Hit the road on scenic Appalachian trails
By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY
Drivers who want to take a look at Lookout Mountain or brake for country music on Virginia's Crooked Road can gear up for one of 28 Appalachian driving tours developed by the National Geographic Society in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Visitappalachia.com offers interactive versions of the tours, downloadable maps and links to Appalachian states' tourism offices for additional info.
Driving routes, with photos and detailed travel information, also are featured in the April issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. They include southwest Virginia's Crooked Road, Ohio's Clothesline of Quilts, The North Alabama Birding Trail, Kentucky Artisan Heritage Trails, West Virginia's Coal Heritage Trail and a 93-mile spin along the Lookout Mountain Parkway between Chattanooga, Tenn., and Gadsden, Ala..
The driving tours have a mission: to bring more visitors to Appalachia and rev up local economies.
Stay at The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast and drive the famous Shooting Creek Road on over to Floyd for their Friday Night Jamboree.
EXCERPT: Floyd, a one-stoplight town of 423, the population explodes on Friday nights. An overflow crowd spills out of the Country Store's faded wooden confines and onto Locust Street, where the Ruritan Club has set up a barbecue stand in the gravel lot next door.
Bands take shape on the corner, and a street party atmosphere prevails. Inside the general store, there's no smoking, drinking or cussing allowed, and generally, people comply, says Wood, an employee who helps maintain decorum.
Though Floyd is showing some signs of gentrification — tamarind-glazed tofu and jazz guitar at Oddfellas Cantina, a hemp clothing store, a shop-window ad for guided meditation — the Friday old time (fiddle-driven dance music) and bluegrass (the concert music born from old time) are what pack them in.
The jamboree evolved from impromptu get-togethers in an adjoining feed store and spread to the 1910 general store building where it became formalized 20-odd years ago.
"The store is an uplifting place with this wonderful spirit," says current owner Woody Crenshaw. "There's nothing pretentious here, and that's what touched me — how real it is in a world that's become so artificial."
"It's because people here don't take their cues from Hollywood or Nashville or New York," says Joe Wilson, chairman of the National Council for the Traditional Arts. (Joe Wilson stayed with us at The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in the Wash House Cottage and loved it here! He gave us a nice write us up in his book "A Guide to the Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail." we're on Pg 43 - the only lodging with a photo. :)
"You have a set of cranky people here who'd rather hear (local artist) Wayne Henderson than Garth Brooks. You know why? He's better. The reverberations of a great musician can last in a community for centuries."
In fact, the genre's popularity is growing, and not just because of Hollywood influences such as last year's Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line, or the earlier O Brother, Where Art Thou? Locals call the recent fans "the O Brother people," Wilson says. (Dan Tyminsky is a local to Franklin County and was the voice in the movie singing "Man of Constant Sorrow" he lived 8 miles from the B&B in Ferrum. He was touring with Allison Krauss.)
Along the Crooked Road, "all of a sudden we have a resurgence of young people (playing music) like never before," he says. http://www.thecrookedroad.org/
If you have not heard it y'all don't know what yer missin! Dixie Bee-Liners new pre-release "Down on The Crooked Road" - we have permission from Brandi Hart to play their cd for our guests. It is to be released mid April. Dixie Bee-Liners are what I call the new music on the Crooked Road. I love it.
Life is too short for bad coffee... Shellie @ The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount Virginia http://www.claibornehouse.net/
Read another article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Travel Section By J. Eric Eckard posted Sun 03.30.08:
"On the surface, we're just signs on the side of the road that connect the venues, but the real story is the people and the music," says Bill Smith, executive director of the Crooked Road project. (Bill Smith stayed in our Wash House Cottage and loved it here at The Claiborne House B&B)