BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion is back after a year-long hiatus and only one week away from bands taking the stage on the state line.
However, getting to this point has been a challenge in terms of retaining performers. Once committed headliners and acts have pulled out from the festival for a number of reasons.
Headliner Jason Isbell was one of the first to announce he wouldn’t be performing, citing COVID concerns and a few others followed suit in pulling out amid this pandemic.
Tanya Tucker, the latest to announce she won’t be at the festival, cited travel issues. Despite six total acts pulling out, organizers were quick to find four replacement acts to add to the lineup.
While these acts deciding not to perform is upsetting to event organizers, they understand the show must go on.
“We do respect our artists and the choices that they have but we think, not really thinking, we know we’re going to have a great festival,” said Birthplace of Country Music Exec. Director Leah Ross.
Refunds have been offered amid these acts pulling out and to address COVID concerns, but event officials said they haven’t received nearly as many requests for refunds as they thought and in fact, are still selling a number of tickets daily.
“I think we have that reputation of having those artists that you may not have heard of, but you’ll leave here following them so our lineup is still very strong,” said Ross.
She said acts canceling prior to the festival isn’t anything new, but COVID definitely adds a new aspect. Regardless, both event organizers and businesses feel confident it will be a successful weekend.
“Yes, there’s been some cancellations but there are still tons of great acts to come and see,” said the owner of Cranberry Lane and Southern Churn, Karen Hester.
Businesses along State Street told News Channel 11 they are thankful that organizers are doing what they can to replace acts and keep the festival at its full potential.
“Rhythm and Roots is critical for us. We welcome guests from all over the world and it is critical for our revenue at the stores,” said Hester.
Following a year of closures and no festivals, it’s a highly anticipated weekend along the State line.
“We rely heavily on this weekend to make our revenue goals for the whole year and we really missed it last year and we’re really hopeful for what the weekend has in store for us,” said Sarah Hull, owner of Serendipity.
Tickets for the 3-day music festival are still on sale at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol.