Special Projects Archives - The Birthplace of Country Music
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$52,000 in Awards Distributed to Support Folk Arts and Culture in Bristol Region

BRISTOL, Va.-Tenn. (May 31, 2023) – The Greater Bristol Folk Arts & Culture Team—a collective of local culture workers—is thrilled to announce the recipients of its grant and fellowship program to support folk arts and culture in the region, thanks to Central Appalachia Living Traditions (CALT), an initiative of Mid Atlantic Arts.

Representatives articulated a shared goal for this grant program: “To promote and support folk arts and culture in the greater Bristol community by providing targeted resources and support to area organizations, artists, and artist collectives with the goal of dramatically impacting the sustainability and awareness of traditional practice, cultural knowledge, and improving economic development and regional vitality.”

The team is distributing over $50,000 in direct rewards to four (4) Cultural Caretaker organizations and eight (8) Tradition Bearer Fellows, along with sharing a variety of professional development, performance, and cultural practice opportunities. Awardees will be featured at the Virginia Folklife Area at the Richmond Folk Festival (October 14 and 15, 2024), organized by the Virginia Folklife Program of Virginia Humanities. 

“We are excited for this opportunity to celebrate and support folk arts and culture in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee,” said Tyler Hughes, the grant program’s project manager. “We want these grant awards to have a ripple effect—helping the organizations to build capacity and the artists to develop their practice and skills, which in turn will directly and positively impact their communities.”

Cultural Caretaker grants of $5,000 each—focused on small-scale, limited capacity, and largely volunteer-run community organizations—have been awarded to the Appalachian African American Cultural Center (Pennington Gap, Va.), the Carter Family Fold (Scott Co., Va.), Exchange Place (Kingsport, Tenn.), and Mount Pleasant Preservation Society (Smyth Co., Va.).

Tradition Bearer Fellowship awards of $4,000 each have been allocated to broom maker John Ingles Alexander (Grayson Co., Va.), luthier Jackson Cunningham (Grayson Co., Va.), clothing maker Stephen Curd (Washington Co., Va.), musician Pierceton Hobbs (Dickenson Co., Va.), dulcimer player Roxanne McDaniel (Washington Co., Tenn.), photographer Anna Mullins (Dickenson Co., Va.), broom maker Erin Simmons (Wythe Co., Va.), and luthier K. T. VanDyke (Bristol, Va.).

For more information visit BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org/museum/special-projects/ or email BristolAnchorCommunity@gmail.com.

“Born In Bristol” World Premiere Watch Party in Historic Downtown Bristol July 30

Bristol, Tenn.-Va. (July 21, 2022) – In celebration of the 95th anniversary of the 1927 Bristol Sessions, the public is invited to attend the world premiere of “Born in Bristol” at 8 p.m. EDT, July 30. The 1920s-themed, outdoor watch party will be held at the Downtown Center (810 State Street) in Bristol. Festivities kick off with live music by Northfork. The watch party will synchronize at 10 p.m. EDT with Circle Network‘s global premiere.

“We are very excited for ‘Born in Bristol’ to be shared with the world and to celebrate this historic 95th Anniversary,” said Leah Ross, executive director of advancement for the Birthplace of Country Music, the parent nonprofit of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, and WBCM Radio Bristol. “Many of our local residents and locations are featured in the docudrama, and we’re thrilled to share the world premiere with our wonderful community.”

The event is free, but the public is asked to RSVP online through the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org. Attendees are encouraged to dress in the period of the roaring twenties. Movie concessions and adult beverages will be available for purchase; alcohol will be sold to patrons 21 and over with valid photo ID.

“Born in Bristol,” produced by Tennessee Tourism and Plan A Films, is a 53-minute docudrama profiling the 2015 recording of the “Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited” album project. “Orthophonic Joy” was produced in partnership with Tennessee Tourism and the Virginia Tourism Corporation. The film features interviews with artists including Ashley Campbell, Ashley Monroe, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Eric Church, Marty Stuart, Shannon Campbell, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, and Vince Gill, as well as GRAMMY-winning producer Carl Jackson. Cinematic reenactments were shot in several locations in Historic Downtown Bristol.

