Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Mountain Song Inn is booked on Saturday, but we have one room left for Sunday. Come for Fandango! A great way to spend the 4th.

Don't overlook Floyd Fandango

The annual music, beer and wine event will be held Saturday and Sunday.

JJ Grey
JJ Grey
Anders Osborne
Alligator Records
Anders Osborne
Dangermuffin pics courtesy
When it comes to regional festivals, FloydFest gets most of the attention. But it has a potent younger sister, Floyd Fandango, at the same site. The annual music, beer and wine event, which bills itself as "the hippest July Fourth event in the region," is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
A variety of beer and wine makers will be pouring their products on-site, and food will abound. But who would drive out to the border of Floyd and Patrick counties without the music that FloydFest and Fandango organizers bring to the yard?
Here is a breakdown of what's available this weekend.
JJ Grey & Mofro, which added heat to FloydFest's Saturday afternoon bill last year, is Fandango's top-billed act. The Florida band -- whose latest CD of swampy roots, rock, blues and soul, "Georgia Warhorse" (Alligator), is named for a hearty grasshopper -- will play the main stage at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Anders Osborne, whose slide guitar chops and facial hair are equally massive, leads his trio on both days, headlining the main stage on Sunday. Osborne's most recent release, "American Patchwork" (Alligator), is a sometimes brilliant look at a collapsing personal life amid the damage of his home base, post-Katrina New Orleans.
These United States, a band that sounds at times like an electrified version of The Avett Brothers or a more backwoods version of U2, is set to play both days, including Saturday's wrap-up set at the beer garden stage.
Western North Carolina-based Acoustic Syndicate, a progressive bluegrass act loaded with high-quality musicians, is scheduled for main stage sets each day.
Dangermuffin, from Folly Beach, S.C., is less a beachy band than a power trio that combines space blues and roots rock. Everything grooves with the 'Muffin, which plays both days.
Butch Robins' Imagicnation features the world-class banjo work of Robins, whose resume includes working with Bill Monroe, Leon Russell and New Grass Revival. Imagicnation plays both days.
Nary a July passes without Blue Mule playing either FloydFest or the Fandango. Hear Roanoke Valley bluegrassers jam some Jethro Tull, Grateful Dead and originals on both days.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Views draw visitors to Blue Ridge Parkway - The Indiana Gazette: Indiana County Area News: indiana, pa.,

Take the time to view and read this excellent article in the Indiana Gazette written by Bob Fulton.
If you find yourself wanting to travel the Blue Ridge Parkway, plan on a visit to Floyd County and it's many music venues, wineries and artisans.  Mountain Song Inn Bed and Breakfast is the ideal place to stay.
In May we were awarded the "Certificate of Excellence" from Trip Advisor. Read the wonderful reviews that our guest have written.

Views draw visitors to Blue Ridge Parkway - The Indiana Gazette: Indiana County Area News: indiana, pa.,: "Following the Blue Ridge Parkway through Virginia, morning fog
envelops our car until only the centerline of the road is

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rooms still available for Floyd Fandango

Rooms are still available for Floyd Fandango at Mountain Song Inn B&B. Don't miss out on
this fun wine and beer festival on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Loads of music, entertainment, food and beverages, only a 17 miles from our beautiful bed and breakfast.
Come to the mountains where it is always about 10 degrees cooler, and  have a wonderful July 4th weekend.

