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Downtown Bristol Blog

Fine Art Photographer Benjamin Walls Recognized by Senator Mark Warner

Four Benjamin Walls images have been selected for exhibit in the offices of Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. Benjamin’s art will be part of the senator’s Art on Loan program for 2015. This exhibit will hang in Warner’s offices in the Russell Senate Building in Washington D.C. for one year. A highly selective annual program, Art on Loan allows Warner to offer the state’s most talented artists a national platform for their work.

Help Us Make the PUSH! Film Festival a Reality

Film lovers, we need your help! We haven't yet reached our Kickstarter goal of $10,000, but with YOUR help we can still make it there by March 11th! With Kickstarter, the only way you get the money raised is if you meet your stated goal. If everyone who receives this eNews pledges just $10 (or more if you can!), we will be a Kickstarter success and on the road to making a Bristol, TN/VA film festival a reality. Please consider donating and become a PUSH! insider – and please share this post with friends and family, and encourage them to support this Kickstarter campaign. Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far and to everyone who rallies to this call! Donate here:

Many Downtown Businesses Don't Have "Snow Days"

The recent snowy weather has been tough on our downtown businesses because customers have been faced with unsafe driving conditions. But as a path clears, let there be no misunderstanding – Downtown Bristol is OPEN for business! Many downtown businesses are indeed open, and you should try support your neighbor during these times if you can. Downtown Bristol has been bustling this week thanks to the nicer weather, it was great to see the sidewalks and streets packed! Keep it going through any and all storms!

Downtown Bristol Events

Nashville Connection presents SHINE NIGHT Heroes Salute at The Paramount: RESCHEDULED

March 5

CALLING ALL SINGERS AND SONGWRITERS: this is your chance to shine! Rescheduled for March 5th at 5pm, don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present your lyrics or song to top music industry professionals. This coming year, we will be holding 6 Shine Night events. At each of these events, you will have the chance to audition your singing or songwriting abilities live in front of a celebrity judge panel for a chance to be a finalist in our Nashville Connection — Heroes Salute singing / songwriting competition. The finalists from each location will move on to our final competition in Nashville, TN in July 2015!

The Nashville Connection — Heroes Salute gives a huge leg up in the music business and supports and salutes our military and their families!

AAME Speakers Series at The Bristol Public Library

March 5

The Arts Alliance Mountain Empire, in cooperation with the Bristol Public Library, is pleased to announce the continuation of the 2014-15 AAME Speakers Series. The AAME Speakers Series features local and regional personalities sharing their expertise on topics that enrich and encourage the arts and general communities of our region. This series also provides a forum for member organizations of AAME to tell of their contributions to the Mountain Empire region.

This event, taking place on Thursday, March 5 at 7:00 p.m., will feature four regional composers whose work has gained an audience both within and beyond the Mountain Empire. Each composer will answer a series of prepared questions, and then the discussion will be opened up to the audience for general enquiries.

Benjamin Dawson teaches violin and viola at Suzuki Talent Education of Applachia. He studied composition with Dr. Maria Niederberger at East Tennessee State University, where he was a two-time recipient of the Kenton Coe Composition Scholarship. Benjamin's compositions have been performed by the Symphony of the Mountains, the SOTM Youth Orchestra, the Highlands Youth Ensemble, the East Tennessee Children's Choir, the ETSU Chorale, the ETSU Saxophone Quartet, the King University Symphonic Choir and various area churches. He has composed several independent film scores and is the “in house” arranger/orchestrator for Symphony of the Mountains. Benjamin won 1st place in the 2013 Music Teachers National Association (State Level, Tennessee) Composition Competition. In addition to teaching at STEA, he plays piano and violin at Abingdon Presbyterian Church, maintains a wedding music business, and serves on the board of Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy. Benjamin has performed with the Paramount Chamber Players, is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda and is in frequent demand as a performer and teacher.

