2019 Season Sponsors
Virginia is for Music LoversYadkin Arts Council
WLA Trucking Visit Winston-Salem

The Blue Ridge Music Center
700 Foothills Rd
Galax, VA 24333
Milepost 213 on
The Blue Ridge Parkway

Music Center Info Call:
(276) 236-5309
Concert Info Call:
(866) 308-2773 x 213
To Purchase Concert Tickets
by phone (866)308-2773 x 212

The Blue Ridge Music Center
is closed for the season,  reopening May 2019

2019 Hours of Operation:
Open Thurs.-Mon., May 4-21
Open daily, May 23 - November 3
10 a.m. - 5 p.m

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Sponsored by

Becky Buller Band

A One-Day Conference Exploring the Role of Textile Mills and Factories
in the Development of The Traditions That Are The Roots of Today's American Music

Thursday, April 11th

Conference 8:30 am - 5 pm
Concert at 7:30 pm 

at WinMock at Kinderton, Bermuda Run
(just west of Winston-Salem, N.C. )

Cost is $130 for the full day 
Conference includes continental breakfast, lunch, keynote address, panel discussions and break out sessions, plus a copy of Wiley Cash's book The Last Ballad. Concert admission is included with conference registration.

Cost is $50 for Luchtime Keynote ONLY
Lunchtime keynote address by NC author Wiley Cash (The Last Ballad). 

Concert Admission ONLY $10 

Pre-registration is required
Buy Tickets

The Blue Ridge Music Center is hosting a one-day conference and concert to spread an appreciation and understanding of musical influences and traditions that were born out of mill and factory towns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Migrants to the cities and towns included musicians, who encountered new rhythms, techniques, and musical styles, which they assimilated into their own musical styles and repertoires. During the same period of time, the business of music was taking off with the burgeoning recording industry, the growth of the reach of radio, and an economic incentive for writing original songs. The combination of these forces led to the creation of new musical forms.

This conference will include musicians, songwriters, authors, scholars, and others interested in how cultural and economic forces have helped shape popular music. The discussion will center on the role of mills and factories in the early part of the 20th century as a catalyst to the creation of new musical traditions that are the roots of today’s American music. Traditional and roots music professionals with expertise in early American folk and traditional music history will lead sessions.

Speakers & Particpants: 

Wiley Cash
New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash's latest novel is set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. A chronicle of a single mother's struggle for her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression. Lyrical, heartbreaking, and haunting, this eloquent novel confirms Cash’s place among our nation’s finest writers.

Patrick Huber
Contrary to popular belief, the roots of American country music do not lie solely on Southern farms or in mountain hollows. Rather, much of this music recorded before World War II emerged from the bustling cities and towns of the Piedmont South. No group contributed more to the commercialization of early country music than Southern factory workers. In Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South, Patrick Huber explores the origins and development of this music in the Piedmont's mill villages.

Huber offers vivid portraits of a colorful cast of Piedmont millhand musicians, including Fiddlin' John Carson, Charlie Poole, Dave McCarn, and the Dixon Brothers, and considers the impact that urban living, industrial work, and mass culture had on their lives and music. Drawing on a broad range of sources, including rare 78-rpm recordings and unpublished interviews, Huber reveals how the country music recorded between 1922 and 1942 was just as modern as the jazz music of the same era. 

Linthead Stomp celebrates the Piedmont millhand fiddlers, guitarists, and banjo pickers who combined the collective memories of the rural countryside with the upheavals of urban-industrial life to create a distinctive American music that spoke to the changing realities of the 20th century South.

Hunter Holmes
Hunter Holmes is a musicologist and 6th generation southern musician, hailing from Laurens, South Carolina. He has spent years researching the songs of the Carolinas with a special interest in the music of the upstate South Carolina and the songs of the textile mill communities. Holmes has toured in conjunction with the Smithsonian's traveling exhibit The Way We Worked,  to present a show on the music of the mill towns that includes a variety of stories and songs, performed with guitar, banjo, harmonica and other instruments. 

