BCM News Archives - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Three Songwriters from Bristol Competition Move on to Showcase at The Down Home Feb. 22

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va. (Jan. 29, 2024) – Three songwriters rose to the top of Tennessee Songwriters Week qualifying round competition, held at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum last Saturday. Katie Powderly of Frederick, Md., Austin Barrett of Fairview, N.C., and Linda Mckenzie of Lebanon, Tenn. were chosen by judges to advance to the showcase event at The Down Home in Johnson City, Tenn. on Feb. 22 at 7:15 p.m. ET.

Katie Powderly is an award-winning touring musician and recording artist who has performed on PBS and NPR stations and shared bills with Tony Rice, Del McCoury Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, Lake Street Dive, and many others. She was voted “Best Country/Bluegrass Performer” in her home town of Madison, Wis. and has deep ties to our regional music scene. Katie was a qualifying winner in Bristol last year with her song “Tobacco,” a tale of a two-timing man. “Revolving Door,” this year’s winning song, is a continuation of the doomed love saga.

Raised in Bristol, Austin Barrett is a talented multi-instrumentalist who holds degrees in Psychology and Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music Studies from East Tennessee State University. He also holds a Masters in Business from Berklee. His music draws from a variety of genres including folk, country, and Southern Gothic. Austin’s winning song, “Porch Light,” was written as a serenade to his wife.

Originally from New Orleans, La., Linda Mckenzie is a singer-songwriter and musician with roots in Southern blues, rock and pop-country. She splits her time between Nashville and Red Lodge, Mont. where her music often reflects western life and Native American issues. In 2020 she was a nominated for a Native American Music Award. Linda’s Tennessee Songwriters Week entry, “A Son with a Gun,” was written soon after learning that her son had enlisted in the military.

Two Abingdon, Va. residents were chosen as alternates in the Bristol competition, Roger Ramsey with his song “Love Her Anyhow,” and Kevin Michael Duggan performing “Bipolar.” Alternates will be called upon if one or more of the winning qualifiers is unable to perform in the showcase round.

Tickets to the showcase round at The Down Home are on sale now for $15 and may be purchased online at TheDownHome.com.

Tennessee Songwriters Week supports music venues, songwriters with live performances in all genres of music, drives visitation and inspires travelers to experience the state’s music stories, history, attractions and venues.

TDTD partners with The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), Taylor Guitars, and music venues and local convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce and partners across the state, all committed to make sure songwriters can share their original work onstage with other writers.

Follow along with Tennessee Songwriters Week by following @tnvacation and #madeinTN, #NowPlayingTN

Songwriters Announced for Bristol Tennessee Songwriters Week Qualifying Round Jan. 27

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va, (Jan. 23, 2023) – The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM), in partnership with with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (TDTD), has announced the names of 20 songwriters set to compete in the Tennessee Songwriters Week qualifying round at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol. The event will be held this Saturday, Jan. 27, 1 – 4 p.m. ET.

Congratulations and best of luck to the following:

Adam Bolt, Abingdon, VA

Austin Barrett, Fairview, NC

Beth Lee, Black Mountain, NC

Brayden Mullins, Wise, VA

Caroline Larke, Chapel Hill, NC

Claire Childress, Big Stone Gap, VA

Corey Snowden, Bristol, TN

Ella Folk, Troutville, VA

Hannah Smith, Bristol, TN

Jayme Chadwell, Ewing, VA

Jenna Greene, Abingdon, VA

Jim Street, Johnson City, TN

Kailee Amburgey, Johnson City, TN

Katie Powderly, Frederick, MD

Kevin Duggan, Abingdon, VA

Landon Camper, Bristol, TN

Linda Mckenzie, Lebanon, TN

Madison Denhardt & Lonijonti Fox
(Honeysuckle Dream)
Big Stone Gap, VA

Roger Ramsey, Abingdon, VA

Sarah Trunzo, Belfast, ME

The public is invited to be part of the audience at the museum to cheer on participants competing in the Bristol event. Tickets for spectators are $10+ tax/fee, visit the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org to purchase.

Three (3) semi-finalists and two (2) alternates will be chosen from the Bristol qualifying round to compete in the Tennessee Songwriters showcase event at The Down Home in Johnson City, Tenn. on Feb. 22. From there, one finalist from The Down Home will go on to perform at the legendary Bluebird Cafe on March 24, along with other finalists from across the state.

Tennessee Songwriters Week supports music venues, songwriters with live performances in all genres of music, drives visitation and inspires travelers to experience the state’s music stories, history, attractions and venues.

TDTD partners with The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), Taylor Guitars, and music venues and local convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce and partners across the state, all committed to make sure songwriters can share their original work onstage with other writers.

Follow along with Tennessee Songwriters Week by following @tnvacation and #madeinTN, #NowPlayingTN

Tennessee Songwriters Week Qualifying in Bristol Jan. 27

BRISTOL, Va.-Tenn., (Dec. 13, 2023) –  The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) has announced it will again partner with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to host a qualifying round for Tennessee Songwriters Week in 2024. The event will be held on Jan. 27, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET, at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol. From there, songwriters will compete for the chance to earn a coveted gig at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. Applications open on Dec.15; there is no fee to enter.

Twenty (20) songwriters will be chosen from the pool of applicants to perform for judges during the Bristol qualifying round competition. From there, four (4) semi-finalists will advance to compete in the Tennessee Songwriters showcase event at The Down Home in Johnson City, Tenn. on Feb. 22. One finalist from The Down Home will be chosen to perform at the legendary Bluebird Cafe on March 24, along with five other finalists from across the state.

Last year veteran singer-songwriter, musician and playwright Ron Short, a Bristol qualifying round contestant, advanced all the way to The Bluebird Cafe – along with six other finalists from across the state – where he performed his winning song, “France.”

The public is invited to be part of the audience at the museum to cheer on participants competing in the Bristol event. Tickets for spectators are $10 and go on sale Dec. 15. To purchase, visit the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.

Other qualifying rounds in East Tennessee will be held at Boones Creek Opry in Johnson City, the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Model City Tap House in Kingsport, and Bonnie Kate Theater in Elizabethton. Check venue websites for dates.

During qualifying, songwriters will perform one original song they wrote or co-wrote. Songwriters must own the rights to the song they will perform. Entrant may sing acapella or have live accompaniment with up to two performers; only light percussion is allowed. Back up tracks are not permitted.

To enter, songwriters must submit their contact information, song lyrics for the song they plan to perform, and a YouTube link to a video of the song they will perform during the competition. Songwriters will be judged based on their overall performance, originality and connection to the audience. Songs deemed inappropriate or inflammatory will not be considered. Songwriters are only permitted to register with one venue during qualifying rounds. Internet access is required to enter, with no purchase necessary. The deadline to enter the qualifying round in Bristol is Jan. 12.

Legal residents of the United States, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, qualify to enter. To enter the Tennessee Songwriters Week qualifying round at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, visit the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org where you’ll also find complete rules of entry and more details.

Tennessee Songwriters Week supports music venues, songwriters with live performances in all genres of music, drives visitation and inspires travelers to experience the state’s music stories, history, attractions and venues.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development partners with The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), Taylor Guitars, and music venues and local convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce and partners across the state, all committed to make sure songwriters can share their original work onstage with other writers.

Follow along with Tennessee Songwriters Week by following @tnvacation and #madeinTN, #NowPlayingTN

For more information about BCM, visit BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.

Songwriters, Enter Now! Tennessee Songwriters Week Qualifying in Bristol Jan. 27

BRISTOL, Va.-Tenn., (Dec. 13, 2023) –  The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) has announced it will again partner with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to host a qualifying round for Tennessee Songwriters Week in 2024. The event will be held on Jan. 27, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET, at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol. From there, songwriters will compete for the chance to earn a coveted gig at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. Applications open on Dec.15; there is no fee to enter.

Twenty (20) songwriters will be chosen from the pool of applicants to perform for judges during the Bristol qualifying round competition. From there, four (4) semi-finalists will advance to compete in the Tennessee Songwriters showcase event at The Down Home in Johnson City, Tenn. on Feb. 22. One finalist from The Down Home will be chosen to perform at the legendary Bluebird Cafe on March 24, along with five other finalists from across the state.

