The Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s resolution for 2021? To get folks talking, thinking, and reading in the New Year with programming that engages as it entertains. Better yet, participants can enjoy this programming from the comfort of their homes — at no cost.
The award-winning museum, located in Historic Downtown Bristol, Virginia, is once again utilizing its affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution to kick off a new virtual speaker series set to debut on Tuesday, January 12 at 7:00 p.m. EST featuring guest speaker Paula Johnson, Food History Curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH).
“Our new Virtual Speaker Series is a monthly program where we will feature a variety of different speakers, exploring the work of museums, musicians and music history, regional issues and stories, Appalachian culture, and more!” said Head Curator Rene Rodgers. “We are especially excited to be able to leverage our Smithsonian affiliation in order to host Paula Johnson as our first speaker on January 12, and we know that her focus on food and foodways is one that our community and audiences will really connect with and enjoy. It is going to be a great way to kick off the new year and this new museum program.”
The conversation will center around the power of food as a lens for exploring history and the robust food history offerings at NMAH, including Julia Child’s home kitchen, programs on food justice, and live cooking demonstrations that feature chefs, home cooks, and recipes from regional cuisines across the country. Participants will learn how what’s on our plates relates to many strands of economic, political, technological, and social history. January’s Virtual Speaker Series featuring Paul Johnson is free and open to the public, but you must pre-register online to participate. The program is part of a partnership with the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative. Future speakers include WBCM Radio Bristol on-air personality and musician Bailey George discussing the multi-faceted personas of honky tonk women (coming in February), and Alona Norwood and William Isom II from Black in Appalachia talking about their work to record and amplify Black history and stories from the Appalachian region (in March).
To register for the Virtual Speaker Series, go to the Birthplace of Country Music’s Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.
Virtual Story Time, a new program for children and families, will also become regularly-scheduled programming starting this month. One or two children’s books will be featured in each session, with songs and sounds, learning sheets, or other related activities kids can enjoy from home.
Though Virtual Story Time is primarily geared toward children ages 3-6, it may be enjoyed by older kids and adults as a fun activity to do together. Each story has been chosen to relate to museum content, cultural heritage, and Appalachian culture. Each show will premiere on the Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s social media channels twice monthly — usually on the 1st and 3rd Friday except in January — and on the Virtual Story Time web page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org/bcm-at-home. This month’s dates are Friday, January 15 and Friday, January 29. Reading aloud is a major factor in advancing early literacy skills in young children, helps in language development, and opens up children’s imagination.
Additionally, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum has rolled out its 2021 roster of great literature to be discussed on its Radio Bristol Book Club program; the show airs on the 4th Thursday of each month at 11:00 a.m. EST on WBCM Radio Bristol, which broadcasts from the museum. Unlike your typical book club, Radio Bristol’s doesn’t meet in person. The program, in partnership with the Bristol Public Library, encourages its audience to read along independently and tune in to the show.
At-home readers are also encouraged to send in questions or share their thoughts about each book by emailing email@example.com.
Those who do may hear their questions and opinions on-air! Books are chosen to relate to the museum’s content, music history, a current special exhibit or programming, or stories derived from the Appalachian region. Related music is often incorporated into the show and, when possible, an interview with the author is included. The first Radio Book Club “meeting” in 2021 will air on January 28 with a discussion about the biography I Saw the Light: The Story of Hank Williams by Colin Escott.
2021 Radio Bristol Book
I Saw the Light: The Story of Hank Williams
by Colin Escott
The Devil’s Dream
by Lee Smith
Where the Dead Sit Talking
by Brandon Hobson
Affrilachian Tales: Folktales from the African-American Appalachian Tradition
by Lyn Ford
by Robert Gipe
Satan is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers
by Charlie Louvin
Sharyn McCrumb’s Appalachia
by Sharyn McCrumb
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song
by David Laskey and Frank M. Young
The Moon-Eyed People: Folk Tales from Welsh America
by Peter Stevenson
Hear My Sad Story: The True Tales That Inspired “Stagolee,” “John Henry,” and Other Traditional American Folk Songs
by Richard Polenberg
Songteller: My Life in Lyrics
by Dolly Parton w/ Robert K. Oermann
To access and listen to archived Radio Bristol Book Club programs, visit the show’s webpage at ListenRadioBristol.org.
The Radio Bristol Book Club can be accessed by tuning in to 100.1 FM in the Bristol area; it also streams live on ListenRadioBristol.org, and through the station’s free mobile app.
The 20th anniversary of the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival has been re-scheduled for September 10-12, 2021 after being cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Tanya Tucker, Blackberry Smoke, Yola, The Steeldrivers, Rhonda Vincent, Hayes Carll, Jim Lauderdale, Amythyst Kiah and more are scheduled to perform at the award-winning event which draws more than 40,000 people to Downtown Bristol each year.
Weekend passes are on sale now at BristolRhythm.com with a convenient payment plan option.