“Born in Bristol” will premiere globally on Saturday, July 30 10/9c on Circle Network and repeats throughout August. It will also debut on connected devices worldwide on DittyTV on Saturday, July 30 at 8/7c with repeats in August.

The “Born in Bristol” outdoor watch party is presented by the Birthplace of Country Music, in partnership with the City of Bristol, Tennessee, Bristol, Tennessee Parks & Recreation, Believe in Bristol, Explore Bristol, Express AV and Bristol Broadcasting Company. For more information visit the Events page BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.

BCM Counting on Heroes and Raffle This Fall

Bristol, Va./Tenn. (August 3, 2020) – The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) has experienced its share of obstacles during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nonprofit was forced to close the Birthplace of Country Music Museum for nearly three months between March and June at the onset of social distancing, and last month BCM announced the cancellation of its 20th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, which was originally slated for September. 

“Despite the obstacles and lost income, BCM is determined to come back leaner and stronger as an organization, but we are asking for help,” said BCM Executive Director Leah Ross. “We are determined to stay positive and keep working toward solutions, and that means directing our focus on fundraising.”

The Bristol Sessions Super Raffle and the 2020 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Heroes campaign are two ways you can support BCM, and each offers some pretty sweet incentives for pitching in. With the purchase of a $100 Super Raffle ticket, you get two chances to win up to $250,000 in cash and prizes. Only 5,000 tickets will be sold, which increases your chances of walking away with up to $25,000 in cash, a 2020 Toyota Takoma, a 7-Day all-inclusive trip to Jamaica, and much, much more. Most of these big prizes were obtained from local businesses in partnership with BCM, and proceeds will help the Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s recovery efforts. Visit BristolSessionsSuperRaffle.org to purchase tickets and see the long list of impressive prizes. The drawing will be held Sunday, September 13, 2020; ticket holders do not have to be present to win.

The 2020 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Heroes campaign is calling on the community to donate $75 or more to the Festival Recovery Fund to help recoup losses from this year’s cancelled event. Donors will be listed as 2020 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Heroes on a permanent display in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, receive a Special Edition 20th anniversary poster signed by the artist, a discount on tickets for 2021, and more. Donations of over $250 will receive all of the above, a one-year membership to the organization’s 1927 Society, and other festival merchandise. All donations are tax-deductible, and 2020 tickets may be “donated” back to BCM to receive incentives. Visit BristolRhythmHero.com for more details.

Every effort is being made to contact ticket purchasers for the cancelled 2020 festival, but it is essential that each buyer fill out the intent form at BristolRhythm.com to let BCM know how they would like to transfer their tickets. New wristbands will need to be issued to those folks for 2021 if they wish to carry them over to next year. The 20th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival has been rescheduled for September 10-12, 2021 in Historic Downtown Bristol, Virginia-Tennessee.

Now that the Birthplace of Country Music Museum has re-opened, BCM is taking every measure to protect the health and safety of guests, volunteers, and staff. Masks are required by everyone in the museum, and guests are issued hand-sanitizer and sterilized styluses for use on the touchscreen exhibits. Heightened cleaning practices and social distancing are also part of the daily routine, with no more than 100 people allowed in the building at one time and tours spaced apart for safety. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets online prior to their visit at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.

Additionally, the special exhibit Real Folk: Passing on Trades & Traditions through the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program has been extended through August 30 for anyone who may have missed it. The exhibit explores all forms of Virginia’s expressive culture – from those found in the Appalachian hills and at the Chesapeake shore to new immigrant traditions brought to the state – including letterpress printing, mandolin making, African-American gospel singing, quilting, old-time banjo playing, Mexican folk dancing, classical Iranian and Persian music, country ham curing, and more.

The museum also offers a variety of virtual experiences and resources, including exhibit-focused videos, our Student Activity Center with lots of fun activities for children, Radio Bristol Book Club, the “Listen While I Tell” BCM blog, and more, online at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org/bcm-at-home. And on Tuesday, August 18, 3:30-5:00pm the museum will be hosting a virtual volunteer training via Zoom. Those interested in participating in this training should contact volunteercoordinator@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org

Great news for fans of WBCM Radio Bristol’s Farm and Fun Time variety show! BCM has announced that the popular program has been syndicated on UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina and East Tennessee PBS, reaching 100 counties and 13 million households across the state of North Carolina and 30 counties in parts of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky.

