Sights & Sounds

Danny Knicely and Jack Dunlap

Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley has long been fertile ground for the development of old-time and bluegrass music, and the Knicelys are one of its most prominent musical families. Multi-instrumentalist A. O. …

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There’s Something Spiritual about Watermelon Park

The Virginia Folklife Program has forged a wonderful partnership with Watermelon Park Fest, September 24-27, in Berryville, Virginia. Home to one of the country’s first-ever bluegrass festivals, Watermelon Park is …

Sights & Sounds

Linda Lay & Sammy Shelor: Taking the Crooked Road Home

Linda and Sammy come from legendary musical communities on Virginia’s Crooked Road. The Meadows of Dan and Clayman Valley are tiny mountain places separated by 150 miles of hairpin turns, old mills, crossroads stores, mom and pop eateries, and towns with one stop light or none, but only 90 miles by the way the crow flies.

Sights & Sounds

Tyler & Marty: Bringing It!

On a hot summer night in 2006, two friends took the stage at the storied old-time and bluegrass music festival in Galax, Virginia. One would would sing while the other played along. When the next friend’s turn to compete arrived, they would switch roles. While neither friend is a musical virtuoso, their love for the music and their belief in each other resulted in a very special sound that embodies much of the great musical tradition of southwest Virginia.

Sights & Sounds

Montana Young: Fiddling Up a Storm

Anyone concerned that traditional bluegrass and old time music may no longer resonate with today’s youth need only witness the masterful playing of Montana Young to allay these fears. At the tender age of 12, Montana has already been delighting audiences at fiddling conventions, festivals, and community jams for years, along the musically rich Crooked Road.

Sights & Sounds

Buddy Pendleton: Delivers!

At the eastern end of the Crooked Road lies Ferrum College’s Blue Ridge Institute. Among their folk music archives is a scratchy 1970s recording of a bluegrass jam session at the Pulaski, Virginia Fiddler’s Convention. On it, a fiddler walks up with case in hand and asks if he can join in. After being invited to join, he gets his fiddle out and runs, no, blazes through a warm up scale – three octaves worth! Instantly, all present sense something extraordinary is about to happen. And it does, as the fiddler leads the group on a mad dash through a jaw-dropping rendition of Soldiers Joy, Liberty and Golden Slippers. When it’s over, someone from the thoroughly stunned group says, “Say, Mister, what’s your name?” “Pendleton, Buddy Pendleton” comes the reply in a modest unassuming tone.

Sights & Sounds

Gerald Anderson & Spencer Strickland: Been All Around This World

Gerald Anderson and Spencer Strickland play with an exuberance and joy that is infectious. Whether they are jamming in the sawdust of their instrument-making shop, at a local performance in Grayson County, Virginia, on a festival stage, or in the recording studio, Gerald and Spencer play from the heart and never hold back.

Sights & Sounds

No Speed Limit: Bluegrass Lullaby

Galax, the friendly town on the border of Carroll and Grayson counties is named for the galax leaf, a broad green leaf that carpets some woodlands, and has been used for generations for decorative purposes. Galax has produced musicians in prodigious numbers that has puzzled and delighted musicologists for almost a century. This process continues.

Sights & Sounds

Buddy Pendleton and Aila Wildman

Buddy Pendleton is one of the true pioneers of bluegrass fiddling, having performed as a young man with Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys. In the 1970s, Buddy won the …

Sights & Sounds

Sammy Shelor and Ashley Nale

Enslaved Africans brought the earliest versions of the banjo to Virginia. By the nineteenth century, the banjo was America’s most popular instrument, but it was not until the 1940s when …

Sights & Sounds

Herschel Sizemore and Spencer Blankenship

The mandolin was introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants in the 19th century, and was popularized by Bill Monroe, who featured the instrument as a cornerstone of his …

Sights & Sounds

Buddy Pendleton and Montana Young

Buddy Pendleton of Patrick County has lived a life in bluegrass music. Buddy is one the most beloved fiddlers in Southwest Virginia, and a common fixture on the leader board …

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