Hope to see you here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011



On Virginia's Crooked Road, Music Lights the Way
Mouth of Wilson, Va., on Route 58 along the Crooked Road in Virginia.
Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times
Mouth of Wilson, Va., on Route 58 along the Crooked Road in Virginia.
Published: May 22, 2011
IT starts with a well-worn fiddle, held in equally well-worn hands above a tapping black cowboy boot. Then in comes the banjo, plucked with steel finger picks, followed by the autoharp, the mandolin, the percussive beat of an upright bass. Another banjo grabs the melody, and suddenly the room is bursting with knee-slapping, country-porch music. A man in a crisp checked shirt gets up and starts to dance, bouncing out a complicated bumbumBAM bumbumBAM with his feet, moving as smoothly as a Martha Graham dancer, hitting the floor on the downbeat.
It is Thursday night in Fries (pronounced freeze), Va., population 600, on the wide New River. In the century-old Fries Theater, the silk wallpaper, once a glorious aquamarine embossed with gold ferns, is faded. A sign promises movies for 10 cents, 25 cents on weekends, but there hasn't been a film here in years. The Fries high school closed in 1989 after the cotton mill that gave birth to this hamlet in 1902 shut down. But where the economy has faltered, the local music culture is thriving. Take a drive through the dozens of one-stoplight towns that are planted along highways that twist through this region's blue hills and green valleys, and you'll find that music is the manna of the community.
Fries was my first stop on the music trail known as the Crooked Road - an official designation of the state of Virginia since 2004. The heritage of the path can be found in this dance, in that tune, learned by ear from house to house and passed down through generations. The Road isn't one single highway - it's a roughly 300-mile series of interconnected two-lane byways and long stretches of Route 58, which skims Virginia's North Carolina and Tennessee borders all the way to Kentucky. The sound here is Appalachian: mountain music. Joe Wilson, who wrote a book on the Crooked Road, calls the area the "pickle barrel" of American music. "You know you can't make a good pickle by squirting vinegar on a cucumber," he said. "You have to let it sit."
Over five days in April, I rambled along part of the Crooked Road and towns around it, from Fries up to Ferrum and Floyd, back to Galax and out to Marion, dipping down toward Abington, and back to Galax again. With my partner, Ian, his parents and my 2-year-old daughter, Orli, I drove down roads that curve so dramatically that locals joke that you can see your own taillights as you round the bends. The drive cuts through pastures dotted with cows and horses and weather-beaten barns, some abandoned and left to splinter. Many see the land they sold in recent decades now covered in Christmas trees, a boom industry that has changed the landscape. Churches rise up one after the other: Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist. "Google Doesn't Satisfy All Searches," reads one church sign. "Can't Sleep? Try Counting Your Blessings," says another.
We traveled 370 miles in all, what with switchbacks and retracing our steps to hear just one more tune. We were following the songs that had blown this way and that like so many dandelion seeds across the Blue Ridge Mountains and through the foothills of Appalachia. Our lodgings included everything from a Hampton Inn to an eco-minded auberge decorated by local artists, to a Ragtime-era hotel, recently restored to its former glory.
ALONG the way we stuffed ourselves with buttery biscuits, farm eggs and smokehouse Southern flavors that somehow taste different south of the Mason-Dixon line. Orli loved every minute of it; her affinity for the music was immediate. When she ran onto the dance floor at the Floyd Friday Night Jamboree, the man next to me caught my arm. "Let her be," he said. "We're mountain people - we'll take care of her as our own." She woke each morning singing the twang of the banjo.
If there ever was a place where musical authenticity was born and nurtured, "raised up" as the people around here say, the Crooked Road is it. From the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons (the site of Johnny Cash's last concert) and Clintwood, deep in coal country, to the farms near Floyd, music is still being made on fiddles and banjos, mandolins and guitars, dulcimers and autoharps. Every night you'll find pick-up jams on front porches, performances in theaters and quartets that pack storefronts, an old courthouse and even a Dairy Queen. In summer the area is awash in festivals, from Dr. Ralph Stanley's Memorial Day bluegrass festival in the mountains of Coeburn, Va., to the venerable Old Fiddlers Convention held every August in Galax.
This region is where old-time and bluegrass was born. Old-time is dance music, simpler and older than bluegrass. Bluegrass is filled with vocal harmonies, many made famous by (relative) newbies like Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch. It is suited more for seated audiences than the foot-stomping dance I saw in Fries, which is known as flatfoot. Both genres evolved from tunes brought by Scotch-Irish and German settlers who traveled down the wagon trails from Pennsylvania. They brought dulcimers and fiddles and later picked up the banjo from former slaves.
"It wasn't real practical to bring a piano or an organ till there was a train," said David Arnold, a Fries native whose wild white beard reached mid-sternum. I met him at a jam. It turned out he was the chairman of the Music Heritage Committee at the Grayson County Heritage Foundation in nearby Independence.
Our nights were spent looking for music, but during the day there were farms to explore and hikes to be taken through gorgeous parks. But even there, you'll find music. For instance, in June, at the Grayson Highlands State Park, home to herds of photogenic wild ponies, the annual Wayne C. Henderson guitar festival draws some of the best guitar players in a region packed with prodigies.
