Due in part to the pivotal town of Bristol, northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia have long been known as one of the locations where traditional country music was founded. Bristol, the location of the 1927 recording sessions which put The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and others on the map, has been honored with the name “Birthplace of Country Music,” and multiple organizations throughout the region continually work to support this heritage. One of those organizations is the Appalachian Cultural Music Association, or ACMA. This group has recently been the subject of a documentary film, Echoes of the Blue Ridge, which relates the history of both the organization and the region’s music.
Echoes of the Blue Ridge offers a mixture of interviews, musical clips, and images detailing important musical figures and venues from the region, as well as the ACMA’s role in promoting traditional music. A wide array of musicians were interviewed from the project, including Clinch Mountain Boy James Alan Shelton, Hunter Berry of Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, and Larry Sparks, in addition to regional groups such as the New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters and Appalachian Trail. It is interesting to see just how many artists either hail from or have been influenced by this region.
The documentary also provides viewers with information about the ACMA’s numerous contributions to the musical community of the Tri-Cities, such as the weekly Pickin’ Porch show, which features both local and nationally touring musicians, and the Mountain Music Museum, which offers visitors a chance to see photographs, clothing, instruments, and more from many historic figures in traditional Appalachian music. Also included is an interesting look at the Carter Family Fold, with interview clips from Rita Forrester, the granddaughter of AP and Sara Carter who now organizes the weekly concerts at the Fold.
While the documentary shows clips from the Pickin’ Porch and Mountain Music Museum at their longtime location at the Bristol Mall, they have now moved just down the road to Bristol’s State Street. The Pickin’ Porch will have a new home in the Foundation Event Facility at 620 State Street, while the Mountain Music Museum will open next door at 626 State Street. The Pickin’ Porch will also move from Thursday to Monday nights, with the first concert being held January 14, 2013.
The DVD includes two cuts of the documentary: 40-minute and 90-minute. The longer version offers somewhat more in-depth interviews which viewers who are especially interested in the role the ACMA has played in the music scene of the Tri-Cities and surrounding area may want to check out. Echoes of the Blue Ridge was produced by Chris Rector, a Kingsport, TN-based photographer and videographer. Music for the film was provided by regional old-time favorites the Whitetop Mountain Band.
For more information on the Appalachian Cultural Music Association and their new DVD, visit their website.
DVDs can be purchased by contacting the ACMA, with schools and libraries having the option to receive a free copy.