Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Birthplace of Country Music

Nashville? Well no. Bristol

Yes, Nashville has the Grand Ole Opry and the big name recording artists. But Bristol, the town that straddles the Tennessee/Virginia border, stakes its claim as the birthplace of country music. And lately Bristol’s been working hard at capitalizing on that fact.

Victor Talking Machine Co. was the first record producer to catch wind of the (to them!) fledging “hillbilly” music scene (it wasn’t called country music in the 1920s). In the spring of 1927 they released a single by Delaney, AR fiddle player Eck Robertson. On the heels of its success, producer Ralph Peer spearheaded the push to tap the market for rural mountain music, and in July and August he set about to discover and develop the area’s musical talent.

“In no section of the south have the pre-war melodies and old mountaineer songs been better preserved than in the mountains of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, experts declare, and it was primarily for this reason that the Victrola company chose Bristol as its operating base.” — Bristol Herald Courier, July 24, 1927.

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