“We are thrilled to see Farm and Fun Time expand and reach new audiences,” said Radio Bristol producer and show host Kris Truelsen. “Since the launch of this program five years ago, we had a distant goal of syndicating it. To see that dream become a reality is truly remarkable. So much love and hard work has gone into creating Farm and Fun Time; it feels great to see people respond so positively to what our team has built. We expect more growth and are setting our sights on national syndication.”

Farm and Fun Time joined the programming lineup at Blue Ridge PBS in Roanoke, Virginia back in April. Combined, Farm and Fun Time potentially reaches nearly 20 million viewers in a parts of a five-state coverage area. Farm and Fun Time can still be accessed live online at ListenRadioBristol.org and viewed on the station’s Facebook Live once a month. Check online for local listings in your market; Farm and Fun Time will air on UNC-TV in North Carolina at 9:00 p.m. EST on Saturday evenings. 

Congratulations are also in order for Radio Bristol’s Kris Truelsen on his recent nomination for the Momentum Award for Industry Involvement from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), which recognizes both musicians and bluegrass industry professionals who are making significant contributions to or are having a significant influence upon bluegrass music.

Tune in to WBCM’s Radio Bristol Book Club on August 27 at 11:00 a.m. and explore The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book by author Wendy Welch.The book chronicles the true-life journey of Welch and her husband amid their escape from a toxic work environment to a struggling mining town where they opened their own bookstore. Customers like Bob the Mad Irishman and The Lady Who Liked Romances stop by the shop looking for the kind of interactive wisdom Kindles don’t spark, and they find friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book in good company. The book club discussion will be followed with an interview with the author. The broadcast and archived shows can be accessed at ListenRadioBristol.org
For a complete list of events and a comprehensive look at everything the Birthplace of Country Music has to offer, visit BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.

Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 100th Birthday Celebration

Image from the collection of Tennessee Ernie Ford Enterprises LLC

Bristol to Honor Its Favorite Son

Bristol, Tenn./Va. (January 29, 2019) – February 13, 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s birthday, and his hometown – Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia – has come together to celebrate that milestone with a variety of events and activities, including a musical performance, a conversation with Ford’s son Buck, a special church service, show screenings, a commemorative stamp, a musical performance, and birthday cake!

“Tennessee Ernie Ford  played a truly significant role in entertainment history, impacting the industry but also other performers and the audiences who loved him,” says Birthplace of Country Music Museum Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “The Tennessee Ernie Ford Centennial Celebration Committee, led by Don Ashley, has come together to bring a host of celebratory events and activities to Bristol to mark his 100th birthday, and we hope the community will come out to celebrate with us!”

Born in Bristol, Ernest Jennings Ford was known by many names throughout his life: “Ernest” by his mother, “Ernie” by his relatives, friends, and neighbors, and “The Ol’ Pea-Picker” as a public stage name during the 1950s, based on his catchphrase “Bless your pea-pickin’ hearts.” But he was most well known as “Tennessee Ernie Ford” – a tribute to his Tennessee home and heritage.

Ford’s career spanned radio, recording, and television, resulting in three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and numerous other awards and honors, including a Grammy and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His song “Sixteen Tons,” a particular favorite of fans and music historians, was an unexpected hit on the pop charts in 1955 and a defining moment in his career. With Ford snapping his fingers and a unique clarinet-driven pop arrangement by Ford’s music director, Jack Fascinato, “Sixteen Tons” spent ten weeks at number one on the country charts and seven weeks at number one on the pop charts. In an interview in 1990, Ford noted that this record had sold over twenty million copies, and in 1998 his version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2015 it was honored by being included in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.

