Last Friday night my wife wanted a new “do”, and she knew of a good hairdresser in Floyd, about 25 miles south of us here in southwest Virginia. So(with apologies to the Beverly Hillbillies) we loaded up the Ford and we drove to Floyd County, in the hills, that is: bluegrass music, but no movie stars (that I know of anyway).
I had heard Floyd was a hotbed of bluegrass and I wanted to get a taste. The bluegrass was supposed to center around the Floyd Country Store in the center of town.
Indeed, Floys is one of the venues for the “Crooked Trail”, a tourism effort with several Appalachian music venues. There is a sign at the main intersection in town denoting it.
We headed down Highway 8, a rural two-lane road. I was in a rush because my wife was late for her hair appointment. In fact, we were quite late (I got lost), but the nice hairdresser took her anyway. After I dropped my wife off, I headed to the center of town to the Floyd Country Store.
There is nothing endearing about Floyd at first glance. It’s a small waystation (population 432 -Salute, as they used to say on Hee Haw) at an intersection of two highways. It looks like any other small town, except it is set in my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains.
Floyd is definitely small. It brings to mind a scene from one of the old sitcoms of my childhood, Green Acres or Petticoat Junction, I’m not sure which. In the scene, some folks are looking at a map, looking for the mythical town of Hooterville, where both series were set.
One of the men says.”Where is Hooterville?”. Another one says,”I don’t know. I don’t see it on this map. Oh…, there it is. That fly had its foot on it.”
Mayberry, the mythical town from “The Andy Griffith Show” would probably be a big city compared to Floyd. Ironically, there is a Floyd Barber Shop. As a good English teacher, I know it doesn’t belong to Floyd Lawson, Andy’s barber, because there is the name isn’t possessive.
I was appreciative of the fact that right in the center of town was a trailer park. I thought that Floyd definitely is a stab from the past.
Also in the center of town is a hardware store. This building makes Floyd look somewhat like a museum of the way old towns used to be. I was especially impressed that they had Radio Flyer wagons sitting outside for sale. What kid rides those anymore? How can they find time in between computer games?
Small as it is, Floyd is the home of the country store, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, There were several days of activities planned. When we got there, around 4:30 pm, there wasn’t much going on, but at least it was easy to find a place to park.
I sent the girls on a window shopping tour of the town and I walked into the store. It was a perfect place for me, kind of an early 20th century Starbucks, but with modern Wi-fi.
I bought a cup of coffee and a hot dog all the way from the nice young lady at the counter. When she asked me my name for order purposes, she said, “Oh, Tiny Tim!”. I complimented her on her for being so young, yet having such knowledge of late 6os musical tastes. I don’t think she knew who Miss Vicky was, though.
After I ate and surfed, I walked around. The store’s main focus is a stage in the back where the performers play on Friday nights at 6:30. I still had an hour and a half, so I left and walked around downtown.
I had read that musicians gathered on the street outside the store to jam, and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a group of gentleman outside doing just that. I stopped to listen a couple times.
I particularly appreciated the rendition of “Shenandoah” by the harmonicist. I am a big fan of the movie starring Jimmy Stewart that made the song famous and the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. The song also brings back memories of a canoe trip I took down the Shenandoah River as a young man.
I walked across the street to the open air market, filled with knick knacks and organic food. . When I went over there, a man was playing a song on an electic guitar.
I think Floyd holds this festival every year because a shopkeeper told me that “last year was mellow, but this year should be ‘interesting’.” The long haired, middle-aged said,”Judging by the amount of beer I’ve sold, we should have three times as many people as we did last time.” He said it with the wry sense of humor common to people here in southwest Virginia.
Cheap as I am, I decided not to spend the five bucks Floyd Country Store wanted for their Friday night show. Plus, I didn’t know what the girls would do all night.
On the way out I did try to find the free music going on at the local park. I never found it. I guess I am directionally challenged, and you know men. We never ask for directions. So we headed home, back down Route 8 on a nice summer evening.
I hope to go back to the store again, this time with someone who knows Appalachian Music. I have learned that when I get “artsy craftsy”, I need an expert guide.