Museum Archives - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Introduction to oral history with Virginia State folklorist Katy Clune

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va.. (June 20, 2024) – The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is pleased to announce a special workshop, “Introduction to Oral History Methods,” 3 – 4 p.m. ET, on Sunday, July 14 in the Learning Center at the museum. This workshop, taught by Virginia state folklorist Katy Clune, will provide participants with an invaluable introduction to the art and science of recording oral histories. Attendees will learn about the ethics, techniques, technology, and processing of conducting interviews. The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required due to limited capacity.

“Preserving our community’s stories is essential to understanding and celebrating our shared heritage,” said museum Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “We are thrilled to have Katy, an esteemed expert in oral history, guide us in this endeavor. This workshop is a unique opportunity for participants to learn how to capture and cherish the memories that shape our family histories and cultural fabric.”

With just a phone and a curious mind, you can begin preserving the cherished memories of your family and community. Katy Clune, with her extensive experience and wisdom gathered from interviewing hundreds of individuals over the past decade, will offer her insights and advice to participants.

Katy Clune is the director of the Virginia Folklife Program, an initiative dedicated to sustaining and empowering the diverse cultures and traditions within the Commonwealth. She has devoted her career to fostering cultural connections and creating platforms for communities and artists to share their stories.

Katy has held positions with prestigious organizations, including the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, The Textile Museum, the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC Chapel Hill, and Duke University’s arts initiative. In 2021 she was awarded the Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to document the stories of repair professionals across North America. Katy holds a Bachelor’s in art history from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in folklore from UNC Chapel Hill.

To pre-register for the workshop, visit the Events page at

‘Most Traveled’ writer Daniel Seddiqui book tour stops in Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va.. (June 19, 2024) – The Birthplace of Country Music Museum and The Bristol Hotel are thrilled to announce “Living the Map” traveler and author Daniel Seddiqui will celebrate the launch of his new book, “Jammin’ Through the South: Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas,” in Bristol with two very special events. On Friday, July 5 at 5:30 p.m. ET, The Bristol Hotel will host a talk with the author in the Shelby Room located on the hotel’s main floor. On Saturday, July 6, the author will sign copies of his book in the atrium at the museum 1 – 3 p.m. ET. There is no cost to attend either event; please RSVP through the museum’s website. Copies of the book will be available for sale on Saturday at the museum event only.

“We are thrilled to partner with our friends at The Bristol Hotel on this opportunity to meet Daniel and hear more about his travels,” said Leah Ross, executive director of advancement for the Birthplace of Country Music, the parent nonprofit of the museum. “We are also very excited that the museum and other sites in the Tri-Cities are featured in his new book.”

“Jammin’ Through the South” explores the rich music heritage of the American south, where genres like blues, bluegrass, country, rock and roll, and gospel have deep roots. The region has been a nurturing ground for some of the world’s most renowned musicians, including Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Elvis Presley, and B. B. King, In this immersive travel book, Seddiqui leads readers on an unforgettable journey through music and culture. The book features a curated itinerary with stops in iconic locations such as Bristol, Lexington, the hollers of eastern Kentucky, Pigeon Forge, Nashville, Memphis, the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans, and Austin. It also features interactive, hands-on learning opportunities, from line-dancing classes to hand-crafting musical instruments, interviews with renowned makers and musicians, and details on lodging and must-see attractions.

Dubbed the “Most Traveled Person in America,” Seddiqui is a multi-time international best-selling author, inspiring keynote speaker, and educational and travel entrepreneur. Known for his remarkable journey of working 50 jobs in 50 states, the writer has been an inspiration to many, encouraging perseverance, adaptability, and the pursuit of one’s passions. His work has been featured on numerous media outlets, including CNN, TIME, NPR, The Today ShowWall Street JournalNewsweek, and USA Today.

“Jammin’ Through the South” is the first release in his new immersive travel book series with Schiffer Publishing and focuses on hyperlocal themes and brands across different regions of America. Seddiqui’s visit to the Tri-Cities marks the final pinpoint on his tour of the U.S.; The Bristol Hotel and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum are proud to host the launch of this exciting new series.

To RSVP to either or both events, visit the Events page at

Lonnie Salyer recovers Tri-Cities’ lost indie record label history

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va.. (June 18, 2024) –  The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is thrilled to announce the latest Speaker Session featuring Lonnie “Big Lon” Salyer at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 9. His presentation, entitled “After the Big Bang: A Record Collector’s Discovery of Local Independent Record Labels,” will be held at the museum and live-streamed on WBCM Radio Bristol’s YouTube channel. There is no cost to attend, but those who plan to attend in person are asked to RSVP prior to the event.

