Banjo historian to speak in Bristol; more . . .

Banjo historian to speak in Bristol; more . . .

Here’s a round-up of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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Author to discuss role of banjo in Black history

Author Kristina Gaddy will discuss the history of the banjo, particularly its key role in Black spirituality, ritual and rebellion, during the Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s monthly free Speaker Sessions program Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. EDT.

Speaker Sessions are free and open to the public, and you may join the discussion online via Zoom or in-person at the museum.

The Speaker Sessions program will explore the earliest history of the banjo through music, images, and a reading from Gaddy’s book Well of Souls: Uncovering the Banjo’s Hidden History, with a special focus on the history of the banjo in Virginia and the resurgence of Black banjo players in American music today. Gaddy’s book will also be available for purchase and signing after her talk. 

Kristina R. Gaddy is a Baltimore-based writer and fiddler who has also authored Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates and Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis. She has received the Parsons Award from the Library of Congress, the Logan Nonfiction Fellowship, and a Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Rubys artist award.

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s Speaker Sessions are free and open to the public. Participants are asked to please RSVP if they plan to attend in-person or pre-register if joining the conversation online via Zoom. For more information, visit the Events page at

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VCEDA grant will be used to fix roof at Visitors Center at Breaks Interstate Park

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has awarded an $80,000 grant to be used for improvements at the Breaks Interstate Park.

The grant will be used to develop infrastructure and improvements at the park, specifically to replace the roof and gutters at the park’s Visitor Center, according to a release from VCEDA. The project will consist of replacing existing shingles with metal panels, replacing any wood that is rotten and installing new gutters on the building.

According to the park’s application, the Visitor Center roof was last replaced more than 30 years ago and is beginning to leak due to normal deterioration of the shingles. The current project, the application noted, will ensure the facility continues to serve the needs of its guests.

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Basketball tournament in Alleghany County postponed after frozen water pipes break

The Alcova basketball tournament scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 28, and Thursday, Dec. 29, at Clifton Middle School has been postponed due to maintenance issues. 

School officials are working to reschedule the tournament. The tentative dates are Friday, Jan. 13, and Saturday, Jan. 14. 

The gym and locker room areas of the school received minor water damage when frozen water pipes broke on Dec. 24. Maintenance staff has been working to address the water damage, but the cleanup will not be completed in time for the basketball tournament to be held on Wednesday.

Boys and girls teams were scheduled to participate in the tournament. Teams that were slated to participate included Clifton Middle School, Covington, Beverly Manor and Maury River. School officials are working to find teams with open dates on Jan. 13 and Jan. 14.