The local music scene in my neck of the woods is all about friends gathering to play in pizza houses, restaurants, and other small venues.  Musicians gather to raise funds for the local food pantry and animal shelters, but of course they also gather to spread the joy of the song.


I arrived early to the performance space and was drawn to the site of the instruments … just waiting for the hands that will bring them to life.


Myrtle Beach on the Bike: The Bars, Restaurants, and Music (and Pay to Pee!)

This is the third in a series of posts about Myrtle Beach Bike Week and my experience as a first timer.

No doubt, the people and the bikes are a big draw to Bike Week, but it is also the bars, restaurants and music that make for happening times.  Our first stop was SuckBangBlow, the bar whose website boasts the fact that “you can ride through the front doors, right up to the bar, and order a cold one!”.






The food at The Dead Dog Saloon was so yummy!


And there is an entire wall devoted to photos of beloved dogs that have passed on.


At The Beaver Bar, Brooks Paul, The Prince of Rock, the  12 year old lead singer of a rock band (the rest of the members are adults) played Journey, Foreigner, Queen, The Who and Led Zeppelin.



Almost as soon as I got to Myrtle Beach, my friend Billy told me that he had a few things he needed to teach me about Bike Week.  One of those lessons? The folks who keep the Porta Johns clean expect to be tipped.

 Need to pee?  Bring a dollar!  I’d never heard of such a thing!

On the other hand, I’ve used a lot of Porta Johns at football games and outdoor concerts and it can be a scary experience.  These potties?  Sparkling clean!  And you get to choose from a variety of hand cleanser, lotion and sunscreen once done!  Great Deal!



At the Causeway Grill and Bar, we heard the Josh Brannon Band.



And finally, on a beautiful Monday evening, we heard Sunny Ledfurd at The Boathouse.






This little one enjoyed the music as much as we did!


Warm summer days and nights. Inexpensive beer. Music, outdoors, with no cover charge.

No complaints!

Coming up: The Fourth and Final post – The Beach of Myrtle Beach

The 2012 Bike Trip – Tennesse: Knoxville to Bristol/ Mumford and Sons!

What a perfect day for a bike ride and such a change from yesterday. I love the clarity that comes after a big storm – no humidity, no smog, fog or haze. Just a sky that was a gorgeous blue, with big fluffy clouds and the temperature in the 70s. I wanted to stop a million times to take pictures (but only stopped four times).

I very much enjoyed my brief visit with Jen, Justin and Eli. They have created quite the homestead – a pool where Eli swims like a fish and where friends gather regularly, an acre of land behind the house where Justin can fly the remote control planes that he builds (not your little ones from Toys R Us – these are amazing!), a 4 hole “golf course”, and a lovely home. These are some hard working people and so they play hard too (exactly my philosophy). If you work hard you can play hard and the result of their labor shines! One result that I benefited from was that Justin had dried my boots and that made all the difference in the ride.


The countryside along Rt 11W to Bristol was so pretty! Mountains, creeks, and fields of corn and hay. For those from the NRV: at different times I was reminded of Snowville, Ellett Valley, and Giles County.

I managed to get to Bristol within 30 minutes of the Radford crew. I checked in to the hotel, changed out of biking clothes (boots and jeans) and into concert clothes (shorts, flips flops, and of course, camera), and walked to the shuttle area to catch the bus to the festival grounds in historic downtown Bristol. I can not believe the ease with which I found Greg, Shelly, Dean and Beth amongst the 15,000 people at the Gentlemen of the Road Tour Stopover.  An hour or so later, we were joined by Rick and Renee.



Ever since I saw Mumford and Sons on the Grammy show (and bought their CD Sigh No More that same night), I’ve been a fan of this British indie rock/folk band (my description – if any of you have a better one, I welcome it!). The band played to a crowd that knew almost every word to every song. We alternated between jumping and dancing or swaying, arm in arm, singing all the while. An encore performance of Wagon Wheel, which brought together all the bands that had performed prior (Apache Relay, Dawes, Justin Townes Earle), was a rousing end to a truly great evening!


Thanks to Rick for taking pictures for me – his height made sure the pictures were not just of the backs of heads (the concert was in a parking lot and all were standing).

After waiting in line for the shuttle (Shelly, Greg and I could hardly wait another minute more as fatigue set in), we finally got to the car and began the great “post concert I am hungry food hunt”. Multiple attempts at several places led us to an after midnight Taco Bell feast.  Ah the good life 🙂



I so enjoyed this evening in Bristol with some great Radford friends.  Thanks Dean for getting the tickets.  What a show!

Southwest Virginia Culture: From the NRV Fair to FloydFest

Disclaimer:  This post  is not intended to show favoritism for one event style or another, nor is it to make fun of the people who choose to attend one event over the other.  This is all about fun and is a lighthearted comparison of the Fair and FloydFest.

It is also not a journal of my time at FloydFest (which was amazing!).  I have become a fan of Michael Franti and his way of thinking and living:  http://michaelfranti.com/.  What a great experience this festival was!

Now … on with the post!

I certainly never intended to spend so many years living in southwest Virginia.  Even still, I sure do have a good time here.

