Friday, November 6, 2009

Birthplace of Country Music: Bristol Tennessee-Virginia

Bristol has long been known as a hub for traditional mountain music. In the summer of 1927, Ralph Peer, a record producer from Victor Talking Machine Company, traveled to Bristol and set up a portable recording studio four blocks east of this location. During his twelve days in Bristol, Mr. Peer recorded seventy-six songs by nineteen different acts capturing a wide cross section of traditional Appalachian music, including old time dance tunes, ballads,
gospel songs, blues, and others. These sessions also produced the first recordings of the Carter Family from nearby Maces Spring, Virginia - "the First Family of Country Music" - and Jimmie Rodgers - "the Father of Country Music."

Music Historians consider these recordings to be the beginnings of the commercial country music industry and in 1998 the United States Congress declared Bristol the "Birthplace of County Music."

While Peer's 1927 recordings stand as a milestone in the development of country music, the musical heritage of Bristol continued after those recordings. In the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, radio programs in Bristol, most notably WCBY's Farm and Fun Time, became popular and assisted in the development of a new genre of music - bluegrass.

Today, the rich musical heritage of Bristol remains vibrant. Bristol sits in the middle of Virginia's Heritage Music Trail The Crooked Road, with the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance as a major venue along the trail. Dozens of musical venues in Bristol or nearby offer tradtitional Appalachian music on a regular year round basis with many of these concentrated in downtown Bristol.
The area in front of this mural has become a center for many of those community events. The stage in front of this mural plays host to a variety of weekly musical events from May through October. The area houses one of the main stages from the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion festival, held annually the third weekend of September. From April through October, a local Farmer's Market operated twice weekly. It is also a stop on the downtown audio walking tour. For more information about our region's musical heritage, visit

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker: Ralph S. Peer (within shouting distance of this marker); Shelby's Fort (approx. 0.2 miles away); Jimmie Rodgers (approx. 0.3 miles away); Overmountain Patriots of the American Revolution (approx. 0.3 miles away in Virginia); Bristol Sessions (approx. 0.3 miles away); First Country and Western Recording (approx. 0.3 miles away); Birthplace of Bristol (approx. 0.3 miles away); Bristol (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Bristol.

Rocky Mount is the start of The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail.

We are located on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We sit at 1200 feet in these rolling foothills, just 15 miles to three exits/entrance to The Blue Ridge Parkway. The first drive up Kiosk for this music trail is one block behind The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast, it sits right outside The Depot (a local spot for bluegrass and traditional concerts put on by Footlights of The Blue Ridge - see our Music Events page for more information on local wing dings in the area.

Our Franklin County boasts more official Crooked Road designated weekly jams than any other county on the Crooked Road Music Trail). If you have never had biscuits and gravy while listening to toe tappin' mountain music - then I suggest you start this music trail right here in Rocky Mount. Visit the Dairy Queen on Route 40 West any Thursday morning Sept thru June and you will see what I mean!

Life is too short for bad coffee... Shellie @ The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount Virginia

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