Mr. Henderson himself is a local legend. He lives and makes guitars in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it village called Rugby (population 7) that's not officially on the Crooked Road, though his shop is something of a pilgrimage site. (Eric Clapton owns one of his guitars.) I met him at one of those musical nights that seem to happen all the time around there - this one included fellow guitar makers Jimmy Edmonds and Gerald Anderson performing at a community center in Galax while volunteers sold sacks of homemade gingersnap cookies for a dollar. The event was a fund-raiser for a program called JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) which aims to get local children involved in their own roots by teaching them to play music and introducing them to regional artists. A kids' string band called Loose Strings played to thunderous applause.
"It was a way of entertainment for mountain people," Mr. Henderson said of the music he grew up with. He went on to explain why he became a luthier, or instrument maker, a craft for which he won the 1995 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship. "I got into making them because I couldn't afford a nice Martin. Living in Appalachia, nobody's got much money."
It's true. Galax, for one, is a depressed city. There used to be a thriving furniture business there, but lower production costs overseas closed factory after factory. At the edge of town, you'll find an Arby's, Aunt Bea's Barbecue, a decent Mexican place and a Wal-Mart, but there's less work downtown. The streets were quiet the afternoons we wandered through. Folks were around, though, once we started to look. Some were wiping their hands on napkins at the Galax Smokehouse, which is known for pork, but also serves an excellent, juicy barbecue chicken. And then there's the 1920s Rex Theater, which broadcasts live each Friday night on WBRF, a country and bluegrass radio station that provided the soundtrack to our trip.
But the liveliest business in town is Barr's Fiddle Shop. Packed floor to ceiling with fiddles, guitars, amps and all manner of music - as well as a candy-shop section stocked with fudge - Barr's hosts music sessions, curious tourists and lesson seekers. In the 1920s, the Hill Billies quartet got its start on the site - then a barbershop - and their sound, which came to be known as hillbilly music, swept the nation. "People are raised up going to the music," said Stevie Barr, a 35-year-old banjo virtuoso with a shock of surfer blond hair, who owns the shop his father opened. "You are born with it, and you are born listening to it."
I had heard that the best place to be on Friday night, to really see that generational mix, was the town of Floyd. So we bid farewell to Galax, popped a Wayne Henderson CD into the car stereo, and headed up the Crooked Road. "More dance!" Orli cried from the back seat. And then, looking out the window, "More cows! More horses!" Heaven for a city kid is driving in farm country.
BEFORE we'd gone too far, we came across Harmon's. The sign, calling it the "Boot Capitol of Virginia," was enticing and I couldn't resist pulling into the parking lot. It is a sprawling store filled with stiff Wranglers, Stetson hats and endless rows of cowboy boots. Tucked in back was a museum dedicated to regional law-enforcement: a hodgepodge of Civil War paraphernalia; news reports of a shooting at the Carroll County jail in 1912 that people still talk about; the 1920 Matewan mining massacre; and random bits, like a stuffed two-headed calf. Even here there is a music exhibit, with a dulcimer and a banjo, and records cut by local musicians in the 1920s.
I tried on a pair of boots, shot through with aqua up the shaft, rich mahogany leather at the bottom. The ladies at the cash register clucked with approval. "That'll look real nice with skirts come summer," one said. Impulsively, I bought them and jumped back in our rented Ford. And then I saw Ian with a Harmon's bag. "I bought a Western-style shirt, $21," he said, shrugging.
A few hours later we were picking up tickets for the Floyd Country Store Friday Night Jamboree - $5 each - in advance. Then we wandered down the street to Oddfella's Cantina, a cozy restaurant with mismatched furniture, for salads (a relief after all the barbecue) washed down with local Shooting Creek beer. We skipped dessert to hit the jamboree.
The night began with the bluegrass gospel group Janet Turner & Friends. Tiny and snowy-haired, Ms. Turner plays a mean autoharp that pairs well with her sweet, high voice. "When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I'll fly away," she sang. Orli stood in the footlights, playing an air guitar; she and another toddler each began to dance.
But then, within seconds of the band's closing note there was a rush for the dance floor. The audience had changed into double tap shoes, and left a sea of shoes in their wake. What had started out churchlike became a rumble and a roar. The Friday Night Old Time Band had begun. The music picked up, and the number of people in the store doubled, tripled, quadrupled. I swooped Orli up and back, away from the dancing feet. Every inch of wall space was undulating, whooping, stomping. More polished than the dancers at Fries, everyone knew how to flatfoot, and the tap shoes kept the time. A fellow in a T-shirt that read "Still Truckin' " spun me onto the dance floor. I did my best to keep up, clicking my boots on the floor.
Catching my breath, I wandered back into the store, past swirls of giant lollipops and displays of Carhartt pants and jackets. The room reeked of sweat; dancers were backed up to the ice cream counter. There I met Jackie Martin in pressed Liberty overalls. The music she said, nearly teary, has kept her going through hard times. "It's who we are and what we are," Ms. Martin said. "I'm 66 years old and I can still flatfoot!"
