There’s bluegrass on the Blue Ridge – literally – almost every day through Oct. 27 this year. The Blue Ridge Music Center at Milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway offers mountain music from noon until 4 p.m., spring through fall. Travelers are invited to bring a folding chair and stay awhile, listening to local musicians sing and play the special kind of music for which the Appalachian region has become famous. Best of all, it’s free!
The Blue Ridge Music Center is in Virginia, just a few miles above the North Carolina state line and a short drive south of Exit 8 off I-77 in Fancy Gap, Virginia. From Charlotte, it’s about 110 miles, roughly a 2 hour, 15-minute drive.
To see and do
Oftentimes, the “music” of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the “hum” of tires on pavement as cars travel at a leisurely pace through the surrounding countryside. But at Milepost 213, the music heard every afternoon is just that – traditional bluegrass and country music performed live by area musicians. These are laid-back, informal affairs – musicians pick a little, sing a little, talk a little and socialize a lot.
The Blue Ridge Music Center is a relatively new facility that puts the spotlight on the history of country and bluegrass music. The “Roots of American Music Museum” features videos of and interviews with some of the genre’s most famous individuals. There are also interactive exhibits and displays of various musical instruments. The gift shop, of course, has a variety of CDs, songbooks and memorabilia available.
(June through August, the Center’s outdoor pavilion is the stage for Saturday night concerts, featuring some of the region’s most talented country, bluegrass and gospel groups. Unlike the midday music, tickets are required for the pavilion shows. )
The center is managed cooperatively by the National Park Service and the nonprofit National Council for the Traditional Arts.