This hidden Two Lane mountain town of less than 500 celebrates traditional Appalachian music inside their century-old country store every Friday night.
Park your car on S. Locust Street and start walking towards the glowing banjo perched above the green and white striped awning. Like a neon navigational light, you move closer to it until you begin to hear the sounds of banjos and fiddles. The sweet smells of something delicious spill into the streets and wrap around the crowds waiting to get inside the Floyd Country Store tonight.
Standing as a piece of historic significance in Floyd, Virginia for more than 100 years, generations of all ages make the pilgrimage to the store to hear and play the bluegrass and old-time music that’s rooted here. Pay your $8 cover at the door, order a pinto platter with all the fixins, and take a seat. The Friday Night Jamboree is about to start.
For 35 years, the folks of Floyd have been hosting these “pickin’ parties” inside the country store amongst the peanut brittle and penny candy as a way to remain connected to their community through fellowship and music. The past four years, store owners Heather and Dylan Locke have been running the shows are ready to celebrate!
The past four years, store owners Heather and Dylan Locke have been running the shows are ready to celebrate!
“The music and dance around Southwest Virginia is as important as anything else,” explains Dylan. “It brings people together and has been doing so for centuries. Our Friday Night Jamboree has become an important part of the legacy of traditional music and dance and will continue to provide a gathering space for years to come.”
And it has!
The Floyd Country Store hosts visitors and musicians from all the world for a weekend-long celebration in this one-stoplight town. Beyond the Jamboree, they host concerts/dances on Saturdays, old time/bluegrass jams on Sunday. They also offer a workshop to teach traditional music and dance styles.
So what makes this Jamboree so special that people travel from all over to experience it?
“I think the chaos and saturation of media and hashtags make us all crave the places, sounds, and dishes that remind us of our youth and hometown,” says Dylan. “It’s nice to unplug and find some of thesoul revival Floyd provides.”
We recommend showing up early and having a home-cooked meal (Heather’s own recipes!) prepared by the team. Her Brunswick stew and key lime pie are not to be missed! Be mindful where you sit because people have been attending the jamboree for so long that they have reserved seating near the stage! Just as you’re scooping up your last delicious bite, the music will begin.
“This is a unique celebration that takes place in our small community every week and provides an opportunity for us to join together in fellowship,” explain Dylan. “There are not many places left in the world where there’s such simplicity and authenticity around music, dance, and storytelling. The ties to the traditions of the mountains are so deep and natural here. The Jamboree offers a sincere representation of how life has been here in the mountains of Virginia for generations.”
The best part is, similarly to a Texas Dance Hall, The Friday Night Jamboree is a family-friendly event!
“You will see 2-year-olds, 90-year-olds and college students on the dance floor together,” explains Dylan. “The environment of the Floyd Country Store with the history of the old building and all of the throw-back items on the shelves all combines to provide an atmosphere like no other. When folks visit on a Friday night, they can feel and see the community’s love for its traditions and are welcomed with open arms.”
Dylan is preserving more than just town traditions — He is preserving a small business across the street too! He rescued County Sales, the local record store across the street from the country store. When the general store reaches its 250 person capacity, the music spills out into the street in front of it! (Fact: The detailed, handpainted sign out front was done by Greg Locke — a local who has painted all the windows and business signs on Floyd’s Main Street.)
There are many fun moments during the event, but a favorite Jamboree tradition for Dylan is the kids dance.
“The band clears the dance floor of everyone older than 12-years-old for a dance tune. At the end, the adults throw their pocket change out on the floor for the kids to scoop up so they can go buy some more penny candy and ice cream. I love how young people understand the importance of this culture and that the elders are so happy to encourage them to love it even more.”
Places like Floyd, Virginia and their Friday Night Jamboree are the authentic experiences we all hope to discover when we travel the back roads. They make us appreciate those simple things in this world.
“Life on Two Lanes for us is about pulling people away from the digital world and getting back to simplicity. We promote that lifestyle in Floyd and it provides experiences for people that are meaningful and potentially transformative. We are encouraged by all of the young people in our community who are and will be carrying on our traditions and continuing to keep the music playing for generations to come.”