The Crooked Road - Virginia's Heritage Music Trail

Crooked Road sign

The sounds of country music beat strong and pure in Virginia, especially in the Southwest Blue Ridge Highlands and Heart of Appalachia regions, connected by The Crooked Road � Virginia's Heritage Music Trail .

Day and night, the plaintive strains of the mountain ballads and toe-tapping, old-timey dance music echo across this region's sharp ridges and deep valleys.

Look for this sign along the Trail as you explore the musical soul of Virginia's country connections and experience a unique and unforgettable experience!

Take The Crooked Road� Virginia's Heritage Music Trail

This hauntingly beautiful area bounded by the Blue Ridge, Allegheny and Cumberland mountains nurtured the musical sounds and sensibilities of country and mountain music for decades. The Southwest Blue Ridge Highlands city of Bristol � as the location of the first country music recordings made for national distribution � has been called the
"Birthplace of Country Music." And in 1998, Congress made it official!

Bristol's State Street

Today, country music murals and monuments line Bristol's State Street. The new Birthplace of Country Music Alliance Museum provides a forum for live performances and also features collections of musical instruments and memorabilia from country music legends Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and Tennessee Ernie Ford, born on the Tennessee side of the street!

Bristol's State Street is home to its annual Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, which celebrates the region's rich musical heritage every September!

Also, Bristol's downtown offers live music Monday-Saturday at numerous venues!

Every Saturday night enjoy the bluegrass at the Family Bluegrass Barn in nearby Hansonville!

The Carter Family

audience at Carter Family Fold's Saturday nights
Saturday nights at the Carter Family Fold

Credited with popularizing traditional Appalachian music, Virginia natives A.P., Sara and "Mother" Maybelle Carter, known as the Carter Family, recorded their first song in Bristol in 1927.

Janette Carter, daughter of A.P. and Sara, now presides over the Carter Family Fold , which includes a museum of Carter memorabilia and a performance hall, about 20 miles northwest of Bristol in Hiltons.

Every Saturday night, visitors are invited to hear local bluegrass talent as well as an occasional appearance by nationally known country stars. The Carter Family Festival also takes place every August!

O' Brother's Dr. Ralph Stanley

Dr. Ralph Stanley playing his banjo
Dr. Ralph Stanley

When not touring with the Clinch Mountain Boys, nationally celebrated banjo player, singer and Grammy Award winner, Dr. Ralph Stanley , makes his home northwest of Hiltons near Wise. Every Memorial Day Weekend people from around the world come to hear Stanley and his friends play mountain music at the Ralph Stanley Music Festival !

And be sure to visit the Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Music Center in Clintwood, which is the newest site on the Crooked Road.

In Coeburn, enjoy Purely Appalachian Music every Friday night at the Historical Lay's Hardware Building!

Wise also is home to the annual Dock Boggs Festival in September, named for the banjo virtuoso famous for his two-finger, one-thumb style of playing! Visitors can hop nextdoor to the town of Norton to experience the lively Saturday night performances at the Country Cabin of Josephine, a renovated community center, where Dock Boggs taught and played.

Also, while in Norton, visitors can enjoy WAXM's Saturday night broadcasts of the Virginia-Kentucky Opry in person!

North of Ralph Stanley's home is Breaks Interstate Park , the site of Bluegrass in the Park every Saturday during the summer and the everpopular Memorial Day Gospel Sing, the Bluegrass Extravaganza in July and their Tri-State Gospel Singing event at the end of the summer.

Virgina's Outdoor Fiddlers Conventions

dobro and fiddle players
Bluegrass musicians from around the world come to Virginia's Old Fiddlers conventions to compete,
play and learn from the best!

East of Bristol is Mouth of Wilson, where guitarist Wayne C. Henderson lives. Every June, Henderson and his friends present the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival & Guitar Competition at Grayson Highlands State Park .

Heading northeast from Mouth of Wilson, but still in the Blue Ridge Highlands is Galax , known worldwide for its Old Fiddlers Convention , which draws tens of thousands of musicians and onlookers every August.

While in Galax, try the weekly live broadcast in the renovated Rex Theater, or better yet, stroll down Main Street and drop by Barr's Fiddle Shop . Proprietor Tommy Barr designs and makes musical instruments, plus he loves company and can often be found at the center of an impromptu jam session!

Floyd Country Store dancers
Friday nights are hoppin' at
the Floyd Country Store.

Floyd Bursts at the Seams

To the north in Floyd, catch the Friday Night Jamboree and a Saturday Night Concert series at the Floyd Country Store .

Every weekend is like a "mini fiddlers convention" with folks drifting in and out of the store, music's everywhere, cloggin' and stompin' � it's a hoot! If you can't fit indoors, catch an impromptu session on the street!

Blue Ridge Music Center

Blue Ridge Music Center

Located at milepost 213 off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Blue Ridge Music Center is an outdoor amphitheater where weekly concerts by local and nationally known traditional musicians are presented from June through September.

An indoor center, including an exhibit gallery, music sales and information area, library and classroom, is under construction.