The Washington Post

Floyd Country Store Exterior

At 100, Bob ‘Granpa’ Miller still speaks fluent harmonica in Virginia
By Associated Press, Sunday, March 20, 12:01 AM

Bob “Granpa” Miller recalled the thrill felt when his hands first cupped a harmonica.

“I reckon I was about 6 or 7 years old,” he said. “My aunt sent me one of them little harps through the mail. And I thought that was the most wonderful thing in the world.”

Last month, on the eve of turning 100 years old Feb. 12, Miller celebrated his birthday by playing one of his 14 harps at the Floyd Country Store. The world-famous venue hops during Friday Night Jamborees when bands assemble from near and far to perform bluegrass, gospel and old-time mountain music.

Miller sat in with a group and played “Turkey in the Straw” and “Old Joe Clark” and “Wreck of the Old 97.”

Eleven days later, Miller grinned remembering the crowd’s reception.

“They give me a mighty big hand,” he said. “They tore the roof down. And then, boy, after I got off the floor, you talk about a stomp-down, flatfootin’, stompin’ the floor. I just wish I could have got in there with them on that flatfootin’.”

Woody Crenshaw owns Floyd Country Store. After Miller played, Crenshaw announced from the stage that from that day forth anyone turning 100 will be eligible to sit in with a band.

“To me, Granpa Miller showed that he still has passion for his life and wants to live it fully,” Crenshaw said.

More than 90 years ago, after receiving that first harp at his musical family’s Bland County farmhouse, Miller’s determination reared like a frisky horse.

“I was going to learn to play it. I’d get out on the front porch, even in the wintertime, you know, sit down in a rocking chair and play,” he said.

Miller demonstrated the blow-and-draw breathing required to wring music from the small wind instrument.

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