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Today's Features

  • Hanging up fliers and decorating cars in red, white and blue, locals are cheering on 11-year-old Alexandra Pyles of Galax and her teammates, who will appear in the next round of competition on the NBC reality show “America’s Got Talent” tomorrow, Tuesday, when the show goes live in Los Angeles at 8 p.m.

    Alexandra left for Los Angeles on Aug. 19.

    She is receiving national and regional recognition. On Aug. 18, she was interviewed by the Winston-Salem Journal and WXII Channel 12 News in Winston-Salem, N.C.

  • The Town of Fries, population 697, is the place where the country music industry really began. Located in a sheltered cove of the beautiful New River, tiny Fries had a major impact upon American music.

    Other places in Grayson and Carroll counties have a rich musical history, but Fries keeps its heritage alive in a picture-perfect setting — and those musical traditions thrive.

    In 1923, loom tender Henry Whitter, an employee of the old Washington Cotton Mill in Fries, became the first singer to record a country record.

  • On Saturday evening, a program saluting the Round Peak sound will be presented at the Blue Ridge Music Center.

    Paul Brown, a Washington-based newscaster and reporter for National Public Radio, will host the 7 p.m. program.

    Brown is heard most mornings coast-to-coast on NPR’s Morning Edition.

    During his youth Brown came to the Galax area to learn Round Peak music, and he remains an enthusiastic supporter of the sound.

  • At age 3, Benjamin Galyean is already reading music, and so is 6-year-old Jesse Dittrich, who has been diagnosed with a form of dyslexia.

    For almost 10 years, Charlotte McPherson, director of the Joybell Ringers at Galax’s First Baptist Church, has taught music to numerous families as siblings and moms come together.

    Her classes range from 2-year-old tots in the Baby Bell class to home-schooled teens and 30-something mothers in Beginner Bells and Joybell Ringers.

  • Where many people see only the things that divide us — race, class, gender, belief — musician Tremayne Blair sees the common spirituality that binds human beings together.

    The Galax-born singer and songwriter is pursuing a dream of spreading that message to the masses — one audience or congregation at a time, if necessary.

    On Aug. 2, Blair will host a concert at Cliffview Church of God in Galax.

  • The fiddlers’ convention brings out the weird in us sometimes, from jam sessions in Port-A-Johns and kazoo parades to naked bathing in Chestnut Creek and flinging flaming instruments — all real traditions of the 73-year-old event’s colorful past.

    One constant of Galax’s annual festival is the freaky and fanciful names musicians give their bands.

    They range from the funny to the obscure to the possibly perverted — if we only understood what they meant.

  • Registration for the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention increased overall for the first time in five years.

    Last year was the fourth year in a row that registrations for the convention declined. Registrations for 2007 were down 130 from the previous year.

    But for the 73rd annual event, overall registrations were 1,817 — up 52 contestants from 2007.

    Officials with the convention’s sponsor, Galax Moose Lodge #733, say the registration numbers have never reflected actual attendance.

  • Even in a sluggish economy, Galax-based textile mill Blue Ridge Crest and Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. are managing to run all out while their operations employ nearly 1,100 combined.

    “When the factories were closing a few years ago, my goal would have been to survive,” said Wyatt Bassett, executive vice president of Vaughan-Bassett. “But now, we’re beyond that, and as soon as the economy will allow it, we’d love to start growing again.”

  • Galax’s population will soar in the coming week, as thousands of fiddlin’ fans descend on the city.

    Felts Park will open its gates at 7 a.m. Sunday for the 73rd Annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention. The competition opens Monday night and lasts through Aug. 9.

    Most of the convention’s expected 1,300 campers will show up Sunday to set up camp.

    Locals who aren’t convention-bound should avoid the place altogether or choose alternate routes, Galax police advise.

  • FRIES — When most people think of rodeos they think of horses and cowboys, but the rodeo in Fries on Sunday featured a different kind of horsepower.

    If there were a “Best in Show” award for the Fries Volunteer Fire Department’s 2nd Annual Motorcycle Rodeo, it would have gone to Duane Taylor.

    Duane — along with son Caleb and wife Michelle — won five of the seven events held during the fire department fundraiser.