The Floyd Country Store may be all about tradition, but the rest of town has a nouveau-hippie vibe, evident in places like the eco-minded Hotel Floyd, in events like Floyd Fest (a summer World Music festival) and in new galleries like Troika, which features decidedly unfolksy pottery, photography, wood pieces and drawings. Owned by the potter Silvie Granatelli, Gibby Waitzkin (a paper artist), and Susan Icove (a lighting designer), Troika emerged out of a biannual gallery crawl called 16 Hands, which takes visitors to the studios of artists who have moved to the region over the last 30 years or so, lured by affordable property and lovely vistas. In the process, they have pushed Floyd toward a creative economy that has buoyed it beyond the economic hardship experienced elsewhere on the Road. (Abingdon, about two hours from Floyd, has that energy too; a regional arts center called Heartwood is due to open in June.) We visited Ms. Granatelli's studio, which is set in a swath of scenery that feels like an Andrew Wyeth painting: lazy cows on the hillside above her white clapboard house, a serene creek below.
In the morning, after stacks of hot cakes, we got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed an hour south to the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Virginia-North Carolina border. Run by the National Park Service and the National Council for the Traditional Arts and created by Congress, the Music Center has hiking trails, a marvelous Mid-Day Mountain Music series that runs from May through October and an amphitheater.
"History is under every rock in this area," said Erynn Marshall, music program manager at the center, as she showed me around "The Roots of American Music," a new interactive exhibition with instruments, photography and stories that trace the history and sound of the region. It was created by Joe Wilson, chairman of the National Council of Traditional Arts and author of "A Guide to the Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail," and designed by Ralph Applebaum, known for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In recent years, Ms. Marshall said, there has been a big push toward preserving local history and culture, and she recommended that we head to another place to see even more of that effort: the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum, in Ferrum.
The drive to the museum, we learned belatedly, was on one of the most breathtakingly twisting roads in a region of shockingly complicated driving. But on arrival, we were pleased to find a child-friendly 19th-century working farm. A woman named Rebecca was dressed as the farmer's wife; there were oxen and lambs to pet, horses, a blacksmith and a woman fiddling away on an ancient violin. At the museum, the current show, which is on display through July, is on the history of the dulcimer. Black-and-white photography in another room captures Appalachian women in the middle of the last century.
But there is another kind of history in these parts too. An hour and a half from Galax in Marion, just off Highway 81, the town's main street is darkened by the shadows of empty storefronts. On the edge of town, a Wal-Mart looms. The Lincoln Theater and the Francis Marion hotel next door are lone standouts in a time of deep economic upheaval. Built in 1929 by the furniture factory owner Charles Wassum, the Lincoln is a masterpiece of Mayan revival; it stood empty from 1977 until a renovation in 2004. The hotel hails from the same era; it was rehabilitated from a boarding house to its former glory five years ago. After checking into our neat black-and-white room, we had a bite to eat and ran into the Lincoln for its monthly event, Song of the Mountains, a collaboration between the Lincoln Theater and PBS.
The theater is gorgeous - Art Deco murals on the walls, depicting scenes of Southern history. Sweet Potato Pie, a five-woman bluegrass band, was on stage. The sound was amazing, but immediately we realized we'd made a mistake. Orli couldn't run here, couldn't dance. She was the only child in the audience. After two songs, she and Ian left for the hotel.
They missed the Carter Family Sound, the group that took the stage next and played a string of songs in homage to one of the first families of bluegrass and country music. I met the group in the lobby after their set, and they laughed that I'd brought a 2-year-old. The place for little ones, they said, is the Carter Family Fold, in Hiltons, a few hours down the road. On Saturday nights, old-time bands pack the house and children run free.
You could spend a whole summer here, I realized, going to jams every night, seeking out sit-down venues like the Fold, and the Lincoln, standing-room-only music sessions in stores, and hiking the trails along New River.
As we drove back home to Washington, I kept thinking of the song playing when we'd left the Fries session that first night. "Y'all come," Karen Carr on the upright bass had sung out, channeling Bill Monroe's country song of that title. "Y'all come see to us now and then."
And we promised ourselves that we would.
SARAH WILDMAN is a frequent contributor to the Travel section.
STOPS ON THE CROOKED ROAD: Information about the Crooked Road can be found at On the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Blue Ridge Music Center's new exhibition, "The Roots of American Music," is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend with a full slate of nonstop (free) music. If you miss it, every day at noon in the summer there are musical performances and there are concerts on weekend nights. The center is at milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway (276-236-5309; In Floyd the Hotel Floyd (120 Wilson Street; 540-745-6080; is two blocks from the Floyd Country Store; doubles start at $99 on weekends and $77 on weeknights; all woodwork was done by local artisans. From Floyd you can also visit Blue Ridge Institute & Museum (20 Museum Drive, Ferrum; 540-365-4416; The General FrancisMarion Hotel (107 East Main Street, Marion; 877-783-4802;; doubles from $100) was built in the 1920s and restored in 2006. A bit farther down the road is the Carter Family Fold (A. P. Carter Highway, Hiltons, 276-386-6054;

