November 2022 - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Rx for the Soul: A Bristol Rhythm Thanksgiving Playlist

Though BCM is in perpetual motion, we are grateful for a bit of calm in the months after a busy Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. The 2022 event was a very good festival year by all accounts – we celebrated the 95th anniversary of the 1927 Bristol Sessions, attendance was up, and the lineup was just stellar. We’re so appreciative to everyone who made the trip to State Street to be with us; we hope you had as great a time as we did and that your experience was both meaningful and memorable!

A collage of three photos depicting evening aerial scenes of the State Street Stage at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2022, packed with people.
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2022 and crowds on State Street. (L to R) Photo credit Johnson City Aerial Photography, Earl Neikirk, and Johnson City Aerial Photography.

As we have moved through fall – my favorite season of all – with its glorious red, gold, and amber colors of the changing trees, the crisp morning air, and vibrant, floating leaves that blanket everything below, it’s time to prepare for another busy holiday season and all its traditions. It’s also great time to reflect on all the things that went right in our collective lives this year and give thanks.

A collage of photos including a woman making a heart symbol with her hands, a photo of five women from different ethic backgrounds smiling at the camera, and a third photo of three children, two boys and a girl, enjoying the festival.
Images of music fans at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion 2022. (Clockwise L to R) Photos by Earl Neikirk, Cora Wagoner, and Earl Neikirk.

There are a few things I love most about music, including

1) How it brings people from all walks of life together in a way nothing else can

2) How favorite songs can lift our spirits and validate our emotions

3) How – faster than a heartbeat – a familiar song can nostalgically take you back to a time and place in your life of great significance.

The holidays can often be a source of anxiety for many of us for any number of reasons, and though I’m not a doctor, I’d like to prescribe something for you that may help soothe your soul and take the temperature down when things get a little overwhelming: Good music. You can take as much as you want and though symptoms may vary, the right combination of lyrics and melodies can change hearts and heal old wounds.

As a small gesture of gratitude to our festival goers and the amazing musicians we’ve hosted on our stages over the years, and in an effort to transmit cosmic gratitude and positive energy through the transformative power of music this Thanksgiving season, we’ve curated the Spotify playlist below of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion artists – packed with sentimentality and feel-good tunes that are guaranteed to set the mood for an amazing holiday season.  Thank you, friends, and may your blessings be bountiful.


*NOTE: Early bird weekend passes to Bristol Rhythm 2023 go on sale Black Friday for $100. Discount is good through Cyber Monday. Purchase online at

Radio Bristol Book Club: Voices Worth the Listening: Three Women in Appalachia

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club where readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together each month to celebrate and explore books inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage! We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:00 noon when we dig deep into the themes and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

Voices Worth the Listening: Three Women in Appalachia is a powerful look at the lives of three different women from different parts of Appalachia. This oral history paints a complex picture of the region through the unique yet relatable experiences of these interesting women. Their lives are influenced by issues such as race, class, drug culture, education, socioeconomic mobility, self-blame, dysfunctional family, religion, and perseverance, and their stories will resonate with the experiences of people in and outside of the region. This carefully crafted oral history faithfully recounts the lives of these women using their own words to expand the readers understanding of Appalachia and Appalachians.

Image of the book's cover, which shows a black-and-white photograph of what looks to be a rock and wooden beam structure with three blank framed rectangles (windows?) in the center.

Thomas Burton was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from David Lipscomb College before continuing his education at Vanderbilt University where he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature. He taught at East Tennessee State University from 1958 until his retirement in 1995. During his time at ETSU he directed the Appalachian-Scottish Studies Program and was appointed Professor Emeritus in 1996. Dr. Burton has conducted many oral interviews in the Appalachian region and published several books including The Serpent and the Spirit: Glenn Summerford‘s Story, Serpent-Handling Believers, and Beech Mountain Man: The Memoirs of Ronda Lee Hicks. He also transcribed and edited Rosie Hicks and Her Recipe Book. He excels at presenting oral histories in text in such a way that brings the reader back to the speaker.

An older white man with grey hair and a white beard. He is wearing a charcoal suit jacket or blazer over a light blue shirt, and he is standing at a wooden dais with a microphone.

Author Thomas Burton.

Please make plans to join us on Thursday, November 17 at 12:00pm (a week earlier than usual due to the Thanksgiving holiday the following week) for our discussion of Voices Worth the Listening: Three Women of Appalachia. You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library, so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time. The librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to exploring this book on-air, and if you have thoughts or questions about the book that you would like to share with our readers, you can email (Subject line: Radio Bristol Book Club) – your book insights might appear on air with us!

Looking ahead: Our book pick for December is The Star Fisher by Lawrence Yep; we’ll be discussing it on Thursday, December 22. Check out a full list of the books we have read in 2022 here, where you can also listen to archived shows. Our 2023 Radio Bristol Book Club list will be added to the show’s page soon!

* Top image: Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Image by James St. John and taken from Flickr

Erika Barker is Curatorial Manager at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and an avid reader.