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Roots music lovers gather in Bristol this weekend for annual festival


For over 20 years roots music fans have gathered annually in downtown Bristol, along the Virginia-Tennessee line, to celebrate its heritage as the birthplace of country music. This weekend’s festival will feature a special presentation by another organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of the region’s music.

(Music: Twin Creeks String Band: Black Mountain Rag)

That’s the Twin Creeks String Band, a continuation of a group formed in Franklin County in the early 1980s, carrying on the tradition of hard-driving old time music handed down through generations in southwest Virginia.

Crooked Road Logo

They will be joining several artists for a showcase presented by The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail at this weekend’s Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.
"This year Crooked Road is actually sponsoring some heritage music acts in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. So, there's a performance space there they use for their own events and we're going to be in there on Friday night which is Friday September 9th and then Saturday September the 10th."

Carrie Beck
Carrie Beck Executive Director The Crooked Road

Carrie Beck is the executive director of The Crooked Road. She took the reins as interim director with the retirement of Jack Hinshelwood in 2019 and took on the job full time in March 2020.

“The most interesting time being, I'll probably tell this story for the rest of my life, because we immediately shut down. Part of our transition and reorganization during that pandemic time was literally going through things and I had, I had random fiddle cases and guitar cases in this storage with little notes taped on them; this is Jackson Cunningham and it was kind of nice, because I had a reason to call these musicians and say 'I've got your case, come and get it and now I can meet you.' So, it gave me, it was like a legitimate excuse meet a musician during the pandemic time when no one could really, you know, meet and greet.”

Along with being the first woman director of The Crooked Road, Beck achieved another first when appointed to the position.

“I'm the first non-musician executive director. I come from a music appreciation background. I don't play anything, yeah, no. But I do appreciate the music and I know the importance of heritage music. I think that's really valuable to have an executive director that, you know understands the positivity of a creative economy and art in the economy, but can also step back and say 'you all jam for 12 hours, I'm going to go write my grant over here.'”

The Crooked Road’s showcase in Bristol this year is indoors for the first time.

“ So, listen. If it's oppressively hot, which sometimes it is in Bristol in September,, if you just want to like, just enjoy a great performance with great musicians in a comfortable environment where you're not having to like pull a chair, or getting under a tree, it can be a nice reprieve, they've got an amazing space in there at the museum.”

(Music: Empty Bottle String Band, Quit Kicking My Dog Around)

There will be two performances by Crooked Road artists at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Friday and Saturday, featuring Twin Creeks String Band, David and Linda Lay, Shadowgrass, The Brothers Young, and Empty Bottle String Band.

Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion

Bristol Schedule

Luke has been affiliated with WVTF for many years, with first contact in 1980 on assignment for the Virginia News Network. From the late 80s to the mid 90s he volunteered for Voice of the Blue Ridge and answered phones during fund drives. He was a station stringer reporter in Charlottesville in the early 00s, contributing to Studio Virginia and later working at the station's Water Street studio.