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Music infuses the mountains of the Virginia Blue Ridge Highlands. Indeed, all travelers to the Blue Ridge Highlands should listen to live music at least once. The good news is that there are many opportunities to do so.
The best mountain music is likely to be found in small venues and jam sessions. There is a good chance your Virginia Blue Ridge Highlands Bed and Breakfast innkeepers will have their finger on the pulse of the local music scene; if so, they will surely be able to make knowledgeable recommendations.
P1010188 6
Friday Night Jam Sessions at the Floyd Country Store.

Read on for a list of weekly live music in the Virginia Highlands:
Radford Fiddle and Banjo Jam at the River City Grill in Radford. Unparalleled bluegrass and old-time mountain music, Mondays 7-10 p.m.
Mountain Music Jam at the Courthouse lawn in Independence. Sit close to the music every Wednesday evening from 7-9 p.m.
The Pickin Porch at the Bristol Mall. Enjoy a great variety of local and national performers play bluegrass, old-time, and Americana music. Thursdays, 7-9 p.m.
Floyd Country Store Friday Night Jamboree: Bluegrass Gospel music gives way to regional bluegrass and old-time music that is sure to make your feet move. Fridays, 6:30-11:30 p.m.
Carter Family Fold Weekly Music: continuing the music the Carter Family helped create. Saturdays from 7:30-11 p.m.

If you have a mind to pick up a banjo, guitar, or fiddle yourself, join the Pickin’ Parlor Jam Sessions in Weber City, Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (Phone: 276-386-2654). Or head to the Floyd Country Store on a Sunday afternoon.
There are so many opportunities to listen to live music in the Virginia Blue Ridge Highlands that you are sure to find something your schedule will accommodate. Plan to hop from one venue to the next, and one inn to the next. You’ll find many inns located near great live music: Floyd VA B&BsAbingdon VA B&BsRadford VA Inns, and more.
Need a Floyd County B&B call Mountain Song Inn, we are about 15 beautiful byway miles from the Country Store.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


