Will travel for music.
We all travel for different reasons: to relax; to experience a different culture; to sample local cuisine; and even for sporting events. I’ve traveled for all of these reasons and have another to add to the list: music. As in, live music performances and music festivals. I’ve got one such trip planned for later this year and to say I am excited about it is an understatement. My family and I will be heading down to Bristol, Tennessee, for the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.
Does Bristol, Tennessee, sound familiar? Many people know it as the home of Bristol Motor Speedway and one of NASCAR’s biggest races. But what a lot of people don’t know is that Bristol is the birthplace of country music. That’s right. Back in 1927, Ralph Peer, a record executive from the Victor Talking Machine Company, traveled to Bristol to find and record the makers of “hillbilly” music. In just two weeks, he recorded 76 songs in his portable recording studio and, as a result, commercial country music gained widespread popularity in homes across the country – both on record and on the radio. In fact, in 2002, the Library of Congress ranked the 1927 Bristol Sessions among the 50 most significant sound recording events of all time. Johnny Cash even said that “these recordings in Bristol in 1927 are the single most important event in the history of country music.” I say, it just doesn’t get more authentic than that.
To share “hillbilly” music with a wider audience and to further celebrate the musical heritage of Bristol, a group of folks are working to launch Bristol’s very own radio station, WBCM – Radio Bristol: Music with roots. The goal is to supply the world with American roots music and radio programming, streaming from the Birthplace of Country Music, via a mobile app. Programming will focus primarily on American roots music and will include three channels:
- Classic: Playing the greats, and more obscure artists of old-time, bluegrass, and country music, and including archival material and rare recordings from America’s past.
- Americana: Featuring a diverse selection of contemporary artists, as showcased at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.
- Live and Local: Live original programming, from the physical station at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, focusing on local and regional music and culture from yesterday and today.
I’m a music lover and appreciate (almost) all styles, but Americana and roots rock are my absolute favorites. I cannot wait to travel to Bristol to see first-hand how the music has played such a significant role in the history and culture of the region. I’m also a supporter of the arts so I did not hesitate to contribute to the WBCM – Radio Bristol: Music with roots Kickstarter campaign. With 7 days to go, the campaign hasn’t quite reached half of its fundraising goal. If you feel as strongly as I do about supporting music, history, heritage, and the arts, please consider contributing to the WBCM Kickstarter campaign!