Bristol Rhythm: Celebrating 20 Years in 2020

Nearly 20 years ago, City of Bristol Tennessee Councilman David Shumaker had an idea to host a music festival in Historic Downtown Bristol. Bristol had recently been named the official “birthplace of country music” by the U.S. Congress in 1998, and Shumaker thought a great way to celebrate our legacy was to develop a music festival. He began talking to the City of Bristol’s Community Relations Director Terrie Talbert, and with a lot of hard work, a community call out for volunteers, and months of planning, the first Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion was held in October 2001.

Since then, the festival has grown from 7,500 to over 40,000 attendees each year. In addition, the festival hosts 120 bands on 16 stages throughout the three-day weekend in September. Bristol Rhythm has earned many accolades, including being named as one of Rolling Stone’s “Top 20 Tours and Festivals.”

This year, we are taking a look back at the festival with a fun docuseries called Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion: Celebrating 20 Years in 2020.  Our marketing team has been working with Loch & Key Productions to pull together the interviews, old video footage, and photographs to make this film series possible.

Three photos: 
Top: Jim Lauderdale being interviewed in the museum's Immersion Theater for the docu-film.
Center: Executive Director Leah Ross being interviewed in the museum's Performance Theater for the docu-film.
Bottom: A close-up of the "director's chair" bearing the Birthplace of Country Music logo during filming for the docuseries.

The docuseries includes four episodes, and the first episode focuses on how the festival began all those years ago. You can check out Episode 1 below:

Click on Play Button to View Video

We will share the other three episodes in the coming months, available via our YouTube Channel.

We would love to know if you attended during the first few years of Bristol Rhythm, and if so, please share some of your favorite memories with us! 

Director of Marketing for the Birthplace of Country Music

≪ Back to all blog posts

Site Search