Historic clout aside, Virginia for us meant music, old-time Appalachia mountain music. A present-day legacy of Celts – displaced from Britain and Ireland in the 17th century, they filtered into the Appalachians, mixed with the locals and created a genre of folk mountain music – today old-time music and bluegrass festivals are as linked to the Virginia hills as the dark strands of dogwood and fir trees. The state even honours this legacy via its very own Heritage Music Trail along its so-called Crooked Road, a 300-mile-long regional route connecting 19 counties, four cities and over 50 towns and communities where heritage music is celebrated year-round (although mostly in the warmer months). And to partake in an Appalachian musical celebration is what we did in the Crooked Road town of Galax, Virginia.
The Appalachian Mountains & Bluegrass
– Reproduced from text on display in the International Bluegrass Music Museum, Owensboro, Kentucky
Bluegrass, in its earliest forms, seeped out of the Appalachian hills – those Pioneers who migrated from Ireland, Scotland, & England to America in the 1600s brought with them the basic styles of a musical genre that is generally considered to be the roots of #bluegrass music #bluegrasshistory as we know and love it today. As the Jamestown settlers began to move west into the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, they wrote songs about day-to-day life in the new land. Since most of these people lived in remote areas, the songs reflected life on the farm or in the hills. Eventually this type of “mountain” or #Countrymusic spread out of the mountains of #Appalachia & into the homes of people all over the US thanks largely to the invention of the phonograph & the onset of the radio in the early 1900s. #musichistory
Just one of dozens of regional towns claiming to be A gateway to the #BlueRidgeMountains, #GalaxVA is a quiet, quaint & prototypical #oldtime music -lovin’ #Appalachia town of simple living, friendly locals, strong accents, & a rich musical heritage #VAMusic #LoveVA – beginning in 1935, the town is home to world’s oldest and largest competition for old-time music musicians, the Old Fiddlers’ Convention. And for one day in September 2016 the town was cordoned off to facilitate Rex Fest, a day-long celebration of regional music & dance.
We had tickets for the following day’s Rex Fest bluegrass musical bonanza, but on its eve we got a taste of what is to come by attending a performance by Galax resident and banjo picker Stevie Barr (& Friends) in the town’s historic Rex Theater. The 100-mile-an-hour performance of premier pickin’ was awesome, but we still managed to resist the urge to do some front and centre dancin’ with the locals.