Deep in the hollows of Southwestern Virginia, near the Tennessee border and about thirty miles or so from any kind of reliable cellular signal, you'll find a low wooden structure pitched into a sloping hillside that faces an unbroken wood, settled at the end of endlessly snaking mountain back-roads that, depending upon your approach, terminate in two right turns around a rusted out passenger railcar resembling a forsaken submarine (what with it's porthole-like windows) swamped by high country grasses. This is Hiltons, Virginia and the venue is the Carter Family Fold, or the Carter Fold, or the fully realized results of local efforts to preserve and present bluegrass and old time country music in honor of traditional American folk pioneers, The Carter Family (specifically A.P. Carter, his wife Sara, and her sister/his brother's wife Maybelle). You'll know you've arrived when clusters of casually parked cars come into view, for that's how I found out for myself last Saturday night, after nearly an hours' passage through pastoral outlands and more than one are we there yet? Here follows a bit of a personal narrative of that night, garnished with a few of the photos I managed to capture.
Before stetting foot into the Fold itself, the frantic meter of "Cotton Eye Joe" became more discernible with every step I took, the muffled twangs and drawls of banjo and fiddle battling for supremacy in the space between verse and chorus only just audible behind the front entrance. Once through the door, another sound altogether becomes jarringly apparent: the arrhythmic clatter of untold multitudes of tap shoes scuffing up a hard surface like lazy rain drizzling hot fryolator oil. The cacophony is hypnotizing. Inside, at the ticket booth, my father proceeds to pay the price of admission for all us kin and then some, and brooks no refusals as usual. I pay a smidge extra for a Carter Family placard fan for good measure - no telling what the weather's like all the way inside.