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Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion has plenty of familiar and famous faces

September 15, 2019

BY TOM NETHERLAND | SPECIAL TO THE HERALD COURIER Sept. 15, 2019

Somewhere down on State Street awaken the ghosts of Jimmie Rodgers and Maybelle Carter astride alongside A.P. and Sara Carter.

Look close. Listen closer. Feel their presence most profoundly in the coming days and whirlwind nights.

Translated, that which began with The Singing Brakeman and the first family of country music continues next weekend. Make welcome the 19th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion to downtown Bristol. Mark it down: Friday, Sept. 20, through Sunday, Sept. 22. A carnival of music beckons, the likes of which brands as Bristol in all of its contours and crevices.

“It’s so unique,” said Jim Lauderdale, who makes his umpteenth return appearance at Rhythm & Roots on Saturday and Sunday. “There’s something special about Bristol. It’s a major music place.”

For Rodgers and the Carters, Bristol equated to Robert Johnson’s crossroads that were to come, sans devil. Magic spun as if from the ground up, anointed them, and created history during the 1927 Bristol Sessions.

Their music spread worldwide; the magic remained, bound in Bristol.

Ladies and gents, may Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion begin.

WYNONNA

Cool was the night, hot the temperature.

When Wynonna Judd made her Paramount Bristol debut in March 2018, hits flowed like the reddened locks of her cascading hair. Love extended to and then from her.

“Bristol,” Wynonna said, “you know how to make a gal feel great!”

Wynonna with her band The Big Noise return to Bristol to make her Rhythm & Roots debut on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. on the Piedmont stage. From her bulging knapsack of songs exudes equal parts star power and verve as if brewed from a pot labeled vim and vinegar.

Yeah, Wynonna’s a handful, on record as on stage. Then again, she overflows an ability to touch with lyrics and performance, as when she turned a microphone to the audience that night at the Paramount. They sang “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)” to her.

“You still know the words,” she said, moved in the moment. “Man, that still touched me, too.