More on the Bristol Sessions Revisited album

Orthophonic-Joy-logo1The Birthplace of Country Music Association in Bristol is offering an opportunity for acoustic artists and singers to appear on the highly-anticipated Orthophonic Joy album, alongside major country and bluegrass artists like Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Doyle Lawson, Marty Stuart and more.

Producer Carl Jackson has selected and recorded 15 of the 16 songs to be included on the album, which commemorates the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings. The final track is reserved for whomever is chosen through the Orthophonic Joy Music Contest, which is being managed on Facebook.

To enter, you must post a recording (audio or video) of yourself performing one of these four songs from the original Bristol sessions to the BCMA Facebook page.

  • The Storms Are On the Ocean – The Carter Family
  • Darling Cora – B.F. Shelton
  • I Am Bound For the Promised Land – Alfred Karnes
  • Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow Tree – The Carter Family

Four finalists will be chosen on July 18, along with one additional selected by Facebook likes. The winner will be announced on August 2.

Full contest details can be found on the BCMA web site.

In addition to all the talented artists involved in this project, the tourism departments of both Tennessee and Virginia are behind the effort. Bristol, which sits astride the border between the two states – and houses the BCMA – has seen an influx of music tourists who want to visit the site where country music was born, at least as a commercial entity. Virginia has also witnessed the influx of visitors along its Crooked Road Music Trail in the southwestern portion of the state. Both are interested in promoting the wealth of traditional music in the Appalachian region.

We spoke recently with Carl Jackson about the process he used to match the artists with the songs.

Carl Jackson in the studio working on Orthophonic Joy“I started by picking my favorite songs from the ’27 sessions. Then I made initial contact with several of my trusted and reliable ‘true artist’ friends, like Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, Marty Stuart, etc, hoping they would share the same enthusiasm I had for the idea of the project.

There were some natural fits, like Emmylou with Bury Me Beneath The Willow. I just knew it was the ‘right’ song for her, and she totally agreed. Vince specifically wanted to record a Jimmie Rodgers song, and since Jimmie only recorded two for the Sessions, we landed on The Soldier’s Sweetheart.

Dolly was a God thing. I initially thought I would have her sing The Storms Are On The Ocean, but when we met to discuss and pick a key for her song, I also mentioned When They Ring Those Golden Bells. She immediately said ‘That’s the one.’ She said she had sung that song her whole life and it was definitely the one she wanted to sing, and I have to tell you, her performance is mind boggling!

That opened up the door for Ashley Monroe to absolutely nail The Storms Are On The Ocean, and it makes me smile to think how she instantly texted me back when I sent her the track with ‘I HAVE TO SING THE STORMS ARE ON THE OCEAN!!!’… literally in caps with the exclamation points. Some things are just meant to be and I couldn’t be more pleased than to have Ashley be a part.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver do an amazing version of I’m Redeemed, because I thought it was so important to include an example of the old ‘shape note’ style of singing, and no one could pull that off better than Doyle.

There are many more great pairings, including The Shotgun Rubies (Val Storey, Delnora Reed, and Dani Flowers) doing I Am Resolved, The Church Sisters melting your heart with Where We’ll Never Grow Old, Marty Stuart cutting a huge path through Black Eyed Susie, etc… etc…

The list goes on with more surprises to follow, not to mention a final track to be recorded by the contest winner held in honor of how Ralph Peer originally lured talent to Bristol in 1927.”

The announcement last week of the album, officially titled Orthophonic Joy: 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited, has generated quite a buzz within the folk, country, bluegrass and Americana communities, each of which understands the importance of those original 1927 recordings.

As icing on the cake, Eddie Stubbs narrates the story of the original Bristol Sessions, written by Cindy Lovell, between the tracks.

This will be a good’n, folks.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.