Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Historic Downtown Bristol

Marker ID:  
Location: 810 State Street, Bristol, TN
County: Sullivan
Coordinates: N 36° 35.7    W 082° 11.218
  36.595    -82.18696666
Waymark: None


Historic Downtown Bristol
Bristol, Tennessee - Virginia
Birthplace of Country Music

Bristol has long been known as a hub for traditional mountain music. In the summer of 1927, Ralph Peer, a record producer from Victor Talking Machine Company, traveled to Bristol and set up a portable recording studio four blocks east of this location. During his twelve days in Bristol, Mr. Peer recorded seventy-six songs by nineteen different acts capturing a wide cross section of traditional Appalachian music, including old time dance tunes, ballads, gospel songs, blues, and others. These sessions also produced the first recordings of the Carter Family from nearby Maces Spring, Virginia - "the First Family of Country Music" - and Jimmie Rodgers - "the Father of Country Music."

Music Historians consider these recordings to be the beginnings of the commercial country music industry and in 1998 the United States Congress declared Bristol the "Birthplace of County Music."

While Peer's 1927 recordings stand as a milestone in the development of country music, the musical heritage of Bristol continued after those recordings. In the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, radio programs in Bristol, most notably WCBY's Farm and Fun Time, became popular and assisted in the development of a new genre of music - bluegrass.

Today, the rich musical heritage of Bristol remains vibrant. Bristol sits in the middle of Virginia's Heritage Music Trail; The Crooked Road, with the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance as a major venue along the trail. Dozens of musical venues in Bristol or nearby offer tradtitional Appalachian music on a regular year round basis with many of these concentrated in downtown Bristol.

The area in front of this mural has become a center for many of those community events. The stage in front of this mural plays host to a variety of weekly musical events from May through October. The area houses one of the main stages from the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion festival, held annually the third weekend of September. From April through October, a local Farmer's Market operated twice weekly. It is also a stop on the downtown audio walking tour.

For more information about our region's musical heritage, visit www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org


More information:
BCM: Birth Place of Country Music