Bristol, Tenessee/Virginia (6) is where the famed 1927 Bristol recording sessions took place. These sessions were pivotal in the development of country music. This year saw the opening of the state-of-the-art Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, which tells the story of these sessions and their impact. The nearby Cultural Music Association’s Mountain Music Museum displays one-of-a-kind vintage photographs, musical instruments, recordings, stage attire, and more, all dedicated to the legacy of area musicians.
Off the Crooked Road Trail, nestled in Wythe county, at an altitude of 3,405 feet, Big Walker Lookout and Country Store (11) offers a spectacular view of the Appalachian Mountains. Opened in 1947, this unique store and 100-foot lookout tower has been family-operated for three generations. On Sundays the live music starts at 1:00 p.m.
Galax (4) is called the “World Capital of Old Time Mountain Music” thanks to its Old Fiddler’s Convention held annually in August since 1935. It’s also home to the historic Rex Theater where the Blue Ridge Back Roads radio program is broadcast live every Friday night. Nearby, located on the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, the Blue Ridge Music Center (3) museum is dedicated to Blue Ridge music and musicians. It also houses a spectacular outdoor music venue, if you are lucky enough to catch a show.
Every Friday night the quaint town of Floyd (2) and its old-time Floyd Country Store come alive with traditional music at the Friday Night Jamboree. The official starting time is 6:30 p.m., but you’ll want to get there earlier as musicians gather and jam in the streets. There’s also an in-store jam session every Sunday. While in Floyd, stop by County Sales. This retailer holds the world’s largest selection of old-time and bluegrass music. From its website, it fills orders from around the world. Stay at the Bella La Vita Inn, a local bed and breakfast just outside of town. Owners Lisal and Matthew Roberts will make you feel right at home with a delicious breakfast and lots of knowledge about the local music scene.
Located in Ferrum, Virginia, the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum (1) gallery exhibits explore local traditions, from old-time music to modern quilting, and its Farm Museum lets visitors experience farm life in the 1800s. Every October the institute hosts the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, a daylong celebration of traditional music, crafts, arts, food, contests, games, farm work, and machinery.