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.”