Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Birthplace of Country Music Museum The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and tells the story of the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions and it's lasting impact on the landscape of country music past, present, and future.
Our mission is to enhance Bristol's role in the birth and development of country music through Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, educational outreach and programming.
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The Birthplace of Country Music® Museum, in affiliation with the Smithsonian Institute, tells the story of our music heritage. From the Bristol Sessions and beyond, our region continues to influence music around the world. The museum embodies this accomplishment and promotes Bristol as the Birthplace of Country Music.

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If you haven't visited our current special exhibit Real Folk: Passing on Trades & Traditions Through the Virginia Folkli...
07/17/2020
Real Folk: A Few of My Favorite Things - Birthplace of Country Music

If you haven't visited our current special exhibit Real Folk: Passing on Trades & Traditions Through the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program, you're missing out! Check out today's blog post about some of the fascinating stories and stunning photographs from the exhibit, and then make a plan to come see it before it closes in August.

On March 6, the museum opened a special exhibit called Real Folk: Passing on Trades & Traditions Through the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program, in partnership with the Virginia Folklife Program. While the COVID-19 situation meant that for three months no one […]

Listen in to WBCM - Radio Bristol today at 11:00am for a fascinating interview with Master Quilter Sharon Tindall. Sharo...
07/16/2020

Listen in to WBCM - Radio Bristol today at 11:00am for a fascinating interview with Master Quilter Sharon Tindall. Sharon is featured in our current special exhibit Real Folk, and she will be talking about the craft of quilting, her work, and how quilt symbols may have been used by enslaved people for coded messages.

Today we're participating in #MuseumPets, where museum staff share their pets along with a connection to an artifact or ...
07/15/2020

Today we're participating in #MuseumPets, where museum staff share their pets along with a connection to an artifact or document in the collection. Today's connection is with our live radio station WBCM - Radio Bristol! Fitted out with vintage radio equipment from Bristol's WCYB Radio station of the 1940s and 1950s -- refurbished to modern digital standards on the inside -- Radio Bristol airs over 25 unique programs from the museum. These photographs of staff pets were created for a "Pets of WBCM" calendar we released in 2015.

07/13/2020
Lesley Riddle - "John Henry"

Today we honor the legacy of Lesley Riddle who died on July 13, 1980. Riddle is well-known for his association with The Carter Family – he went out on many “song-catching” trips with A. P., and Maybelle credited Riddle with teaching her a style of guitar picking where the index finger plays the melody while the thumb keeps the rhythm on the bass strings. He also taught The Carter Family such songs as “The Cannon Ball,” “I Know What It Means to Be Lonesome,” “Coal Miner Blues,” and “Let the Church Roll On.” Riddle moved to Rochester, New York, in 1942, and soon stopped performing. Years later in the 1960s, after hearing about Riddle from Maybelle, Mike Seeger sought him out and encouraged him to return to music. Riddle recorded a number of times with Seeger, and the resulting album, Step by Step—Lesley Riddle Meets The Carter Family, was released in 1993.

https://bit.ly/3foCacC

This video features Lesley Riddle's "John Henry" from the 2002 album "Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways" on Smithsonian Folkways. For more inf...

The wish we are sharing today reflects two things that we wholeheartedly agree with -- the desire for us to strive toget...
07/13/2020

The wish we are sharing today reflects two things that we wholeheartedly agree with -- the desire for us to strive together as a nation to truly live and share our ideals and MORE banjo music!

You too can join the conversation by submitting your own wish here: www.mywishforus.com.

