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Downtown Bristol Blog

Bristol Sessions Documentary Now Filming

Sundance Award-winning director Chusy Haney-Jardine and a crew from Plan A films, based in Asheville, North Carolina, are in Bristol filming local artists and actors participating in a documentary film celebrating the 1927 Bristol Sessions and the “Big Bang of Country Music.”

The film, commissioned by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Virginia Tourism Corporation, is scheduled for release in spring 2016 and accompanies the May release of Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited CD project. The album features popular modern artists including Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, and Keb' Mo' performing classic songs from the original Bristol Sessions such as “Shall We Gather at the River,” “Black Eyed Susie” and “Bury Me Beneath the Willow.” Plan A Films was present during the recording of the Orthophonic Joy CD project and captured interviews with a number of the artists performing on the album. Those interviews will be included in the documentary.

In 1927 Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company placed an ad in a Bristol paper in order to recruit musicians to record music of the region for commercial sale. The Carter Family and Jimmy Rodgers were among the undiscovered artists who answered that call. The 1927 Bristol Sessions were the first recordings of Rodgers and the Carters and catapulted both acts to stardom. Johnny Cash once said, "these recordings in Bristol in 1927 are the single most important event in the history of country music."

As Ralph Peer had done for the 1927 Bristol Sessions, Plan A recruited the cast for the documentary by placing an ad in the local Bristol Herald Courier. More than 200 local musicians and actors turned out for the audition and dozens were chosen to help recreate the stories and events surrounding the original 1927 Bristol Sessions.

“This is an exciting time for Bristol,” said Leah Ross, Executive Director of the Birthplace of Country Music, the non-profit parent organization of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, and WBCM Radio Bristol. “The whole town is abuzz with the documentary film crew in town and the climate on set is very vibrant. Plan A has a great respect for the story and has an extraordinary vision. We are so grateful to our state tourism agencies and to Plan A for this gift. With our museum, the album, and this documentary we are inspiring and educating a new generation about the importance of Bristol's influence on the soundtrack of our lives."

For more information about the Birthplace of Country Music visit www.BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.



The BCMM Gift Shop has great gifts for everyone on your shopping list

It’s the holiday season and we want you to think of your local businesses when you are deciding on that perfect gift for your loved ones. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is a stop you don’t want to miss. Not only do they have ornaments to adorn your tree, jewelry crafted by local artisans, and etched glasses with the BCMM logo, but they also have Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion 2016 tickets available for purchase at their lowest price – weekend passes for just $50! Birthplace of Country Music Museum will also make your lives easier by making up gift baskets full of great goodies. Merry Christmas, Bristol!



City of Bristol, TN announces Spread the Glove initiative

The forecast for this winter is a colder and possibly snowier season than in recent years. Winters like this are especially difficult for those less fortunate in the community.

Last winter during one of the coldest days of the year, a city transit driver began tying scarfs and mittens on trees and poles at the Downtown Center for those who may have been caught out in the cold. “She began a one-woman effort and brought along other kind folks from our community who knitted scarves, mittens, and hats to aid in her efforts. She had heard about something similar in other cities and thought it was a great idea,” said Terrie Talbert, Director of Community Relations for the city. “This year staff discovered after some research that this is a rather well-known project in other cities through-out the nation, including the nearby cities of Wilmington, NC and Kingsport, TN. We would like to make this a tradition in our downtown, too,” continued Talbert. The initiative will begin on Thursday, December 3 and will continue through the end of February.

The initiative is being called “Spread the Glove.”

Donations of any new or gently used gloves, hats, and scarves may be brought to the lobby in Bristol Tennessee’s City Hall, or any of the city Fire Stations. Staff will collect the items and attach a note letting everyone know the items are not lost, but are there for the taking if someone should find themselves out in the cold and in need of something warm. City staff will be responsible for placing the items in the downtown area. “We are so excited to partner with a number of high school sports teams and clubs along with WXBQ radio,” Talbert said. “Winters can be long. It will take a true community effort for the initiative to be successful.”

For more information on the program contact Terrie Talbert at tsmith-talbert@bristoltn.org or call 423-989-5500 Ext. 2055.



Downtown Bristol Events

Scrooge! The Musical

December 4–13 | Theatre Bristol

This week is your last chance to catch Theatre Bristol's Scrooge! The Musical at the ARTspace Theatre. Bring the whole family for this timeless tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge, hope, and redemption. Following 2014's sold-out run, new evenings and matinees have been added to the 10-performance run of this uplifting holiday tradition. Scrooge! The Musical opens December 4, and runs for two weekends of matinee and evening performances, closing with a matinee on December 13. Reservations for this ARTspace production (506 State Street), can be made by calling 423-212-3625.

Scrooge! is the timeless tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge, a lonely miser who is visited on Christmas Eve by three spirits who teach him lessons of love and giving. Don’t miss Ebeneezer, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and a whole host of Dickensian characters in this award-winning, international smash hit musical by Leslie Bricusse. In Bristol, Scrooge! is a holiday tradition, popular by audiences over the years, featuring memorable songs “Thank You Very Much,” “A Better Life” and “A Christmas Carol.”

