The Jimmie Rodgers Entertainers

The most important event of the August 3, 1927, Bristol Sessions happened not on the second floor of the Taylor-Christian Hat Company building, where Ralph Peer had set up his portable Victor Talking Machine Company recording studio, but rather across town at Mrs. Pierce’s boarding house. Different parties involved had different recollections of what went … Continue reading The Jimmie Rodgers Entertainers

Give Me That Old-Time

Ralph Peer came to Bristol looking for traditional music that would have commercial potential on records—or, as he put it himself “old-time music.”  We know what he found—Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, above all—but was it what he was looking for?  What was he looking for, specifically, and why was he looking for it? … Continue reading Give Me That Old-Time

If Anyone Should Ask You Who Composed This Song

When Vince Gill covered “The Soldier’s Sweetheart” (1927), the first song Jimmie Rodgers had recorded at the Bristol Sessions, he made some significant changes to the lyrics. This wouldn’t be surprising—country artists often tweak the tunes or lyrics of the songs they sing, whether to reflect modern sensibilities, to make them fit more comfortably with … Continue reading If Anyone Should Ask You Who Composed This Song

If You’ve Got the Money: The Economics of the Bristol Sessions

The Bristol Sessions looms large in history for artistic reasons:  They launched the careers of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, whose music would define the parameters of country music for generations to come. However, the Sessions were not primarily an artistic exercise, but rather an economic one.  Ralph Peer wasn’t in Bristol looking for … Continue reading If You’ve Got the Money: The Economics of the Bristol Sessions