#MyWishForUS #MadeByUS #MBUMonday

We are fortunate to have a wonderful variety of cultural hot spots in our area so we've decided to highlight a few! Toda...
07/10/2020

We are fortunate to have a wonderful variety of cultural hot spots in our area so we've decided to highlight a few! Today we are featuring William King Museum of Art in Abingdon, Virginia. William King shares temporary and traveling exhibits throughout the year, making it "never the same museum." This summer you can check out an exhibit on contemporary quilts (only through July 12!), works by Michelle Gagliano opening on July 30, art by D. R. Mullins through August 2, an exhibit exploring the intersection of art and politics opening August 20, and an exhibit celebrating Laura Copenhaver through September 13.

https://www.williamkingmuseum.org/

Tune into WBCM - Radio Bristol today at 11:00am for a fascinating interview with John Maeder, who participated in the Vi...
07/09/2020
Jack and Nannie Branch and John Maeder - Virginia Folklife Program

Tune into WBCM - Radio Bristol today at 11:00am for a fascinating interview with John Maeder, who participated in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program in 2006. Maeder was initially interested in learning about fiddle making from master artist Jack Branch, but ended up being drawn to the art of country ham curing, following in the footsteps of Branch and his wife Nannie.

There is probably no other traditional food more associated with Southwest Virginia than country ham. Unlike the more commonly known wet-cured ham, which is soaked in brine or injected with …

Have you seen Real Folk: Passing on Trades & Traditions through the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program, an exhibit...
07/08/2020

Have you seen Real Folk: Passing on Trades & Traditions through the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program, an exhibit created in partnership with the Virginia Folklife Program? If not, come see us and explore this striking and fascinating photographic exhibit -- you'll learn about the wonderful folk traditions, crafts, and trades being practiced and preserved throughout the state of Virginia, from banjo playing and dulcimer making to African American shout bands and balalaika playing to letterpress printing and Chickahominy dance, and much more! The exhibit is on display at the museum through August 2.

As Virginia and Tennessee reopens, locally we’re seeing more and more people in restaurants and shopping centers, and so...
07/07/2020

As Virginia and Tennessee reopens, locally we’re seeing more and more people in restaurants and shopping centers, and some local venues are starting to test the waters of hosting live music after a three-month drought. The opportunity for musicians to get back to work is a great thing, right? But is it safe?

In this edition of the BCM Blog, "Down With the Sickness: Protecting Our Local Live Music Culture," our Marketing Specialist Charlene Baker examines what some members of our music community are doing to keep fans and artists safe during the pandemic.
https://bit.ly/3gzJGSd

Museums engage a variety of audiences – students, scholars, adult visitors, and more – with fun, educational experiences...
07/06/2020

Museums engage a variety of audiences – students, scholars, adult visitors, and more – with fun, educational experiences. History is a powerful learning tool, and museums' greatest asset is our ability to inspire people to learn and explore more and to reach a deeper understanding of our past, present, and future! This wish says it all: https://bit.ly/3gvyx4R. You too can join the conversation by submitting your own wish here: www.mywishforus.com.

#MyWishForUS #MadeByUS #MBUMonday

If -- like the Peeps -- you are looking for something fun to do over the 4th of July weekend, look no further than the B...
07/03/2020

If -- like the Peeps -- you are looking for something fun to do over the 4th of July weekend, look no further than the Birthplace of Country Music Museum! There's lots to explore and enjoy from our permanent exhibits focused on the history and impact of the 1927 Bristol Sessions to videos of live performances to our special exhibit Real Folk.

We will be open our normal hours:
* Friday, 10am--6pm
* Saturday, 10am--6pm
* Sunday, 1--5pm
* Monday, closed

As a way of giving back to our health care workers for their bravery and compassion during these unprecedented times, we...
07/02/2020

As a way of giving back to our health care workers for their bravery and compassion during these unprecedented times, we are offering free admission to the museum for them and a guest through August 30. Take a break, stop by, and enjoy our exhibits knowing we are also practicing stringent social distancing and cleaning practices to keep you safe. Come see us! https://bit.ly/2BzqgxU

We've picked our July Radio Bristol Book Club book -- Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued ...
07/01/2020
Radio Bristol Book Club: Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam - Birthplace of Country Music

