Tuesday Tunes: Along the Crooked Road
The Crooked Road is a place of beauty and a place of song. It’s also known as Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail which winds through almost 300 miles of scenic terrain in Southwest Virginia. Here, music is woven into the rich tapestry of tradition. Passed down from generations, these mountain ballads and toe-tapping, old-time dance music continue to echo across the region’s sharp ridges and deep valleys.
Farmguy and I often spend time in these mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway. And, I say this with the deepest respect and affection, it’s an area that seems to be operating in a time warp—about 50 years behind today. Most everyone here knows, helps, and cares about their neighbors. People wave at you even though they don’t know you. Folks ask where you’re from and how you’re doing….and seem to be genuinely interested in your answer. It’s also quiet. I love that all you can hear are the birds chirping and the wind blowing.
But, don’t get me wrong. Although this lovely place may seem a little like Mayberry at times, it’s not. Along with its Southern warmth and charm, it’s a progressive area. There are many well-known artists and potters. A strong, local food movement exists as well as award-winning wineries, craft cider houses, and meaderies. And, of course, there’s the wonderful musical culture. Every Friday night, outside the Floyd Country Store, musicians of all ages gather, set-up, and play the most delightful melodies. Inside, the old-time gospel band warms up, followed by the featured Bluegrass band of the evening.
I was first introduced to Bluegrass music by my Grandma Rieley when I was just a child, and I’ve loved it ever since. Perhaps, it’s because I loved her so much, or maybe, it’s because this music moves the spirit. Grandma so enjoyed listening to banjo and fiddle music, as she called it, and I always looked forward to going with her to listen to these Bluegrass bands on Saturday evenings.
The music was upbeat and joyful. Everyone on the dance floor, including children and the elderly, smiled and had the best time. I still remember Grandma encouraging me to “get up and go on out there.” It was on those Saturday evenings that I learned to flatfoot–“The mountain artistic reaction to hard driving fiddle music.” I even learned a little “Riverdance” move that earned a couple of blue ribbons at informal contests. It was so much fun! Even today, when I hear this wonderful music, I think of my beloved Grandma Rieley….and my foot starts tapping.