Carter Family Fold

Dance, stomp, and holler at this country music extravaganza. 

In 1920s rural America, it was radio that connected communities with world news, weather, and market reports. But it also brought music. Though country music has roots in British folk, it morphed and blended with Southern gospel and spirituals. And quickly became a staple of rural radio.

And it was Virginia’s Carter Family—Sara Carter, her husband A.P., and her sister-in-law Maybelle—nicknamed “The First Family of Country,” that brought this music to the masses. The group was part of The Bristol Sessions, a set of historic 1927 recordings, considered the Big Bang of modern country music. And by the end of 1930, the Carter Family had sold 300,000 records in the U.S.

Today, The Carter Family Memorial Music Center honors old-time country and folk music through performances every Saturday evening at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons. Like the jam sessions at the Floyd Country Store, this jamboree is in the same ballpark.

Established by Janette Carter (A.P.’s daughter) in 1974, it’s now run by Janette’s daughter, Rita Forrester. And it keeps with traditional music styles of time gone by—no electric instruments are allowed, only acoustic. Tickets are usually $10, and admission comes with plenty of room for dancing, stomping, and hollering.

Nearby is the mid-1800s cabin and birthplace of A.P.—where it was relocated from its original location in Little Valley. Restored in the early 2000s, it now stands beside the Carter Family Museum, run by A.P. until his passing in 1960. CarterFamilyFold.org


This article originally appeared in the Best of Virginia 2023 issue.

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