Nestled in the Great Appalachian Valley, four young musicians performed a special bluegrass concert last night. The Blackberries, a youth bluegrass band whose members range in age from 10 to 16 years old, were being featured in The Crooked Road youth music series in collaboration with Roanoke’s public radio station, WVTF Radio, for Public Radio Music Month at Heartwood in Abingdon, Virginia. The Blackberries, who are students at the Floyd Music School, were joined onstage by Mike Mitchell, fiddler and vocalist and owner of the Floyd Music School; guitarist David Oakes, who teaches at Floyd Music School; and Cara Modisett of WVTF.
The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail, is a 300-mile route that winds through southwestern Virginia and celebrates the landmarks of the region’s musical heritage. The Floyd Music School places a firm emphasis on these music traditions. As Mike Mitchell notes, “I have made sure that [the students] are well aware of the fact that bluegrass and old time music is their birthright.”
In-community performances such as these, that are hosted by the region’s public radio station, underscores public radio’s invaluable role in nurturing local music traditions and providing a community platform for our next generation of musicians.