Bristol Ballet presents The Nutcracker

December 11–13 | Paramount Center for the Arts

The holidays are made up of wonderful traditions and warm memories, and for many of us that includes attending the holiday ballet favorite, The Nutcracker. Carrying on this great tradition, Bristol Ballet prepares for its 2015 holiday evening and matinee performances of The Nutcracker on December 11, 12, and 13, at the Paramount Center for the Arts, in Historic Downtown Bristol.

Buy tickets for December 11th
Buy tickets for December 12th
Buy tickets for December 13th

Whether this is your first experience at a Nutcracker performance or your fiftieth, you’re sure to see something new. "This year we are excited to have more boys involved in the production. We held auditions for local community members and had a nice turnout", said Michele Plescia, Artistic Director of Bristol Ballet. "We have also added a character who is in a wheel chair, which gives the Party Scene a new depth and variation."

Some things remain the same, such as returning local actor and high school football coachMike Locke playing Drosselmeyer, and the four professional dancers returning to their same roles this year, by popular demand. "Everyone loved our guest artistsfrom last year, and we are thrilled that they are all able to return to their roles as Drosselmeyer, Sugar Plum Fairy, Nutcracker, Snow Queen and Cavalier, and Arabian. It's fun to have some things remain the same and other aspects change from year to year. We hope it will peak the interests of audience members and keep them excited to return each year”, Plescia said.

Bristol Ballet Junior Company member, Collin White, will dance the roll of Clara. In addition, 47 Bristol Ballet students and company members, and close to 20 community members will perform in roles such as Angels, Russian, Marzipan, and Party Guest.

A new tradition in the making is the Gingerbread Ball. For the second year, Bristol Ballet invites families to meet some of the main characters in The Nutcracker. Families will enjoy delicious Blackbird Bakery gingerbread cookies, snowflake sugar cookies, hot chocolate, tea, and coffee at the Bristol Ballet Studio immediately after the Saturday matinee performance. Photos of the event will be provided to each attendee. The cost (which is separate from the tickets to The Nutcracker performance) is $10 per person. This was a sell-out last year, so reservations are strongly recommended, and may be made by calling Bristol Ballet, 276-669-6051.

Friends of 1927 Concert: John Cowan

December 11 | Birthplace of Country Music Museum

The Birthplace of Country Music is proud to present a new Friends of 1927 Concert featuring John Cowan.

Tickets: $80 per person

Location: Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. / Concert begins at 7:00 p.m.

The Friends of 1927 Concert Series is an intimate concert experience where fans have the opportunity to interact with the artists in a relaxed setting; COCKTAILS AND HORS D’OEUVRES INCLUDED.

Tickets will go on sale to Friends of 1927 Members and Sustaining Friends of the museum on October 15, 2015.

Tickets will go on sale to the Public on October 29, 2015.

Tickets are limited, and once all tickets are sold, then concert is SOLD OUT.

Ask how you can become a Friend of 1927 and support the Birthplace of Country Music Museum email info@birthplaceofcounrtymusic.org or call 423-573-1927.

About John Cowan

John Cowan, also known as the Voice of Newgrass, has been singing his heart out for thirty-five years now, and his soaring vocals have only improved with time. A true innovator, John applies his powerful pipes to genres from country, bluegrass, and gospel to soul, jazz, and rock-and-roll – often within the space of a single concert. His ability to move fluidly through multiple styles, and carry mesmerized audiences on the journey with him, has set him apart as one of the most loved and admired vocal artists of his generation, not just by fans and critics but among fellow musicians as well.

Celebrating Intention Workshop

December 12 | Wellness Yoga of Bristol

Join Melissa Hite, ERYT, for a special practice to release the trials of 2015, celebrate the successes and gifts, and prepare for 2016. Begin with a lovely practice to open the heart, followed by a ceremony to release what you need to let go of from 2015. The workshop will end with a guided meditation to prepare for the coming year.

Cost: $27

Jazz251

December 12 | Blackbird Bakery

Take a break from the hustle & bustle of Christmas shopping, and come enjoy coffee, pastries, ice cream, and some live Christmas Jazz at Blackbird Bakery.

Christmas Tour of Homes

December 13

Usher in the Christmas Season with an enchanting tour of historic homes. The 19th Annual Bristol Christmas Tour of Homes will be held on Sunday, Dec 13th from 1:30 to 6:30.

Homes on the tour include; 107 Tyler Dr., Bristol, Tn.; 725 Euclid Ave., Bristol, Va.; 454 Euclid Ave., Bristol, Va.; First Christian Church, 311 Spencer St. Bristol, Va.; 2 Greentree Dr., Bristol, Tn.; 911 Georgia Ave., Bristol, Tn.; 622 Georgia Ave., Bristol, Tn..

