It’s easy enough to see why Jimmie Rodgers caught Ralph Peer’s eye in Bristol. A show-business veteran with the gift of the gab and a zest for self-promotion, Rodgers was a dapper dresser with a fine, flexible voice, brimming with self-confidence, and he had that yodel to set him apart from the crowd. The songs … Continue reading Straight from Clinch Mountain
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
By July 28, 1927, the Bristol Sessions were looking like a bit of a dud. Ralph Peer had been recording for three days, and though he’d heard some good music—most of it from Ernest Stoneman and his friends and family in various combinations—he hadn’t heard anything that sounded like a game-changer for Peer or for … Continue reading El Watson and the Ghost of Esley Riddle
The standard mythology about the Bristol Sessions has it that Ralph Peer drifted into Bristol on July 22, a stranger in town; that he placed an ad in the local paper and, as a result, hordes of aspiring country musicians came down from the hills to audition; and that among those hordes were Jimmie Rodgers … Continue reading Spreading the Word
Mention the Bristol Sessions, and anyone who’s visited the Country Music Hall of Fame (or, better yet, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol) will know what you’re talking about. After all, the sessions brought together three iconic members of the Hall of Fame at the beginning of their country careers: producer Ralph Peer, … Continue reading Pop Comes to Bristol
Today “the Bristol Sessions” is a portmanteau phrase in its own right, so much a given to country-music aficionados that it hardly seems necessary to ask questions such as “why were there sessions in Bristol?” or, more relevant to this discussion, “Why were the sessions in Bristol?” They didn’t have to be. In the 1910s … Continue reading Why Bristol?