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Music in the Key of Todd

By Jesse Campbell (jesse.campbell@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: Jun. 13, 2013 | Modified: Jun. 13, 2013
Music in the Key of Todd

The Todd Summer Concert Series, held every other Saturday at the Cook Community Park, offers live music in a relaxing, outdoors atmosphere.
Photo courtesy of Helen Barnes-Reilly



In its heyday, Todd was a bustling community that was the High Country’s hub for business and commerce.

The Virginia Creeper Railroad was the growing town’s lifeblood. There were banks, a dentist and several homes and businesses.

Since then, much has changed in the border community. Todd is much smaller, but its sense of community and passion for the arts have continued to blossom.

The Todd Summer Concert Series celebrates the border town’s spirit and heritage.

While similar summer concert series abound the High Country, the music series offers audiences and musicians a unique and more relaxed environment, said Jim Lewis, board member of the Todd Community Preservation Organization.

Since 2000, the concerts have been held in Cook Park in downtown Todd, just off of Railroad Grade Road.

“This is one of the smaller venues,” Lewis said. “It’s a very intimate setting, and it’s very relaxed and informal. The musicians seem to really enjoy the venue and the proximity of the crowd and the interaction. You are right in the middle of all of the activity. You got all the retail shops, businesses and the kids playing the creek.”

The series began last Saturday and will continue throughout the summer on alternating weekends, before culminating with the Doc Watson Tribute Concert Aug. 24.

“The concerts are free, and we generally have fundraisers throughout the year to pay for them,” Lewis said. “Traditionally we rely on the annual Doc Watson concert to generate enough revenue to pay for the rest of summer. The other thing we do is with every concert, someone will come by with what we call ‘The Pickle Jar’ to ask for donations.”

As opposed to previous editions of the music series, organizers have moved the start time of each concert from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“We would inevitably catch the afternoon High Country thunderstorm,” Lewis said about the mid-afternoon show time. “In the past couple of years, it was so hot out, and no one wanted to get burned by the sun. We will have the grill going, and it will be a nice way for people to wind down their day and relax.”

Organizers have also added stage lighting to accommodate evening performers. This year’s concert lineup will feature some returning acts, along with newcomers.

“We were looking for somebody who, first, has talent and has to be a good fit for the park,” Lewis said on preparing the summer lineup. “We need somebody who showcases the unique aspect of the area’s musical heritage. We don’t want all the bands to be from the same genre. We want to attract different people. You can’t give people what they want all the time, but you can some of time, and that way, you can hit more people. That’s what makes it so enjoyable.”

Prospective attendees should bring a chair or blanket with a picnic supper. Food and drinks are available for purchase. For more information, call (336) 877-5401.

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