When we first heard of the Mountain Music Trail in West Virginia, we were exploring the different music venues and events, and we were struck by the fact that two of our very favorite Bluegrass bands (The Barefoot Movement and Balsam Range) would be playing on consecutive nights within a few miles of each other. These two events became the anchor points for the beginning of our trip. We would go to the Purple Fiddle in Thomas, WV on Friday, August 5 to hear The Barefoot Movement, and we would see Balsam Range at the Pickin’ in Parsons bluegrass festival on Saturday, August 6. In all our planning contingencies, these two events were the non-negotiables. So we made camping reservations at Blackwater Falls State Park to enable us to see these two bands without too much in-between traveling.
Friday night the Barefoot Movement put on a tremendous show. They are full of energy, they are excellent musicians, and they perform great songs and tunes. By the end of their show I was slightly disappointed that they had not performed Tobacco Road, an original song by Noah Wall. When they made their encore appearance after a well-deserved standing-0, I shouted, “Tobacco Road.” Noah seemed a bit taken aback. She said that they hadn’t performed it in a long time, but since it was requested, and since it was an original song with them, she said they would do it. I was happy! They did a great performance of this salt-of-the-earth song.
On Saturday we spent the whole afternoon and evening at Pickin’ in Parsons. This is a smaller bluegrass festival than Greyfox, but it was a great experience. They had a super lineup of bands, and they saved the best for last. At 8:00 Balsam Range took the stage. We’ve heard them at two previous festivals (Winter Village Bluegrass Festival and Greyfox), so we knew we were in for a treat. Their performance was even better than we had expected. The highlight of the evening was when they performed Stackin up the Rocks. They explained the origin of the song. Buddy Melton, their fiddler and lead singer, had had a severe head injury in a farming accident about four years ago. His survival and ultimate recovery had been in doubt for a while. They sent out requests for prayer, and eventually thousands of people prayed for him. He experienced a miraculous recovery. After he was well again, he was meditating on the Biblical story of the rocks stacked up by the Jordan River to commemorate God’s act on Israel’s behalf. This became the impetus for the song, as a testimony of his miraculous healing. This was not the only Christian testimony that occurred in their performance. The entire evening was a reflection of God’s glory in their beautiful harmonies and uplifting music.
It’s hard to imagine this journey getting any better following these two evenings of great performances by some of our favorite bands.