floyd-town-jubilee-poster-2011.The Floyd Town Jubilee, is a celebration of our town and the citizens of Floyd County. This event will showcase the art, craft and cultural activities of Floyd including fine art, folk art, Heritage and contemporary craft, music, farm products, and local foods.
Free live music and exciting events will be happening on three different stages and around town. Throughout the day the Jubilee will showcase primarily local bands and musicians. The music will range from Bluegrass and Old-time to Gospel and country, rock and everything in between. This event will also feature local performance artists and student presentations. Other attractions will include street performers, vendors, civic organizations, special activities for children, as well as unique coordinated activities among the businesses in Town.
The organizers of the event are mostly volunteers and range from the Town Manager, Floyd business owners, artists, musicians and other interested Floyd folks. The Floyd Town Jubilee is meant to showcase and celebrate Floyd and all that it has to offer.
The Schedule of bands is here:
Heather Krantz
Floyd Country Store
206 South Locust St
Floyd, VA 24091
Store: 540-745-4563



2 people, 2 weeks, 1 classical feast

A couple who have been entrenched in the classical music scene have moved to a farm in Floyd County with the goal of starting a two-week festival of the music they hold dear.

Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton are organizing the National Music Festival, a two-week-long celebration of classical music in Floyd that begins at the end of May. Patton sits on her Arabian, Casidy, 18, while their boarder Maggie, 4, a quarter horse, stands in the background.
Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton have a Polish rooster and Australorp and Wyandotte chickens.

  • When: May 29 to June 11
  • Where: Various locations in Floyd
  • How much: Festival passes $150; some individual performances free, others $5 to $15
  • Info: 745-6683;
  • Note: Richard Rosenberg, the festival’s artistic director, will give a pre-festival talk 5:30 p.m. May 23 at Floyd Country Store

Some highlights

  • May 29, 6:45 p.m. Hotel Floyd Amphitheater: Opening Fanfare, Festival Brass Ensemble. Free. 7:30 p.m. Jacksonville Center for the Arts: Festival Chamber Players perform works by Poulenc, Berlioz, Mendelssohn. $10.
  • June 3, 7:30 p.m., Floyd Elementary School Field House: Festival Wind Sympony performs works including John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” $10.
  • June 6, 7:30 p.m. Floyd High School Auditorium: “Piano-Mania!” with instructor Uriel Tsachor and students. $15.
  • June 10, 8 p.m., Floyd High School Auditorium: Festival Symphony Orchestra performs works by Mozart, Mendelssohn and others. $15.
  • June 11, 7:30 p.m., Floyd Elementary School Field House: Festival Symphony Orchestra performs the National Music Festival finale, including Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and the world premiere of Edward Dede’s “Le Sultan d’Ispahan” overture. $15.
 Klein-Davis | The Roanoke Times
Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton are organizing the National Music Festival, a two-week-long celebration of classical music in Floyd that begins at the end of May. Patton sits on her Arabian, Casidy, 18, while their boarder Maggie, 4, a quarter horse, stands in the background.
Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton, who are organizing the National Music Festival, live in a small house with three dogs and two cats.
Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton, who are organizing the National Music Festival, live in a small house with three dogs and two cats.
Richard Rosenberg and Caitlin Patton have a Polish rooster and Australorp and Wyandotte chickens.

