The Mountain Music Trail: Then and Now

Nov 18, 2016

Music has traditionally played a big role in the culture of Appalachia, and it seems that other countries are taking notice of the region’s rich musical tradition. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear from the tourism music trail in West Virginia called The Mountain Music Trail (MMT) Since we last heard from them, they have grown. The MMT recently was a finalist in the British Guild of Travel Writers 2016 tourism initiative awards in the “wider word” category, and was recognized as one of the top three destinations in the world. 

The MMT connects communities along US Route 219, also known as the Seneca Trail. From Monroe County up through Lewisburg in Greenbrier County, it moves through Pocahontas County and Marlinton, up some intense mountains to Elkins, before finally ending in Tucker County and the town of Thomas. You’ll hear from Tim O’Brien, who says that when he plays these venues, a certain magic occurs.

Inside Appalachia Inspires English Principal's Trip to W.Va.

By the way, you may remember earlier this year when a school principal from England, named Matthew Shirley, crossed the ocean and visited West Virginia. He said he was inspired to visit after listening to  Inside Appalachia. He stopped by our studio in Charleston to record his story:

Mountain Music Trail Creates "Virtual Test Drive" of Heritage Tour

Could the Mountain Music Trail affect the tourism market of West Virginia in a positive way?

The West Virginia Division of Tourism and West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Mountain Stage teamed up to promote the MMT and the state’s music heritage. In 2015 they released a series of videos featuring stories from along the trail.

All of this work has paid off with award that the trail has received from British writers. We spoke to Cara Rose, Executive Director of the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau and coordinator of the MMT.

Floyd, Virginia’s Famous Friday Night Jamboree

Musicians gather for informal jams outside the Floyd Country Store
Credit David E. Rotenizer Raleigh County Extension Agent – Community Development West Virginia State University Extension Service

In this episode, you'll also hear about the Crooked Road in Virginia, the inspiration for the Mountain Music Trail. Roxy Todd visited the Crooked Road and talked to the people there, as well as to the tourists who come to it about what it means to them. You will also hear from Desire Moses, a reporter who traveled the Crooked Road, about how it affects local business and the local economy.

Inside the Floyd Country Store
Credit Credit Doug Arbogast, West Virginia University Extension Service

Traditional Music Inspires a New Generation

“There’s a lot of good words in an old country song," Carl Hensly of Beckley said. "A lot of times it’s something that they go through."

Hensly is part of a small group of old time country, folks, bluegrass and gospel lovers that meet once a week at Sophia Fire Department in Raleigh County. The door is open to anyone that wants to join on Tuesday nights.

The jam sessions in Sophia, West Virginia happen every Tuesday 5:00 p.m. at the Sophia bingo hall (the old fire hall).

We want to hear what your favorite travel destination is in Appalachia. Send us a tweet to @InAppalachia. Music in today’s show is by Kid in the Background, Ben Townsend, Tim O’Brien, Jake Krack, Richard Hefner and Jesse Milnes.

Our producer is Roxy Todd. Our audio mixer is Zander Aloi.

Our editor this week is Jesse Wright.

We’d love to hear from you.   You can e-mail us at feedback@wvpublic.org. Find us on Twitter @InAppalachia or @JessicaYLilly.