If you’re a border-straddler, Bristol is the place for you. The line dividing Tennessee and Virginia runs right down the middle of State Street. And since those legendary 1927 recording sessions where Ralph Peer recorded the Carter Family, Pop Stoneman and Jimmie Rodgers for the Victor Talking Machine Co., Bristol has been a key city in the journey of country music. And country music wouldn’t have become anything without fusion and fearless fence hopping.
For the past decade, the city of Bristol has burnished its reputation as a music town by hosting Rhythm & Roots Reunion, a magnificent three-day festival that’s become one of the prestige stages for Americana artistry. And this week, we tip our hat to Bristol with a lineup of artists who will be at the R&RR sometime between Sept. 16-18. (That’s NEXT WEEK. Get with it.) We’ll also welcome Christopher Perrin and Logan McCabe from the event’s music committee, and we’ll get to talk on stage about their vision and whose music they have on repeat these days. On top of it all, we’re taking the newly logofied and newly christened EM-50 assault video van to Bristol for a long weekend of webcasting and sharing the scene.
One of the most unique attractions of the weekend will be a long-hoped-for reunion of the everybodyfields, a scene-making band from the Knoxville/Johnson City, TN area that thrived between 2004 and the very last night of 2008, when they made a New Year’s Eve swan song. Now, this beloved group of singer/songwriters Jill Andrews and Sam Quinn with guitarist/keyboardist Josh Oliver, steel man Tom Pryor and drummer Jamie Cook are planning just two reunion shows: Music City Roots and Bristol Rhythm & Roots. Not that they’re rootsy or anything.
“Sam and I met when we were 19 and we were really close friends,” says Jill. “He’d been playing guitar for seven years and was already a songwriter, and when I met him, I was not.” Jill nurtured her newfound love of songwriting through her friendship with Sam. “He was kind of a mentor to me for a while whether he wanted to be or not! So that’s kind of how the band got going.”
Bands don’t last forever and the members are all doing interesting things and supporting each other. We seem to host former everybodyfields on our show every few weeks. Tom and Jamie are in the Black Lillies. Sam and Jill are both fascinating solo artists with superb albums out. Josh recently put out a solo CD, which I haven’t heard. We’ve even enjoyed a set by Megan McCormick, who was part of the band for a while and who rocks out a little harder now. Anyway, it will be exciting to be a little part of East Tennessee music history as we get a chance to hear Sam and Jill’s voices entwined once again, as they make their moody and graceful sound.
Leading up to that show-closing set, we’ve got an exceptional lineup. Acoustic guitar master Wayne Henderson will open things up for us. Todd Grebe, one of the talented members of Barefoot, will show us his own band Cold Country with fellow Barefooter Angela Oudean. Shotgun Party returns with their fiery, feisty, feminine fiddle attack. And the Thrift Store Cowboys bring textured and smart alt-country from their Lubbock base.
So once again, come out and join us at the Loveless Barn or turn on Lightning 100 for a dazzling audio experience – or, if you’re out of Nashville, visit our website for the live video stream of the show as it happens. It’ll get you keyed up to go to Bristol for their aptly named festival. It will be a reunion after all.