bristolrhythmLast week, the Virginia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau recognized Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion Music Festival as the “Best Destination” in Virginia for 2009.

The prestigious Virgo Award is quite an honor for this popular regional music festival and the organizers and volunteers have prepared another lineup this year that will live up to the expectations of “bigger and better.”

Each September, Bristol’s downtown streets transforms into a mecca for Americana and Roots music fans with over 100 artists walking the streets and moving from stage to stage to present concert performances to the tens of thousands who attend the three day festival.

This week our developers are happy to launch a new website promoting the upcoming artists for this terrific festival highlighting the performers and events coming to East Tennessee on September 18-20th, 2009.

In the spirit of the great Southern music festivals like Merlefest and Floydfest, Bristol Rhythm and Roots is the festival of fall. Fans can expect to hear plenty of top-shelf talent including Patty Loveless, Gene Watson, Darrell Scott and John Cowan.

Loveless is one Nashville’s darling songwriters with a 20-year discography of great country songs. A Pikeville, KY native, her roots are nearby and with all the songs she’s written for the country jukebox, you’re certain to sing along. Her greatest accolades are honors that include Country Music’s Female Vocalist of the Year (two years in a row) and Album of the Year.

John Cowan performed at last year’s Racks By The Tracks in Kingsport and I still contend you won’t find a more amazing performer and vocalist.

As the founding member of New Grass Revival, John has taken lots of chances with his music over the years from rock to pop and blues and jazz. That could be the reason why he’s not walking away with a Grammy Award each year, but I’ve never met anyone who is not completely enchanted with his music.

Last year, my friend Dave Carter invited me to an in-studio performance with Darrell Scott.

That day my appreciation of music and poetry was enlightened as Scott sat with his father in the WETS studios in Johnson City. Together, they were dripping with artistry as they sang their original music before the Saturday afternoon live audience.

Scott has penned some of the most influential songs on the radio over the past few years and has a intimacy for the songwriter enhanced by his charity for organizing and participating in songwriting workshops all over the Southeast.

In addition to the big-gun performances, Bristol Rhythm and Roots has a special ability to bring in some of the best up-and-coming artists and a terrific showcase of local performers too.

These new artists always delight a young audience – evidence of all the college fans who flood the streets each year. Rhythm and Roots proves that you don’t have to just think about metal or rock and roll to attract youth – instead, you might say they have a special ability to attract the cool.

This year, you’ll be delighted with new artists that include Dr. Dog – a psychedelic band from Philly, Justin Townes Earle, the songwriter seed of Steve Earle and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

Isbell who hails from Muscle Shoals is one of the new renaissance songwriters supporting a new recording hailed by Spin Magazine as “”…Multiple tales of warm, lonely barrooms and the warm, lonely relationships they breed uncover new truths while traversing well-trod emotional terrain.” Rolling Stone Magazine cites Isbells new presence as “…not to be missed.”

There are plenty of other ground-breaking artists coming to the festival and coupled with the long list of local performers (see below), this festival promises to be one of the most diverse and entertaining festivals of the year.

In recognition of the current economic environment, the organizers of Bristol Rhythm and Roots have kept ticket prices the same as the were last year and we think they’re phenomenal. There are few festivals that offer a $15 day pass or $45 weekend pass to witness such incredible performances.

The fact this festival occurs in one of the most progressive downtown environments makes it that much more intriguing. Recently, the Troutdale Bistro opened downtown along with another fine local eatery called Machavelli’s and Macado’s opens in a brand new building on State Street later in the month.

September is still some time off, but the Rhythm and Roots committee is busy putting together monthly and weekly live performances in advance of the festival. Earlier in the year, The Harlow Experience and songwriter Martha Scanlan appeared at the Bristol Public Library and the first Border Bash (The 10th Anniversary) takes place on March 15th with songwriter/troubadour Porky LaForge will entertain fans right on the street that separates two great cities.

Watch the website for more details about weekly performances and the entire performer roster for the coming festival. You can purchase tickets and merchandise online too and stay tuned for more coming from Bristol – the Birthplace of Country Music.

Local Performers appearing at Bristol Rhythm and Roots;

Adam Larkey
Adam Lawson
Amazed by Grace
Annie Robinnette
Breaking Tradition
Chorus House
Dale Jett
East Tennessee Bluegrass
East Tennessee Children’s Choir
Ed Snodderly
Dehlia Low and Duty Free
Folk Soul Revival
Holston Mountain Boys
Janie Grey
Kaitlyn Baker
North Fork Switchgrass
Old Fat & Sloe
Peaces of Way
Randy Hixson
Reagan Boggs
Roan Mountain Hiltoppers
Roger Rasnake
Slow Motion Trio
Tennessee Borderline
Tennessee Skyline
The Harlow Experience
These Undowners
Wall of Pop
Wires and Wood