A special website has been set up at ErnieFord100.com where all the events for the birthday celebration are listed, in addition to a link where folks may RSVP to the Buck Ford and Sid Oakley event at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

Tennessee Ernie Ford 100th Birthday Celebration Events: 

February 1 – 28
Tennessee Ernie Ford Display of Memorabilia & Artifacts
Birthplace of Country Music Museum
Museum Hours and Admission Prices Apply

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum will have several objects, photographs, and items of memorabilia on loan from Tennessee Ernie Ford Enterprises or the museum’s collection on display during the entire month of February. This display will supplement the section of the permanent exhibit focused on Ford’s life and career, which includes a short film.

Sunday, February 10
Special Tennessee Ernie Ford Church Service
11:00 a.m. – noon
Anderson Street United Methodist Church
954 Anderson Street, Bristol, TN
Free admission

Anderson Street United Methodist Church, which Tennessee Ernie Ford and his parents attended for many years, will conduct a special service, followed by a tour of their historical archives room including their Tennessee Ernie Ford collection.

Sunday, February 10
Tennessee Ernie Ford Birthplace Tours
2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
1223 Anderson Street, Bristol, TN
Free admission

The Bristol Historical Association’s Tennessee Ernie Ford Birthplace on Anderson Street will be open for visitor tours.

Tuesday, February 12
A Conversation with Buck Ford and Sid Oakley
7:00 p.m.
Birthplace of Country Music Museum
Free admission, but must RSVP at ErnieFord100.com

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum and the Bristol Historical Association will co-host an informal conversation in the museum’s Performance Theater between Ernie’s older son, Buck, and long-time Ford family friend Sid Oakley. Ford family home movies will also be screened.

Wednesday, February 13
Tennessee Ernie Ford Commemorative Stamp
Bristol Post Office
111 6th Street, Bristol, TN

On Wednesday, February 13, the Tennessee Ernie Ford Commemorative Stamps can be taken to the Post Office on 6th Street in Bristol, TN for a special cancellation. Stamps can be purchased from Don Ashley. Each sheet has 20 stamps with .50 cent denomination; starting January 27th the postal rate goes to .55 cents for a letter and thus an additional .05 cent stamp will be needed. Don has plenty of .05 cent American Music stamps that will go with the .50 cent Ernie stamp to make up the new rate. Sheets are $21.00 per sheet; these can be purchased by contacting Don on 276-669-3245 or 423-914-0489 or by emailing him at dwa7@bvu.net.

Wednesday, February 13
Tennessee Ernie Ford 100th Birthday Celebration
2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Paramount Bristol
518 State Street, Bristol, TN
Free Event

The Paramount will host an afternoon of Tennessee Ernie Ford music and film screenings prior to serving birthday cake; Ford’s son Buck will be there to introduce the screenings and talk to the audience about his dad’s life and legacy. Cake is courtesy of Food City.

Thursday, February 14
Radio Bristol’s Farm & Fun Time ft. Rachel Baiman, Beth Snapp
7:00 p.m.
Performance Theater, Birthplace of Country Music Museum
Tickets: $30

During Radio Bristol’s Farm and Fun Time on Thursday, February 14,the “Heirloom Recipe” segment will be presented by Buck Ford, based on a Tennessee Ernie Ford favorite. Farm and Fun Time house band Bill and the Belles will also perform a few Tennessee Ernie Ford numbers during the show. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Events page.

RTE 23 Music Festival Lineup Announced

Norton, VA (May 1, 2018) — It’s the fifth anniversary of the RTE 23 Music Festival and the Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) will once again bring this amazing event to the campus of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise (UVa-Wise) in Wise, Virginia on Saturday, August 25, 2018 from 5:00 p.m.—10:00 p.m. The New Respects, Cordovas, and Young Mister are on the roster for RTE 23 and each act will perform at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival—the perfect opportunity to preview these amazing bands before their performances in September. RTE 23 Music Festival is free and open to the public of all ages.

“This year, we approached the line up a little differently,” said Dave Stallard, BCM Music Committee Chairman and RTE 23 organizer. “Typically, our headliner is a band that doesn’t play Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in September. We were just so excited about The New Respects, though, that we bent our own rule and decided to make RTE 23 a showcase for three Bristol Rhythm bands. The New Respects are going to blow people away.”