Tickets for the self-guided tour are $12 per person in advance or $15 the day of the tour. Tickets are available at Cranberry Lane, 623 State St., Bristol, Va. (276)652-9899, Country Gallery Florist, 193 Old Airport Road, Bristol, Va. (276) 669-8099, Grand Antiques, 615 State St., Bristol, Virginia, (276) 591-3443 One of a Kind Gallery, 604 State St., Bristol, Tn., (423) 652-2648,and Southern States Bristol Co-op, 1313 Euclid Ave., Bristol, Va. (276-669-8101).

Tickets must be presented at each home and can also be purchased at each residence the day of the tour. Comfortable low-heeled shoes are advised for safety. The event, co-sponsored by Premier Printing Company, (Director) Jewell Williams , Carolyn Thomas, Diana Cumbo, Gloria Scott, Barbara Barker, Liz Marshall, is a benefit for the Historic East Hill Cemetery. The proceeds are for the maintenance of the resting places of our communities’ former residents.

For more information, call (director) Jewell Williams (423) 652-0163.

Cookies with Santa

December 15 | Blackbird Bakery

Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa's coming to Blackbird on Tuesday evening, December the 15th from 6 to 8:30pm. Be sure to drop by and share your wish list with Santa. He'll be giving away cookies (while supplies last).

Journey's End

December 15 | Downtown Bristol

On Tuesday, December 15th at 6:15 PM, Journey’s End will again take place in Historic Downtown Bristol! Journey’s End is Bristol’s local interpretation of the Latino tradition of Las Posadas (The Inns). Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem is recreated as they go from inn to inn seeking lodging and the final inn welcomes them in and celebrates their arrival.

How does Bristol Celebrate Journey’s End?
Our inns are several downtown businesses and our innkeepers are various choirs and choral groups from the Bristol area. We will begin at the Downtown Center then process by candlelight with Mary and Joseph singing the traditional songs and various carols accompanied by instrumentalists.

This year Mary will be played by Camille Gray and Joseph will be Coy Owens. Along the way choirs from Redeemer Lutheran Church will be at Shanghai; Emmanuel Episcopal Church at Stateline Bar & Grille; State Street United Methodist Church at Quaker Steak and Lube; Theatre Bristol at former Wells Fargo, the Canty family at Eatz on Moore Street, and Central Presbyterian Church at Believe in Bristol. Afterwards a small reception will be held at Believe in Bristol office with refreshments.

A special thank you to the Cities of Bristol, Bob Greene, Robert Campbelle, Pete Buhls, Sam Cox, Marcia Cooper, Stephanie and Chris Yoder, Mark and Lisa Canty, Kathy Story, Ann Aichinger, Mark Hicks, Coy Owens, Camille Gray, and primary event sponsors for the evening is Burke, Powers & Harty and Believe in Bristol for providing the star ornaments, luminaries and helping hands.

Journey’s End lasts a little more than an hour. Restaurants will be taking dinner reservations and several of the downtown shops will be open. Come and celebrate Christmas in the heart of our community!

Also Coming Up

More Upcoming Events »


Community Notice Board

5th Annual Student Art Gallery

Through December 31 | Hayes Furniture Building

The Arts & Entertainment District is hosting the 5th Annual Student Art Gallery in Downtown Bristol. In an effort to “Cultivate Bristol’s Creativity,” the district has invited the local schools to help us beautify our community by providing art to decorate the front windows of the former Hayes Furniture Building on State Street.

“The Student Art Gallery is a vital part of the A&E District,” says Maggie Bishop, Associate Director for Believe in Bristol. “We have really great young talent in the area that is important to showcase. Seeing the expression and personality that comes out of each student tasked with the same project is one of my favorite aspects of the gallery.”

Each school or group that participates has a month-long period to display their students’ art in the space. The second gallery of art went up today, showcasing art from students in the K-5th grades at Sullins Academy. Sullins Academy is a premier coeducational, preschool through grade 8 independent day school which provides a positive educational environment, fostering academic excellence while maintaining a commitment to the core values of integrity, honesty, respect, responsibility, and service to others.

Jennifer Byrd’s students looked at the beautiful art in Japan of Sushi making, quickly realizing the shapes, colors and orange designs are truly works of art. “We then began the task of making our own beautiful plates of sushi from collage, the art form of using other textiles to make an image that is 3-D,” Byrd said. “We used tissue paper, crepe paper, foils, string, foam and lots of paper scraps to create these stunning art works! Everyone from kindergarten through fifth-grade thoroughly embraced the idea and made lots of original and very interesting pieces! Please enjoy these as each child's individual expression of a beautiful Japanese tradition transformed!”

Artwork by the students from Sullins Academy will be on display at the Hayes Furniture Building until December 31, 2015.



Bristol Office Supply Weekly Specials

Through December 11

Click here to view weekly specials.



L.C. King Blue Denim Specials

Through Friday

Click here to view specials.