We've picked our July Radio Bristol Book Club book -- Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam -- and it's a doozy of a story! Pick up your copy at Bristol Public Library or a bookstore, and then listen to the book discussion and a chat with the author on WBCM - Radio Bristol on Thursday, July 23 at 11:00am. You can learn more about the book in today's BCM blog post:

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club! Each month, readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together to celebrate and explore one book inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage. We invite you to read along and then listen […]

In case you missed the opportunity to play along with the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion 30-Day Song Challenge, here's...
06/30/2020

In case you missed the opportunity to play along with the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion 30-Day Song Challenge, here's your chance! Just save the graphic below, pick a song that best fits the description each day, and post to your stories! Be sure and tag #bristolrhythm!

The festival compiled their own songs in this amazing playlist: https://spoti.fi/2Zn2QE7
#30DaySongChallenge
#30DayChallenge
#SongChallenge

Museums engage a variety of audiences – students, scholars, adult visitors, and more – with fun, educational experiences...
06/29/2020

Museums engage a variety of audiences – students, scholars, adult visitors, and more – with fun, educational experiences. And our greatest asset is our ability to inspire people of all ages to follow their curiosity and learn more! This wish says it all: https://bit.ly/2YFMnM3 Join the conversation and submit your own wish here: https://www.mywishforus.com/

06/25/2020
Which Vehicle Would You Like to Win? 2020 Bristol Sessions Super Raffle

Have you purchased your Bristol Sessions Super Raffle ticket yet? This year's prizes include a Ford Mustang, GMC Terrain, Toyota Tacoma or a Honda HRV! Which vehicle would you link to win?

Purchase your ticket today at bristolsessionssuperraffle.org/ticket

Special thanks to our local friends at Friendship Ford of Bristol, Crabtree Buick GMC, Toyota of Bristol and Bill Gatton Honda for working with us.

Join us tomorrow at 11:00am for Radio Bristol Book Club on WBCM - Radio Bristol. We'll be discussing Kimberly Brubaker B...
06/24/2020

Join us tomorrow at 11:00am for Radio Bristol Book Club on WBCM - Radio Bristol. We'll be discussing Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's novel Halfway to the Sky and sharing an interview with the author afterwards!

June Carter Cash - daughter of Maybelle Carter - was born on June 23, 1929 in Maces Spring, Virginia. June performed wit...
06/23/2020

June Carter Cash - daughter of Maybelle Carter - was born on June 23, 1929 in Maces Spring, Virginia. June performed with her mother and sisters, honing her musical talent and comedic skills, and later took to the stage with husband Johnny Cash. In 1999, she won a Grammy for her album “Press On,” and four years later, two more Grammys celebrated her work on the album “Wildwood Flower.”
Daughter Carlene shared many memories of her mother – and several artifacts – with us when we created our Carter Family special exhibit in 2014, including her mother’s beautifully embroidered and fringed cape, pictured on June here! Photograph courtesy of Harry Langdon.

#JuneCarterCash #BirthplaceOfCountryMusic

History is happening all around us, and we all have a role to play. What future do you want to see? Here's one of our wi...
06/22/2020
Leah's Wish For U.S.

History is happening all around us, and we all have a role to play. What future do you want to see? Here's one of our wishes. Now create your own: www.MyWishForUS.com.

#MyWishForUS #MadeByUS #MBUMonday

For music to bring us together and help us build meaningful connections.

Do you know the story of Juneteenth, and why it is celebrated? If not, the  Smithsonian National Museum of African Ameri...
06/19/2020
The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth

Do you know the story of Juneteenth, and why it is celebrated? If not, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has a couple of great blog posts about the origins of this day and its significance: https://s.si.edu/2BooaRm and https://s.si.edu/2YMJgkh. You can also check out this Minnesota Public Radio playlist of some wonderful songs by Black classical artists and composers: https://bit.ly/3dgsPBM.

Juneteenth is a monumental yet often overlooked event in our nation’s history. On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Galveston Bay, Texas, were notified by Union troops they, along with all other enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree.

