Christian Science Monitor

Pulled up by the banjo strings
By Patrik Jonsson, June 23, 2005

On a Friday night, the old-time music spills out of the Floyd Country Store and “pickin’ parties” spring up along the narrow sidewalks.

Ed Coar, a county worker from Pennsylvania here on vacation, says he’s drawn by “that old lonesome sound” of bona fide bluegrass.

Many simply stumble upon this Friday night jamboree, but Mr. Coar found Floyd on a music map. The map ties together eight music destinations – from the Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood to the Fiddlers’ Convention in Galax – in a 250-mile “trail” through the Virginia highlands, called the Crooked Road. “It’s easy to forget this stuff still happens in America,” Coar says.

The selling of the Crooked Road is part of a multimillion-dollar tourism effort designed to pull this impoverished region up by its banjo strings.

With coal mostly gone and factories closing, local officials are hoping the old-time music that invokes so much of the hope and healing of the American experiment will help lift the local economies of Appalachia. And it just might.

Read more at The Christian Science Monitor

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