In this captivating session, Salyer will share his remarkable journey from novice record collector to an esteemed historian of local music. He will provide an insightful overview of the independent recording studios, record labels, and artists that have helped shape the landscape of the Tri-Cities music scene. Attendees will get a behind-the-scenes look at Lon’s experiences in collecting, as well as enjoy a selection of vintage 78rpm and 45rpm records from his impressive collection, which he will display and play during the session.

Lonnie Salyer, affectionately referred to by many as “Big Lon,” hosts “Diggin’ with Big Lon,” a weekly program airing on WBCM Radio Bristol at 100.1 FM in the Bristol area. The show may also be accessed through the station’s free mobile app. Lonnie has dedicated much of his life to preserving the rich musical heritage of the Tri-Cities through his extensive collection of rare recordings; his expertise and enthusiasm have earned him features in various articles, podcasts, blogs, and television shows dedicated to music history. Lonnie occasionally performs live DJ sets at local breweries and tap rooms, and this summer he will host the 3rd annual Big Lon’s Vinyl Record Expo during Kingsport’s Funfest activities. For more information about Big Lon’s events, visit his Facebook page at

The Speaker Session live stream on WBCM Radio Bristol’s YouTube channel starts at 6:50 p.m. ET. If the livestream does not appear automatically, please refresh the page after 6:50 p.m.  For more information about this Speaker Session and to RSVP, visit the Events page at

Irish, Scottish, and American Fiddle Styles: An Immigration Story

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va.. (May 28, 2024) – Join us at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum on Tuesday, June 11, at 7:00 p.m. ET for our monthly Speaker Sessions featuring acclaimed musician Andrew Finn Magill. In his presentation, “The Relationship between Irish, Scottish, and American Fiddle Styles: An Immigration Story,” Magill will delve into the interconnectedness of traditional dance music in the southern United States with the musical traditions of Scotland and Ireland. Monthly Speaker Sessions are free and open to the public.

“Magill is a Fulbright fellow and highly-acclaimed musician who has performed with many well-known roots acts including Rising Appalachia, John Doyle, and Trio Brasileiro,” said museum Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “This is a wonderful opportunity to meet Magill, enjoy his wonderful playing, and learn more about the history of fiddle music in our region from someone who has studied the subject for more than two decades.”

Born into an Irish-American family in the Appalachian mountains, Magill has been steeped in the rich traditions of Irish fiddling from a young age. This interactive session will explore the historical impact of Scottish and Irish immigration on the development of southern fiddling. Magill will demonstrate various fiddle styles, bowing techniques, and repertoires, engaging the audience in a participatory performance that invites questions and encourages discussions on immigration, identity, and the cultural tapestry of Southern music.

For those unable to attend in person, the event will be lives-streamed on WBCM Radio Bristol’s YouTube channel starting at 6:50 p.m. ET. If the livestream does not appear automatically, please refresh the page after 6:50 p.m.

For more information about this Speaker Session and more upcoming museum events, visit the Events page at

JAM Kids in concert at BCM Museum June 8

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va. (May 23, 2023) – Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM Kids) have been developing their chops on guitar, fiddle and banjo weekly at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol since last October. At 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, June 8, the students will come together to showcase what they’ve learned during a special performance for friends and family – and the public is invited at no cost.

“On average 12 to 15 students have participated in JAM Kids every Saturday since we adopted the program last year,” said museum Curatorial Manager Erika Barker. “It’s exciting to see how far the students have progressed in that time, learning skills and a love for playing music that they will carry with them for a lifetime. We invite the public to join us not only to see their progress, but to also learn more about this incredible, low-cost program.”

Incorporated as a nonprofit in 2008, JAM is a program for children, grades 4-8 and beyond, that introduces music through small group instruction on instruments common to the Appalachian region. Classes are after school and/or through affiliate partners across the region like the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. The program has expanded to nearly 30 locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, serving thousands of children.

JAM classes gather every Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. in the museum’s Learning Center. The cost for participation is $5 per class or students may sign up for 10 lessons at $45. Fiddles, banjos, and guitars will be available for students to use at no cost; other instruments will be introduced as determined by the instructors. Scholarships are available upon request. Lessons can be paid for all at once or as you go.

To learn more about Junior Appalachian Musicians, visit their website at For more information about JAM Kids at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, visit the Events pages at

Composing a Champion with Dave Eggar and Len Cook

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va.. (May 9, 2024) – If stage fright or performance anxiety is holding you back from accomplishing your goals, this month’s Speaker Session at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum could be the first step in helping you take control of those fears. At 7 p.m. ET on May 14, GRAMMY-nominated composer and musician Dave Eggar and champion martial artist Len Cook share their techniques for overcoming these common obstacles in a special program they designed entitled, “Composing a Champion: A New Horizon in Professional Performance.”

