Music in the Mountains
The Crooked Road and the Birth of Country Music (3 Days)
Visit Southwest Virginia, where country music was born, where authentic mountain music can be found along the crooked roads, and where music is still woven into the fabric of everyday life.
From the Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, to The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail, you'll find authentic musical experiences at every turn. The variety is amazing - old-time string bands, a cappella gospel, blues, 300 year old ballads, bluegrass, and more.
Arrive in beautiful historic Abingdon, grab lunch and enjoy some time in the downtown area where you will find unique shopping opportunities.
Delight in an incredible matinee performance at the popular Barter Theatre, State Theatre of Virginia. On June 10, 1933, Barter Theatre opened its doors, proclaiming "With vegetables you cannot sell, you can buy a good laugh." The price of admission was 40 cents or equivalent amount of produce. Four out of five Depression-era theatregoers paid their way with vegetables, dairy products and livestock.
Enjoy dinner at one of Abingdon's distinctive restaurants. With over 34 independently owned restaurants, Abingdon has more eateries per capita than New York City! In 2019 and 2020, Abingdon was voted Best Small Town Food Scene in the country by USA Today's 10Best Travel section.
Start your day with a tour of The Birthplace of Country Music Museum. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum tells the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings, explores how evolving sound technology shaped their success, and highlights how this rich musical heritage lives on in today’s music.
“The 1927 Bristol Sessions are the single most important event in the history of country music.”
– Johnny Cash
Through text and artifacts, multiple theater experiences, and interactive displays – along with a variety of educational programs, music performances, and community events – the exciting story of these recording sessions and their far-reaching influence comes alive. Rotating exhibitions from guest curators and other institutions, including the Smithsonian, are featured throughout the year in the Special Exhibits Gallery. The museum also houses a collection of related objects, photographs and paper ephemera, and digital items.
Head to Abingdon Vineyards for a wine tasting along the scenic South Holston River, and catch one of their frequent outdoor music events. The trip is only 10 minutes by car from downtown Abingdon, or a leisurely 2 hours by bike (the winery is located right off the Virginia Creeper Trail!)
In the evening, catch a show at Bonefire Smoke House, a popular BBQ restaurant and "musictorium" that features live music most weekends.
Abingdon is home to The Crooked Road's headquarters, inside The Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace. There you'll find interactive exhibits, information on traveling the Crooked Road, and an official gift shop. Heritage music is highlighted every Thursday night at Heartwood's Open Jams.
Visit more than 92 attractions, 244 outdoor recreation sites and enjoy tons of music alongside the Crooked Road. Virginia's Heritage Music Trail follows the region's music history along Route 58 in Southwest Virginia. Other highlights of the Crooked Road include Appalachian crafts and coal mining heritage. Early ethnic groups that settled in these regions included the Cherokee Indians, the Melungeons (Portugese, Native American and African-American), the Germans and Scots-Irish.
If your visit coincides with a Saturday, make sure to head to Hiltons, Virginia (just 45 minutes) and the Carter Family Fold, for the weekly concert. The mountains come alive with the sounds of some of the best old-time and bluegrass music around at "The Fold."
The Carter Family – A.P., Sara and Maybelle – first recorded in nearby Bristol in 1927 and went on to record over 300 songs, laying the foundation for what we know today as country music. The rustic music theater in the hills is pure "mountain music magic."
Put on your dancing shoes and hit the floor as you listen and possibly clog, flat-foot and/or buck dance to traditional string music at its "toe tappin best!"