Research Paper Spoilers

This is an excerpt from the first draft of my research paper. It’s on traditional music and bluegrass in Montgomery County and Giles County. It’s under revision so any feedback would be great!

The existence of old time music and bluegrass in Montgomery County—which is a geographically defined Appalachian community—sustains Appalachian culture for its inhabitants. The performers typically play for small concerts, in jam sessions with other musicians, and at local social gatherings such as church meetings and dances. Bands like the Indian Run String Band and the Black Twig Pickers carry on Appalachian music customs. Following tradition, they play string instruments and perform songs older than anyone living.[1] There are venues and events in Montgomery County already affiliated with The Crooked Road—these include the Blacksburg Market Square Jam, the Blacksburg Square Dance, and a fiddle and banjo jam in Radford.[2] Unaffiliated venues for bluegrass and traditional music include Sycamore Deli in Blacksburg, Due South Barbecue in Christiansburg, and the River City Grill in Radford.[3] These venues and events are active embodiments of Appalachian culture in Montgomery County. Appalachian people gather in these places to witness and participate in musical traditions.

Affiliation with The Crooked Road would benefit Montgomery County by encouraging outside interest in the local music community. This community is up and coming; there has been an increase in performance of traditional and bluegrass music particularly in Blacksburg. This growth is due to the interest of a young audience—fans of “newgrass” bands like the Punch Brothers. Although there are musicians and venues in Montgomery County, the music requires an audience. Placing Montgomery County on Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail would attract a larger fan base and support for the music and the county.[4] Official recognition by The Crooked Road would ensure the persistence of mountain music to the next generation of Montgomery County musicians by validating the significance of music to the area.

Traditional music is a defining factor of Appalachian culture because of its distinct association with the mountains. The music coalesces the people of Appalachia with the geographic region, resulting in a cultural experience through song. As the home of The Crooked Road, Appalachian Virginia is a leader of the representation of the soundtrack to the mountains. The music is historically embedded in the region; its persistence throughout time justifies performance of old time or bluegrass as a folk tradition. The two music styles represent the growth and evolution of Appalachian culture throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The tradition of old time and bluegrass music continues today in Montgomery County. With the benefits of The Crooked Road, the music would receive the attention it needs to flourish in the next generation as well.

[1] Reed, Dean and Terry Reed. “Presentation on Old Time Music with Dean and Terry Reed.”

[2] “Affiliated Venues and Festivals.” The Crooked Road. 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <https://www.myswva.org/tcr/venues/affiliated>.

[3] Scales, Stewart. “Interview with Stewart Scales.”

[4] Scales, Stewart. “Interview with Stewart Scales.”

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