register for a chance to win.

3. All entries must be received by 11:59pm local time on December 18 or they will be void.

4. Winner will be announced by Friday, December 19, 2014.

5. Submitted photos must be “family-friendly”, appropriate for all audiences.

6. One entry per person per Thursday during the Contest Period.

7. All decisions made by the Birthplace of Country Music organization regarding any aspect of this Contest are final.

Entry Requirements:

• Entries must contain a photo of a past BRRR event.

• Entries may not be patently offensive, illegal, pornographic or obscene, or similarly inappropriate in the Birthplace of Country Music’s sole discretion.

• Submissions may not infringe upon any rights of any third party including without limitation, copyright, trademark and right of publicity or privacy.

• Entries must be produced and solely owned by the contestant submitting the entry. • Entries must be unpublished and not have been submitted in other competitions.

• Submissions must not contain: unnecessary violence, derogatory characterizations of any ethnic, racial, sexual or religious groups, humiliate other people (publicly or otherwise), or otherwise assault or threaten others.


1. The Contest is open to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook users and who are legal residents of the United States.

2. Employees of the Birthplace of Country Music organization, its Board and Committees, general sponsors, promotional partners, and members of the immediate families or those living in the same households (whether related or not) of any of the above are NOT eligible to participate or win in this Contest. For purposes of this Contest, immediate family members mean spouses, parents, grandparents, children, and siblings and their respective spouses.


1. No purchase necessary. Contest is void where prohibited. Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations.

2. Odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entrants participating during the Contest Period.

3. By participating in the Contest, the winner or winners agree to have their name and photo used on the organization’s social media sites and newsletter. By entering this Contest, each participant agrees to comply with the Official Rules and the decisions of the Contest sponsor which shall be final and binding in all aspects relating to the Contest.

4. The organization retains the right to disqualify any entrant if all Contest rules are not followed. Contest void if prohibited by law.

5. So long as no participant is materially adversely affected, the Birthplace of Country Music organization reserves the right to make changes in these Contest rules, which will become effective upon being announced on the air and / or posted online.

6. In the event any winner is found to be in violation of these Official Rules or is otherwise determined by the Birthplace of Country Music organization, in its sole discretion to be ineligible, he/she will be required to forfeit the prize.



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.