Featured in Rolling Stone among its “10 New Artists You need to Know,” The New Respects are quickly turning heads and gaining unprecedented popularity. The band’s standout single “Trouble” garnered over 2 million streams and received sync placements with Fox Sports, ESPN, and TNT. The group meshes rock, soul, and pop music with overlays of acoustic tones. Comprised of twins Zandy and Lexi Fitzgerald, brother Darius and their cousin Jasmine Mullen, the Nashville-based group is a true family affair, evidencing the undeniable soul and music legacy that flows through the roots of their family tree. The band has been busy touring with Robert Randolph, O.A.R., and NEEDTOBREATHE, and making appearances at key festivals including Hangout, Bumbershoot, and Rock the Ranch.

Cordovas were touted in Rolling Stone‘s “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know” and follow the tradition of 1970s Southern and country rock greats the Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead, and The Band. Based in Nashville, the group has a sound based in harmony, song, and musicianship. The band spent the past winter writing and demoing songs for their latest album produced by Grammy nominee Kenneth Pattengale of The Milk Carton Kids.

“Cordovas really remind me of Crosby, Stills & Nash,” added Stallard. “Their live show is fantastic and their harmonies are on point.”

Young Mister is songwriter Steven Fiore. As a songwriter, Fiore has spent years building a fan base along both coasts, touring with the likes of Jump Little Children and Howie Day, and regularly performed as a guest vocalist for actor Jeff Goldblum’s (The Fly, Jurassic Park) jazz band in Los Angeles. After eight years as a stable songwriter for Universal Music Publishing Group, Fiore’s own performances have a radio-ready, soft-rock vibe and features lyrics young romantics wish had been written just for them.

“Booking Young Mister was a bit of a departure for us,” Stallard commented. “We have never had a singer-songwriter duo before, but his songs are powerful. That is going to be an awesome set.”

There will be lots of food and beverage options on hand at the festival—including regional wines and beers. Vendors include Foodie Fiction, Brain Freeze Shaved Ice, PureWood Firebrick Oven Pizza, Smoke-N-Pig Stillhouse BBQ, Dough & Joe, Lincoln Road Cold Brew Coffee, and The Shack.

“It’s hard to believe that we have been at this for five years now. We are incredibly appreciative of the sponsors who help us make this happen, UVa-Wise for hosting the festival, and all of the fans who come out and listen to the music. Our goal is simple; put on the best music festival in Wise County every year. With the bands, food, and drink we offer, we think we do that.”

The RTE 23 Music Festival is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Wise, Virginia business community. Please help us return the love by supporting our sponsors: Jeremy O’Quinn Law Office, Dr. William C. Horne, Jr. DDS, Crutchfield, Cavalier Pharmacy, Cavalier Comics, Iron Works Cycling, Powell Valley National Bank, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, The Inn at Wise, Wise County Tourism, Edward Jones-Office of James Lawson, Laidback Planners, Stone Mountain Guns, Brent Fleming Law Office, Sykes.

Click here to view RTE 23 Music Festival website.

BCM Hosts MOMH: Terry Baucum’s Dukes of Drive

The Birthplace of Country Music proudly hosts Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive as part of The Crooked Road’s Mountains of Music Homecoming!

One night, two shows! That’s right, you’ll have two opportunities to see the band on Monday, June 11, 2018; the first show is at 7:00 p.m. and the second performance is 9:00 p.m.

Monroe, North Carolina native Terry Baucom has enjoyed a career in music that started in 1970 with Charlie Moore and continued over the years as a founding member of ground breaking bands like Boone Creek (with Ricky Skaggs and Jerry Douglas), Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, IIIrd Tyme Out, and more. Winner of the 2013 IBMA Recorded Event of the Year for the single “What’ll I Do,” Baucom and his Dukes of Drive are a must-see.

Tickets to the event are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 and under, click here to purchase.

Mountains of Music Homecoming takes place June 8-16 at a number of concert venues along The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail. For a full roster of performances, click here.

ECU Makes $15K donation to Radio Bristol

Farm and Fun Time Program LogoThe Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) has announced that Eastman Credit Union (ECU) has invested in Radio Bristol’s Farm & Fun Time to increase the show’s live video streaming capabilities with a generous donation of $15,000. This commitment from ECU was vital in securing state of the art equipment that will ensure good video quality for streaming. ECU, a long-term community partner with Radio Bristol, became the title sponsor in August of 2016 by committing $100,000 over five years to the program.

