Made In Virginia 2013: Cabin Creek Musical Instruments, Konnarock

Cabin Creek Musical Instruments

Walter Messick escaped Philadelphia for Grayson County in 1977, taking a job as a country Lutheran minister at two churches on Whitetop Mountain. Being an inner-city youth minister had worn him down, so he sought the kind of peace only the Blue Ridge Mountains can provide. To supplement his income, he learned to make musical instruments from the master, Albert Hash and Hash’s daughter, Audrey Hash-Ham who, he says, “Apprenticed me for a year prior to [Albert’s] death, starting me on a path that changed my life forever.”

Messick has been at it fulltime since 1989, when he retired from the ministry, and these days at 75, he is still turning out historic Blue Ridge Mountain instruments, including dulcimers, psalterys, spoons, bones and accessories. Messick sells his instruments—made exclusively with wood native to Virginia—all over the world from as far away as Russia and New Zealand, to Malta, England and Italy.

Making instruments “challenges me to use my body, mind and spirit,” says Messick who describes each of his individually-made pieces a “unique work of love and art from the beginning to the end.” Messick’s work has been exhibited at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the National Folk Festival and the Abby Rockefeller Museum in Williamsburg and Heartwood in Abingdon. Messick says his “love of history helps me understand the roots of folk music” and that 20 years as a minister “enables me to integrate music in a spiritual sense.”

Psalterys, triangle-shaped stringed instruments played with a bow $199-$249, dulcimers $299-$349.

View All the Made in Virginia Awards 2013 Winners:


Angela Bacskocky Bags, Richmond

Page Stationery, Richmond

Cestair Sheep and Wool, Augusta Springs


Reginald’s Homemade Nut Butters, Richmond

Good News Granola, Palmyra

Honey Habanero Sauce, Spotsylvania


Henderson Guitar Shop, Grayson County

Big Lick Amps, Salem

Cabin Creek Musical Instruments, Whitetop


Frierson Designs Surfboards, Virginia

Hope Springs Farm Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Orlean

BB Bat Company Youth Baseball Bats, Virginia Beach


Edmund Davidson Knives, Goshen

Natural Woodworking CO., Floyd

Old Dominion Leather Nectar, Lynchburg

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