A Guide To The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail' by Joe Wilson
'Virginia's Heritage Music Trail' By Joe Wilson (John F. Blair Pub., 2006) softbound, 226 pp. (Also includes 2 compact discs). This is an absolutely marvelous guide to one of the most intriguing and impressive parts of our country, at least when it comes to the presence of rural string music. The Crooked Road is a 253-mile trail through 10 counties in southwest Virginia, running (East to West) from the Piedmont to deep in the coalfields of Lee, Wise, Scott and Dickenson counties. Most of the trail follows U.S. Route 58 from Rocky Mount through Ferrum, Floyd, Hillsville, Galax, Independence, Bristol and on into Norton, Coeburn & Big Stone Gap. There has always been a rich tradition of music and craftsmanship in this region and it continues to this day. Some of the many musicians of the area in the early days of rural music on record include The Carter Family, Dock Boggs, Hobart Smith, Byrd Moore, Fiddlin Powers, Grayson & Whitter, the Stoneman Family, Shelor Family and many others. In the post-war era you find the Stanley Brothers, Jim & Jesse, The Lost & Found, Jimmy Arnold, the Mullins Family, Wayne Henderson, Kyle Creed, E.C. Ball, The Chestnut Grove Quartet, etc. All of these musicians are featured with one track each on two CDs that are included with the book and these include a lot of great & varied material, including some cuts never before on disc: the CDs (52 tracks in all) are themselves worth the price of this book! The book goes on to list and describe dozens of points of interest, including the Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood, the Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, the Floyd Country Store (and our own County Sales ware-house!), the Carter Fold and the Blue Ridge Institute. There are listings for craftsmen such as Wayne Henderson, many eating places, festivals (like the Galax Fiddlers Convention), and locations of weekly (or monthly) jam sessions where Bluegrass and old-time music can still be seen & heard. It's hard to say how much of this culture will remain a generation from now, but we'd strongly encourage anyone who has the chance, to get a copy of this book and set out to travel the Crooked Road this summer or fall. It can be a most rewarding experience!