— The Crooked Road — Virginia's Heritage Music Trail —
Big Stone Gap.
Big Stone Gap takes its name from a large stone, visible
in a gap. Wagoners who followed Daniel Boone's trail
said: "It's a day's ride from the Big Stone Gap to
Cumberland Gap." Fiddlers, banjo players, and singers
came in those wagons, and their descendants were
joined by a diverse population during the boom and
bust cycles of mineral extraction and logging. The Irish
railroaders were very musical, and the Italians, eastern
Europeans, and others added zest to the musical stew.
There were "busking" musicians in Big Stone Gap and
other coal towns. They performed outside workplaces
and on the street, especially on paydays. Good tunes
were kept and traded, and many of the high flying
bands of the 1920s had Big Stone Gap as a favorite stop.
The song mix was attuned to the coalfields: ditties
carried by the railroaders, ancient ballads, tragic songs
and religious songs of many kinds.
Among the legendary musicians from here were the
children of "Fiddling" Martin, an African-American
blacksmith with a large family. Among his children were
Roland Martin, a blind multi-instrumentalist and singer
who made 78 rpm recordings, and mandolinist Carl
Martin, a bluesman noted for his impassioned singing,
zany songs, and a sense of humor. Big Stone
Gap was home to author John Fox, Jr
who penned the novel The Trail of the
The book was later
adapted into a stage play and became
Virginia's official outdoor drama which
is staged here each summer. Visitors can
take the Big Stone Gap walking tour for
a glimpse of the town's rich history and
also enjoy its museums, parks and outdoor
The Crooked Road, Virginia's Heritage Music Trail.
From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Coalfields region, southwest Virginia is blessed with historic and contemporary music venues, musicians, and fretted instrument markers. Historically isolated, the region retained its strong musical legacy by passing traditions down through musical families to an appreciative community.
Old time mountain music, bluegrass, and gospel can be enjoyed all year long and several museums are devoted to showcasing the area's rich musical heritage.
The Crooked Road winds through the ruggedly beautiful Appalachian Mountains and leads you to the major hotspots of old time mountain, music country music, and bluegrass. Alive and kickin' for today's fans, these venues preserve and celebrate musical traditions passed down through generations. Annual festivals, weekly concerts, radio shows, and jam sessions ring out to large audiences and intimate gatherings. Please visit the Crooked Road website to plan your trip to coincide with the current entertainment events.