Floyd is a small town in Southwestern Virginia just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. There’s only one traffic light in the entire county, and it’s located here. Most of the time a stop sign would do, locals say, but in the summertime there’s a little more tourist traffic. Whatever Floyd was in the past, it’s changing, and the catalyst for change here is traditional Appalachian music.
There’s a new 16-room hotel in Floyd, which has already announced plans to expand. There are several good restaurants and a couple of art galleries, the kind of things you need if you’re going to attract tourists and their dollars. But most of this would not exist without the music. Although live music can been heard at several places around town, the most important venue and reason for Floyd’s expanding popularity is the Floyd Country Store, home of the Friday-night Jamboree.
Several years ago, the state tourism people, seeking to bring more visitors to Southwestern Virginia, created a marketing program that identified seven locations in the area where people could hear live music. They call it the Crooked Road (www.thecrookedroad.org), and have promoted it widely. The music trail includes the Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood, Country Cabin in Norton, Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, Blue Ridge Music Center near Galax, Rex Theater and Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, and the Floyd Country Store. The Store is one of the most popular music venues on the trail. Here, the gospel, old-time, and other traditional country music is as beautiful and rugged as the region’s landscape.