The trail that takes you right into the heart of mountain music

Real mountain music lives loud on West Virginia’s Route 219.

Along this Mountain Music Trail, stop off at venues, festivals, events and even informal pickin’ jams. You’ll more than likely be asked to dance or strum along.

While you’re exploring its rich roots, remember that mountain music is a category all its own. Our region’s early settlers brought together a mix of multicultural musical roots to create our distinct Appalachian sound, with influences like folk, bluegrass, Celtic, African, blues, gospel and more.

Be sure to include the following stops on your journey to the heart of mountain music:

1. Augusta Heritage Center

Elkins, WV

Experience West Virginia folklife like never before at the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis & Elkins College. Best known for its week-long immersive music workshops in the summer, the center brings together master artists, musicians, dancers, craftspeople and music lovers of all ages.

Stop in any season for concerts, dances and festivals, like the weekly Pickin’ in the Park and the annual Augusta Festival.

2. Marlinton Motor Inn & Lounge

Marlinton, WV

Meet the next generation carrying the torch of mountain music with the Young & Restless Pickers student showcase every other Friday at the Marlinton Motor Inn & Lounge. Pair those down-home sounds with down-home cookin’ from the buffet.

If these youngster virtuosos inspire you, take a musical journey of your own at the inn’s intimate week-long musical workshops every summer: Allegheny Echoes. It’s no cookie-cutter jam session, either. It’s a uniquely collaborative revival of the deepest roots of mountain heritage, rough edges ‘n all.

3. Big Timber Brewing Company

Elkins, WV

Big Timber Brewing Company has found its niche in the heart of Appalachia. Bring an instrument every Thursday evening for an old-time jam, or just to listen to the mountain music and enjoy some craft brews. They bring live music to the taproom on weekends from time to time, too.

4. The Purple Fiddle

Thomas, WV

With an intimate setting, the Purple Fiddle is known for top-quality mountain entertainment almost all day every day. Because it’s both a restaurant and a music venue, it’s a perfect family-friendly outing— and you can still enjoy your favorite craft brews.

Don’t be surprised to find national touring acts on stage. The Purple Fiddle has seen big names like The Avett Brothers and Greensky Bluegrass, as well as smaller acts with big followings like Yarn. Shows draw crowds so big that it feels like the whole town is there!

5. The Fiddlehead Restaurant and Bar

Slaty Fork, WV

Treat yourself to friendly food and music at this favorite local spot. The restaurant menu puts an Appalachian twist on everyday favorites. Their hand-cut fries served with WV-brewed beer cheese, Fiddlehead ‘fry sauce’ and mango-habanero ketchup will have you hollering for more.

Stop in and indulge in a West Virginia craft brew while listening to Appalachian talent play live music every Wednesday night.

6. Carnegie Hall

Lewisburg, WV

Built in 1902 by famous steel baron and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, this is only 1 of 4 Carnegie Halls in continuous operation today. Music has filled the halls of the stately Georgian Revival building for nearly a century, and more than 75,000 visitors enjoy the fine entertainment each year.

The all-encompassing art house brings award-winning education programs, fine art exhibits, an independent film series and more to the community. Get up close and personal with world-class bluegrass, world, classical and more musical styles.

7. Pickin’ in Parsons

August Parsons, WV

Follow the sweet sounds of mountain music just off the banks of Shaver’s Fork to take in some traditional bluegrass sounds on the riverside. Each year on the first weekend in August, this festival draws in more than 2,000 folks— which is pretty impressive since the small town of Parsons itself has a population of less than 1,500.

So don’t forget to pack your dancing shoes the next time you head up Route 219. Whether you’re taking on the Mountain Music Trail as a whole, or just passing through for a day trip, discover real mountain music along the way.

What’s your favorite mountain music venue in West Virginia?

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This post was last updated on July 24, 2020