With her lovely rendition of “Under the Weeping Willow Tree,” Emmylou Harris pays tribute to “the big bang of country music.” Back in 1927, a producer from New Jersey visited the mountain town of Bristol, which straddles the Tennessee and Virginia border, and recorded some of the region’s finest musicians. The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, the Stoneman Family—they all got their start during these remarkable sessions.
“These recordings in Bristol in 1927,” Johnny Cash later said, “are the single most important event in the history of country music.”
A new album celebrates this turning point. On Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited (iTunes/Amazon), some of the industries biggest names, from Dolly Parton to Vince Gill, perform tunes that are now part of country music history.