Historic Downtown eNews  |  Archive

BRRR 2018 Lineup Revealed

April 18, 2018

The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) has announced the lineup for its 18th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, slated for September 21-23, 2018 in Historic Downtown Bristol, Tenn./VA. BCM released the lineup at a special press conference at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

“The Big Reveal” unmasked another eclectic—and ultimately satisfying—lineup of acts we know and love—some we’ve been dying to see, and others we can’t wait to discover for the first time. By design, Bristol Rhythm’s roster doesn’t look like anyone else’s, doesn’t follow trends, and continues to push boundaries that defy genre. The festival runs the gamut of edgy rock, alternative country, blues, honky-tonk, old time, bluegrass, and Americana, and relishes in the unexpected with under-the-radar acts that are destined for distinction.

“It’s important to us that Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion remains unique. We stay true to our mission, but continue to innovate with our lineup,” said Leah Ross, BCM Executive Director. “BCM is the parent nonprofit of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, and Radio Bristol. Younger audiences get excited about artists that are more progressive, but that leads them to engage with our more traditional acts and we hope that sparks an interest to seek out that history. After all, even Nirvana recorded a song from the 1927 Bristol Sessions.”

Headlining Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in 2018 is Grammy Award-winning sextet Old Crow Medicine Show. The Americana/old-time/folk hybrid was considered to be among those edgier and more progressive acts when they first performed at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion back in 2004 as a star-on-the-rise. It was the same year that Old Crow released the album O.C.M.S., which included the band’s signature anthem “Wagon Wheel.” 2004 was also a pivotal year for the Bristol Rhythm, as it was just starting to come into its own with a bigger budget, more stages, and a more ambitious lineup of crossover acts than in previous years. Old Crow Medicine Show is among the bands most requested to perform at Bristol Rhythm. 2018 marks the act’s third appearance at the festival, having last performed at the event in 2005.

Progressive jam band Railroad Earth also makes a Bristol Rhythm 2018 trifecta, the festival alumni performed in 2006 and 2011 to wide acclaim—another act on the most requested list.

Two-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, film composer, and multi-instrumentalist Taj Mahal is an American treasure who has been performing for more than 50 years, earning him the Lifetime Achievement for Performance Award at the 13th Annual Americana Honors and Awards in 2014. The groundbreaking artist reshaped the definition and scope of the blues by infusing elements of Caribbean, African, and South Pacific influences into his sound. This is the artist’s first appearance in Bristol, performing as the Taj Mahal Trio.

The SteelDrivers will make their fourth appearance at the festival this year—if history repeats, this will be one of the most attended sets by the bluegrass and Americana-loving crowd.

Following a headlining bill at last year’s RTE 23 Music Festival, the Marcus King Band will make its debut at Bristol Rhythm ’18. King’s self-declared “soul-influenced psychedelic southern rock” is high up on the list of acts you must see. The 21-year-old prodigy is making his rounds on national TV and at major festivals and venues across the country with a tasty horn section and the guitar prowess of a seasoned musician well beyond his years.

The Lone Star State will be well-represented at the festival this September, as legendary Texas swing icon Asleep at the Wheel share billing with alt-country pioneers Old 97’s and honky-tonk heroes Dale Watson & His Lonestars. Though Watson is a festival fave, this will be the inaugural performances for both Asleep at the Wheel and Old 97’s at Bristol Rhythm.

More rock-solid lineup additions include festival alumni The Waybacks and Scott Miller & the Commonwealth, two stellar cross-genre acts with a fond festival history, amazing stage presence, and talent for days.

Bristol Rhythm continues to surprise audiences with bookings that dig up the roots of traditional music and shoot the branches to the moon. The inclusion of radio-ready alternative groups like Twin Peaks, the Ruen Brothers, and British rocker Barns Courtney are three such acts for Gens X, Y, and Z.

Chris Hillman was one of the original members of The Byrds. Herb Pedersen began his career playing with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. The duo comes together with gypsy jazz pioneer John Jorgenson and Grammy-winner Mark Fain for a combination that crosses the boundaries of country-rock, bluegrass, honky-tonk, and Tex-Mex at Bristol Rhythm 2018.

Radio Bristol will host its monthly Farm and Fun Time live variety show at the festival again this year while also hosting surprise Radio Bristol Sessions at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum throughout the festival. Lineups for those sets will be announced this summer.

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum continue to organize Bristol Rhythm’s free Children’s Day event and will also host a special exhibit just for festival goers. Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Through Your Eyes will be on display at the museum during the festival and will featured juried photographs of the festival taken by fans during the event.

Vendor applications for this year are now closed, and more details about the festival’s annual 5k Road Race/2 Mile Fun Walk and other related festival events are soon to come.

More than 900 volunteers are needed to help with the festival. If you are interested in signing up for a shift, visit BristolRhythm.com to apply. Each volunteer will receive a single day pass for each shift they work.

Bristol, Tenn./VA is heralded as the birthplace of country music, home to the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings. The award-winning Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is a celebration of that great legacy and is renowned for its diverse headliners, established touring acts, up-and-coming artists, and some of the Appalachian regions finest across a wide variety of genres. It is also noted for its unique downtown setting along State Street, where Virginia and Tennessee meet to form the twin cities of Bristol. The festival hosts an estimated 40,000 attendees across 20 outdoor stages and indoor venues with more than 140 acts of live music over the course of the 3-day weekend.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion has also achieved a multitude of awards over the years including the most recent Bronze Grand Pinnacle from the International Festivals & Events Association. The festival also earned Top 20 Event/Best Festival from the Southeast Tourism Society and the Pinnacle for Special Events from the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association for its economic impact; the festival brings a return of $16 million to the region.

To view the entire 2018 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion artist lineup or to purchase weekend wristbands visit BristolRhythm.com. Weekend wristbands are $80 through April.