Bill and the Belles

“The Farm & Fun Time show is doing a fantastic job of preserving our region’s rich music heritage in a way that also promotes economic growth. We’re anxious to see how live video streaming will enhance viewership and garner national and international interest,” said Olan O. Jones, CEO and President of Eastman Credit Union.

Tickets to be part of the studio audience for Farm and Fun Time events consistently sell out, as is true for the November and December editions of the program. With the help of ECU the shows will stream live from Radio Bristol’s Facebook page. November’s Farm and Fun Time featuring John McEuen and The Brother Boys live video stream received a total of 2,255 views so far; the video is still up on the page an available for viewing.

“Community partnerships are essential to the success of our organization. They help us deliver quality programming of which our region can be proud,” said Leah Ross, BCM Executive Director. “We are very grateful to Eastman Credit Union for their continued support of the Birthplace of Country Music.”

“Eastman Credit Union’s generosity and vision has been vital in making Farm & Fun Time a success,” said Radio Bristol Producer and program host Kris Truelsen.”Radio Bristol is very excited for the new capabilities we we will have to bring this incredible show to a larger audience. We look forward to Farm & Fun Time becoming a nationally recognized program largely due to the support of Eastman Credit Union.”

The Farm and Fun Time Christmas Ball with special guests The Secret Sisters and Jill Andrews takes place on Saturday, December 2 at 7:00 p.m. and will stream live video on Radio Bristol’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/WBCMRadioBristol.

Radio Bristol’s Farm and Fun Time is a revival of the former WCYB radio program which aired from downtown Bristol in the 1940s and 1950s. Farm and Fun Time features a variety of segments including jingles written
and performed by house band Bill and the Belles, a farm feport, an heirloom recipe segment, and nationally touring artists.

Tickets to be part of the studio audience for the January and February Farm and Fun Time events are on sale now at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org/events. Special guests Flatt Lonesome and Uncle Shuffelo & His Haint Hollow Hootenanny will appear on Farm and Fun Time January 11, 2018. Willie Watson and Larry Sigmon & Martha Spencer will join the show’s lineup February 8, 2018.

Radio Bristol’s Farm and Fun Time radio show is recorded before a live audience and is broadcast live as well as via webcast. Radio Bristol can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 100.1 FM in the Bristol area, online at ListenRadioBristol.org, and through the station’s free mobile app.

For more information on concerts and programming, click here.

AAME Public Speaker Series at the Museum Starts Nov. 7

An Evening of Song and Story with Jack Beck, Wendy Welch Kicks Off Series

The Arts Alliance Mountain Empire (AAME) Public Speaker Series, in cooperation with the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, will host two events coming to the museum in November and December. The first in the series, An Evening of Song and Story with Jack Beck and Wendy Welch, takes place on Tuesday, November 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Performance Theater at the museum.

Scots balladeer Jack Beck (a native of Dunfermline in Scotland) is an honorary life member of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland and was external examiner in Scots Song for the Degree programme in Scots Music Performance at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow.

Wendy Beck is a storyteller who founded the American Folklore Society’s Storytelling Section and was the former branch secretary of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland. Her best-selling memoir The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book is now in its fourth printing.

A recent venture for Jack and Wendy is an “infotainment” called “Stranger in This Country” in which Jack and Wendy examine Scots and American versions of the same songs and ballads. This has been performed both in Scotland—twice at the Celtic Connections Festival—and in the United States from South Carolina to New York and all points in between.

The second event in the series—featuring excerpts from The Book of Mamaw by Eugene Wolf—will take place on Tuesday, December 5. Eugene Wolf has been performing since he was two years old, when he won his first talent contest at the Capitol Theatre in Greeneville, Tennessee. Wolf studied music and theater at the University of Tennessee and worked for The Road Company, a professional acting ensemble in Johnson City, Tennessee, which was the first group of American artists to visit Bashkiria, Russia in 1994.

