Bristol Rhythm & Roots opens

BRISTOL, Tenn./Va. - Thousands of music fans are filling the streets of downtown Bristol.

The 12th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion got underway around 5 p.m. Friday.

There's a lot of excitement in downtown Bristol. Annabelle's Curse was on the Piedmont Stage performing just after the festival opened.

There are so many artists lined up to play this weekend during the three-day event, and many will walk away with a brand-new fan base all thanks to the festival.

Months ahead of the third weekend in September, bands are lining up to play at the festival. Selecting who gets to play is a process given to the music committee, a group of volunteers who love listening to live music.

Charlene Baker is the director of marketing for Rhythm & Roots. "They're always out there researching and going to shows and a lot of times that's just how we find people," she explained. "Of course we read the trades, we find out who's hot."

A new band to this year's festival is Underhill Rose, a trio from Asheville, North Carolina. They say they're thrilled to be in Bristol. "I think we were invited to play at least six months ago," said one member of the band. "It's a real honor that we got to play and they actually asked us to play Border Bash first."

They describe their music as 'country soul,' and they're hoping to grow their fan base this weekend. "Any chance to meet new people and meet other artists, and it definitely gets us a chance to grow the enthusiasm for the band."

While it may be their first time here, there are some bands that keep coming back.

Others have gone on to make it big according to Charlene Baker. "The Avett Brothers were just right at that point at the time. The Carolina Chocolate Drops are a prime example. They were at one of the first festivals ever played," she said.
Baker says the music committee works hard to book up-and-coming acts and they work to get them back year after year. "The artists generally tell us they love the festival because of that downtown atmosphere," she said.

Keeping track of all the performers is not easy but this year you have some help. There's a newly-developed app for Rhythm & Roots. You can make a schedule and star some of your favorite artists -- that way you won't miss a show. Just search "Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion" in your phone's app store to download the free program.

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