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Blue Ridge Music Trails

Finding a Place in the Circle

By Fred C. Fussell

Photographs by Cedric N. Chatterley

Blue Ridge Music Trails

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 152 color / 4 b&w photos, 10 maps, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5459-4
    Published: June 2003

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Awards & distinctions

2004 Preserve America Presidential Award for Heritage Tourism

The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia are the heart of a region where traditional music and dance are celebrated as nowhere else in America. This book is a comprehensive traveler's guide to discovering the many places where this unique music-making legacy thrives. The book leads readers to more than 160 venues and events filled with bluegrass and string band music, ballad singing, fiddling, shape-note singing, gospel music, clogging, and other traditional forms of music and dance.

Vivid descriptions bring the mountain music scene to life in all its diversity. Nearly 150 color photographs are partnered with the moving words of musicians themselves, allowing readers a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the bearers of this enduring folk legacy. Concise driving directions and up-to-date maps accompany the entries for the events covered, which range from small, local jam sessions to well-known festivals that draw thousands of fans.

An engaging and essential resource for music lovers, this guide invites everyone to experience a great American musical tradition.

About the Author

Fred C. Fussell is a writer, curator, and documentary photographer whose work focuses on the study and interpretation of the traditional folk culture of the American South. His recent professional activities include creating exhibits for the Gertrude “Ma” Rainey House and Blues Museum in Columbus, GA; serving as exhibits consultant for The Carter Family Memorial Music Center (Carter Family Fold) in Hiltons, VA; and co-curating an exhibit for the Alabama Humanities Foundation on the Roots Music of Alabama. Fussell is an independent folklorist who currently is working on a guidebook to traditional music venues in Alabama. He lives in Columbus, Georgia.
For more information about Fred C. Fussell, visit the Author Page.


"A fascinating and innovative travel guide to the music and dance of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina and Virginia. . . . Informative, exhaustive, and compelling, this guidebook will make any reader head directly to the Blue Ridge musical community to experience fiddlers' jamborees, gospel songs, and shape-note singing. Highly recommended to anyone interested in travel and the American musical tradition."--Library Journal

"A comprehensive traveler's guide to the places--most of them rural, many of them out-of-the-way--where bluegrass and string band music, clogging and buckdancing are still living traditions."--Blue Ridge Country

"A good introduction to a remarkable regional musical culture. . . . If you're not much for guitars, fiddles and banjos, forget about it. But if you are, y'all come."--Los Angeles Times

"Featured articles on every aspect of this music, profiles of musicians and photos that depict the region's lifestyle add to the richness of this text. It's a keeper for any traveler interested in the musical heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains."--Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Blue Ridge Music Trails is to Appalachian music what Rand McNally is to highway travel. . . . Bravo to all involved for bringing this publication to an anxiously awaiting music-loving public."--Sing Out!

"Yes, the Blue Ridge Mountains are alive with music, but you need to know when to go, and where you will be welcomed. The answers are here, and I hope you are ready to be called 'Old Buddy' or 'Honey Bunch.'"--Joe Wilson, National Council for the Traditional Arts