The Crooked Road announces Mountains of Music Homecoming
ABINGDON, Va. — Organizers throughout Southwest Virginia are gearing up for the fourth annual Mountains of Music Homecoming, an extraordinary nine-day celebration of traditional music and culture taking place June 8-16, in over 40 communities throughout the Crooked Road region of Southwest Virginia. The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, connects nine major music venues and over 50 affiliated venues and festivals presenting traditional music 365 days a year.
Residents and visitors can expect an extraordinary menu of Appalachian food, authentic culture, local arts and crafts, history, outdoor adventure, and a remarkable schedule of bluegrass, old time, blues, gospel, folk and traditional music concerts performed all along the more than 300 miles of The Crooked Road. The 2018 Homecoming will feature Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Lonesome River Band, Del McCoury Band, blues legends Jimmy Duck Holmes and Phil Wiggins, a unique Stanley Brothers All-Star Band, a showcase of the Best All Around Performers from the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention and dozens more.
“You can hear music from The Crooked Road region worldwide, but experiencing it in the place it comes from is a totally different thing,” said Crooked Road executive director Jack Hinshelwood. “It’s like the difference between someone describing ice cream to you and actually tasting it yourself. Meeting the artists who keep this music alive with the mountain peaks that inspired it in the background is a transcendent experience. That’s what makes The Crooked Road and the Homecoming so special.”
In the key of blue
The music of The Crooked Road region influenced and was influenced by a variety of musical traditions from around the nation and world. Each year, the Mountains of Music Homecoming highlights another tradition along with its own unique heritage. This year, the Homecoming will feature Mississippi blues, with its rich history and indelible contributions to American music.
Blues guitarist and Mississippi native, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes performs in the “Bentonia” blues style that uses a unique guitar tuning pioneered by such early blues legends as Skip James and Jack Owens. Holmes will be joined by National Heritage Award recipient and blues harmonica wizard Phil Wiggins, who performs in the Piedmont blues style for two concert events — June 8 at Heartwood in Abingdon and June 9 at the Floyd Country Store in Floyd, Virginia.
“The blues is a music form that has had a huge impact on the music of The Crooked Road, influencing old-time music, bluegrass, and singing styles especially,” said Ted Olson, Appalachian Studies professor at ETSU. “As an African American-based tradition, the blues is a great starting point for exploring the influence of African American culture on our music, what we eat, our regional history and the arts.” The cover of the Homecoming’s official program guide features original artwork by Chilhowie, Virginia folk artist William A. Fields and an introductory poem crafted by award-winning poet, activist and University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, Nikki Giovanni.
The stars of galax
The Old Fiddler’s Convention, presented every August by Galax Moose Lodge No. 733, is one of the most important gatherings of traditional music in the world. Hundreds of musicians from across the globe travel to Southwest Virginia to compete for the first-place prize for guitar, fiddle, banjo and many other instruments. But only one competitor each year walks away with the coveted Best Overall Performer award. The Homecoming will present two concerts featuring a first-time-ever gathering of these Best Overall Performers, once at Country Cabin in Norton on June 14 and then at the Blue Ridge Music Center near Galax on June 15.
“In looking through the list of people who have won this award, we realized we could put on an amazing concert if we could get these folks together,” said Hinshelwood. “The winners cover all the instruments, so we were able to put together both a bluegrass band and an old time band that will knock people’s socks off.”
Get to the table
For the past two seasons, the Mountains of Music Homecoming Feastival events have featured mouth-watering farm-to-table dinners fusing Appalachian cuisine, after-dinner concerts, captivating stories and one-of-a kind arts and crafts.
This year, the Feastival will bring together master chefs and master musicians at three venues. Chef J.C. Botero will prepare the menu at Wytheville’s historic Bolling Wilson Hotel on June 9 with a concert by the Glorylanders of New River Valley, stirring performers of a cappella gospel music. “Appalachian Food Evangelist” Dale Hawkins’ menu will be presented at Breaks Park, in Breaks, Virginia on June 13 where the Mike Mitchell Trio will perform traditional Appalachian music and songs that take the music in new directions. The Feastival series concludes June 16 at the Draper Mercantile in Draper, Virginia, with a meal designed by Chef “T” of TV’s Hell’s Kitchen fame. Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones, who have performed as a fiddle and guitar duo in venues around the world, will provide the evening’s music.
Natural Tunnel spotlight
Duffield’s Natural Tunnel is one of Southwest Virginia’s true geological wonders. The State Park that surrounds it features beautiful scenery and an amphitheater that will host “Bluegrass Night at the Tunnel” on June 15, featuring the award-winning Lonesome River band and Lexington, Kentucky’s NewTown for some driving bluegrass and a fine selection of wines and craft beers on the premises. Savory barbeque will be available on site from Food City’s “Q” Pit Smoker.
An old fashioned Blue Ridge barn dance, an evening with bluegrass legend Doyle Lawson, concerts by Dailey & Vincent and Sierra Hull, and much more promise to make the 4th Annual Mountains of Music Homecoming one of the best ever.
Festivals within the Homecoming
The Homecoming encompasses several bluegrass and old-time music festivals within its nine-day span. On June 8 and 9, HoustonFest in Galax, Virginia will present dozens of Crooked Road artists in bluegrass and old-time music, as well as special guest, the Del McCoury Band. Fiddler’s conventions are vital to the perpetuation of the region’s traditional music, and a great one takes place on June 8 and 9 in Newport at the Henry Reed Memorial Fiddlers Convention. One lucky but talented guitar player will win a handmade Henderson guitar at the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival & Guitar Competition in gorgeous Grayson Highlands State Park on June 16. In addition to the dueling guitars, Wayne is always joined by a superb lineup of traditional music artists. The General Early Bluegrass Festival on June 9 will provide a full day of great bluegrass music on the shores of Smith Mountain Lake.
The Homecoming is busting at the seams with opportunities to join in the music at jam sessions like the Smyth County Jam in Chilhowie, the Market Square Jam in Blacksburg, and the Bluegrass and Old Time Jam at Heartwood in Abingdon. Don’t play an instrument? – bring your feet and dance to the beat.
The ultimate road trip
Southwest Virginia offers more than just great music and good eating. The Crooked Road region gives visitors many one-of-a-kind opportunities for sightseeing, exploration and outdoor adventure. Alongside the concerts and Feastival events, Homecoming attendees will have a chance to check out over 70 cultural events such as wine and craft beer tastings, jam sessions, quilting demonstrations, storytelling, dances, outdoor adventure, river float trips, community meals and theatre shows. Whether mingling with the locals in a picturesque small town or musing in wonder at the spectacular views from a high vista, visitors can connect to the deep well of inspiration that has birthed so much extraordinary music and art.
The 2018 Mountains of Music Homecoming kicks off on June 8. For concert tickets and information about artists and cultural events, visit www.mtnsofmusic.com.
The Crooked Road and the Mountains of Music Homecoming is supported by the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development, Virginia Tourism Corporation, National Endowment for the Arts, Virginia Commission for the Arts, Food City, Blue Ridge Beverage, Southwest Virginia localities and many more generous partners.