Nestled among southwestern Virginia’s beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, the Center opened in 2002 as an outdoor ampitheater to highlight bluegrass, old time, and acoustic Americana music, with a special focus on the Round Peak style of old time playing native to the region. It quickly became a popular destination for fans of the music, who came to see top touring acts as well as musicians that live in the area.
The Roots of American Music museum followed in 2011, located on the same site, which offers free, interactive exhibits that bring the music alive for visitors whenever the Center is open during the spring, summer, or fall months. There are hiking trails through the mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway starting at the Center for nature lovers as well.
Concerts are held multiple times each week, including free shows each day when the Center is open from 1:00-4:00 p.m., and on Sundays at spots on the Parkway from 2:00-4:00, plus the ticketed Saturday evening shows with noted national artists.
Blue Ridge Music Center polled fourth in 2023, and is once again up for the award, decided by a public vote hosted on the USA Today web site.
But they have stiff competition, even among bluegrass and old time music lovers. Bristol’s Birthplace of Country Music Museum is also up for the award, along with the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville, The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, and Tulsa’s Woody Guthrie Center.
Whichever one you like best, please consider voting online by February 12.