El Camino: Bristol, a border city

El Camino: Bristol, a border city
Photo by Teresa Puente

Bristol is not what you expect when you think of a border city.

You walk down the town center, or State Street, and it separates Virginia from Tennessee.

It's known as the birthplace of country music. In 1927, Victor Peer, a record producer with the Victor Talking Machine Company, set up a temporary recording studio. Over 12 days he recorded 76 songs by 19 artists, including the first recordings by Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.

In the town square on a summer night a local band played rock and pop hits in front of a mural of the country music history. Adults line danced with kids as they band played covers from the Georgia Satellites to Prince.

On every first and third Friday nights in summer they feature bands in a Border Bash. But the best time to catch music in Bristol is during the annual Rhythm and Roots festival in September.

If you go another time of year, you can check out the farmer's market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Local restaurants also feature farm to table meals.

And the locals say Hank Williams had his last meal in Bristol at the Burger Bar.

Walking down the street we found a $2 craft beer special at KP restaurant, 520 State St. Our waitress, Sara Banks, 29, said that Bristol businesses are working to improve the town.

"The town has undergone a revitalization over the last five years," she said.

Some of the local businesses have remodeled lofts above their businesses and there is an annual tour.

"Ya'll definitely should come back," she said.

We definitely would.

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