“Just like Ralph Peer and the pioneers of the 1927 Bristol Sessions gathered the courage to follow their hearts and make history, Dave and Len have overcome setbacks and faced challenges to achieve success,” said Dr. Rene Rodgers, head curator of the museum. “Our Speaker Session programs always bring new and interesting perspectives, and this one may also inspire others to face their fears or try new things.”

Eggar and Cook, two high-level performers who understand the characteristics of a successful artist and what qualities contribute to courage, resilience, and confidence, have taken the collective experiences, habits, strategies, and mindsets that have led them to success in the ring and on the stage across the country to discuss strategies for overcoming self-doubt, performance anxiety, and the limits we place on ourselves and our abilities.

Dave Eggar is a five-time GRAMMY-nominated virtuoso cellist, Harvard graduate, and Ivy League college professor. Over the past 25 years, Dave has been an in-demand cellist and string arranger for dozens of recording artists including acts like The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Evanescence, Foreigner, Tony Bennett, Lewis Capaldi, and more. Dave moved to Bristol from Brooklyn, New York during the pandemic and is a regular performer at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion.

Len Cook is a career martial artist with over two decades of experience. He is a professional MMA fighter, undefeated professional kickboxer, and owner and head coach of Champion Striking and Fitness in Bristol, Va. As a competitor, Len climbed his way up the ranks and quickly claimed three Bantamweight champion titles and was ranked #1 Bantamweight fighter in the Southeast.

There is no cost to attend monthly Speaker Sessions at the museum, and those who cannot be present in-person may view online via WBCM Radio Bristol’s YouTube channel. For more information about monthly Speaker Sessions and other events, visit the Events page at

Wyatt Ellis pop-up show in Bristol May 9

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va.. (May 7, 2024) – The Birthplace of Country Music Museum celebrates its 10th anniversary this year in August, but the Smithsonian Affiliate isn’t waiting ’til then to throw a party. On May 9 at 7 p.m. ET, 14-year-old mandolin prodigy Wyatt Ellis will perform at a special pop-up concert in honor of the special occasion.

“At such a young age, Wyatt is already being regarded as a bluegrass phenomenon,” said Leah Ross, executive director of advancement for the museum’s parent nonprofit, the Birthplace of Country Music. “When we heard his tour was routing through Bristol, we jumped at the opportunity to host him as a precursor to our other events we are planning around the museum’s 10th anniversary.”

A native of Knoxville who now resides in Maryville, Tenn., Ellis has been compared to Ricky Skaggs and Marty Stuart who both began their careers at a young age. Ellis received a standing ovation during his Grand Ole Opry debut last November and released his first album, “Happy Valley,” back in February. The recording is a collection of instrumental tunes, all written by Ellis when he was a pre-teen, and features guest appearances by some of his mandolin heroes including Stuart, Sierra Hull, and David McLaughlin. The artist has inked deals with Red Light Management and William Morris, and has booked major festivals including Merlefest and Big Ears; Ellis is scheduled to perform at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion this summer. Ellis has performed with some of the most respected artists in bluegrass and Americana including Skaggs, Del McCoury, the late Bobby Osborne, and Billy Strings.

Tickets to the Birthplace of Country Museum’s 10th anniversary pop-up show with Wyatt Ellis are in short supply, but available for purchase through the Events page at for $35 (+tax/fee).

Explore the Legacy of Hatch Show Print with Celene Aubry April 9

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va.. (March 19, 2024) – The Birthplace of Country Music Museum invites the public to explore the rich heritage and ongoing contributions of Hatch Show Print, one of America’s most iconic letterpress poster and design shops, with Director and Print Shop Manager Celene Aubrey. The event is part of the museum’s Speaker Sessions series and will be held in person at the museum and virtually via YouTube at 7 p.m. ET, April 9. In-person attendees can also enjoy a pre-program, curator-led tour of the museum’s current special exhibit A Cardboard History of Blue Ridge Music at 6:15 p.m., which features several historic Hatch Show Print posters.

Founded in 1879, Hatch Show Print has been an integral part of American visual culture, producing timeless posters and billboards that have advertised everything from country music legends to vaudeville acts. Celene Aubry will guide attendees through the shop’s fascinating journey, highlighting its evolution alongside changes in technology, communication arts, and popular entertainment.

“During this Speaker Session, our guests can also look forward to an exclusive unveiling of a ‘surprise’ poster,” said museum Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “This is will add an element of excitement to what promises to be an already engaging evening.”

