Music & Arts

  • Documentary puts convention in spotlight

    Julie Simone and Vicki Vlasic (aka the Semones sisters) had lived away from their hometown of Hillsville for quite some time when their childhood memories of the Blue Ridge Mountains inspired the idea for a documentary film.

    The film, titled “Fiddlin,” is in the editing phase of post-production and will be submitted to film festivals around the world in the coming months.

  • Thousands expected for annual fiddlers’ convention

    Staff Reports

    An estimated 40,000 musicians and fans will descend on Galax starting this weekend. Felts Park will open its gates at 7 a.m. Sunday for the 81st Annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention.

    The competition opens Monday night and lasts through Aug. 13, but most of the convention’s expected 1,300 campers will show up Sunday to set up.

  • Ralph Stanley, bluegrass icon, passes away at 89

    Staff Reports

    Ralph Stanley, the influential, Grammy Award-winning bluegrass musician, died June 23, 2016. He was 89.

    Stanley’s death was announced by his grandson, Nathan Stanley. “My heart is broken into pieces,” Nathan wrote last Thursday in a post on Facebook. “My papaw, my dad, and the greatest man in the world, Dr. Ralph Stanley has went home to be with Jesus just a few minutes ago. He went peacefully in his sleep due to a long, horrible battle with skin cancer.”

  • HoustonFest celebrates traditional music’s future, honors the past

    Debbie Robinson, HoustonFest’s chief organizer, said she was pleased with this year’s event.

  • HoustonFest will celebrate 80 years of fiddlers' convention

    Staff Report

    Over the past five years, HoustonFest has presented and showcased a veritable who’s who of bluegrass and old-time music.

    Each year brings special and rare performances including the Banjo Jubilation in 2014 and the Orthophonic Joy Presentation in 2015, always paying tribute to the legendary artists of the region while featuring a strong focus on young up and coming artists.

  • Camerata to present spring concerts

    The Highland Camerata will present its spring program, “Songs of the Americas,” in three upcoming concerts.

  • Galax adds RexFest to festival calendar

    Though the long-running Galax Leaf & String Festival is no more, the city will have a new music festival this year — RexFest

    At its April 11 meeting, Galax City Council voted to approve a request for a new festival to be held in downtown this September.

    Tourism Director Ray Kohl brought council a proposal for RexFest, conceived of by Stevie Barr of Barr’s Fiddle Shop. The event would be held on Sept. 24 and be headlined by popular country act Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, along with 11 supporting bands.

  • Music center announces summer concert series

    Staff Report

    The Blue Ridge Music Center will open its season on May 28, welcoming a weekly lineup of musicians to the venue for the 2016 Roots of American Music Concert Series. The season continues most Saturdays through September, and includes two fall heritage performances in October.

    The center at milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway selects performers that carry on and interpret traditions of bluegrass, old-time, folk, gospel, Americana and country blues music.

  • State song to debut at HoustonFest

    Staff Report

    Acclaimed bluegrass singer Amber Collins will debut her performance of Virginia’s new anthem on June 11 at HoustonFest.

    Collins will be introduced by Kylene Barker McNeill, originally from Galax, who made history in 1979 as the first Miss Virginia to become Miss America.

  • Radio station changes name, format

    If you tune in to 1360-AM on April 1 and hear “Stairway to Heaven” instead of “Amazing Grace,” it’s not an April Fool’s Day prank and you’re not having a flashback to the radio station’s format from the 1970s.

    At noon on April 1, the Galax station is changing its format from gospel to classic rock, and its call letters from WWWJ to WCGX, “The Cat.”

    The new station will launch by playing Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.”