Last year veteran singer-songwriter, musician and playwright Ron Short, a Bristol qualifying round contestant, advanced all the way to The Bluebird Cafe – along with six other finalists from across the state – where he performed his winning song, “France.”

The public is invited to be part of the audience at the museum to cheer on participants competing in the Bristol event. Tickets for spectators are $10 and go on sale Dec. 15. To purchase, visit the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.

Other qualifying rounds in East Tennessee will be held at Boones Creek Opry in Johnson City, the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Model City Tap House in Kingsport, and Bonnie Kate Theater in Elizabethton. Check venue websites for dates.

During qualifying, songwriters will perform one original song they wrote or co-wrote. Songwriters must own the rights to the song they will perform. Entrant may sing acapella or have live accompaniment with up to two performers; only light percussion is allowed. Back up tracks are not permitted.

To enter, songwriters must submit their contact information, song lyrics for the song they plan to perform, and a YouTube link to a video of the song they will perform during the competition. Songwriters will be judged based on their overall performance, originality and connection to the audience. Songs deemed inappropriate or inflammatory will not be considered. Songwriters are only permitted to register with one venue during qualifying rounds. Internet access is required to enter, with no purchase necessary. The deadline to enter the qualifying round in Bristol is Jan. 12.

Legal residents of the United States, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, qualify to enter. To enter the Tennessee Songwriters Week qualifying round at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, visit the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org where you’ll also find complete rules of entry and more details.

Tennessee Songwriters Week supports music venues, songwriters with live performances in all genres of music, drives visitation and inspires travelers to experience the state’s music stories, history, attractions and venues.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development partners with The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), Taylor Guitars, and music venues and local convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce and partners across the state, all committed to make sure songwriters can share their original work onstage with other writers.

Follow along with Tennessee Songwriters Week by following @tnvacation and #madeinTN, #NowPlayingTN

For more information about BCM, visit BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.

BCM Presents The Blue Ridge Opry in Abingdon Nov. 18

ABINGDON, Va. (Nov. 2, 2023) – The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) proudly presents The Blue Ridge Opry at the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace in Abingdon, Va. at 7 p.m. ET, Nov. 18, hosted by Kelley Breiding and featuring her band, The Cowboys. Special guests include Emily Spencer & Debbie Bramer, Bayla Davis & Cary Fridley, Donna Ray Norton, Jim Lloyd, and Ashlee Watkins & Andrew Small. The wholesome variety show brings music, dancing, and comedy together for an evening of great entertainment the entire family will enjoy.

“The Blue Ridge Opry is a traveling musical variety show featuring our area’s premier traditional musicians and dancers to promote cultural pride and awareness in the region,” said Breiding. “We’re thrilled to work with BCM to bring the show to Abingdon for the first time and to join them in honoring the contributions of women in old-time music.”

The Blue Ridge Opry is a heartwarming country music variety show that draws its inspiration from the early era of the Grand Ole Opry and the golden age of iconic country legends such as Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Uncle Dave Macon, The Carter Family, Loretta Lynn, and more. The program is hosted and produced by the talented singer and multi-instrumentalist Kelley Breiding and showcases an array of musical guest stars in addition to the host’s band Kelley and The Cowboys. Additionally, the program features a delightful blend of comedy and dancers from the Blue Ridge Mountains, bringing the essence of genuine country music home to the Appalachian region.

“The Blue Ridge Opry performance will be a grand celebration of women in old-time music in conjunction with the Birthplace of Country Music Museum‘s special exhibit I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music, which is on display at the museum through the end of this year,” said Dr. Rene Rodgers, head curator of the museum. “We are thrilled to partner with our friends at Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace for the opportunity to bring the program to our region, with special thanks to the East Tennessee Foundation Art Fund for programming support.”

For more information about The Blue Ridge Opry, visit the website at BlueRidgeOpry.wordpress.com. Tickets to The Blue Ridge Opry in Abingdon are $20 (plus tax/fee) and on sale now through the events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.

