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Bristol Rhythm 2012: The Numbers Are In

September 24, 2012

Closing out the record-breaking event on Sunday from the Alpha Natural Resources State Street Stage, Sam Bush proclaimed, "It is wonderful to be here in this historic place and I wish everyone in America could come and see it." That, in itself, is among the highest of compliments received over the course of the three-day Reunion.

"Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2012 was a complete success," says Birthplace of Country Music/Bristol Rhythm Executive Director Leah Ross. "The event ran smoothly, and we couldn't be happier with the turnout. Attendance was up eleven percent, hovering around fifty-thousand people."

That figure includes artists, volunteers, and ticket buyers.

The good Lord granted beautiful weather all weekend, and as the sun shone down on State Street the light cast paled in comparison to the smiling faces among festivarians. A flash mob, a marriage proposal (she said yes!), some surprise artist collaborations, Dr. Dog vocalist Toby Leaman leaping into the crowd from the Walling Distributing Piedmont Stage, and Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas from The Family" were but a few memorable moments during Bristol Rhythm 2012. Final count finds more than 180 bands actually filled the bill (874 artists total).

"Of all the artists and visitors I spoke with, everyone raved about Bristol's hospitality and how much they loved being part of our festival," says Ross. "E-mails keep pouring in from people all across the country who have told us how much they enjoyed it, and they want to come back next year. It doesn't get any better than that."

As Monday's rain washed away the last physical remnants of The Reunion, digital traces of the event continue to be shared and hashtagged on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from audience members, the festival, and King College Photography, who covered the event on social media. Bristol Rhythm's new app for iPhone and Android may have been an added component for web traffic.

"Visitors who downloaded our new app were not only able to navigate the festival, they could share to social media without ever leaving the app," says Director of Marketing, Charlene Baker. "It was a great asset to have, and we're already looking at ways we might enhance for next year."

Soon official photos will be downloaded to BristolRhythm.com from Virginia Intermont Photography, the official photographers of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. First-time collegiate partner ETSU Online provided live streaming from a number of stages during the festival on two separate channels. Reports were that the feed was clear and disruptions in signal were limited to two brief incidents for the entire weekend. At least one Alaskan viewer we know fondly appreciated a shout-out from The Black Lilies during their set!

Exclusive interviews collected during the festival from artists like Robert Earl Keen, Billy Joe Shaver and Pam Tillis will be displayed at the future Birthplace of Country Music Museum when it opens late summer 2014. Thanks to a partnership with Venture Productions and The Soundbox, who helped capture the interviews, we will also enjoy a Bristol Rhythm television special that will air this Sunday, September 30th, on WKPT-ABC at 2:00am and again at 6:00pm on the Tri-Cities local RTV channel.

The festival's efforts to Go Green was at the top of its game, thanks to the festival's volunteer "Green Pack", sponsored by Ball Corporation. With shopping carts donated by Kroger, folks from Reclaimed Resources and Revolution Curbside Recycling picked up everything from water bottles to pizza boxes. Keep Bristol Beautiful decorated containers that were strategically placed around the festival site, and the cities of Bristol, TN and Bristol, VA donated cardboard recycle containers. Tennessee High and Virginia High students were an integral part of the pick-up, and Necessary Oil Company made sure all the food grease from vendors didn't go into our sewer drains.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion wishes to thank the hundreds of volunteers who helped keep the festival running so smoothly. The City of Bristol, Virginia and the City of Bristol, Tennessee are a great support system and help with everything from security to clean-up. The festival is also grateful to its Sponsors, their generosity and support is key to keeping ticket costs at a minimum.

Festival planning for Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2013 is already under way, the dates are September 20-22.