Bluegrass in the Foothills
Tuesday January 8, 2013
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and just 20 minutes away from The Crooked Road Heritage Music Trail, Martinsville-Henry County offers a wide variety of musical opportunities for bluegrass, old time and traditional country music fans to enjoy.
From packed-house performances to flat-footin' jamborees and casual jam sessions there's something for everyone to enjoy. Here is just a sampler of the musical experiences you can enjoy during your next visit to Martinsville-Henry County...
Billy's Flea Market Music Jamboree- Billy hosts a weekly "Music Jamboree" every Sunday at 2 p.m. that consists of a jam session and dance. It takes place in a rambling‚ ramshackle conglomeration of weather-worn rooms‚ booths‚ passageways‚ sheds and porches. This event is the perfect way for visitors to mix with the "homefolks".
At first glance‚ Billy's appears to be a typical roadside stand‚ except perhaps for the giant banjo mounted on its front. Most people show up at Billy's early enough to swallow down a homemade sausage biscuit‚ cup of coffee or some other bit of local fare before the music starts.
The music and dance session occurs in a spacious interior room furnished with a small stage and a large dance floor. While the music is played inside‚ other musicians gather outside in the yard to jam and joke around.
Hardee's Tuesday Morning Jamboree- "The Hardee Bunch" invites everyone out on Tuesday mornings from 8 to 10 a.m. to enjoy Old Style Country & Gospel Music. The Jamboree started in 1994 as a birthday celebration for a member celebrating his 91st birthday. Because it was such a hit, the group decided to do meet each week to play.
According to Eleanor Kendrick, long time member and Hardee employee, "We don't know who will come to help sing or play, but we know everybody will join in." Little did she know that what started out with 5 singers and 1 guitar would now involve more than 25 individuals singing and playing instruments. Toe tapping, clapping, singing along and an occasional dancer is what you'll see.
The musicians set up in a corner to play and entertain special requests from the audience. Many people get up early to meet their extended family members for breakfast, coffee and music.
Mountain Music Jam at Fieldale Antiques- When you decide to visit Fieldale Antiques, make sure it's on Friday after 1 p.m. because you will get a double dose of the finer things in life. Not only will you get to visit the 1950's Shell prototype antique store filled with collectibles, but can enjoy the Mountain Music jam session taking place in the front room.
Good old-fashioned Mountain Music is what you hear when you step through the doors. You'll find musicians seated in a circle blowing harmonicas, singing and strumming all types of string instruments, some of which were made by a local resident who loves music.
Feel free to browse the shop. There's nothing more pleasing to the ear than listening to great music while you shop. Bring your instrument, grab a seat and join the jam session already in progress. There's no such thing as too many players. At this Mountain Music Jam, everyone's welcome.
Spencer-Penn Center Music Night- On the second Friday of each month head out to Spencer-Penn Centre to enjoy a great night of bluegrass and gospel bluegrass. Spencer-Penn was a public school for 77 years and when it closed was sold to the community it became an education and special events center. The building is now on the National Historic Register.
Doors open at 5:00 for delicious concessions featuring homemade desserts, chicken salad, BBQ and lip-smacking hotdogs. The evening starts off with a jam session during dinner followed by the main act. This month, The Hutchens will perform along with Jason Harris & Friends and Tina Herbert & Catherine Conner.
Pickers and Fiddlers Bluegrass Gospel & Mountain Music Songfest- Musicians and music lovers are invited to the Pickers and Fiddlers Bluegrass Gospel and Mountain Music Songfest at Pocahontas Bassett Baptist Church. This event is held the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you play the guitar, banjo or mandolin, we want you! Bring your instrument and join fellow music lovers and musicians to play a few songs together. No one is a stranger at the Songfest. This event is free. Coffee and doughnuts will be provided. Come out for a great morning of fellowship and music.
Bluegrass At The Rives Concert Series- Presented by the Lions Club of Martinsville & Henry County, this series brings outstanding bluegrass concerts to the Rives Theatre the 3rd Saturday of each month.
The lineup consists of many familiar favorites that music lovers have grown to love. The doors open at 5 p.m. with a Pot Luck band and the featured performer begins at 7 p.m. This month the Rives will host Highway South.
Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival- Held on Memorial Day weekend each year at the Blue Mountain Festival Grounds. Rooster Walk provides audiences with three days of music and fun. Musical genres include funk, rock, bluegrass, country, blues, reggae, jazz, Americana and more. In addition to music, there is food, childrens activities and arts & crafts.
Named one of the Southeast's top 100 outdoor events in 2012 by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, Rooster Walk is an experience that you should not miss! (Photo by Roger Gupta)
Fun Fact- Did you know that Martinsville-Henry County was home to singer songwriter Smilin' Jim Eanes? Known for his song "Your Old Standby," Eanes also wrote songs for other artists. His song "I Wouldn't Change You if I Could," recorded by Ricky Skaggs in 1982, was a number one hit. Eanes contributed to the art of bluegrass and country music for five decades and in 1993 he was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association in 1993. (Sources: JimEanes.com, Billboard.com)
We hope to see you stomping your feet and clapping your hands in Martinsville-Henry County soon!