Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Miss and A Hit

We had discovered the center (in our opinion) of old-time music in the small towns of western Virginia when we traveled The Crooked Road nearly six years ago.

We had checked the schedule of events for Galax, VA, and found that a Fourth of July Parade was going to be held at 4:00. We thought that was a bit late for a parade, but since there were two separate citations of the time, we thought that the parade was a prelude to the evening's fireworks.

We arrived in town a couple of hours early only to find traffic being routed around the center of town. We parked a couple of blocks away from Main Street with a crowd in sight. We found a viewing space...and watched the last few entries pass by.

Clearly, we had missed the parade, but it was also clear that a significant percentage of the town's 7,000 residents had watched the entire parade.
After the final entries had passed, we took a break for lunch.

Following the meal in downtown Galax, we returned to the scene of the parade. To our surprise, the street seemed deserted.


It seemed everyone but us knew the schedule. We left Galax.

The next day we headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway, crossing New River along the way.

The Blue Ridge Music Center is located at Milepost 213 of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax. The Center is a magnificent venue for the performance of old time mountain music of Virginia and North Carolina and is largely concerned with local artists who best show this history, and not with "stars".
It was a gorgeous evening and the two local bands performing that evening were ones that we had come to appreciate on earlier visits to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Kate had searched for a calendar events for the Galax area and found the appearance of these two bands. (Whitetop Mountain Band is another of our favorites.)
"Mountain Park Old Time Band was formed six years ago as a group of friends who happened to enjoy Old Time Music got together to have a good time. The band performs at the Carter Fold several times a year. They have been featured on All Things Considered on NPR for playing at the second longest radio show in the country on WPAQ.
"They have opened for the Bluegrass super group Blue Highway as well as opened for the Carolina Chocolate Drops. They have been the winners of Instrumental Group of the year at the Blue Ridge Uprising in 2013.

"Mountain Park Old Time Band is known for their dance music whether it be square dance, flat foot, clogging, two step, or Waltz. More than anything, they have a great time and it shows in their performance" (mountainparkoldtimeband.com/band_bio).
Several audience members joined in the flat footin' dancing, many of who brought their own 3' x 3' boards to dance on.
The second band that evening was The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters. About 25 years ago a group of musicians from the Galax, VA area formed a new band. The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters took their name from the original Bogtrotters of the 1930's in part because band leader Dennis Hall lives on Ballards Branch.

We had learned that once the sun sets the temperature in the mountains drops significantly. So the evening ended with the non-dancers in the audience in jackets, the dancers easily keeping warm, and both bands playing a couple of selections, including "Cumberland Gap".
Old-time music performed by people who have lived with this music all their lives and enjoyed in this setting made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

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