Happy Valley retains its connection to a time when musical instruments were made by hand, and when music was played at home as well as at social gatherings. With so many players of traditional instruments like guitar, banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, piano and harmonica, it's no surprise that musicians such as Bobby McMillon, Christine Horton, "Carolina Ray" Whisnant, Kay and Patrick Crouch and The Harris Brothers perform and record here.
Joining a North Carolina tradition that dates back to Union Grove in 1924, Happy Valley is now in the fourth year of its Old-Time Fiddler's Convention, held over Labor Day weekend. The Convention offers cash prizes for fiddle, banjo, guitar, and mandolin as well as bluegrass and old-time band competitions. Notables like the singer/storyteller Bobby McMillon, Brown-Hudson Folklore Award winner Glenn Bolick, and the nationally-renowned bluegrass band the Kruger Brothers have all joined in the fun. Along with the instrumental competitions, the event offers folk singing, instrument making, old-time dance demonstrations, hayride tours, corn shucking, flat footing, and local home-cooked foods. A fiddler himself, Tom Dooley would have felt at home at this gathering at Jones Farm. Coincidently, the site is the final resting place of Laura Foster, who was buried here on the banks of the Yadkin after her body was found in May of 1866.
Not all of the music in the valley is of the string band variety. A range of gospel music styles can be heard in local churches. Those who like classical music should seek out the Chapel of Rest. No longer used for regular church services, this beautiful Episcopal Church has been the venue for a spring and fall music series since 1984.
Explore More Mountain Music
The Blue Ridge Music Web site takes you even deeper into the musical heritage of Caldwell, Wilkes and other North Carolina counties crossed by the Blue Ridge Parkway. Experience local music events like Heritage Day at the Bolick Pottery, Sims Bar-B-Que in Dudley Shoals, Smokey Creek Barbecue and Music Barn Bluegrass and Old-Time Music in Lenoir, the Hollow Springs Church Shape Note Sing in Hudson, or the WKBC Hometown Opry at Minton Music and Pawn in North Wilkesboro. The Web site identifies sources for traditional music recordings and publications, as well as regional arts agencies and heritage resources. A companion book is also available.