Bristol is a city that sits right on the border between Tennessee and Virginia. As you walk down main street, depending which side of the street you are on determines which states you are currently in.
But the thing that really put this town on the map was an event called The Bristol Sessions. In 1927 musicians from all around the country, were invited to Bristol to record their music onto a record. This technology was brand new and everyone was excited to be able to record their music which allowed them to share their music more widely with the world. Musicians of every genre of the time came, including a rising genre called ‘Hillbilly music’. For ten days musicians recorded their music, often combing with other musicians to create new groups and sounds. The Bristol Sessions forever changed the music industry. For the first time musicians could really make a name for themselves as they were able to share their music far and wide outside their community. To this day, Bristol maintains that passion for music and people from all over the world come to get a taste of those first few days of history being made.
We started off our day with a trip to the Blackbird Bakery. In an old, nondescript building on the corner is this bakery. But as soon as you step inside you are met with a beautiful open interior and a glass case full of the most delicious and enticing things to eat. They have a little bit of everything-from breakfast items like muffins, doughnuts, scones, and sticky rolls to beautiful desert bars, crème brulees, cheesecakes, tartes, eclairs, and so forth-anything that you could want for a sweet moment of joy.
After breakfast, we made our way out of town to Roan Mountain State Park for a morning of hiking. We drove by the Bristol Raceway where NASCAR fans tune in to watch their favorite drivers race their way to victory. For lunch we decided to keep with the raceway theme and we ate at Quaker Steak and Lube (a play on words from the car oil of Quaker State and Lube). The food was delicious and the car theming was actually pretty cool. It’s not every day that you can eat next to a Corvette.
The afternoon was spent walking along downtown and exploring the many different shops. I really loved all the building art everywhere and the tribute to gives to the area. We saw the old Paramount Theater that has seen it’s share of music stars in its hundred years. And we made our way through a park that had a stage set for anyone to pretend they are a music star. The park also features a beautiful memorial dedicated to the many people who have served in the military since the Revolutionary War.
At the end of main street, right next to the Bristol sign, is the train station. This beautiful building was made famous by the Bristol Sessions and all the musicians who stepped off the train knowing they were about to make history with their music. Now used as an event center, this train station marks the starting point of everything that made Bristol a place to visit.