Nashville instantly comes to mind when one thinks of Country music, and rightly
so - that wonderful city is the current home of the genre's commercial
But the heart and soul of Country music lies firmly within the counties of scenic southwestern
Virginia! Country got it's start during 1927's "Bristol Sessions" in large part due to
The Carter Family
from Maces Springs (near the community of Hiltons).
Southwest Virginia's influence on the world of music continues today with
several great museums and venues offering the modern world sweet samples of the
region's Bluegrass and old-time mountain music. These venues lie along what is
now referred to as The Crooked Road.
The Crooked Road is a 250 mile "trail" (US Highway 58) that connects
seven wonderful venues that serve as living monuments to the region's past and
continuing contributions to County Music.
The venues featured along The Crooked Road include:
- The Ralph Stanley Museum And Traditional Mountain Music Center,
The name says it all... Ralph Stanley is a musical legend whose distinctive
voice and musical talents have had a huge impact on music of all genres. A
southwest Virginia native, Ralph was generous enough to offer himself and his
musical gifts to the public in the form of the Museum and Traditional Mountain Music
- The Carter Family Fold, Hiltons
The Carter Family Fold
in Hiltons is a magical place where descendants of the original
members of the Carter Family (A.P., Sara and Maybelle) keep their music and
influences alive by presenting live performances of Bluegrass and Old-Time music
every Saturday night.
A.P. and Sara's daughter Janette Carter serves as the emcee. Along with her son
Dale Jett and a few friends, she opens every show by singing a few old Carter
The venue also includes The Carter Family Museum and the reconstructed A.P.
Carter Birthplace Cabin.
If your visit to southwest Virginia affords you just enough time to visit one
venue along The Crooked Road, the Carter Family Fold should be it!
- The Birthplace Of Country Music Alliance (BCMA)
The stated purpose of the
BCMA is to bring national and international
recognition to the people of the southwest Virginia / northeast Tennessee region
and their gigantic impacts on Country Music and music in general. They fulfill
that purpose very well.
The BCMA Museum (located in the Bristol Mall) showcases the region's musical
history and the amazing people who made it. The museum offers numerous exhibits
of memorabilia from such musical giants as The Carter Family, Flatt &
Scruggs, Jimmie Rodgers, Tennessee Ernie Ford and many others.
The gift shop offers CD's featuring the music of those legendary performers
along with that of local contemporary Bluegrass and Old-Time music performers.
Musical instruments and other items are also for sale.
- The Blue Ridge Music Center, near Galax
The Blue Ridge Music Center is located near Galax at mile 213 of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway.
The center offers regular summer-time performances of Bluegrass, Old-Time and
Gospel music by performers both local and from all over the world.
- Rex Theatre & Old Fiddler's Convention, Galax
Every Friday night at 8pm, the Rex Theater hosts "Blue Ridge Backroads",
a live Bluegrass and Old-Time music show, one of the most famous shows of its
kind in the world. Thousands of people in parts of four states enjoy the
festivities via live broadcasts by WBRF radio (98.1 on the FM dial).
The Old Fiddler's Convention is held the second week of each August in Galax's
Felts Park. This world-famous festival features numerous local, national and
international Bluegrass, Folk and Old-Time music performances and competitions.
- The Floyd Country Store and County Records, Floyd
The Floyd Country Store hosts the "Friday Night Jamboree". The evening usually begins at 6:30pm with the Gospel Hour, followed at
7:30pm by several groups performing Bluegrass and Old-Time music.
Dancing in front of the stage is allowed.
County Records & Sales is a recording studio and sales outlet specializing
in Bluegrass, Old-Time and traditional country music. Although they started out
as a local sales outlet, they now offer mail order and Internet sales. County
Sales is one of the largest distributors of Bluegrass and Old-Time music in the
- The Blue Ridge Institute and Museum, Ferrum College
The campus of Ferrum College near Rocky Mount hosts the Blue Ridge Institute and
Museum, Virginia's official State Center for Blue Ridge Folklore.
The museum features numerous exhibits including recordings, archives, concerts, educational
activities and much more. If it's related to Blue Ridge folklife, you'll find it
on display at this wonderful museum.
The venue also hosts the "Blue Ridge Folklife Festival" each October. The festival features arts and crafts, hand-made quilts, horse pulls, vintage farm machinery, old-time food items and
much more. And of course there is plenty of wonderful music!
Following The Crooked Road eastward from Clintwood to Ferrum
(stopping at the wonderful venues along the way) is an excellent way to
experience the rich musical traditions and culture of southwest Virginia. We
invite you to come
and join us!
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