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Rivah Visitor's Guide

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It’s all about the music



by Tom Chillemi

On every other Thursday, a garage at Mattaponi, near West Point, becomes the Dew Drop Inn, with more than a dozen bluegrass musicians taking turns at the front of the stage.

John Howard Walton said it all started about 11 years ago with a few musicians in his kitchen. They outgrew that and moved to the garage—he eventually had to enlarge that to hold all the music lovers. “This has filled up again. I’m running out of room,” he said.

Listen to the music and see more photos in this slideshow!
Audience members bring covered dishes for the supper. They visit and talk, catch up on the news. Coffee and soft drinks are the strongest drinks you’ll find.

Musicians travel from as far as Maryland, Richmond and Newport News to be part of this down-home good time.

Joseph Edwards’ band, Easy Street, plays all types of music, but he prefers the “hard driving” bluegrass. “This is a good, Christian environment,” he said. “It’s a place for people who love the music and want to keep it alive.

“You’ll never get rich playing bluegrass,” added Edwards. “We do it for the fun.”

Walton’s wife, Betty, and their two boys join in the fun at the Dew Drop Inn. “We have a great time playing,” said John Howard Walton.

Walton records each session and you can purchase a CD that very night. Call 785-9285.


The Bena Country Store is a unique venue that is not to be missed. Musicians like the excellent acoustics of the wood and high ceilings in the 1904 vintage store. Its shelves absorb sound so there is no echo. “The acoustics are wonderful,” said Cheryl Nystrom, a singer/songwriter who plays guitar with Mercy Creek. “People here are warm. It has a homey feeling.”

Jim Ball, the other half of Mercy Creek, who plays percussion and drums, likes the Bena Country Store because the audience comes to listen. “It’s not like playing in a bar,” he said. “There are no distractions.”

John Warren produces the concerts that feature traditional folk and original music. The shows are usually two 45-minute sets with a 15-minute intermission. 684-5215.


Since 1985 Freeshade Community Center has been a venue for people who love bluegrass and country music, said Mann Milby of the Honeywind Bluegrass Boys, the band that hosts concerts there and performs at times.

The setting is a 1930s vintage school auditorium on the fourth Saturday of the month from 7 to 10 p.m. The center is near Topping on Regent Road next to Tall Chief Market in Middlesex County.

Usually, three bands play to a full house. There’s no charge, but donations are accepted to pay the bands. Popcorn, snacks and drinks are available.

Call Mann Milby at 815-2419.


House concerts recall the days of the wandering troubadour, said Don Kenefick. He and his wife, Ann Hetrick, open their home in Lively, north of Kilmarnock, to this unusual fare from time to time.

Musicians will perform and then spend the night, as they travel between concerts in bigger cities.

It’s very intimate and a nice way to hear folk music, which doesn’t need amplification, he said. Call 462-0024 or email



The Reedville Fishermen’s Museum hosts a Summer Concert Series on its Pavilion. Each concert starts at 6 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested. Call 453-6529. The upcoming schedule is:
  • June 13—Calico Jack. 
  • July 11—Geoff Kaufman.
  • September 19—Them Eastport Oyster Boys. 
  • October 17—Tom Lewis.
  • July 4th activities in Reedville include a patriotic concert on Sunday, July 4, at 3 p.m. in Festival Halle. Donations appreciated.


The Friends of Belle Isle State Park will host eight family concerts this season.
  • May 8—The Honeywind Bluegrass Boys.
  • May 22—Steve Keith.
  • June 12—Sweet Justice.
  • June 26—The Gurleys with Jimmy Masters.
  • July 10—Easy Street.
  • July 17—Legacy.
  • August 21—Mercy Creek.
  • August 28—Southern Grace.

Concerts begin at 6 p.m. and last about 2 hours. There are supervised activities for the children.

Picnics are welcome; alcohol is not.

A $3 per vehicle parking fee is payable at the park entrance. For directions to Belle Isle State Park, call 462-5030. 


This is the third season of free outdoor concerts during June in the side yard of Grace Episcopal Church in Kilmarnock, where people gather to picnic and enjoy the music.
Picnics start at 6 p.m.; concerts follow at 7 p.m.
  • June 3—Dram Treeo featuring smooth harmonies with traditional, maritime, and contemporary folk tunes.
  • June 9—Northern Neck Jazz Band, 10-piece “big band” sound.
  • June 16—Doctors of Jazz playing Dixieland jazz. This band toured Europe and played regularly in NYC.
  • June 23—Blue Aces, a seven-member ensemble from the USAF band playing pop tunes.


The Deltaville Maritime Museum hosts a casual concert series in Holly Point Nature Park. Concerts begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Admission is $10.
  • May 1—Robbin Thompson (5 p.m.).
  • May 22-—Little Big Band.
  • June 26-—Jumbo Lump Daddy and the Backfin Boys.
  • August 28—Josh Walker Trio
  • September 25—Amy Henderson & The Orderlies.


The Town of Urbanna hosts a summer music series at Taber Park. Concerts begin at 7 p.m.
  • May 15—Doc and Dan.
  • July 17—Jumbo Lump Daddy and the Backfin Boys.
  • August 21—Union Pacific.


posted 04.30.2010

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