Featured Route: The Crooked Road Music Trail

The Crooked Road is a music trail through the mountains of Southwest Virginia that connect several heritage music venues in the region. The nine major venues showcase the finest in traditional music and feature live performances, museum displays, dancing, historical sites, and more. There are also 60 affiliated venues and festivals that visitors can enjoy throughout the year. Weekly concerts, live radio shows, and informal jam sessions can also be found along the trail.


From the Blue Ridge Mountains into deeper Appalacia, the 330-mile trail runs along US 58, a straight multi-lane highway in some spots, and a winding course in others. The route was originally shaped by the settlers who came in search of new homes in the South. The diversity of the settlers gave rise to the unique musical style of the region. Some of the oldest songs today are known as "crooked tunes" for their irregular measures, and give the music trail its name.


One of the major venues on The Crooked Trail is The Birthplace of Country Music. Bristol's famous Music Sessions known as "The Big Bang," took place here in 1927. Visitors will be immersed in the sounds and stories of American music history and can hear tunes most nights in restaurants and clubs along State Street.


At the Blue Ridge Institute and Farm Museum, the folk traditions of Western Virginia are highlighted. The rotating exhibitions explore folklife's music, crafts, foods, art, and more. Costumed interpreters re-create life on a Virginia-German farmstead in the year 1800.


The Blue Ridge Music Center is a place where musicians, locals, and visitors can come to enjoy traditional music. From late May to Mid-October, you can hear regional musicians playing Mid-Day Mountain Music at the Music Center. Then head over to The Roots of American Music Museum which is free and open daily.


A music venue that offers traditional Appalacian Music can be found at The Carter Family Fold. The Carter Family recorded 300 songs between 1927 and 1942, and is often credited as the forerunners of modern-day country music. Catch a performance on a Saturday night, but be sure to hit the museum an hour prior to the show.


In addition to clogging and line-dancing classes, the Country Cabin II hosts local musicians and bands who play bluegrass, country, and old-time music, every Saturday night throughout the year. This venue is the longest running site for traditional music along the Crooked Road Trail. Check out the annual Dock Boggs Festival in September.


If you want to dance and enjoy gospel, old-time, and bluegrass music on a Friday night, head to the Jamboree at The Floyd Country Store. In addition to the entertainment, visitors can also find barrels of old-fashioned candy, homemade country food, and hand-dipped ice cream. The store sells everything from overalls to kitchenware, and is worth the trip.


Visit picturesque Heartwood, your one-stop shop for Southwest Virginia's craft, music, food, and local culture. Heartwood houses the most complete collection of Crooked Road old-time, bluegrass, and gospel music. Interactive exhibits and live events showcase the talents of local artisans and musicians.  


The world's oldest and largest fiddler's convention takes place in Felt's Park, the second week of August each year. The week-long Old Fiddler's Convention in Galax unites musicians and fans from around the world. The historic Rex Theater in Galax also hosts a live radio show featuring stage performances of old time bands and bluegrass music.


If you want to learn more about traditional American and Appalachian music, stop into The Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center, featuring the life and music of the legendary Ralph Stanley. From vintage instruments to countless music awards, the collection includes exhibits on Ralph & Carter Stanley and the region's musical roots. The four-story Victorian is a resource center for students and music fans.


If you are a music lover and want to check out The Crooked Road Music Trail or these Bluegrass Festivals, let AAA Travel help you plan your trip. With TripTiks, we can plan your scenic drive along the trail. Autumn is the perfect time to get out on the road and catch a glimpse of the changing leaves, while enjoying the historic music venues. Call 1-800-463-8646 or find a local AAA Travel office for more information.

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