This summer the Birthplace of Country Music celebrates the 90th anniversary of the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings with an exciting series of panels, performances, premieres and promotions showcasing the deep impact of the Sessions.
Kicking off July 15 with a symposium featuring Ralph Peer II, Barry Mazor, and the producers of the PBS documentary American Epic, the celebration continues through the award-winning Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival Sept.
“Ours is a story that isn’t often told, yet the events that happened in Bristol in 1927 revolutionized the country music industry,” said Leah Ross, executive director of Birthplace of Country Music. “This celebration honors the legacy of the Bristol Sessions and its lasting impact on the soundtrack of our lives. We urge everyone who loves music to explore this important history in Bristol and take part in the events during the 90th anniversary.”
Arguably the most influential country music recordings in history, the 1927 Bristol Sessions were produced by Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company and included the first recordings of the legendary Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, among others. The 1927 Bristol Sessions ushered in a new era for the commercial music industry due to their commercial success and the state-of-the-art technology used to record them.
A quick overview of the 90th anniversary offerings are below, but a full list of activities can be found at www.1927bristolsessions.org.
90th Anniversary Symposium with Ralph Peer II
2-7 p.m. ET Saturday, July 15
The 90th Anniversary Symposium will delve into the technology, impact and legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions. Following a screening of portions of the PBS documentary American Epic and discussion with producers Allison McGourty and Bernard MacMahon, esteemed music journalist and author Barry Mazor (Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Musicand Meeting Jimmie Rodgers: How America's Original Roots Music Hero Changed the Pop Sounds of a Century) will explore the impact of the Bristol Sessions. Ralph Peer II, CEO of peermusic, and wife Liz Peer will provide the keynote. To purchase a ticket, CLICK HERE.
Friends of 1927 Concert
6:30 p.m. ET Saturday, July 29
This intimate concert experience features the respected talents of musician and Grammy Award-winning producer Carl Jackson, Kentucky Music Hall of Fame inductee Larry Cordle, and SESAC Country Music Songwriter of the Year Jerry Salley. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are included. To purchase a ticket, CLICK HERE.
Born in Bristol Film Premiere
Public screening dates: Aug. 4-6
In 1927 musicians came from all over the region to make music in Bristol; they ended up making history. Don’t miss the highly-anticipated premiere of Born in Bristol, a film highlighting this history and featuring some of country music’s most respected artists, including Dolly Parton, Eric Church, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill and more. Public screenings will take place at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, and the film is included with a museum admission ticket. For more information, CLICK HERE.
90th Anniversary Promotional Admission
Museum admission is only 90 cents: July 25-30
In honor of the 90th anniversary, patrons can visit the Birthplace of Country Music Museum to explore the history and music of the 1927 Bristol Sessions and experience the amazing impact of those recordings with a special admission price of only 90 cents from July 25 to July 30!
Bristol Rhythm Tribute to the 90th
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion will pay tribute to the 90th anniversary of the 1927 Bristol Sessions with a once-in-a-lifetime special showcase featuring an array of festival artists yet to be announced. The tribute will take place on the final day of the festival. Weekend passes to Bristol Rhythm are on sale now; headlining talent at this year’s event includes Dwight Yoakam, Judah and the Lion, Jerry Douglas Presents Earls of Leicester, Son Volt, Rodney Crowell, Rainbow Kitten Surprise and more. Visit BristolRhythm.com for the complete lineup and to purchase tickets.
About Birthplace of Country Music, Inc.
The Birthplace of Country Music, Inc. was established to honor the famed 1927 Bristol Sessions that were immortalized when Ralph Peer – a record executive from Victor Talking Machine Company in Camden, New Jersey – traveled to Bristol, the twin cities that straddle the Tennessee and Virginia border. Setting up a portable recording studio in the Taylor-Christian Hat Company building, Peer recorded 76 songs by 19 different acts, including The Carter Family, known as “The First Family of Country Music,” Jimmie Rodgers, known as “The Father of Country Music,” and Ernest “Pop” Stoneman. These recordings are revered as the keystone sessions of country music. In 1998 Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia was recognized as the official birthplace of country music by the U.S. Congress; the 1927 Bristol Sessions were also recognized by the Library of Congress as one of the 50 most significant sound recording events of all time.
In 2001, the award-winning Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion began taking place in Historic Downtown Bristol. The annual three-day music festival showcases the very best in roots music – including Americana, folk-rock, bluegrass, old time, and Piedmont blues. Approximately 50,000 music enthusiasts gather for the event to see more than 130 acts perform on 20 stages each September.
In 2014, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, opened its doors in Bristol’s downtown, a must see stop on the Americana Music Triangle. The Museum tells the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings, explores how evolving sound technology shaped their success, and highlights how this rich musical heritage lives on in today’s music. Through multiple theater experiences, interactive displays, and text and artifacts, along with a variety of educational programs, music performances and community events, the exciting story of these recording sessions and their far-reaching influence comes alive.
In 2015, the Birthplace of Country Music began broadcasting Radio Bristol live from the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Radio Bristol features a low power FM broadcast in the Bristol area, three audio channels streaming different but related genres of music, and one channel streaming video. Stream stations can be accessed online or by using the free Radio Bristol app on mobile devices.
For more information, visit www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org.