Scott Gendel is a professional composer, vocal coach, and pianist living in Emory, Virginia. Recently, he recorded his piece “At Last” with soprano Camille Zamora and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, as part of “An AIDS Quilt Songbook: Sing For Hope,” a recording on Naxos and GPR Records benefiting amFAR, The American Foundation for AIDS Research. Scott’s music is published by Classical Vocal Reprints, ECS Publishing, and the Tuba/Euphonium Press. His art songs have been recorded on Albany Records and Naxos. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of Wisconsin in 2005, where he also designed and taught an undergraduate composition curriculum. Upcoming commissioned works include the song cycle “I’m Afraid It’s You” for tenor and piano, to be premiered by Brian Thorsett and Tracy Cowden at Virginia Tech this spring; "Advice to Those Like Me, With Hearts Like Kindling" for the Carnegie Hall debut of soprano Melody Moore; and “#dreamsongs,” a set of miniatures for choir, cello, and piano written for the Santa Clara University Choirs in Santa Clara, CA. As a pianist and vocal coach, Scott works regularly at Madison Opera in Wisconsin, as well as at The Barter Theatre, Opera North, and in collaboration with singers and instrumentalists in numerous recitals.

Tennessee based Swiss composer Maria A. Niederberger’s compositions feature a unique style that draws on the musical and cultural influences of her international life. Her works evoke a sense of fluidity, a shifting and flux between temporary solidity and its dissolution. Niederberger’s compositional output encompasses a range of instrumental, vocal, and orchestral works. They are performed in the USA, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Her most recent commission is for a Contemporary Music Ensemble, a work to be performed at the Festival Música Hoje in Curtiba, in Brazil in August 2015. She has won the international Miriam Gideon Prize for Musical Composition and the Olga Brose Valente Prize for Excellence in Musical Composition. Her work has been recognized and supported by institutions like the American Music Center, Pro Helvetia (the Swiss National Endowment for the Arts), the International Alliance for Women in Music, the Schindler Foundation, the University of California, and East Tennessee State University. Throughout her career, she has been commissioned to write for numerous international musicians and contemporary music ensembles. Niederberger earned her Ph.D. in Theory and Composition from Brandeis University, where she studied composition with Martin Boykan, Arthur Berger, and Allen Anderson. Further composition teachers included Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Martino at Harvard University. Currently, she serves as the Chair of the Department of Music at East Tennessee State University, where she teaches Theory and Composition.

A Tanzania-born Tennessean, Evelyn Pursley-Kopitzke is a neo-classical composer and lyricist whose extensive opus includes chamber, choral, art, and orchestral works. Her music has been heard from coast to coast and in Europe. She holds a graduate degree in composition and studied with Drs. Margarita Merriman, Barney Childs, and Kenneth Jacobs. She is co-founder of the Greater Tri-Cities Composers’ Consortium. She received top honors in the Carton Savage international “I Wage Peace” project. Selected recent works include “Adagio, Beyond the Silence,” Soprano and Orchestra; “Expectations,” Percussion Solo on 11 instruments; The Constellations, a Symphony; and four movements of Second Sight, a 2014 commission by The Paramount Chamber Players.

Each of the AAME Speakers Series events takes place at the Bristol Public Library, located at 701 Goode Street, Bristol, Virginia.

Theatre Bristol's "Rumpelstiltskin" Opens March 13

March 13

Theatre Bristol is proud to open its 50th anniversary season with the classic fairy tale "Rumpelstiltskin" on March 13 and running for three weekends in the ARTspace Theatre, 506 State Street, Bristol, TN.

Once upon a time there was a dwarf named Rumpels... wait, you probably know that part already. This reimagining of the classic fairy tale features two strong-willed sisters: Anya, shy and romantic, and Ingrid, outspoken and sensible. When their widowed mother is once again victim to the judgments of others, she tells a tiny lie — Anya can turn straw into gold. Soon, the story "spins" out of control when the King believes Anya is the reason their nation is out of money and demands she perform her special skill for the royal coffers. Mix in magical companions, mistaken identities, a short villain, and princess wannabes — is this a recipe for disaster? Or happily ever after?

It’s only fitting that the opening show of Theatre Bristol's golden season is a story about spinning gold.

