The Birthplace of Country Music

The Winding Stream & The Carter Family

3 Days  |  Choose your dates

Starting At $Custom
Wrapping itself around the mountains of SW Virginia, is a heritage trail preserving the region's musical history, and deep back in the hills is a winding stream where people say the music began. What is true for sure, is that people here enjoyed their front porch music at the end of the day and gospel on Sunday morning. It was peaceful and harmonic, until one day, circumstances conspired to create what Johnny Cash called "The Big Bang of Country Music" - the day that music records were born. The Carters, The Cashes, and the Course of Country Music

The Birthplace of Country Music

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Tour Features:

  • The Birthplace of Country Music Museum
  • The Carter Family Fold
    • Museum & Birthplace Cabin of A.P. Carter
    • “The Winding Stream” Matinee at The Fold
  • Evening Show at the Barter Theatre
  • Heartwood Artisan Gallery
    • Mountain Dinner & Evening Show
  • Shopping in Bristol
  • Guided Tour of Abingdon
Tour Inclusions:

  • Two Nights First Class Lodging
  • Two Hotel Breakfasts
  • Two Dinners
  • All Taxes & Tips on these services
  • Luggage Handling
  • One Free with Every 16 Paid



Prices Per Person

All Tours are custom priced

Motorcoach Transportation and Professional Tour Managers are available.


Day 1 –  Abingdon, VA – Heartwood – “The Crooked Road”

“The Crooked Road” is Southwest Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail.  It is a place of beauty, a place of song, and a place to experience how much music is woven into the rich tapestry of heritage of the region.  The variety is stimulating – old-time string bands, acappella gospel, blues, 300 year old ballads, bluegrass, and more. Hop on the bus and join us on the Crooked Road and discover where country music first began.  Your group should arrive in Abingdon, by late afternoon and check into your hotel for a two night stay.

Dinner this evening is at the Heartwood Regional Craft Center the headquarters for the Crooked Road.  It’s a homeplace for traditional music and the gateway to Southwest Virginia.   You’ll find handmade works in glass, clay, fiber, and many natural materials by renowned regional artisans. Plus they have the most complete collection of old time, bluegrass and gospel music that you can find anywhere. While here you enjoy dinner and a show, a meal of traditional mountain home cooking while listening to old-time bluegrass musicians celebrating their heritage. (D)

Day 2 – Birthplace of Country Music – The Carter Fold – Barter Theater – “The Winding Stream”

Today begins at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. A Smithsonian affiliate it is dedicated to the telling of one story, and one story only, an event that Johnny Cash called The Big Bang of Country Music.  Here in 1927 a talent scout for the Victor Talking Machine Co. had four men carry a portable recording device into a Bristol hat factory.  He then invited local musicians to come and record the music of the Appalachians. This museum preserves the region’s rich music legacy, and it tells the story of  that one event now known as “The Bristol Sessions,” where the legendary Carter Family were among the first artists ever recorded.

After the museum you have free time in downtown Bristol where State Street separates Virginia from Tennessee. You will find quaint shops, antiques, boutiques, fine art and more. You can take a selfie with the famous Bristol sign, stand in Two States at once, and buy yourself a milkshake at the Burger Bar (rumored to be where Hank Williams ate his last meal).

Then you drive deep into the mountains to find the Carter Family Fold, a place that honors the memory of the first family of country music of A.P. Carter, his wife Sara and sister Maybelle. Here you see the Carter Family Museum and visit the birthplace cabin of A.P. Carter.  Then you walk into The Fold an 800 seat theater where every Saturday Night there is a program of old-time and Bluegrass Music.  Here, this afternoon you see a 90 minute documentary “The Winding Stream,” the saga of this family who made the first country music records.  Some say there there is a stream that courses through the roots of American music and that its source is here in the Appalachian foothills where the Carter Family began their careers.

Returning to Abingdon for dinner,  you attend a show at the Barter Theatre, a legend in its own right.  The Barter opened in 1933 in the midst of the Great Depression at a time when spare money for a theater ticket was not easy to come by.  It was a time when out of work actors in New York could be enticed to perform in the Virginia Mountains simply for the price of a meal.  Thus the name The Barter.  Locals brought food and trade goods which they bartered for an evening of entertainment, and the actors proclaimed it was much better to perform for your dinner in Virginia than to starve to death on the streets of New York. (B,D)

The Barter is now one of the longest-running professional theaters in the nation.  Schedule printed below.

2018 Special Songwriter Events:   On March 20 and Nov 26, one of Nashville’s most accomplished songwriters,  Richard Leigh will perform the songs that became hit recordings! You’ll hear the personal stories that motivated his music, gain insight into the songwriter’s craft, and enjoy a private meet/greet following the performance.  Richard often brings another songwriter as well, making it a casual evening of music and conversation. 

Day 3 -Abingdon – Departure – or More

This morning after breakfast, meet your local guide for an Abingdon City Tour. It is a unique town in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia — rich in history, culture, music and old-fashioned hospitality. On the brick sidewalks of Abingdon’s 20-block historic district and you’ll find architecture spanning two centuries, from The Tavern, built in 1799, to classic small-town American storefronts. You’ll also find unique shopping, a thriving farmer’s market, art galleries, and local restaurants proudly proclaiming their farm fresh roots with a Rooted in Appalachia sign in the window. (B)

After this tour you depart for home.  But you could build a bigger trip.  Perhaps you continue to Nashville to see the Ryman Auditorium – The Mother Church of Country Music.  Or maybe you travel north along Kentucky’s Country Music Highway.   Whatever road you decide to take we would be happy to add a few songs to your day.


Barter Theater Main Stage  2018 Schedule

  • May 31- Aug 11      Steel Magnolias
  • Aug 17-Sept 8       Ain’t Misbehavin’
  • Sept 14-Nov 9       Great Expectations
  • Sept 27-  Nov 10   Singing in the Rain
  • Nov 16-Dec 30      Elf the Musical

(The 2019 schedule has not been released yet)


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