Many will recognize Wolf as one half of The Brother Boys, a critically acclaimed duo he and Ed Snodderly formed over 30 years ago. The Brother Boys are featured on the album On Top of Old Smoky: New Old-time Smoky Mountain Music alongside Dolly Parton. On November 9 at 7:00 p.m. the duo will perform on the bill with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founder John McEuen to a sold-out crowd at Radio Bristol’s Farm and Fun Time live variety show. Listeners may tune into the program on 100.1 FM in the Bristol area or stream the event live online at ListenRadioBristol.org or through Radio Bristol’s free mobile app.

For two decades Wolf has been a member of the Acting Company of Barter Theatre where he originated the role of A. P. Carter in the play Keep On the Sunny Side. In 2013 he traveled again to Russia to collaborate with Russian musicians on American spirituals and recorded a CD, Where We’ll Never Grow Old. Wolf has adapted his years of songs, photographs, and musings into a heartfelt, hilarious, one-man show paying homage to the person who has influenced his life the most, his Mamaw.

The public speaker series events at the museum on November 7 and December 5 are free and open to the public; doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information on the Arts Alliance Mountain Empire Public Speaker Series visit aamearts.org. For more information about events coming up at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, click here.

RTE. 23 Brings Halloween Bash to Wise Oct. 28


Presented by the Birthplace of Country Music (BCM), the RTE. 23 Music Festival will bring out the haints and hollers for a big Halloween Bash on October 28 at The Inn at Wise in Wise, Virginia!

East Tennessee’s own Circus No. 9, one of our region’s finest progressive acoustic acts, is slated to perform at the event. A costume contest will be part of the night’s festivities. Prizes will be awarded for best costume!

“This is our first Halloween-themed event,” said Leah Ross, Executive Director of BCM, the parent organization of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, and Radio Bristol. “Our music committee team members who reside in Wise created the RTE. 23 Music Festival as part of our outreach to that community. They continue to take it a step further with a Listening Room concert series and the Halloween Bash. They’re building a nice music scene up there in Wise!”

Fresh from stellar performances at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, Circus No. 9 showcased at this year’s International Bluegrass Music Association Conference and has performed alongside David Grisman, Bryan Sutton, Larry Keel, and more.

With influences of bluegrass, jazz, and rock, individual band members of Circus No. 9 are award-winning musicians. Matthew Davis is a 2016 National Banjo Champion and a 2017 Rockygrass Banjo Champion. Thomas Cassell is a 2016 Rockygrass Mandolin Champion. Combined with the talents of guitarists Vince Ilagan and Jed Clark, Circus No. 9 is taking the new acoustic scene by force in venues across the United States.

Advance tickets to the RTE. 23 Halloween Bash are $10 in advance and $15 day of show. For more information click here.


Grammy Award-Winning Artist Mike Farris at BCM Museum Sept. 7

The Birthplace of Country Music is proud to present the return of Grammy Award-winning artist and powerhouse vocalist Mike Farris to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum for an intimate Friends of 1927 Concert experience on September 7.

“Mike Farris is an unforgettable performer,” said Leah Ross, Executive Director of the Birthplace of Country Music. “This is the second Friends of 1927 Concert he will have done, and the last sold out. I urge everyone interested in attending to order their tickets. There’s nothing like seeing him in an intimate setting.”

Among the greatest voices of our time, Mike Farris was the first artist to receive a Grammy Award for Best Roots Gospel Album for his release Shine for All the People in 2015. Mike’s spirited, soul-gospel fusion and goosebump-inducing live performances are evocative, spiritual, and thoroughly entertaining. Among his accomplishments, Farris achieved an Americana Music Award for New/Emerging Artist in 2008, followed by a Dove Award in 2010. His live performances at Bonnarro, SXSW, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion drew rave reviews. Revered artists like Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, and Marty Stuart have been struck by his incomparable voice. He was also among those invited to honor Aretha Franklin at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 16th Annual American Music Masters Concert, a true testament to his immense gifts.

Friends of 1927 Concerts are intimate performances where fans have the opportunity to interact with artists in a relaxed setting. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are included in the ticket price. Concert doors open for cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now to the public for $80 per person, Bristol, Virginia admission tax and fees included.