The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) has been in the thick of planning its 2021 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival ever since the nonprofit announced the cancellation of its 20th anniversary event this year due to the global COVID-19 health crisis. Organizers say they are optimistic that new vaccines, now in development, will help the music, events, and tourism industries rebound after a long nine-month pause.
"We are hopeful that progress is being made and that by September of next year we will be past this very dark time," said BCM Executive Director Leah Ross, who recently took part in local trials for the vaccine. "For now, it is not business as usual for BCM. We will continue to take all necessary precautions in order to protect the health and safety of the public and our staff so we can stay strong as an organization and continue to move forward. Musicians want to get back to work, and we need to be here for them when they are ready to do so."
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is scheduled for September 10-12, 2021. Discounted weekend passes to the festival will go on sale Black Friday, November 27 at the lowest price they'll be all year - $90 (plus Bristol, Virginia admission tax and ticketing agent fees). BCM is offering an eight-month payment plan that will bring the cost of a weekend wristband to under $10 per month.
"We know how much this pandemic has hurt our fans and our community," added Ross. "We have evaluated ways to cut costs while making tickets as affordable as possible for anyone who wants to come to our festival. We will also have plenty of volunteer opportunities available in exchange for tickets."
Call outs to volunteers for the 2021 festival will be opened up in the summer of next year.
Many of the artists previously booked to perform in 2020 are back on the roster for 2021, including Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Tanya Tucker, Blackberry Smoke, Yola, The SteelDrivers, Rhonda Vincent, Hayes Carll, Jim Lauderdale, and regional sensation turned internationally touring artist and Grammy-nominee Amythyst Kiah.
Ross added that the organization has a few "heroes" to thank for keeping them going this year: "So many people chose to be part of our 2020 Festival Heroes campaign, and they are an important part to helping us through this. We owe them a tremendous about of gratitude for their generosity."
This year's Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion ticket holders were given the opportunity to take part in the 2020 Festival Heroes campaign, allowing 2020 ticket holders to donate their tickets back to the festival or make donations of $75 or more to the Festival Recovery Fund in return for a number of incentives, which included permanent recognition in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (BCM is the parent nonprofit of the museum, Bristol Rhythm, and WBCM Radio Bristol, which broadcasts from the museum).
Bristol Rhythm Festival Heroes will also receive 10% off tickets to the festival in 2021. Heroes will receive an email with a special code to take advangage of the discounts. In addition, 2020 ticket holders who chose to roll their tickets over to 2021 will receive new wristbands in the mail before Christmas.
Tickets to the the 20th anniversary of Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion will be sold at The Museum Store inside the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and online at BristolRhythm.com.