Straight Path to the Crooked Road

This spring (oh I like the warm sound of that word!) promises to be a great season for touring the “Crooked Road”–southwest Virginia’s Music Trail that passes through Floyd.

Other stops along the way include Galax and Stanley country, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax, the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, the Country Cabin in Norton and the Blue Ridge Institute at Ferrum College. You can see and read a bit about them all on the clickable map.

According to Ralph Barrier writing in the Roanoke Times

“The idea came at a time when old-time roots music was undergoing a huge popularity surge thanks to the success of the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” movie soundtrack. The album featured updated versions of Depression-era songs and sold more than six million copies and dominated the 2002 Grammy Awards. Southwest Virginia’s stake in the CD’s success came through the inclusion of Stanley and bluegrass star Dan Tyminski, formerly of Ferrum. The time was right to capitalize on the newfound popularity of old-time music.”

Cultural tourism is a growing phenomenon as traveling families want to learn more about their own heritage and roots, and that comes from the getting there as much as it is the destination.

Southwest Virginia has the greatest tradition of old-time string music than anywhere else in the world,”said Roddy Moore, the Blue Ridge Institute’s executive director. “The eight spots are just the high points. The Crooked Road is really what’s in between. I would take the sidetrips off the road and see the landscape and meet the people.”

If you’re new to traditional Appalachian music, consider a trip down the Crooked Road as the Baptist introduction: total immersion, head to toe, in “that good ol’ way”. It’s been ringing in these hills for generations, and the invitation is out for others to listen in.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. i really want to do this trip. i’ve read about it and been to a couple of the stops before, but think it would be really neat to do the whole tour from start to finish.

  2. Stay at The Claiborne House Bed & Breakfast – the start of The Crooked Road in Rocky Mount, and walk to The Depot for Footlights of the Blue Ridge free music – bluegrass, mountain and gospel.

    Thurs morning drive 3 miles from the B&B for biscuits n gravy and bluegrass by the DQ Band! see the Music page on the website…gerat jumping off point for the Crooked Road! Tap yer toes in Blue Ridge country!