A visit to the Jamboree in 2003 changed a lot of things in our lives

Mike Gangloff of the Black Twig Pickers
What turneed out as an impromptu visit to the Jamboree 20 years ago because a turning point in a life spent mostly on the road over the previous 40 years.

Even though I spent my high school years in Floyd County, I left in 1965, after high school graduation and did not return much over the next 40 years. I was unaware of the Friday Night Jamboree, which began in the 1970s until a Southwestern Virginian serving in the Force and stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany asked if I had been to one of the Friday Night dance nights. hadn’t even heard about the Jamboree but I wasn’t in touch a lot with the folks back here while running around the world as a photojournalist.

When I returned home in the Washington, DC area, I called my mother and asked abut “some bluegrass event in Floyd on Friday nights and her answeer was ‘oh, haven;t I told you about that?’ It’s a big deal around here now.”

Hell, this as a big deal in my adopted home, one written about ine Washington Post, and I had missed it? We made plans to visit Floyd over Labor Day weekend in 2003 and contacted Hubert Washington, a former owner of the store, who put me in touch with North Carolina Mike Brough, who owned the store at that time.

Brough had no problems if Ibrought our cameras up on Labor Day weekend and filmed. As it turned out, the weahter was crappy that weekend, so we came back, a year later, on Labor Day 2004, to shoot more film outside and complete interviews. Eventually, it became part of a history of country music series on The History Channel and, after I completed an assignment in Afghanistan to cover the war there, we decided to retire to the Floyd Area and help with the declining health of my mother.

To say the least, the visit to the Jamboree changed our lives, dramatically.

The Friday Night Jamboree became a moderately-successful documentary DVD video and I’ve filmed and photographed a lot of the music culture of Floyd County, the Crooked Road and Southwestern Virginia over the past 20 years. The photos and videos now occupy thousans of gigabytes on backup hard drives and on onsite backups.

I provided the video archives for the Floyd Radio Show for most of its run, filed special events when requested by current co-owner Dylan Locke and have provided videos to the Crooked Road. CNN requested video of a politiican and his son at one Jamboree and overall shots at another. Same for MNBC.

It all began with that documentary shot at the Friday Night Jamboree on two weekends a year apart. The rest, as they say, is history.

Music on Locust Street in downtown Floyd on a Friday night. This was a “grab shot” as I was leaving the Jamboree. (All photos by Doug Thompson)

© 2004-2022 Blue Ridge Muse

© 2021 Blue Ridge Muse