Bristol Rhythm & Roots Fest [classic article]

I just attended a very famous festival that I would highly recommend – the Bristol Rhythm and Roots music fest. Bristol’s State Street is evenly divided between Tennessee and Virginia, so that’s where it is. They block off a good portion for several stages, many booths and lots of places to sit down in the shade.
When you enter the fest, you first see the food vendors, selling good stuff like fried baloney sandwiches, fried green tomatoes and fried catfish. There are also lots of things to buy, such as homemade soaps, musical instruments, CD’s, t-shirts and all kinds of stuff.

There were dozens of musical acts, each representing a different aspect of American music’s roots, such as bluegrass, Celtic, ragtime, Americana. Some of the more famous names included the Seldom Scene, Dale Jett, the Wiyos, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Rhonda Vincent. Some performers were outside and some played in the gorgeous Paramount Arts Center.
Another great aspect of the fest is that it doesn’t kill the downtown merchants. To the contrary, many of the local restaurants had live music inside, too! Even the Chinese restaurant had bands playing. While Bristol has many cute shops, my hands-down favorite is Mountain Aire Music: A Classic Record & CD Shop. They also have a nice selection of vintage clothes in back, as well as a big-screen television playing classic videos, like Flatt and Scruggs. Okay, let’s take a look at the ‘45’s that Colonel Tamar bought: Kenny Rogers and Dottie West, the Gatlin Brothers, Tom T. Hall, Jim Ed Brown, Lacy J. Dalton, Dave & Sugar, Johnny Paycheck, Shelly West. Don’t you wish you had been there?
Special thanks to Kimberly Leonard of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce!
kleonard@bristolchamber.org

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