Where Does the Music Come From?

Most of our day today was spent in Bristol, TN:

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Today was moving day. We’ve spent six nights at Natural Tunnel State Park, and today it was time to move on. Our goal by the end of the day was to reach the Fancy Gap KOA campground. Google Maps said it was about 2.5 hours away to the east. Before we left, we had the big job of packing up the camper (in the heat), and, of course, using the park’s lovely swimming pool. It was past noon by the time we actually hit the road.

Between us and our final destination, however, was the “Birthplace of Country Music Museum” in Bristol, TN. If you know us, you know that a stop at a museum, any museum, will take us longer than the 2.5 hours that Google Maps said it would take us to get to Fancy Gap. This was no exception. By the time we left the museum it was nearly 5:00PM, and we were looking at a 7:00PM arrival in Fancy Gap.


I think it is probably boring to read about someone else’s visit to a museum, so I won’t write much about it. I will say that this is an amazing museum. We’ve been to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum. This one is as good as any of those, and better than most. I’ve already written that I do not like country music, so it may be somewhat of a surprise that I would enjoy a visit to the “Birthplace of Country Music.” Actually, the name of the museum is a bit of a misnomer. It might more appropriately be called the “Birthplace of American Roots Music.” That would be more appropriate, and a bit more ambiguous. “Roots” music is more broad than “country” music, and if you want a full definitions of these genres (and others), you might want to visit this museum.

Most of the museum is dedicated to providing background on those 1927 recording sessions where the Carter Family was first recorded. Here’s a surprising fact that I learned: 31 of the original 76 recordings were gospel songs! It turns out that quite a few preachers and gospel musicians responded to the advertisements and came out to record their praise and worship songs. Go gospel! Gospel music is not just a small niche within the broader range of mountain music.

One of the coolest parts of the museum was a display where they had instruments available for you to handle, and short instructional videos that you could watch to get a lesson on each of these instruments. Here’s E trying her hand on the banjo:


I worked on learning a song on the mandolin.


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