Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mountain music and "Down the Crooked Road"

Steve's post reminded me that I've been meaning to draw everyone's attention to yet another attraction of Virginia's Little Switzerland -- our music venues.

Reporter Ralph Berrier and his associates at the Roanoke Times have created a wonderful multi-part series showcasing bluegrass and Old Time music and musicians in Southwest Virginia.

Now, I know some of you flatlanders are saying "I'm not driving 3 hours just to watch Hee-Haw." But oh, you are so far wide of the mark. One of the amazing things about this music is the diversity of people who carry on the tradition. Scratch a mountain musician and you're just as likely to find an old California hippie who's turned to acoustic as a Rockbridge County doctor who collects expensive banjos. (I know both.) Just remember, at Tractor Supply they don't make you show an Appalachian ID before they sell you overalls.

Salt Lick has visited most of the stops on "The Crooked Road," and jammed at a few of them, a couple of times with Ralph Berrier and some of the musicians pictured in the RT series. But don't get any big ideas. "Jammed with" in mountain music can mean, "Me and my fiddle picked a stump at the back of the band and played along just loud enough for us and nobody else to hear." That's one of the wonderful things about the music scene here -- it's very open, welcoming. Everyone is welcome. Well, maybe not accordians. But only because they're so loud.

One of the best venues for a "tourist" to visit is the General Store in Floyd on Friday night.(Not the Friday night after this one because the Galax Old Time Fiddler's Festival will be on-going and everyone will be there, not in Floyd.) Have dinner at the Pine Tavern Inn or Chateau Morrissette Vineyards, then drive into Floyd where the streets are full of pedestrians and the bands are overflowing onto the sidewalk for pick-up jams. Buy an RC Cola and a Moonpie or a cone of handdipped ice cream and sit back and enjoy the dancing at the back of the General Store.

All part of Virginia's Little Switzerland.