It’s also fitting that directing the show will be long time Theatre Bristol veteran, Chris McVey. McVey has been a valuable friend to Theatre Bristol and the theatre community over the years as a talented and respected actor and director. Recently, McVey has directed Theatre Bristol’s 2013 production of “Anne of Green Gables, a New Musical” and 2014’s production of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

In the title role as Rumpelstiltskin is Hunter Johnson. Playing Anya Mueller is Rachel Locke, with Frau Mueller by Jane Bass, and Ingrid Meuller by Sara Harless. Jacob Alvis is King Rolfe. Minister North is played by Steve Baskett, and Minister South by Jerry Matthews. They are joined by Aunt Marta played by Lee Ann Hitch, Captain Tanner by Coy Owens, Sweeps by Abram Moore, Jughead by Rori Simmons, and Pansy by Olivia Stevens. The South sisters are played by Katelyn Briggs (Sarah), Gracie Cunningham (Senta), Gabrielle Harman (Sigrid), Asha Parker-Holloway (Sonja), and Alayna Walker (Sally). Guide is played by Sarah Countiss, Frau Gudhoff by Mary Johnson, Frau Kinder by Terri McCall, and Frau Blixen by Cherry Stewart. The soldiers are Aaron Blankenship, Cody Wendt, Caleb Hale and Austin Blake. John Mullins plays Corporal Dern. The servants are Emmersyn Hardy, Molly Johnson, Grace Johnson, Hope Oliver, Carolyn Hitch, Mary Hitch, and Lucy Tester.

Sarah McCall is assistant to director Chris McVey, and stage manager. Assistant stage manager is Sabrina Briggs and costumer is Coy Owens. Mike Musick is the producer.

This show opens Friday, March 13, and runs three weekends:
Fridays, March 13, 20, and 27 at 7:30 pm;
Saturdays, March 14, 21, and 28 at 7:30 pm; and
Sundays, March 15, 22, and 29 at 2:30 pm.

Tickets can be reserved for Rumpelstiltskin by calling the ticket line at 383-5979. Please leave a message with the date you would like to attend; the number of reservations needed for adults, seniors, and students; name to contact; and telephone number. The reservation will be confirmed with a call and tickets held at the door.

Founded in 1965, Theatre Bristol is the oldest continually running children’s theatre in northeast Tennessee and now celebrating its 50th season. Its Main Stage season consists of up to five productions. Some of its performances take place in the ARTspace, a multi-purpose, black box theatre which seats up to 120. Theatre Bristol is entirely volunteer run and we invite you to get involved.

For more information, visit the Theatre Bristol's website or Facebook page, contact Theatre Bristol at 423-383-5979, or email

The Paramount presents Red Molly

March 21

Red Molly will perform at the Paramount Center for the Arts Saturday, March 21st at 7:30pm.

About Red Molly
Americana powerhouse vocal trio Red Molly is known for their gorgeous harmonies, crisp musicianship, infectious songwriting, and warm, engaging stage presence. Laurie MacAllister (bass), Abbie Gardner (Dobro), and Molly Venter (guitar) weave together the threads of American music—from folk roots to bluegrass, from heartbreaking ballads to barn-burning honky tonk—as effortlessly as they blend their caramel voices into their signature soaring, crystalline three-part harmonies.

Organic musicianship, a respect for the traditions of American music, and an obvious love of crafting music together lend a joyous atmosphere to their legendary live performances, and a natural balance to their studio recordings.

Gracing stages from Denver to Denmark, from Australia to Austin, Red Molly is renowned for their live shows. Four-time featured artist at MerleFest, breakout stars at RockyGrass, and the darlings of the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, the "Mollies" bring audiences to their feet, whether it's on a grand festival stage or in an intimate concert hall.

Their latest CD, "The Red Album", realized on May 27, 2014, was featured in USA Today and CMT Edge. It debuted at #1 on the Folk DJ radio chart and is currently at #10 on the Americana Radio chart, and climbing.

