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
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
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
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?
I spent a chunk of last summer toying with the idea of staging a country-music festival this summer to mark the 90th anniversary of the Bristol Sessions, aka the Big Bang of Country Music. Sadly, Country 90 NYC (as it was provisionally called) didn’t come together; we’ll just have to wait for 2027 and Country … Continue reading 2 States, 12 Days and 90 Years: It’s Time for a Party