Music echoes through the mountains and foothills of the Dan River State Crossings. Melodies and rhythm have run through the region for centuries, leaving a rich legacy.
Inspired in part by Fred Fussell’s 2003 book, “Blue Ridge Music Trails: Finding a Place in the Circle,” we decided to make a list of some of the State Crossings’ best places to find music. We didn’t make a comprehensive list because it’s changing all the time. Instead, we leaned toward places with a rich history and tradition. Visit our Facebook page and make your own suggestions, and we’ll collect them for a future story.
Martinsville/Henry County, Virginia
June German Ball
The June German Ball began in 1938 at the D and H Recreation Center and became an annual gala event in Martinsville’s African-American community. For nearly three decades, African- Americans from Burlington, Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, and all places in between flocked to the Planters Warehouse every year for the annual June German Ball. Now that history is celebrated in the June German display in lobby of the Baldwin Building and with “Reliving our Roots: Music of Henry County,” an exhibit at Martinsville Henry County Heritage Center & Museum.
Music Night at the Spencer-Penn Centre
Enjoy a full evening of live bluegrass and gospel music starting at 5:30 p.m. Be sure to bring your dancing shoes. Open mic begins at 5:30 and everyone who enjoys playing and singing can join the group. First scheduled band begins at 6:20 p.m. The next scheduled Music Night is December 13, with Two Young Two Old and The Country Boys.
Stokes County, North Carolina
Sandy Ridge Music Association
From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every second Saturday, the Sandy Ridge Music Association puts on bluegrass and gospel concerts. For more information, check out their Facebook page.
3rd Saturday Grass
The 3rd Saturday Grass series features bluegrass musicians from across the region each month with performances at the Arts Place of Stokes, 502 Main Street in Danbury. Dancers are welcome.
Patrick County, Virginia
Patrick County Music Association Monthly Jamboree
Find local talent at free monthly shows on the fourth Saturday each month at Rotary Field in Stuart. This jam began as a small gathering of pickers, singers and fans in the early ‘90s and was later expanded to today’s jamboree.
Singing at Dominion Valley Park
Each Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend, Dominion Valley in Stuart becomes the site of gospel singings. The music starts in the morning and lasts all day. The venue sometimes holds other musical events, too. Check its website for more information.
Poor Farmer’s Farm
The Poor Farmer’s Farm in Vesta features a regular slate of annual and weekly music events. The store has been keeping old-time and bluegrass traditions alive since 1986. Check out its Front Porch Bluegrass series. Its Facebook page also is a good source for current info and upcoming events.
Person County, North Carolina
Sanders Family Christmas, Kirby Theater
The Kirby Theater functions as the main performing arts auditorium at the Kirby Cultural Arts Complex in downtown Roxboro. The theater hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including performances, theater productions, free movie screenings, and rental events. But we wanted to spotlight Sanders Family Christmas, a Roxboro Little Theater Production that plays in mid-December. The musical uses bluegrass gospel to tell the story of the Sanders family as it prepares for Christmas in a small North Carolina town. It’s the winter of 1941, and young Dennis Sanders, along with his family, friends and community, must face leaving his home to join the war effort. Find out more at the Kirby’s website.
Rockingham County, North Carolina
Charlie Poole Music Festival
The Charlie Poole Music Festival honors the musical legend for whom it’s named. Over the years, the festival has featured Tony Rice, Norman & Nancy Blake, Mike Seeger, J.D. Crowe, Alice Gerrard, Tony Trischka, the Carolina Chocolate Drops and many more. The festival went on hiatus in 2019 but should return in 2020. Check out its website for updates.
While in Rockingham County, make sure to check out Rockingham County Radio at 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. each weekday for features on North Carolina bluegrass musicians. Listen on 1490 WLOE, Eden/Reidsville/Wentworth and 1420 WMYN, Madison/Mayodan/Stoneville.