Little Rickie James, three weeks old
We headed out to the Blue Ridge Music Center and stopped off on the way at a Farmers Market in Independence. Today was Fiber Day and there were several venders who knit pieces with alpaca wool. These are true craftswomen who are making fabulous pieces out of natural materials. The wool was available for sale as well as rolls of died yarn. A highlight was a three week old baby alpaca whose name was Rickie James.
We were also enchanted by our conversation with this delightful lady who makes beautiful pieces out of gourds. The details in her work were exquisite. She is a character and such fun to talk with!
Right off the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Blue Ridge Music Center, a permanent exhibit that offers an educational experience on the roots of American music. The exhibit walks visitors through how American music came to be. Through video, audio recordings, paintings, photos, artifacts and other information, the exhibit tells the story of how music came to the mountains and how all American music has evolved from old time music. Many of us love music, but know little about the history of traditional Appalachian music and how it has an enormous influence on American music.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are an important musical breeding ground in America. Driving around this countryside, we could not help but wonder how did mountain music move from front porches of the Blue Ridge to the ears of America? This exhibit gave us great answers to the question.
Among the artifacts are instruments built by local craftsman, old radios and cylinder records from the late 18 Hundred’s. Every day the center offers free midday mountain music from noon to 4 o’clock. You can go there to hear local performers of old time, gospel, bluegrass, Americana and traditional music. The day that we stopped by there were two older local gentlemen playing guitar and banjo and singing old time favorites. We enjoyed it so much that we went back for a Saturday night concert. The Center has an open air ampitheather that faces into the mountains. There is a state of the arts sound system that amplifies the music way up into the hills. Tickets are only $15.00 and the venue draws top folk, gospel and blue grass acts.
After leaving the concert, we drove up to the nearest overlook to watch the sunset. We met a fellow on a Harley Davidson and struck up a conversation with him. He was quite a character, sharing with us that he earns his living making handmade wooden “vaps” . He was a wealth of information about the spectacular view we were looking at. He pointed out where the Appalacians ended and the Sour Town hills began. He showed us the town of Mt. Airy where Andy Griffin’s Mayberry was based upon. He could name every hill and every knob and every valley and took a great deal of pride in helping understand better what we were looking at. And the sun falls on another pretty Appalachian day.