Sarah Bryan 
Sarah Bryan, a writer and UNC-trained folklorist, has worked in the field of folklife documentation for nearly two decades. She serves as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Folklife Institute, Editor of the Old-Time Herald, and Editor of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections Journal.

Kinney Rorrer
Kinney Rorrer taught history for 32 years at Danville Community College in Danville, Virginia, before retiring in 2006. He is the author of Ramblin’ Blues: The Life and Songs of Charlie Poole. Rorrer is also a musician—a member of a group called the New North Carolina Ramblers, so named in tribute to Charlie Poole’s band, the North Carolina Ramblers, a band his uncle Posey Rorrer played fiddle in. 

Bob Carlin 
Bob Carlin is probably the best known clawhammer style banjoist performing today. He has taken the distinctive Southern banjo style to appreciative audiences all over the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan. Carlin is a three-time winner of the Frets Magazine readers poll, and has four Rounder albums and several instruction manuals and videos for the banjo.

Carlin is not only highly sought after for his musical talent, but also for his skill as a producer for the music industry and traditional music researcher. He has produced a large number of CDs has authored numerous magazine articles and books for a wide range of publications including String Bands of the North Carolina PiedmontThe Birth of the Banjo: Joel Walker Sweeney and Early Minstrelsy; and The Banjo: An Illustrated History.

Lightnin' Wells
Mike "Lightnin'" Wells brings traditions together in his entertaining, informative and down-home one-man shows. His latest album, titled O Lightnin' Where Art Thou?, displays his range as never before as he plays and sings his way through songs from early country and bluegrass to blues, gospel, and old time mountain music. Born in West Virginia and largely raised in North Carolina, Wells was smitten early by the famed WWVA Jamboree radio show out of Wheeling, West Virginia. When his family moved to the Chapel Hill, North Carolina area, he discovered a rich vein of Piedmont blues and old time music as well.

Ralph Berrier Jr. 
Ralph Berrier, Jr. is a features reporter for The Roanoke Times. He has written extensively about the music of Southwest Virginia and his work has earned more than 20 state and national award. He learned to play bluegrass fiddle from his grandfather, Clayton Hall, and great-uncle, Saford Hall, who are the subjects of his book, If Trouble Don't Kill Me: A Family's Story of Brotherhood, War, and Bluegrass. 

Tony Williamson
Tony Williamson is a renowned mandolin player from Chatham County, who started playing at 9 years old. Since his older relatives already played guitar, fiddle, and banjo, he decided to pick up the mandolin, and by 15 he won the first-place “world champion” title for mandolin at the Ole Time Fiddler’s & Bluegrass Festival in Union Grove, North Carolina. Now an internationally recognized expert on the mandolin, Williamson serves as a mentor and instructor. He’s also a skilled songwriter whose compositions integrate everything from traditional Piedmont string band tunes to classical music and jazz. He writes and plays innovative bluegrass music while maintaining his traditional roots. Williamson’s father and grandfather were both millworkers who played banjo in their leisure time.

Laurelyn Dossett 
Composer and songwriter Laurelyn Dossett lives and writes in the Piedmont of North Carolina, and her songs tend to reflect the stories of the region, both traditional and contemporary. 

One of the most sought-after voices in creative collaborations, she co-founded the band Polecat Creek with singing partner Kari Sickenberger, and has partnered with Triad Stage's Preston Lane on four plays featuring regional folklore and original music: Brother Wolf, Beautiful Star:An Appalachian Nativity, Bloody Blackbeard and Providence Gap. The song "Anna Lee" from Brother Wolf was featured on Levon Helm's Grammy-winning record, Dirt Farmer

Dossett is also a regular performer at regional music festivals such as MerleFest, and most recently wrote and performed with the North Carolina Symphony.