The Fisher Peak Timber Rattlers is an Old Time band that has been playing in the area for a decade. The majority of their repertoire is tunes that have been shared in this section of the Blue Ridge for more than a century. Listeners can close their eyes and have the same aural experience that their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or great-greats had.
James “Pee-Wee” Tate has a musical heritage in the Fancy Gap area going back generations. His grandfather’s ballad singing was chronicled in the early 1900s, prior to phonograph recordings. P.W.’s style of guitar playing was learned from his elders with a large dose of self-taught. His one grandmother, a full-blood Cherokee, had a regional heritage that goes much further back than the Tate’s.
Stu Shenk first played the banjo in 1971 and began fiddle the next year, learning his first tunes from Blanton Owen of the Fuzzy Mountain String Band, Oscar Wright of Lerona, W.Va., and neighbors in Summers County, W.Va. He moved to Carroll County, Va., in 1978, and has been an active musician in the area’s old-time community ever since. He lives in the shadow of Fisher Peak, within 2 miles of the music center. He first drove the entire Parkway (on a ’68 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle) in 1970 and remembered this section as the least interesting.
Stu & James welcome their friends to the breezeway, so Sundays often become an old time “music makin’” session, as musician friends, young and old, drop by and join in.
The sounds of the fiddle, banjo, and guitar are likely to welcome you when you visit the Blue Ridge Music Center open late May-October.
When you visit, you can experience regional traditional music each day of the week with Mid-Day Mountain Musicians on the breezeway of the visitors center where The Roots of American Music Museum—an entertaining exhibition highlighting the historical significance of the region’s music—is also located.