The Big Bang of Country Music
From The Bristol Sessions to Grand Ole Opry
5 Days | Spring | Summer | Fall
Starting At $Flexible Pricing
It was the most important event in the History of Country Music. In 1927 in the mountains of Virginia, a talent scout for the Victor Talking Machine Co spent 8 days making the first ever musical recordings. Known as the ‘Bristol Sessions’ that event has also been called “The Big Bang of Country Music,” bring your group and see Country’s origin at the hallowed Carter Family Fold, and its glory at the Grand Ole Opry.
- Customizable Comps
- Commissionable or Net Rates
- Luxury or First Class Hotels & Meals
- Motorcoach Transportation & Professional Tours Managers are available
Tour Tennessee will be happy to structure tour prices to match your needs. Just let us know what you want.
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 – Bristol, VA – Carter Family Fold – Today, travel to Bristol, VA. Check into your hotel for a two night stay. Dinner this evening is at a local restaurant. Following which your group has a 45 minute, country drive to Hiltons, VA for an evening at the Carter Family Fold. Dedicated to the First Family of Country Music, the legendary Carters (A.P. Sara and Maybelle), who were at the 1927 Bristol Session, and who have been given the greatest share of the credit for giving birth to commercial country music industry.
You will have time to visit the A.P. Carter Cabin, and the Music Center whose objective it is to promote the old-time music. You will see family artifacts and hear conversation from docents about them – including a famous son-in-law. But the highlight is the Carter Family Fold music show. In keeping with their traditional music style, no electrical instruments are allowed (it’s all acoustic). This is not your typical Country Music show, it’s old time joyful music with local folks who come every week and dance for the sheer joy of it. (D)
Day 2 – Gospel Brunch – Birthplace of Country Music – Front Porch Pickin’- It’s Sunday Morning in Southwestern Virginia and it begins with a Gospel Brunch at Heartwood. A modern artisan center in nearby Abingdon, Heartwood blends Appalachian heritage, local craftsmanship (arts) with culinary delights. You will enjoy live Gospel Music from local mountain musicians and a beautiful buffet filled with farm fresh Virginia foods. You will also time to shop for Virginia Mountain art and craft work. Sightseeing in Abingdon will include other local sights as time allows.
The afternoon features the brand new Birthplace of Country Music Museum. An affiliate of the Smithsonian this museum is dedicated to telling the story of the Bristol Sessions, an event that has become known as the “The Big Bang of Country Music,” perhaps the single greatest moment in recording history – it was the first commercially successful, music recording session. In 1927 a talent scout for the Victor Talking Machine Company installed a portable recording device (it still took four men had to carry it) in a hat factory on State Street in Bristol. He advertised, inviting musicians to record the music of the Appalachians. Among the first few were The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, both destined to be legends. Through this museum the authenticity of that single moment and this region’s rich music legacy sing loud and proud today.
After the museum you have free time in downtown Bristol where State Street separates Virginia from Tennessee. There are many quaint shops, antiques, boutique clothing stores, fine art and more. You can take pictures with the famous Bristol sign, stand in Two States at once, and buy yourself a milkshake at the Burger Bar (rumored to be the restaurant where Hank Williams ate his last meal).
This evening your group will enjoy a country dinner and a little Front Porch Pickin’. A traditional Appalachian evening with musicians coming together for no other reason than the joy of playing. It’s through these impromptu gatherings that much of the old-time country, gospel and bluegrass music has been preserved. This is a very casual night. (B.D)
Day 3 – Nashville – Johnny Cash Museum – Ryman – Wildhorse Saloon – This morning you leave the mountains of Southwest Virginia – following the route of many mountain musicians – to Nashville. You will spend two nights here in a first class hotel. Groups who want can upgrade to the Gaylord Opryland – ask us to price a better trip.
This afternoon you’ll find an immediate connection to Bristol, at the new Johnny Cash Museum. Johnny was, of course, that famous son-in-law, married to June Carter Cash the daughter of Mother Maybelle Carter. This Nashville museum features the largest and most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world. It chronicles the life of the “Man in Black” with interactive technology, artifacts, stage costumes, instruments and personal letters. You will walk away with a wonderful introspective on both Johnny and June.
Next on tour is the Ryman Auditorium, the “Mother Church of Country Music.” From 1943 to 1974 the Ryman was the home of The Grand Ole Opry. The legends of country music all played here, it’s a romantic and historic landmark that is often used today for concerts and movies. After this tour you’ll be able to say, you too were on the Ryman Stage.
Dinner this evening is just down the street at a restaurant that opened in 1994. On that first night country superstar Reba McEntire drove a herd of live cattle through the streets and past the front door of this watering hole that is known the world over as the Wildhorse Saloon. Home to exhilarating live entertainment and free line dancing, the Wildhorse is rooted deep in music traditions from local acts to national artists. Tonight you enjoy a great meal, a festive and fun music experience. But keep your eyes open all the time, you never know who might walk through the front door. (B,D)
Day 4 – Troubadour Sightseeing Tour – Hall of Fame – Grand Ole Opry – This morning you meet our Troubadour, a Nashville singer / songwriter who is also your tour guide. Your sightseeing tour begins with the downtown area where you learn about its colorful history and beautiful architecture. You drive by the world famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Honky Tonk Row, the original Ernest Tubb Record Shop and more. As you motor thru Music Row you learn about the recording industry. You will hear insight from your Troubadour about what it is like to be immersed in the Nashville music scene, both the struggles and the victories! This is an “Only in Nashville” kind of experience!
Then it’s off to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the keeper of priceless Country Music Treasures. Your self-guided tour is a walk through history, one that leads you from the earliest folk traditions to the music that thrills millions of fans today. Every tour ends in the Hall of Fame Rotunda, the never-ending Circle, and storied home of the inductees.
As time allows your group can explore the Downtown. Visit Ernest Tubbs, shop for Cowboy Boots, have a beer at Tootsies and soak in the atmosphere that is unique to Music City.
For dinner you’ll find that the most famous show in country music is now making its mark on Southern cuisine, in a new Nashville restaurant as uniquely entertaining as the Grand Ole Opry itself. Your dinner this evening is at the Backstage Grill, where country cooking and music define the menu.
Next, it’s showtime. For more than 85 years, country’s best performers have mesmerized audiences at the Grand Ole Opry – a continuously broadcast Live Radio Show. Each Opry features a variety of new stars, superstars and the legends of music. You’ll hear the very best in country with a little bluegrass and comedy added in. This is live and unrehearsed, you never see the same show twice.
The 1927 Bristol Sessions were the ‘Big Bang of Country Music’ and you visited the birthplace, the very spot where the explosion first sparked; now tonight you find yourself seated in the center of this ever expanding Musical Universe filled with brilliant lights and glorious lyrics. (B,D)
Day 5 – Departure – After breakfast this morning, you will depart for home. (B)