Arts & Music

With a rich music history and thriving arts scene, Surry County represents the cultural heart of the Yadkin Valley. The artists here hold an appreciation for the past, while also creating new works that stretch genre boundaries and push the arts forward.

Here in the foothills of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the old-time music tradition goes back several generations. The instrumental music focuses on the fiddle and banjo, creating an intense, driving sound. Tommy Jarrell, one of the most well-known old-time musicians, was a native of northern Surry County’s Round Peak community. He developed a distinct fiddling style, and people came from around the world to study his technique. Jarrell’s fiddle now resides in the Smithsonian Institution and he is honored each year via the Tommy Jarrell Festival.

Old-time music is alive and well each Saturday at the Historic Earle Theatre in downtown Mount Airy when the local radio station WPAQ 740 AM hosts its show “Merry-Go-Round,” the nation’s second-longest-running live radio show behind “The Grand Ole Opry.”

Two area arts councils work to preserve the heritage of Surry County’s music and support visual and performing artists in the area.

The Foothills Arts Council in Elkin sponsors the annual Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Dobson, where square dancing and instrument competitions take center stage. It also puts on the Art Hike in downtown Elkin on the second Saturday of the month from April through December. The event highlights visual artists and live music. Elkin’s Foothills Theatre, established in 1969, brings plays and musicals to the community.

The Surry Arts Council in Mount Airy operates The Historic Earle Theatre, as well as the Andy Griffith Playhouse, Andy Griffith Museum, Blackmon Amphitheatre and Siamese Twins Exhibit.

Many local businesses support the arts by hosting shows and live music. The Living Room Coffeehouse and Winebar in downtown Pilot Mountain exhibits work by local artists on its walls and presents live music on Saturday evenings.

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