FLOYD -- These days, a mention of Floyd County carries a host of associations
 -- arts and crafts, old time and bluegrass.
But no one would call it a mecca for classical music.
If Caitlin Patton and Richard Rosenberg can realize their ambitions,
that will change.
The couple moved to Floyd County last year with a plan to start the two-week
National Music Festival, and have gone about putting it together with astonishing
speed. The festival's name reflects the scope of the music performed there and
 the fact that the performers will come from all over the country.
So at the end of May, when the 425-population town is overrun by at least 90
music students who've come to study under and play alongside 23 mentors --
with performances taking place everywhere from the Chateau Morrisette restaurant
to the Floyd Elementary School field house -- residents will have Patton and
Rosenberg to blame, or thank.
John McEnhill, director of the Jacksonville Center for the Arts in Floyd, serves
on the National Music Festival board. He said one of his favorite aspects of the
project is its informality. People can come wearing ties or tie-dye T-shirts, he said.
"Integrating it into everyday venues is a wonderful thing."
Part of the purpose of the festival is to show how exciting, adventurous and
accessible classical music can be, Rosenberg said. "There's been too many
obstacles thrown in the way of enjoying culture."
The program includes more than 20 concerts, several of which are free, while
others are priced at $10 or $15. Performances also take place at the Jacksonville
Center, Floyd County High School, Floyd Country Store, Bell Gallery & Garden
and Presbyterian Church of Floyd.
The festival also promises 250 open rehearsals for anyone to sit in on. At least
one such rehearsal will take place in the barn on the 30-acre farm where the
couple rents what they call a "tiny plastic house."
Planning large
Rosenberg, 56, a veteran orchestra conductor, is the artistic director. Patton,
25, a violist, is the executive director. The pair travel frequently. Recently
Rosenberg guest conducted in Brazil, and Patton played with the orchestra.
Engaged to be married, the two have in common not just musical talent but
a passion for rescue animals, and animals in general -- they share their home
with two large black cats and three Bassett hounds, while one of Patton's horses,
Casidy, roams the surrounding farmland, along with a flock of chickens that provide
way more eggs than they need. Patton offers riding lessons under the business
name Orfeo Acres.
They treat their guests to cappuccinos made fresh with hand-squeezed milk in a
living room dominated by a grand piano. There's also a bust of Beethoven that
Rosenberg has whimsically decorated with fake fur. He says he calls the piece
"Fur Elise," a pun on one of the German composer's most famous compositions.
Their house is packed with orderly shelves filled with music and texts about music.
Originally from New York, Rosenberg lived in Floyd about 30 years ago and even
played in a bluegrass band. He and Patton decided to start the festival here after a
Their venture is modeled on the Hot Springs Music Festival in Arkansas, which
Rosenberg founded in 1995 with his ex-wife Laura Rosenberg. That festival and
this new one in Floyd focus on education and career training for musicians,
pairing experienced musicians with promising students.
"What we do is try to teach them how to make that transition, under tutelage of
mentors who have done it successfully," Rosenberg said. "How to read a contract,
how to avoid stress injuries," and things to keep in mind when deciding what kind
of career to pursue.
Sales haven't caught fire yet. Patton said May 11 in an email that they've sold 15
of their $150 festival passes. They don't expect tickets to the individual performances
 to start selling until closer to the performance times.
"There are many of us who are wondering if this is too ambitious for the first year,
" McEnhill said. On the other hand, "all great things have to start someplace."
Patton said she and Rosenberg decided not to start small because there needed to
 be enough events to justify a two-week stay for those flying in, enough people involved
 to constitute a full orchestra for performances, and because they wanted people to
 experience the event as they envisioned it.
In fact, they hope to expand the scope of the festival in years to come, adding
training and performances for chorus, saxophone, guitar and other disciplines.
McEnhill noted that FloydFest, which had some setbacks when it first started,
adapted and persevered to become a showcase event.
"I think that's probably going to be true of the music festival," he said. "I think
what Richard and Caitlin are bringing to the community is a new aspect to music."
There will be some history-making performances during the festival's course.
Another of Rosenberg's passions involves finding and restoring long-lost compositions.
He recently transcribed the score to an opera he discovered in the Harvard library written
by Edmond Dede, the first American black composer to publish music in the United States.
Born in New Orleans in 1829, Dede went on to have a career as a conductor in Paris.
The opera "Le Sultan d'Isaphan" was never performed while Dede was alive.
The overture to Dede's opera will have its world premiere June 11 during the festival's
final concert.
Recordings of concerts Rosenberg conducted in the Hot Springs festival have won
 Grammy award nominations. He said he intends to make recordings of the Floyd
performances as well.
In the meantime, they're still looking for donations, and for volunteers.
Much of the donations they've received have been in-kind, with people volunteering
to house mentors and students in their homes. They're seeking other volunteer help,
such as drivers to bring the musicians to Floyd from the Roanoke Regional Airport.
Should the event take off, and become a county fixture in the way the couple hopes,
the house they live in now might become the festival office after they build their
own home.
"We've been toying with the idea of putting up a yurt," Patton said.