ABINGDON — Carrie Beck figured she would be cruising The Crooked Road this summer.
But instead of tapping her feet to a bluegrass beat, the first female executive director of The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail has been stationary in Abingdon, working on plans for the 16-year-old entity.
“I’m not a musician,” Beck said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the heritage of old-time and bluegrass music of the region. But where I come from more of a business-oriented background, that is going to bring some new ideas.”
Beck, 43, came to The Crooked Road in April but delayed formally announcing her title until August amid a disappointing season of summer shows being canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Along The Crooked Road, various venues have been shuttered, including the Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College, Carter Fold at Hiltons and the Ralph Stanley Museum of Clintwood.
In turn, August’s annual fiddler’s convention in Galax was canceled. Bristol’s Rhythm & Roots Reunion was also taken off the calendar.
“It’s not really feasible for a lot of the venues to open up,” Beck said.
The Floyd Country Store now holds its Friday night jam outdoors rather than indoors.
Summer shows were held on an abbreviated schedule at the Blue Ridge Music Center along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Beck said.
The Country Cabin II is open, but capacity is limited, she said.
About half — or more — of The Crooked Road follows U.S. 58 just above Virginia’s southern border.
“The Crooked Road is, like, so literally crooked,” Beck said. “There is never a more true identifier than ‘The Crooked Road.’ But it’s gorgeous.”
Beck’s background includes sales and marketing. Most recently, she worked for a salon company.
Growing up in Northern Virginia and attending North Stafford High School, Beck bolted for Blacksburg, where she earned a communication degree from Virginia Tech.
Soon after, she migrated to Abingdon.
For three years, she served as assistant to the producing artistic director at the Barter Theatre. Later, she worked for the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.
Along the way, Beck lived for two years on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where she worked in development at an arts organization.
Also in recent years, Beck assisted The Crooked Road’s marketing for its annual Mountains of Music Homecoming.
Back “home” in Abingdon — where she lives with her husband, Bobby, and their young son, Spencer — Beck said she’s excited to promote Southwest Virginia’s 19 counties as “The Crooked Road Region.”
And that’s even amid the pandemic.
“Southwest Virginia is uniquely positioned in the heritage scenes. Not only do we have the heritage music but the outdoor recreation,” Beck said.
And even while COVID-19 has put the brakes on The Crooked Road’s festivals and venues, Beck said, “it doesn’t take away from the beauty of The Crooked Road Region.”
“You can still drive through the communities,” she said. “And it’s still a worthwhile trip because there are so many things to do — even if some of these major venues are not open.”
Photos: Notes along the Crooked Road
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