Are We There Yet? On the Road to Bristol Rhythm - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Are We There Yet? On the Road to Bristol Rhythm

What a year.

As I sit here collecting my thoughts, that phrase plays over and over in my head like needle skipping a record. What. A. Year.

I mean, here I am, still working from my home office more than a year later which is really just a desk shoved into the corner of my dining room – where I’ve been since March 2020 when COVID hit. Hubby got his second COVID shot in January of this year. I finally finished mine up in April. My 12-year-old daughter just got her first shot, and like on so many road trips I’ve taken throughout my lifetime, I can’t help but wonder, are we there yet? Are we finally getting to a place where life looks somewhat normal? Man, I hope so.

Through it all, BCM has kept a skeleton crew of distanced, full-time office and museum staff, the rest of us going in as needed, but mostly working from home to limit exposure. It’s been really different, but I’m totally cool with it. I am so grateful to work for an organization that values the health and well-being of their team and to work with so many caring individuals. Our staff has, thankfully, escaped the virus because of these measures and boy am I ever grateful that we’ve managed to keep our team working while so many other businesses have faced layoffs. I’m also really grateful for the freedom of working in t-shirts, leggings, and sweatpants sans make-up.

Selfie photo of blogger sitting at home office computer.
Dumb home office selfie, no make-up. Sweat pants not shown to protect the innocent.

That’s not to say BCM wasn’t affected by the pandemic we were hit pretty hard financially due to the temporary closure of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the stoppage of any live and in-person events or activities, and the cancellation of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in 2020. However, we made adjustments, raised money, received some grants we were eligible for, and got through it. In the end, we’d like to think the entire ordeal made us stronger as an organization. We are a pretty tight knit group, like family, and I’m just so thankful we are all still here.

Elizabeth Cook performing on the State 
Street Stage at Bristol Rhythm 2019.
Elizabeth Cook at Bristol Rhythm 2019.

As I look back on all the things we’ve collectively missed since COVID while trying to figure out how to tastefully incorporate sweatpants and leggings into my wardrobe upon return to the office I’m reminded of how big of a role live music has had in my life and how it helped grow Bristol into what it is today. Not having outdoor concert events in downtown Bristol all last summer was a real bummer, and I am so glad to see venues slowly reopening and booking live music again. I am ready to emerge from my casual-wear cocoon and get back to something close to normal and live music on State Street this summer is the medicine my soul needs after such a long draught!

A group of people dancing on stage at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion with the band, including the blog author.
Me acting a fool at Bristol Rhythm in 2017 with Southern Culture on the Skids.

After all, what is the birthplace of country music without live music? It’s the life force of our very existence! A few venues are already dipping their toes back into the water, and it’s so good to see our local musicians getting back to work!

Road to Bristol Rhythm show graphic.

Virginia is for Lovers has partnered with BCM to bring the Road to Bristol Rhythm outdoor concert series to State Street this summer, which will take place on the lawn at The Sessions Hotel. Morgan Wade, Jim Lauderdale, and Amythyst Kiah are all slated to perform with their full bands, and tickets are on sale now. Each act is scheduled to perform at the festival in September, and the series is designed to give us a taste of the awesomeness that is Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion amazing live music by stellar artists performing in a fabulous setting in Historic Downtown Bristol. I have missed it SO much, and I know I’m not alone!

Band performing in front of an audience.
Birds of Chicago on Cumberland Square Park Stage, Bristol Rhythm 2018

Be watching out for an exciting new initiative to promote Bristol’s live music scene on the horizon with both cities of Bristol working with Bristol Motor Speedway, Believe in Bristol, BCM, and other agencies to create awareness for all the live music events happening here this summer and leading up to the big 20th anniversary of Bristol Rhythm this September. I can’t wait! My love is so deep for the festival, I’m working through whether or not to revive my Golf Cart Karaoke sessions with festival artists in 2021 or doing more stage hopping to see as many bands as possible all weekend. What do you think? I’ll set up an IG Stories poll so you can help me decide!

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