A! Magazine for the Arts

Plan A Films Recreates Historic Recording Sessions in Bristol

December 8, 2015

BRISTOL, Tenn./Va. - Sundance Award-winning director Chusy Haney-Jardine and a crew from Plan A films, based in Asheville, North Carolina, are in Bristol filming local artists and actors participating in a documentary film celebrating the 1927 Bristol Sessions and the "Big Bang of Country Music."

The film, commissioned by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Virginia Tourism Corporation, is scheduled for release in spring 2016 and accompanies the May release of Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited CD project. The album features popular modern artists including Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow and Keb' Mo' performing classic songs from the original Bristol Sessions such as "Shall We Gather at the River," "Black Eyed Susie" and "Bury Me Beneath the Willow." Plan A Films was present during the recording of the Orthophonic Joy CD project and captured interviews with a number of the artists performing on the album. Those interviews will be included in the documentary.

In 1927 Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company placed an ad in a Bristol paper in order to recruit musicians to record music of the region for commercial sale. The Carter Family and Jimmy Rodgers were among the undiscovered artists who answered that call. The 1927 Bristol Sessions were the first recordings of Rodgers and the Carters and catapulted both acts to stardom. Johnny Cash once said, "these recordings in Bristol in 1927 are the single most important event in the history of country music."

As Ralph Peer had done for the 1927 Bristol Sessions, Plan A recruited the cast for the documentary by placing an ad in the local Bristol Herald Courier. More than 200 local musicians and actors turned out for the audition and dozens were chosen to help recreate the stories and events surrounding the original 1927 Bristol Sessions.

"This is an exciting time for Bristol," said Leah Ross, Executive Director of the Birthplace of Country Music, the non-profit parent organization of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, and WBCM Radio Bristol. "The whole town is abuzz with the documentary film crew in town, and the climate on set is very vibrant. Plan A has a great respect for the story and has an extraordinary vision. We are so grateful to our state tourism agencies and to Plan A for this gift. With our museum, the album, and this documentary we are inspiring and educating a new generation about the importance of Bristol's influence on the soundtrack of our lives."

For more information about the Birthplace of Country Music visit www.BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org.