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A Guide to the Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail

Joe Wilson

John F. Blair, Publisher
$19.95 paperback
includes 2 CDs
6 ½ x 11     
225 pages
black-and-white photos throughout
Published in 2006

The Crooked Road is a 253-mile stretch of highway in southwestern Virginia. This remote area, which is one of the places that gave birth to American music, has been a musical hotbed for generations. The route includes the Ralph Stanley Museum, the Carter Family Fold, the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance Museum, the Blue Ridge Music Center, the Rex Theater, the Floyd Country Store, and the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum. Covering the 10 counties through which the road passes, this guide provides information about the area’s musical attractions as well as opportunities to enjoy local crafts, outdoor recreation, lodging, and dining.

Music lovers will also have the chance to take a piece of the Crooked Road home with them, thanks to the pair of CDs containing 53 examples of the old-time, bluegrass, Piedmont blues, Anglo-American ballads, and Appalachian gospel music that made the area famous. These musical selections include:

  • “Baptist Shout,” Frank Jenkins (1927)
  • “White Dove,” Ralph Stanley (1971)
  • “False Hearted Lover,” Dock Boggs (1929)
  • “Blue Ridge Mountain Sunset,” Jim and Jesse McReynolds (1998)
  • “Barnyard Dance,” Martin, Bogan and Armstrong (1972)
  • “Mid the Green Fields of Virginia,” The Carter Family (1932)
  • “Something Got Holt of Me,” Curly King (1949)
  • “I Called My Baby Long Distance,” Archie Edwards (1986)
  • “The Farmer’s Curst Wife,” Horton Barker (1962)
  • “Taking the Crooked Road Home,” Sammy Shelor, Linda Lay, David Lay (2006)
  • “Breaking Up Christmas,” Eddie Bond, Kirk Sutphin, Wayne Henderson, Herb Key (2002)
  • “Suzanna Gal,” Dad Blackard’s Moonshiners (1927)
  • “Short Life of Trouble,” G.B. Grayson and Henry Whitter (1928)
  • “Don’t Get Trouble in Your Mind,” Frank Blevins and His Tar Heel Rattlers (1928)




“I found this guide to be delightful. Besides being enjoyably readable, it contained great historical tidbits to give it context. The information about the sites was practical and usable. The two CDs that were included in the book had a fun variety of Old-Time and roots music. I have listened to them over and over again in both my car and my home. What a treasure this Guide to the Crooked Road turned out to be!” --Amazon.com reviewer
“The ‘Crooked Road’ is what people used to call the stretch of the 253-mile-long U.S. Highway 58 that crosses through Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountain country as it connects the Virginia Piedmont with the Cumberland Mountains. It is also known as Virginia's ‘Heritage Music Trail,’ an officially designated driving route that leads to some of the best traditional mountain music in the country. In A Guide To The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail, music historian, folklorist Joe Wilson (who is also Chairman of the National Council for the Traditional Arts and producer of forty-one large-scale music festivals in eleven states) introduces music lovers to a tour of ten Virginian counties providing a traveler's guide to the area's distinctive musical attractions, as well as opportunities to enjoy local crafts, outdoor recreation, lodging and dining while doing so. Two accompanying CDs showcase fifty-three examples of the region's Old-Time, Bluegrass, Piedmont Blues, Anglo-American ballads, and Appalachian Gospel Music pieces that range from ‘Baptist Shout’ (Frank Jenkins, 1927) to ‘Taking the Crooked Road Home’ (Sammy Shelor, Linda Lay, David Lay, 2006). A welcome addition to American Music History reference collections, A Guide To The Crooked Road is also a wonderfully organized and presented traveler's reference and planning guide.” --Midwest Book Review