This also ran on The Huffington Post blog here.
Head down The Crooked Road for the 2016 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion on Sept. 16-18, 2016, in Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee.
This weekend’s musical lineup offers a wide variety of roots, Americana, bluegrass and old country acts including Country Music Hall of Famer Bobby Bare (replacing Loretta Lynn), Buddy Guy, Indigo Girls, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Steep Canyon Rangers, Anderson East, Hayes Carll, Balsam Range, Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, Mipso, Darrell Scott, Marty Stuart, Keller Williams and many more. One of the most affordable music festivals around, tickets range from $40 to $100.
Whether you’re a veteran or you’ve never been, following are just five reasons you should head out to the Birthplace of Country Music, designated by Congress in 1988.
- Scythian — MerleFest fan favorite Scythian has been a regular at BRRR since 2007 as well. I dare you to try to sit through a set by this D.C.-based Celtic rock band that features three classically trained musicians and siblings, Alexander, Danylo and Larissa Fedoryka. “I love this festival because the lineup is amazing with something for everyone in a truly unique setting. Since the theme is broader you can hear a wider range of music. There’s literally something for everybody at BRRR,” says Danylo Fedoryka.
- Dead Horses — If you’re a fan of American roots music – Mandolin Orange or Elephant Revival, for example – you’re in for a treat. Make sure you catch a set by this Milwaukee-based folk trio with a unique sound and even more insightful lyrics.
I can’t stop listening to their new album, “Cartoon Moon,” set for release on Sept. 30, which features producer Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo) with Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers) on banjo.
- Mipso — It’s no surprise that one of the members of the Appalachian-influenced bluegrass string quartet, Joseph Terrell, was a winner in MerleFest’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest in 2014. After you hear this Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based band play live, you’ll be heading to the merch tent to buy their latest album, “Old Time Reverie.”
- Front Country — I had the pleasure of catching this California-based group play at the 2015 IBMA’s World of Bluegrass. “What started as a group of friends playing bluegrass in San Francisco’s Mission District has morphed into a touring powerhouse of song and sound, transcending their humble stringband roots,” states the band’s website. I couldn’t have said it better. Check them out and let me know what YOU think.
- Annabelle’s Curse — This five-piece alternative folk band whose members hail from Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia, doesn’t seem to be cursed as much as blessed with talent. And don’t mistake them for a “local” band. Voted by fans as runner-up in the “On the Rise” band contest at FloydFest in 2014, this band poised for its national debut and you can say you “saw them when” at BRRR.
For the uninitiated, the historic town of Bristol straddles Tennessee and Virginia. Four blocks of downtown are shut down for this three-day event that features 22 stages of live music including 16 indoor venues, a dance tent and children’s stage on Saturday that’s free for families. There are a variety of camping and hotel lodging options.
And while you’re in town, be sure to check out the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.