In 2019 Celene Aubry became the first woman in its 100+ year history to run the operations at Hatch Show Print, having joined the staff in 2012 under former Hatch Master Printer Jim Sherraden. While the business thrives under her leadership as a letterpress, expanded programming includes a visiting artist program, a gallery showcasing print-centric art, and hands-on tours and workshops from the education space.

Hatch Show Print is recognized around the world for its 19th and 20th century posters and billboards advertising the stars of country music, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, carnivals, circuses, and variety shows. This tradition continues today with its limited-edition prints and posters for shows and artists appearing live in the 21st century, as well as prints, cards, gifts and more designed by the shop’s staff who draw inspiration from the vast collection of wood and metal type and hand-carved print blocks created in the shop.

There is no cost to attend monthly Speaker Sessions at the museum, and those who cannot be present in person may view online via WBCM Radio Bristol’s YouTube channel. For more information about monthly Speaker Sessions and other events, visit the Events page at

Learn the Timeless Craft of Letterpress Printing

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va.. (March 6, 2024) – Immerse yourself in the artistry of vintage letterpress printing at a special workshop coming to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. The program is in partnership with King University’s Department of Digital Media Art & Design (DMAD) and takes place on March 16, 1 – 3 p.m. ET. The event offers participants a hands-on experience, steeped in the rich history of print making.

“We are very excited for this opportunity to partner with the museum to offer this unique experience to the community,” said King DMAD Assistant Professor Lee Jones. “We are fortunate to have the letterpress here at King University as a valuable resource to demonstrate to students in the Digital Media Art & Design program how the traditional process has influenced the contemporary and vice versa.”

The class will be led by Jones and David Winship, whose father, George “Pat” Winship, started “The Sign of the George” letterpress facility at the university back in the 1970s. David, now retired, learned the ins and outs of the press from his father and now operates it with the support of King DMAD.

“We’ve partnered with King University on a number of programs over the years, but this one is very unique,” said museum Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “This event is the perfect companion to our special exhibit A Cardboard History of Blue Ridge Music, which participants will also have the opportunity to explore during the program.”

The workshop will feature an exploration of the history of letterpress printing, an opportunity to examine and have hands-on time with key elements of letterpress printing, including block letters, and interactive sessions on a portable letterpress. Each participant will have the chance to print a workshop-themed poster, leaving with a tangible memento of their time in the workshop.

As a special highlight, attendees will also enjoy a guided tour of the museum’s special exhibit, A Cardboard History of Blue Ridge Music, which showcases letterpress-printed concert posters and show cards from a bygone era. Following the 2-hour workshop, participants are invited to join Jones and Winship for a tour of King University’s “The Sign of the George” facility, which houses the institution’s 1920s era Chandler & Price clamshell letterpress. Light refreshments will be provided.

Space for this exclusive workshop is limited to 20 participants, so early registration is encouraged. The cost is $20 (plus tax/fee). To register, visit the Events page at

What’s Cookin’ with Chef T, The Pakalachian March 12

BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va.. (March 5, 2024) – The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is thrilled to announce its upcoming Speaker Sessions event on Tuesday, March 12, 7 p.m. ET, featuring renowned regional chefs Katlin and Mohsin Kazmi of The Pakalachian and Torrece “Chef T” Gregoire of Union 41 in Bristol.

“Chef T and the Kazmi’s offer unique perspectives on creating connections between different food traditions, and their culinary talents showcase the diversity and richness inspired by Appalachian foodways,” said museum Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “Each of them apply sustainable, farm-to-table practices in their businesses, which is something we should all learn more about.”

Chef T, owner and executive chef at Union 41, shares her journey from her grandmother’s kitchen in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to becoming a celebrated figure in the culinary world. Known for her appearances on Hell’s Kitchen and the Food Network’s Big Restaurant Bet Contestant, Chef T has also written a best-selling book, Paradigm: A Macro Manifesto of Food, which reflects her passion for food as a celebration of life.

Katlin Wohlford Kazmi, executive director of the Region VII Virtual Academy and co-owner of The Pakalachian food truck, brings a wealth of experience in education and entrepreneurship to the discussion. Alongside her is Mohsim Kazmi, an accomplished entrepreneur, conservation photographer, and co-owner of The Pakalachian, has made significant contributions to environmental conservation efforts in Peru.

The event promises an insightful exploration into the fusion of diverse culinary traditions with the rich Appalachian food culture, offering attendees a view into the vibrant culinary landscape of the region. From the delectable offerings of The Pakalachian to the culinary innovation of Chef T, participants will delve into the stories behind these wonderful culinary ventures.

There is no cost to attend monthly Speaker Sessions at the museum, and those who cannot be present in person may view online via WBCM Radio Bristol’s YouTube channel. For more information about the Speaker Series and other events, visit the Events page at