5 Reasons Bristol Should Be Your Next Music Destination
Did you know that a small town about 300 miles east of Nashville, Tennessee, is known as the "Birthplace of Country Music"?
Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia, was designated as the Birthplace of Country Music by the United States Congress in recognition of the 1927 Bristol Sessions' significance in early country music history. Producer Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company came to Bristol to record "hillbilly music" in 1927 and those recording sessions—including the first recordings of The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers—have been called the "big bang" of country music.
But that isn't the only reason your groups should visit!
We consider Bristol to be a destination every music aficionado should have on their radar.
1. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum
This state-of-the-art and highly interactive museum, in Historic Downtown Bristol, is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. With amazing film experiences, touchscreen exhibits, images and text, the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions—and its impact and legacy—comes alive with sight, sound and touch! The museum also houses a Special Exhibits Gallery with rotating temporary exhibits and offers a variety of programs and events. A working radio station—Radio Bristol—is located in the museum's permanent exhibits, broadcasting live each and every day.
2. The Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
Boasting 20 stages and more than 130 acts of live music every September, the award-winning Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music fest takes place across several city blocks of Bristol's Historic Downtown along State Street, where you can literally dance in two states!
3. State Street
If you stand in the middle of the street, you'll be standing in Tennessee and Virginia. Opportunities for photos abound and little plaques in the middle of the road indicate which "side" you are on. (Locals will direct you to the "Tennessee side" or the "Virginia side.") It's required that you also take a photo with the giant illuminated Bristol sign as a backdrop—right beside the town's historic train station.
4. Historic Downtown Bristol
It's adorable. And its businesses are about 99 percent locally owned. Several craft breweries, restaurants, boutiques, galleries, and shops will keep your groups well-fed and adorned on a weekend trip. There's also a community children's theater and the beautifully restored Paramount Center for the Arts, an art deco masterpiece!
5. The Burger Bar
It may or may not be the last place Hank Williams Sr. was seen before he died. There's a story there, but you should really hear it for yourself from the staff of this retro diner! The best part? The burgers are AMAZING and they are all named for Hank songs.
Courtesy of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. For more information, visit BirthplaceofCountryMusic.org.
Photo Courtesy of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.