Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2013 – Saturday Update

Visitors tour the Birthplace of Country Music Cultural Heritage Center during the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion (9/21/13) - photo by Alane AnnoThe 2013 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion continued today, and not even the rain that soaked the festival for a few hours could dampen the enthusiasm. Bluegrass lovers knew they could find several top groups playing on various stages around Bristol, TN/VA today. Artists were invited to tour the Birthplace of Country Music Cultural Heritage Center, which is still under construction but sure to be a destination worth checking out when it’s completed. Multiple acts nominated for 2013 IBMA awards appeared on the Country Mural Stage today. Detour, Donna Ulisse, Breaking Grass, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, The Claire Lynch Band, Della Mae, The Travelin’ McCourys, The Masters of Bluegrass, and Balsam Range all delivered an outstanding day of entertainment.

It is almost impossible to boil a whole day of fantastic music down to a few sentences. All of the acts did a great job and the fans were thrilled. Notable today was a big dose of rain. In fact, about 6 hours worth. As the rain rolled in, Breaking Grass was burning up the stage with their performance. Several people who had not seen the band before were so impressed that they were still commenting on the band later in the evening. A great young band, to be sure.

Was it a coincidence that Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen followed Breaking Grass? I don’t know, but Frank and the guys kept applying the heat. As always, the guys had a great set. If you are a friend of Frank Solivan on Facebook you know he’s just finished building a new mandolin. He brought it along on this trip and played it for this set. It looked and sounded great. Well done, Frank!

Della Mae ramped up the energy as the temps cooled a bit in the evening. These young ladies, brought energy, outstanding musicianship, and beautiful harmonies to the stage. They were joined for one song (I only wish I could remember which one) by Jason Carter on fiddle, as he and Kimber Ludiker played double fiddle beautifully. Guitarist Courtney Hartman later joined The Travelin’ McCourys to help them put together an impressive performance later in the evening.

As might be expected, the largest crowd of the evening turned out for The Masters of Bluegrass. Although Bobby Osborne couldn’t make the show, Ronnie McCoury filled in on mandolin and vocals. If you haven’t had a chance to see this group together, you owe it to yourself to catch one of these shows. When you put J.D. Crowe, Bobby Hicks, Del McCoury and Jerry McCoury on the stage together, you get a dynamic that just doesn’t happen often. There was obviously some great music, but it was easy to tell that they J.D., Bobby, Del, Jerry and Ronnie were really having fun while creating this music for the appreciative crowd. Bobby Hicks even stepped up to the mic to sing a solo on a Felice Bryant song, We Could. How special was this set? Several of the bands that performed earlier in the day came back to watch The MOB do their set. Just check out Frank Solivan and the guys from Dirty Kitchen enjoying the show from front row seats.

Balsam Range performs under the bridge a the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion (9/21/13) - photo by Alane AnnoBalsam Range started their day much earlier when the rain drove them off of the Near Moore Stage and under a ramp to a parking garage. The fans followed them and the Balsam Range guys put together a great set while playing “under the bridge.” Who needs a stage? The Balsam Range guys wrapped up the day well after midnight ON the Country Mural Stage. Their rendition of One Way Out brought down the house, and the second day of the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion was in the books. It was a day to remember.

I owe a special thanks to Alane Anno of Alane Anno Photography for the quality photos today. Thanks for all the work, and for sharing, Alane!

On to Sunday!


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About the Author

Tim Carter

A native of Upper East Tennessee, Tim has a love and appreciation for bluegrass music that he enjoys sharing with others. Over the years he has helped produce a bluegrass concert series, hosted a bluegrass program on, and he continues to be a yearly volunteer with the popular Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion festival in Bristol, TN/VA. He is Associate Professor of Business Administration at King University in Bristol, TN and currently spends his Saturday mornings from 7AM-Noon hosting The Saturday Morning Bluegrass Show on AM1300 WMTN Radio in Morristown, TN. The station streams live on, and via the Tune-In radio app.