90th anniversary Bristol Sessions symposium at BCM

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Virginia, is celebrating the upcoming 90th anniversary of the Bristol Sessions with a symposium focusing on the technology, impact, and legacy of the historic 1927 recording sessions at which Ralph Peer recorded artists such as the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Members of both the academic community and the general public alike are invited to take part in the symposium, which will be held Saturday, July 15 at 2:00 p.m.

Speakers at the symposium include several music scholars whose research has focused on the Bristol Sessions and early country music, including Ted Olson, a professor of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University who earned a Grammy nomination for his work on the liner notes for Bear Family Records’ Bristol Sessions box set, and Barry Mazor, a journalist who has written books on both Rodgers and Peer. A portion of the PBS documentary American Epic will also be screened, and the documentary’s producers will be in attendance for a question and answer session and discussion. American Epic explores the early years of recorded music in the United States, specifically focusing on the recording of regional music in the 1920s and 1930s. Ralph Peer II, along with his wife Liz Peer, will deliver the keynote address, discussing the impact of early country music recording sessions, particularly in regard to recording technology.

Additional events are scheduled throughout the rest of the summer, including a “Friends of 1927” concert featuring Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, and Jerry Salley on July 29, and the premiere of the film Born in Bristol, which includes historical reenactments of the recording sessions and present-day interviews with influential country artists, on August 4. The museum will also offer 90 cent admission between July 25 and July 30 in honor of the anniversary.

Tickets to Saturday’s symposium are $25 and can be purchased from the Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s website. For additional information about the symposium and other upcoming events celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Bristol Sessions, visit www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org.

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About the Author

John Curtis Goad

John Goad is a graduate of the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music program, with a Masters degree in both History and Appalachian Studies from ETSU.