Music has traditionally played a big part in Appalachian culture, and it seems that other countries are taking note of the region’s rich musical tradition. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear about the West Virginia tourist music trail called The Mountain Music Trail (MMT). Since the last time we heard from them, they’ve grown up. MMT was recently a finalist for the 2016 British Guild of Travel Writers Tourism Initiative Awards in the “Wider Word” category and was recognized as one of the top three destinations in the world.
MMT connects communities along US Route 219, also known as the Seneca Trail. From Monroe County to Lewisburg in Greenbrier County, it crosses Pocahontas and Marlinton County, climbs intense mountains to Elkins, before ending in Tucker County and Thomas Town. You will hear from Tim O’Brien, who says that when he performs in these rooms, a certain magic happens.
Inside Appalachia inspires the English principal’s journey 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 went to West Virginia. He said he was inspired after listening to Inside Appalachia. He stopped by our studio in Charleston to record his story:
Mountain Music Trail creates a “virtual trial” of Heritage Tour
Could the Mountain Music Trail positively impact the West Virginia tourism market?
The West Virginia Tourism Division and Mountain Stage of West Virginia Public Broadcasting have partnered to promote MMT and the state’s musical heritage. In 2015, they released a series of videos featuring stories along the trail.
All of this work has paid off with the awards the trail has received from British writers. We spoke to Cara Rose, Executive Director of the Pocahontas County Convention and Tourism Bureau and MMT Coordinator.
Floyd, Virginia’s Famous Friday Night Jamboree
In this episode, you’ll also hear about Crooked Road in Virginia, the inspiration for the Mountain Music Trail. Roxy Todd has visited Crooked Road and talked to the people there, as well as the tourists who come there, about what it means to them. You’ll also hear Desire Moses, a reporter who has walked the crooked road, talk about how it affects local businesses and the local economy.
Traditional music inspires a new generation
“There are a lot of good words in an old country song,” said Carl Hensly of Beckley. “A lot of times it’s something they’re going through.”
Hensly is one of a small group of country, folk, bluegrass and gospel enthusiasts who meet once a week at the Sophia Fire Department in County Raleigh. The door is open to anyone who wants to join on Tuesday evening.
Jam sessions in Sophia, West Virginia, take place every Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. in the Sophia Bingo Hall (the old fire station).
We want to know which is your favorite travel destination in the Appalachians. Send us a tweet at @InAppalachia. Music on 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.