This past weekend, Downtown Bristol became the home of the 17th annual Rhythm and Roots Festival. Acts such as Mandolin Orange, Judah and the Lion, and even country music pioneer Dwight Yoakam preformed for thousands of people who all came to celebrate the 1927 Bristol Sessions.
The 1927 Bristol Sessions is what many music historians consider to be the big bang of country music. For 12 days in 1927, a producer by the name of Ralph Peer held recording sessions in Downtown Bristol. 19 artists recorded a total of 76 songs in Bristol, launching country music into a more mainstream status. Outlaw country pioneer Johnny Cash noted the significance of this event by saying that the 1927 Bristol Sessions was the most important event for the history of country music.
Visitors expectations of being surrounded by music were more than fulfilled. Musicians played on stages all around the downtown streets and in the theaters among the rest of the buildings. Aside from the music acts preforming on stage, local musicians preformed around every corner. A majority of them preformed various styles of music that are closely tied to the history of Appalachia.
One of the overlooked and most impressive parts of the festival were the talents that preformed earlier on each of the three days of the festival. Established bands local to the Tri-Cities such as Rhythm & the Roosevelts, These Are The Angles and Logan Fritz and Co. all put on impressive performances that were sure to have gained them more fans than they once had. Some other notable performances were Colter Wall, Amythyst Kiah, JV Squad and The Black Lilies.
But music was not the only thing that Rhythm and Roots had to offer. Vendors of all sorts were set up downtown to sell whatever craft or product they had to offer. For those who considered themselves food aficionados, there was a variety of foods to choose from. Aside from the restaurants that call Downtown Bristol home, there were food vendors all around. Ranging from the classic hamburger and hotdog stand, to Greek and Asian cuisine, there was surely something for everybody.
Thanks to a man who decided 90 years ago that the talent in the area was enough to launch the southern style of music to success, Bristol is now known as the birthplace of country music, a genre which has only increased in prominence as time has passed.