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Southwest Virginia is known for its mountain music which formed the start of country, bluegrass, folk, and country rock music. The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail was conceived in 2003, to focus on the region’s rich music heritage.
The early ballads were stories about real people and events, passed down orally from generation to generation. Many of these ballads were brought by early settlers from their native countries when they settled in Southwest Virginia.
Early Southwest Virginian performers including the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Leslie Riddle, Dock Boggs, Ernest Van “Pop” Stoneman, and the Stanley Brothers collected these ballads and made them known to a larger audience. These artists took their life experiences, and the times that shaped them, and created new songs that spoke of the everyday experiences.
Around 30 minutes from Damascus Virginia, the cities of Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee have been a gathering place for mountainside music artists. Visiting historic Bristol VA/TN is interesting, as the state line between Virginia and Tennessee runs down the center of the city on State Street.
Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company came to Bristol in 1927 to make recordings of the region’s best musicians. This launched the careers of the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, recognized as the first commercially successful modern Country Music artists. Bristol is considered the true Birthplace of Country Music and was recognized as such by the US Congress. Near downtown Bristol you can also find the Tennessee Ernie Ford House, the birthplace of the world renowned artist and Bristol native.
Outside of Abingdon, Virginia is the Heartwood, Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gallery, located just off I-81 at exit 14. A room is set aside in this complex for the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. You can view DVDs and and hear tapes of the famous artists.
The Damascus Old Mill is a music venue in Damascus, Virginia with a summer concert series and various weekend music in their pub.