For much of my life, I have dreamed of living out west and anyone who knows me has heard me talk about my love for northern Idaho and western Montana.  While not perfect, and we all know there is no perfect place, this part of Virginia has an abundance of beautiful natural areas to explore and I surely can’t complain about my 8 minute, traffic free commute.

But what about the culture, people often ask.  How do you manage without the shopping, the nightlife, the restaurants, the culture?  I do admit to wishing for more diversity in restaurants.  It gets tiring choosing from the same places time and time again, and because of that, it’s a rare thing to find me  eating in a chain restaurant when I leave SWVA.  Shopping I can do online or when I travel to more urban areas, and nightlife, in my opinion, is what you make of the places and the friends that surround you.

For example, I loved the pub crawl through Roanoke with Ruth and Ralph this past Friday.  We were able to walk from one place to the next, exploring the revitalization of Kirk Ave and the Patrick Henry Hotel, while at the same time soaking up the beer, food and music of this small SWVA city.


First Stop: Blue Five                                                     Second Stop: Martin’s Bar and Grill


The Penny Deux Lounge in the Patrick Henry was the Third Stop, followed by Fork in the Market, the final stop

Friends would come and go as we walked from one place to the next and I had a great time meeting new people and enjoying new experiences.  Yes, I had to drive 45 minutes to get to Radford when the crawl was done, but the significant amount of water I drank before heading home assured that I arrived safely.

So what does a Roanoke Pub Crawl have to do with the NRV Fair and FloydFest?  Nothing really, but since I’m writing about culture in this part of the state, I decided to mention it.

So last Wednesday, I went with friends to the New River Valley Fair to play Bingo and to experience the sites and sounds of the county fair in Pulaski (I never did play bingo).

Then yesterday, I spent the day with friends in Floyd County at FloydFest 11, an outdoor music festival that features roots and progressive music from around the world.

What a contrast in styles and missions!  But there are similarities too.  One of which is that both events require us to get outside and mingle with others.  Garrison Keillor said this about attending a fair (National Geographic, July 2009):

“American life tends more and more to put you in front of a computer screen in a cubicle, and then into a car and head you toward home in the suburbs, where you drive directly into the garage and step into your kitchen without brushing elbows with anybody. People seem to want this, as opposed to urban tumult and squalor. But we have needs we can’t admit, and one is to be in a scrum of thinly clad corpulence milling in brilliant sun in front of the deep-fried-ice-cream stand and feel the brush of wings, hip bumps, hands touching your arm (“Oh, excuse me!”), the heat of humanity with its many smells (citrus deodorant, sweat and musk, bouquet of beer, hair oil, stale cigar, methane), the solid, big-rump bodies of Brueghel peasants all around you like dogs in a pack, and you—yes, elegant you of the refined taste and the commitment to the arts—are one of these dogs”.  

So True!  Many people told me that they wouldn’t set foot in that county fair (Oh no! The Rednecks!)  Others told me that they couldn’t imagine going to FloydFest (No way! The Hippies!).  Folks go to the fair for the rides, the food, the contests, the produce and the animals, and to shop at the vendor stalls.  Folks go to FloydFest for the music, the food (and drink), the connecting and loving, the camping, the parties, and to shop at the vendor stalls.

You might want to instinctively argue that there are no similarities; that someone who goes to one event, would not go to the other.  I know for sure that someone will (me!) and I am quite sure that there are others as well.

One big difference between the two events is the cost!! It was FAR less expensive to spend an evening at the fair!  FloydFest requires a significant amount of ready cash.  On the other hand, I was not able to get beer and wine at the fair and, believe me, a cold beer would have tasted great after a long, hot evening at the fairground.

Consider what both events have to offer:



Elephant Ears, Funnel Cakes and Deep Fried Oreos at the NRV Fair


Black Bean / Chicken Quesadillas, Fried Egg Sandwiches, and Coconut Curry Tofu at FloydFest

Fashion for Sale


NRV Fair                                                           FloydFest



NRV Fair                                                              FloydFest


NRV Fair                                                            FloydFest



Bingo at the NRV Fair                                                            Carrom at FloydFest



NRV Fair



“Patriotism” (sort of)


NRV Fair                                                            FloydFest

Blowing in the Wind


NRV Fair                                                                                     FloydFest

Flying High


The Cliff Hanger at the Fair                                                  Trapeze Artists at FloydFest


I found two of my most favorite things at both events.  The first favorite was my friends.  I am truly a fortunate woman to have such diverse, energetic, loving, and FUN people to spend the days and evenings with!  I’m grateful to Sarah for serving as DD for the NRV Fair adventure, and to Greg for getting Shelly and me to FloydFest and back safely!


Dianna, Vanessa, Juli, and Whitney                               With Sarah, our DD


Jessica and Colton (in the cab with Sarah) joined in on the fun – but not on the mechanical bull!


Amy and Dianna enjoying a Deep Fried Oreo                Peacock and I enjoying a cold beer


Greg and Shelly                                                                           Rick and Kristie


Christine  …                                                                                     and the girls!


Another favorite thing became visible towards the end of each day.  The moon … and it was shining brightly over both places!!


Pulaski County                                         Floyd County

So … Goodnight Moon!  Until next year, where I feel sure you might find me spending time in both Pulaski and Floyd Counties.