August 2023 Newsletter

From live music to free, educational programming, check out the Birthplace of Country Music’s August 2023 newsletter to see what’s coming up at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, and WBCM Radio Bristol!

Click the link:

https://mailchi.mp/birthplaceofcountrymusic.org/bristol-rhythm-tickets-upcoming-speaker-series-and-more-573381?e=[UNIQID]

Want our monthly newsletter delivered to your inbox? Click here to subscribe.

Hazel Dickens Honored with Tribute Concert featuring Karen Collins July 7

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va. (July 5, 2023) – Country singer-songwriter Karen Collins pays tribute to groundbreaking artist and Bluegrass Music Hall of Famer Hazel Dickens during a special performance at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol at 7 p.m. ET, July 7. Tickets are on sale now for $10.

“The program celebrates the life and legacy of the great Hazel Dickens as Collins performs some of Hazel’s best-loved songs,” said museum Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “Our Curatorial Specialist Toni Doman will also share stories of Hazel’s life within the context of our current special exhibit, I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music.”

Karen Collins grew up in the mountains of Southwest Virginia in a coal mining community and spent her youth listening to country music radio and singing in her church. The echoes of those early country sounds stand out in her singing and songwriting. A prolific performer, Collins is the lead singer of the honky tonk outfit The Backroads Band, performs with a Cajun group called Squeeze Bayou, and sings in the acoustic country quartet The Blue Moon Cowgirls. Collins is an award-winning songwriter and has won multiple Wammies (Washington Area Music Awards) as a bandleader.

Singer, songwriter, musician and social activist Hazel Dickens’ career in music spanned five decades, leaving behind a legacy of songs that drew attention to the struggles of coal miners and the hard-working people of her West Virginia home and the Appalachian region. Her music spoke of truth to power about black lung, equality for women, the labor movement, and poverty, drawing on the sounds of Baptist hymns, Appalachian ballads, and country harmonies by groups such as the Louvin Brothers. Her musical partnership with Alice Gerrard broke new ground for women, influencing many generations to come. A few of Hazel’s best-known compositions are “West Virginia, My Home,” “Hills of Home,” “They’ll Never Keep Us Down,” and “Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There.”

Dickens appeared in the Oscar-winning documentary Harlan County, USA, which centers on the struggle of the county’s miners union against scab workers, wage rights, and health conditions. She also contributed songs to the film’s soundtrack. Dickens also appeared in the films Matewan and Songcatcher. She received an International Bluegrass Music Association Merit Award in 1994 and became a National Heritage Fellow in 2001. Dickens passed away of complications due to pneumonia in 2011 at the age of 85.

Hazel Dickens is one of 50 women featured in the museum’s special exhibit I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music, on display now through Dec. 31. Ticketholders to the concert are invited to take a free, curator-led tour of the exhibit prior to the concert at 6:15 p.m.

For tickets and more information on the Hazel Dickens tribute concert featuring Karen Collins, visit the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org. For more information about the special exhibit, visit the website at WomenInOldTimeMusic.com.

2023 Bristol Sessions Super Raffle Kick-Off

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va. (June 14, 2023) – The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) has announced the launch of its fifth annual Bristol Sessions Super Raffle, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. The raffle gives participants the chance to win more than $250,000 in cash and prizes. Each ticket gives the purchaser two chances to win.

“In the past we’ve had one ticket holder win twice with the same number,” said BCM Executive Director of Advancement Leah Ross. “It is our goal to keep educational programming at the museum low or no cost for the community, and proceeds from the raffle are essential in helping us achieve that.”

Big prizes include a 2024 Ford Mustang Ecoboost, a Toyota Tacoma SR 4 x 2, a Subaru CrossTrek, a Honda HRV and a vacation to Sandals resort, plus $69K in cash prizes – including one prize for $20K.

The Raffle drawing will take place 12  to 4 p.m. ET, Sept. 10, 2023 outside the Birthplace of Country Music Museum during the 22nd annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival. A winner will be drawn every five minutes during the four-hour event. The drawing will stream live on the Birthplace of Country Music YouTube and Facebook pages and broadcast live on WBCM Radio Bristol which can be accessed on the air at 100.1 FM in the Bristol area, online at ListenRadioBristol.org, and through the station’s free mobile app.

