From its inception, the Virginia Folklife Program has been closely involved in the development of “The Crooked Road,” Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail. The Crooked Road runs from the Eastern Slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the coalfields of deep Southwest Virginia, passing through many important historic sites for the creation and perpetuation of old-time, bluegrass, and mountain gospel music. It was this region that produced the first “country music” recordings in Bristol, Virginia, in 1929, and there remains a remarkable wealth of musical talent in the region today. Thanks to a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Virginia Folklife Program introduces much of this talent to new audiences through our Crooked Road CD Series.
The CD series is available for purchase online through the VFH Store.
Now Available On CD
Growing up in the southern mountains of Carroll County, Virginia, Gin Burris spent Sunday afternoons singing and playing music with her parents, their parents and their parents. Wind and Rain features a selection of folk ballads passed onto Gin directly from her family, including four variants of the Francis J. Child Ballads, themselves traceable back more than 300 years to origins in the British Isles. Gin has long been a much loved performer at Fiddlers Conventions across the region, but this is her first recording as a featured vocalist.
Co-Produced by Grammy Winning Bluegrass artist Jim Lauderdale
Elder Frank Newsome, a coal miner’s son and himself a veteran of the mines, now preaches at the Little David Church in Buchanan County, Virginia. He and his congregation of Old Regular Baptists are among the last practitioners of a spirited 400-year-old song tradition called lined-out hymnody. Many of these old cherished hymns, recorded at Little David Church one summer evening, feature only Frank Newsome’s a cappella voice, one of the few times this singing style has been captured this way.
Nat Reese is a stunning acoustic blues singer, who, at 82, plays with relentless passion and soul. Reese was born in Salem, Virginia, but soon moved with his family to the coal camps of Southwest Virginia. He learned to play the blues from the itinerant African American blues musicians who came through the area to play in the black-operated chitlin’ houses, and his rich, distinctive voice powerfully evokes this life-experience.