Through beautiful theater experiences, interactive displays, and text and artifacts the Birthplace of Country Music Museum shares the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings, explores how evolving sound technology shaped their success, and highlights how this rich musical heritage lives on in today’s music. It’s an immersive, interactive museum with amazing sights and sounds!
Panels focus on topics such as the development of the modern recording industry and the artists who recorded at the Bristol Sessions, including Ernest V. Stoneman, Alfred G. Karnes, El Watson, The Carter Family, and Jimmie Rodgers. The Bristol Sessions were the first recordings of The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, and they quickly became stars in the emerging “hillbilly” music industry. A timeline of audio technology introduces you to the different ways to produce and listen to music, and the Variety & Voice gallery highlights the history and beauty of the iconic instruments that have created the recognizable sounds of country music.
Visiting the core exhibits at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum is not a passive experience – we want you to explore the music through a variety of interactive and immersive experiences. Sound surrounds you throughout your visit. You can delve into local history to set the scene for the Bristol Sessions story, and explore the sounds of the Sessions through clips of all of the songs issued by Victor Records from the Bristol recordings. In other parts of the gallery, you can listen to the ways later musicians from Lead Belly to Nirvana have arranged some of these classic songs, give those tunes new sounds at the mixing stations, and belt out a song with family, friends and fellow visitors at the sing-along station!
You can also engage in multiple film and theater experiences, beginning with the Orientation Theater film “Bound to Bristol.” In the Greasy Strings Theater, we explore the philosophy and techniques behind the playing of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings. You can take a pew in our small chapel to hear local gospel groups speak and sing about how faith has shaped music and our connection to it. The Immersion Theater makes you part of “the unbroken circle” – and gives you space to dance! Several shorter films explore oral histories of participants in the 1927 Bristol Sessions, the career of Tennessee Ernie Ford, and the impact of this music on TV and film.