2018 Rhythm & Roots Reunion lineup revealed

J. H. Osborne • Apr 17, 2018 at 10:03 PM

BRISTOL, Va. — The Birthplace of Country Music announced the lineup for its 18th annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, slated for September 21-23.

Headlining the celebration is Grammy Award-winning sextet Old Crow Medicine Show, which event organizers say is one of the most-requested acts from Rhythm & Roots fans. The Americana/old-time/folk hybrid was considered to be among those edgier and more progressive acts when it first performed at the festival in 2004 as a star on the rise. It was the same year that Old Crow released the album “O.C.M.S.,” which included the band’s signature anthem, “Wagon Wheel.”

That year also was pivotal for the festival itself, organizers said during the lineup reveal, as it was just starting to come into its own with a bigger budget, more stages and a more ambitious lineup of crossover acts than in previous years. This will be Old Crow Medicine Show’s third appearance at the festival, having last performed at the event in 2005. Progressive jam band Railroad Earth also makes a Bristol Rhythm 2018 trifecta. The group performed at the event in 2006 and 2011 to wide acclaim and is another act on the most-requested list.

Two-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, film composer and multi-instrumentalist Taj Mahal is an American treasure who has been performing for more than 50 years, earning him the Lifetime Achievement for Performance Award at the 13th Annual Americana Honors and Awards in 2014. The groundbreaking artist reshaped the definition and scope of the blues by infusing elements of Caribbean, African and South Pacific influences into his sound. This is the artist’s first appearance in Bristol, performing as the Taj Mahal Trio. The SteelDrivers will make their fourth appearance this year — if history repeats, this will be one of the most-attended sets by the bluegrass- and Americana-loving crowd.

B͞CM Executive Director Leah Ross said this year’s lineup offers another “eclectic — and ultimately satisfying — lineup of acts we know and love. Some we’ve been dying to see, and others we can’t wait to discover for the first time.”

By design, Bristol Rhythm’s roster doesn’t look like anyone else’s, doesn’t follow trends and continues to push boundaries that defy genre, Ross said.

“The festival runs the gamut of edgy rock, alternative country, blues, honky-tonk, old-time, bluegrass, and Americana, and relishes in the unexpected with under-the-radar acts that are destined for distinction. It’s important to us that Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion remains unique. We stay true to our mission, but continue to innovate with our lineup,” Ross said. “Younger audiences get excited about artists that are more progressive, but that leads them to engage with our more traditional acts, and we hope that sparks an interest to seek out that history. After all, even Nirvana recorded a song from the 1927 Bristol Sessions.”

More than 900 volunteers are needed to help with the festival. If you are interested in signing up for a shift, visit BristolRhythm.com to apply. Each volunteer will receive a single day pass for each shift they work.

To view the entire 2018 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion artist lineup or to purchase weekend wristbands, visit BristolRhythm.com. Weekend wristbands are $80 through April.