A couple of weeks before the museum closed due to COVID-19, we opened a new special exhibit Real Folk: Passing on Trades...
06/18/2020

A couple of weeks before the museum closed due to COVID-19, we opened a new special exhibit Real Folk: Passing on Trades & Traditions through the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program -- not many people got to see it then, but it is still on display now and the perfect reason to stop by the museum!

Also, tune in to WBCM - Radio Bristol today at 11am to hear an interview with luthier and musician Chris Testerman about his time in the apprenticeship program.

Thanks to the Virginia Folklife Program for all their support of this exhibit!

Tune in to WBCM - Radio Bristol next Thursday for Radio Bristol Book Club: Halfway to the Sky! There's still time to pic...
06/17/2020

Tune in to WBCM - Radio Bristol next Thursday for Radio Bristol Book Club: Halfway to the Sky! There's still time to pick up a copy of the book for a nice read prior to the show. Please join us!

https://bit.ly/2YK3MBZ

06/16/2020
BCM Museum volunteer Gene Williams

Our volunteers have missed our visitors as much as we have! Just ask Gene Williams! We caught up with him earlier to ask some of the ways we are keeping our guests safe and here’s what he told us. Won't you help us show Gene some love (BTW: our volunteers are AMAZING.) ❤️❤️❤️

1927 Bristol Sessions artist Blind Alfred Reed was born on June 15, 1880. Check out today's "Pick 5" blog post to learn ...
06/15/2020
Pick 5: Songs of Blind Alfred Reed - Birthplace of Country Music

1927 Bristol Sessions artist Blind Alfred Reed was born on June 15, 1880. Check out today's "Pick 5" blog post to learn more about some of his songs:

For our “Pick 5” blog series, we ask members of the Radio Bristol team to pick five songs within a given theme – from heartsongs to murder ballads and everything in between! Once they pick their “5,” they get the […]

06/15/2020
My Wish For U.S.

The Birthplace of Country Music has signed on as a partner with Made By Us, an exciting, nationwide initiative designed to educate and engage the next generation to foreground history in civic life. Through Made By US, institutions will join forces to share a fuller story about the past, reach new audiences, and put history in the hands of young people as they shape the future.

My Wish for U.S. is the first in a series of experiments from Made By Us, a collaborative engine bringing history to younger generations. As we approach the ...

Yesterday -- June 13 -- was Lesley Riddle's birthday, and today we have a great blog post from Nancy Drum about his late...
06/14/2020
The Night I Met Lesley Riddle: June 14, 1974 - Birthplace of Country Music

Yesterday -- June 13 -- was Lesley Riddle's birthday, and today we have a great blog post from Nancy Drum about his later life in Rochester, NY. Nancy was only 14 years old when she met Riddle at the Gennesee Co-op Teahouse the day after his birthday, but it was the beginning of a true friendship and musical mentorship.

The first time I ever met Mr. Lesley Riddle and also, the first time I ever played guitar and sang with him, just happened to be the day after his 69th birthday. He was born on June 13, 1905, and […]

06/12/2020
Real Folk - Section 6 (6-11-2020)

Shout bands, North Indian Kathak dance, and Sephardic Ballad Singing are just a few of the traditions being studied by apprentices of the Virginia Folklife Program. Visit our special exhibit Real Folk: Passing on Trades & Traditions through the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program in person now that we are open, or check out the virtual tour! https://bit.ly/2MQqZgl

It's the day we've been waiting for! The museum reopens TODAY to welcome visitors! Also, tune in to WBCM - Radio Bristol...
06/11/2020

It's the day we've been waiting for! The museum reopens TODAY to welcome visitors!

Also, tune in to WBCM - Radio Bristol at 11am today to hear a fascinating interview with living history educator and Master Saltmaker Jim Bordwine as he tells us about the art of saltmaking, it’s importance in regional history, and his experience with his son Baron in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program.

https://bit.ly/2YsnodA

Virginia Folklife Program Virginia Humanities

06/10/2020
Birthplace of Country Music Museum Reoping

We are so excited to welcome guests to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum again! Come see us and rest assured that we are taking extra care to offer you a great experience and making your health and safety our main priority. For more information, visit our website: https://bit.ly/3cSpcC1

06/10/2020

Museum Press Conference - 10 am EST

We've got GOOD news! Catch it for yourself live right here on Facebook tomorrow morning at 10am EST!
06/09/2020

We've got GOOD news! Catch it for yourself live right here on Facebook tomorrow morning at 10am EST!

Interesting names are a staple of old-time and roots music, often using references to family ties, locations, activities...
06/09/2020

Interesting names are a staple of old-time and roots music, often using references to family ties, locations, activities or characteristics, and history – such as Fiddlin’ Cowan Powers, Bull Mountain Moonshiners, Bashful Brother Oswald, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Dale Watson & His Lonestars. You can make your own band name with our “band name generator” included on our Ernest Stoneman activity sheet -- and share it with us!

https://bit.ly/3hajZbY

Do you know about Elsie McWilliams? If not, you should! Elsie was Jimmie Rodgers' sister-in-law, and she co-wrote 39 of ...
06/08/2020

Do you know about Elsie McWilliams? If not, you should! Elsie was Jimmie Rodgers' sister-in-law, and she co-wrote 39 of his 111 songs, including "Waiting for the Train," "Anniversary Blue Yodel (Blue Yodel No. 7)," and "No Mo' Blues." Before she collaborated with him as a songwriter, Elsie played piano, accompanying silent movies at a cinema in Meridian, and later joining Rodgers in forming a small dance band in 1920. She was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979.

Address

101 Country Music Way
Bristol, VA
24201

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10:00 - 18:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 18:00
Thursday 10:00 - 18:00
Friday 10:00 - 18:00
Saturday 10:00 - 18:00
Sunday 13:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(423) 573-1927

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Our Story

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, tells the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings by the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest V. Stoneman, and others – recordings that were influential in shaping the sounds and practices of early commercial country music. The museum explores how this rich musical heritage lives on in today's music, and how music from our region continues to influence music around the world.

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Comments

I hope you get to open soon! Mackenzie is having withdrawals very badly! She was hoping for jam this month!
I want to say a huge thank you for your instructional materials on the website. I have shared a couple materials with my music students and they loved designing their own banjo and writing their own version of “Keep on the Sunny Side” Scotty Almany is awesome! 🎶🪕💯
I have a live show on Facebook, Thursdays, 10 am your time...Cowboy Coffee, last week I advertised your museum and talked about my ancestor, with Ralph Peer , the Hillbillies!!
My granddaughter loved making a banjo.
My grandchildren loved making banjos for their grandpas.
Here's a brand new interview with the grandson of Sara and A.P. Carter of the original Carter Family... Dale Jett.
I'll be visiting the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, VA this Thursday then drinking Big-e'ze root beer on tap at the Big-e'ze Studio Brew. Then on to Roanoke, VA to see Steve Forbert live on Friday then on to Durham, NC on Saturday to see Steve for a second night.
As Hurricane Florence Evacuees, we would just like to thank Bristol for being so welcoming and for giving us reasons to smile while we wait to return safely to our damaged homes, schools, and businesses. We can't thank you enough for the hospitality, love, and GREAT music to soothe our tired ol' traveling feet. We love you Bristol! #WilmingtonStrong #NCStrong
Why has Carter Stanley been removed but Ralph Stanley is still there ? Must not know much about "THE STANLEY BROTHERS"......Sad
They start young.
Learning to pick at a young age.
You have been featured on my latest travel post! Head to sweetsouthermrs.com to read all about what I consider the 12 Must-Do Summer Activities in the Tri-Cities Region! https://www.sweetsouthernmrs.com/12-must-do-summer-activities-in-the-tri-cities/