A soldier stands frozen in time at the war memorial outside the Loudon County courthouse.
Years ago, I was the host of West Virginia Public Radio’s “Down Home Music Show.” The program focused on the music of the Appalachians and it was then that I learned about Bristol, the city that not only straddles the Tennessee/Virginia border, but is also the congressionally-designated Birthplace of Country Music.
On a return trip, a free handout (MP3 audio clips also available) from the Bristol Chamber of Commerce directed me to a five-block area in the city’s downtown. A monument on State Street commemorates the recordings made here in 1927 by the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and other performers that are said to have launched a new musical genre.
Among the other locations I walked by, some in Tennessee, others in Virginia, was the site of WCYB, home of “Farm and Funtime,” a mid-20th-century radio (and later television) program that hosted such notables as Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Stanley Brothers. Doc Watson and Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys have cut albums at the nearby Classic Recording Studio, established by a descendant of the Carter Family. I plan to return sometime in the future to visit the Birthplace of Country Music Museum/Cultural Heritage Center.
- GREENVILLE 423-638-4111, greenecountypartnership.com
- Eat: Brumley’s in the General Morgan Inn & Conference Center; Tannery Downtown offers breads, soups and salads for lunch
- Stay: Tanasi Hill B&B
- See: A film or performance at the Capitol Theatre; stop in the James-Ben Studio & Art Center
- JONESBOROUGH 423-753-1030, jonesboroughtn.org
- Eat: Lunch at Main Street Cafe’s traditional with a twist; Bistro 105 offers French dinner entrees
- Stay: Febuary Hill B&B
- See: The International Storytelling Center; live Music on the Square, May through October
- LOUDON 865-458-2067, loudoncountychamber.com
- Eat: At Mark’s Diner, in a 1908 building; lunch at Memories; dessert at the Tic Toc Ice Cream Parlor
- Stay: The Carmichael Inn, in a restored stagecoach depot
- See: A concert at the c. 1911 Lyric Theatre; gift shop at Laurel Wreaths
KEY TRAVEL INFO
- State travel information. 800-462-8366, state.tn.us/tourdev
- State parks. 888-867-2757, state.tn.us/environment/parks
- State B&B association. 866-669-5728, tennessee-inns.com
- Cherokee National Forest. 423-476-9700, fs.fed.us/r8/cherokee
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 865-436-1200, nps.gov/grsm
- Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. 606-248-2817,nps.gov/cuga
- Northeast Tennessee. 423-913-5550, 800-468-6882, netta.com
- Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association. 423-424-4267, southeasttennessee.com
- Mountain Weather. 865-637-7700