"Femme Phenom! No root from the grand tree of music is left untouched — classic country heartbreak, undeniable swing, authentic folk, gospel rock with an edge, and Americana stomp. With smart production, a strong thread runs throughout the album and every note sung is upheld on cosmic harmony. Red Molly is unstoppable. Highly recommended."
-Mary Sue Twohy, SiriusXM Satellite Radio

Believe in Bristol Annual Downtown Showcase!

March 26

Downtown Bristol is gearing up for its Annual Downtown Showcase and you are invited to attend! At the Downtown Showcase, you will experience all the best the heart of our community has to offer. This year’s event will be an amazing evening featuring a signature dish from many of our downtown restaurants, live music, local arts and artists, a fashion show, and much more – all from our Historic Downtown District!

A live and silent auction will be held during the course of the evening with exclusive and interesting offerings!Bristol’s Downtown Showcase will be held on Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 6pmat the Foundation Event Facility at 620 State Street. Bristol, TN. Space is limited and interested attendees should call Believe in Bristol at 276-644-9700 or email to reserve tickets ($55 a person or $100 for two), though we will have some tickets for sale on the door. Bristol’s Downtown Showcase is a fundraiser for Believe in Bristol; all proceeds will benefit the Main Street Program and downtown revitalization efforts.

As a Certified Main Street Community, Downtown Bristol has more to offer every day – more activities, more shops, more homes, more offices and more life. Believe in Bristol is a nonprofit 501 ( c ) 3 organization composed of dedicated citizens, business owners, government officials and other friends of Bristol who recognize the role a vital downtown plays in preserving and furthering our communities identity, spirit and economy.

By donating to, volunteering with and/or becoming involved in Believe in Bristol, you can become an active part of Bristol’s ongoing success story. Thanks to the participation of our citizens, Downtown Bristol has been, and will continue to be, a source of pride and delight for the people of Tennessee and Virginia—because we BELIEVE IN BRISTOL!

Also Coming Up

More Upcoming Events »

Community Notice Board

Bristol Emergency food Pantry and Bristol Public Library Team Up to Help the Community

February 1

The recent cold and snowy weather has emptied the shelves of many of the area food pantries, leaving the neediest in our community hungry. To help rebuild these food resources the Bristol Emergency Food Pantry and the Bristol Public Library have teamed up to collect non-perishable food for the Emergency Food Pantry by granting the first ever fine amnesty program at the BPL.
Beginning Sunday, March 1st and running through Sunday, March 8th, the amnesty will allow people with overdue library items to return the items along with one can of food per item and their fines will be forgiven. For those with fines already accumulated, bring in one can of food and the BPL will match whatever you pay on your fines. This amnesty does not apply to materials already lost and paid for or to accounts which have been turned over to collection agencies. “Overdue items are a big problem for all libraries,” said Jud Barry, executive director of the Bristol Public Library. “The items missing are usually important items,” he said. “The main thing is to help our community deal with hunger, but it also allows the Library to get items back so we don't have to replace them, and to get our patrons back in good standing so they can continue to check out books and use other resources, including our computers," Barry said.

“Hunger is a major issue in our community. We look at the food donations as a way to help a segment of the community that desperately needs support. This is the first time we have ever done an amnesty. Hopefully it will also allow us to recover some of our library materials. Of course, if you don’t have fines or overdue items and you want to help the hungry, we would really appreciate your non-perishable food donations.”
The Bristol Emergency Food Pantry will have barrels for the collected cans. These will be located at the Circulation Desk of the Main Library at 701 Goode Street, Bristol, Virginia, and at the Avoca Branch Library on at 1550 Volunteer Parkway, Bristol, TN.
For more information, contact 276-821-6148.
Doris Stickley

Brainstorm with Bristol Office Supply

February 25

Bristol Office Supply has a ton of great supplies that will make collaborating a breeze! To vie the full ad click here.

Bristol Office Supply Tax Time Specials

Through March 6

Click here to view weekly specials from Bristol Office Supply.

Gearing Up for the Masters

March 3–8

The first of March is a reminder that the greatest golf tournament in the world is just around the corner. Wm. King Clothiers' Bobby Jones collection, inspired by the co-founder of Augusta National and The Masters tournament, is a true reflection of the gentleman himself. Indeed, true style will always endure.