(201) The Big Bang of Country Music (Photo Journal)

In 1927, a man named Ralph Peer came to Bristol, Tennessee to use a new technology to record the music the locals were making in the surrounding mountain country. These recordings are collectively called “The Bristol Sessions” and are the first recordings of The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and more–all the roots of the music we enjoy today. A museum has opened celebrating those sessions, and proved to be the highlight of our trip. What a great time–a full experience, very interactive, and with a gift shop that contained glorious works by local artists. The Birthplace of Country Music is a must-see for music lovers.

Lots of recordings came out of the Bristol Sessions, all on 78 rpm records.
Jim and I went into the sing-a-long booth and recorded ourselves singing a couple songs. We were pretty terrible, but it was a lot of fun.
There was a display about how music listening technology has changed. Here are a few things I remember–transistor radio, 8-track player, cassette player.
Many artists today record songs that were originally played at the Bristol Sessions. There were several listening booths where you could hear the original and how it has been re-recorded through time.
This lovely quilt displayed in the museum represents the local artistry. There were gorgeous quilted items for sale in the gift shop.
Educators will recognize wordles–here being used to ask questions about song-writing. Cool concept.

There were 2 very cool immersion experiences that were difficult to photograph.  One was sitting in a chapel surrounded by gospel music, and the other was a theater with a large half circle screen with artists through the years singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”  Very moving.

There was was an additional exhibit on the revival of roots music and it summed out our trip beautifully with displays on blues, bluegrass, folk, and The Grand Ole Opry, and I even got to take a banjo lesson! I purchased a few items in the gift shop, including guitar pick earrings, and we headed to Asheville for the final part of our trip.


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