Winners do not have to be present at the drawing to win; winners will be notified via phone, text, or email, and listed on the Bristol Sessions Super Raffle website at BristolSessionsSuperRaffle.org.

Only 5,000 Bristol Sessions Super Raffle tickets will be sold at $100 per ticket. Each ticket has two raffle numbers, giving the ticket holder two chances to win per ticket. There is a “Buy 10, Get One Free” offer that gives the buyer a free ticket with the purchase of 10.  Participants must be 18 years of age or older.

BCM worked with local businesses to acquire prizes for the raffle including Abingdon Equipment Co., Bristol HondaFood CityFriendship Ford of Bristol, Gregory Isbell Jewelers, Hearth and Patio, Morrell Music, Mountain Sports LTD, Progressive Tractor, Salt of the EarthStateline MotorsportsToyota of BristolThe Travel Shop, and Wallace Subaru of Bristol.

Tickets may be purchased online at BristolSessionsSuperRaffle.org, at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, or from any BCM board member. Tickets for the Raffle go on sale today online at BristolSessionsSuperRaffle.com and at all sales locations. Ticket sales end automatically when 5,000 tickets are sold.

Bristol Sessions Super Raffle tickets will also be on sale at the following locations starting Monday, June 19:

  • Bristol Honda | 2130 Volunteer Pkwy., Bristol
  • Cranberry Lane | 623 State Street, Bristol
  • Salt of the Earth | 321 W. Main Street, Abingdon
  • Stateline Motorsports | 2115 W. State Street, Bristol
  • The Travel Shop | 339 W. Main Street, Abingdon
  • Toyota of Bristol | 3045 W. State Street, Bristol
  • Wallace Subaru of Bristol | 320 Volunteer Pkwy.

In the past, Bristol Sessions Super Raffle tickets have sold out prior to the festival, but if they are still available they will be sold at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in the Artist Merchandise Tent at 416 State Street, at the museum, and online until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, 2023. Tickets will not be sold by other ticket sellers after 11:59 on September 9, 2023. A festival ticket is not required to attend the raffle drawing; however, raffle ticket purchasers may purchase a Sunday single-day festival pass at a discounted price that day from the museum.

For a complete list of rules, frequently asked questions, a list of all the prizes, and to purchase tickets, please visit BristolSessionsSuperRaffle.org.

Boy Named Banjo Set for 1927 Concert Series June 23

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va. (June 6, 2023) – The Birthplace of Country Music presents the Nashville-based country fusion outfit Boy Named Banjo in concert at 6 p.m. ET, June 23. The performance is part of the quarterly 1927 Concert Series held in the performance theater at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol. Catering, an open bar, and a meet-and-greet with the band are included.
Known for killer live shows, Boy Named Banjo delivers a contemporary blend of Americana, bluegrass and folk-rock with both electric and acoustic instrumentation. Their critically-acclaimed major label debut EP “Circles,” released in 2021, set the band on a path that saw them performing at some of country music’s largest festivals including Dierks Bentley’s Seven Peaks, Country Jam, and CMA Fest. The band also supported Kip Moore on his Fire on Wheels Tour.

Boy Named Banjo has released several new songs of late, including “Whiskey Dreams,” “Heart in Motion,” and “Heart Attack,” which have been received well by fans and critics. The band made its debut at the Grand Ole Opry in March of this year.

The 1927 Society Concert Series is an intimate concert experience with some of the most hottest roots music artists performing today. Guests are asked to arrive at 6 p.m. ET to enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and open bar (ages 21+ with valid ID) before the show, which begins at 7 p.m. The audience will have the opportunity to mingle with the band after the concert, and everything is included in the ticket price.

Tickets to the 1927 Concert Series performance by Boy Named Banjo are $100 and available now to the public for purchase online. For tickets and information about becoming a member of the 1927 Society so you may take advantage of exclusive pre-ticket sales, visit the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.