Fries Wayside - Grayson County

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Fries Wayside - Grayson County

Venue Information



About the Wayside Exhibits

America’s commercial country music began in a cotton mill in Fries in 1923. Mill hand Henry Whitter traveled to New York and recorded a hit, “The Wreck of the Old ’97”. In 1924 a second mill hand, Ernest V. Stoneman, went north to record. They were followed within months by two bands assembled by singer Kelly Harrell and banjoist John Rector (“The Hill Billies”). As a result, by 1926 these four mill hands had recordings issued on ten major labels. In 1935 a brilliant and influential band was assembled in the mill. This was the Patton Brothers, composed of influential fiddler Glen Neaves, brothers Bill and Everett Patton, and their half-brother, seminal three-finger banjoist Raymond Swinney. This band evolved into Neaves’ Grayson County Boys. Their first recordings were in 1941 for the Library of Congress. Another mill band was the Zeedees (named for zero defects). Other fine musicians from Fries were oldtime banjoist and fiddler Glenn (Pap) Smith and innovative bluegrass banjoist Jimmy Arnold. The great ballad singer Evelyn Farmer lives here.

The mill stood on the bank of the New River from 1901 until 2005. The New River is in fact the nation’s oldest stream, and flows north into the Ohio. It is well suited to floating, and has 57 miles of trails for walking, biking, and horseback riding. While here visit the State Forest and hike along one of the many birding trails. Nearby is the Matthews Living History Farm Museum where you can get a glimpse of early American farm life.

Other Nearby Wayside Exhibits

City of Galax Wayside

2.14 miles

Woodlawn Wayside – Carroll County

9.13 miles

Town of Independence Wayside

10.04 miles