News Column

Gone country: This weekend's musical highlights

October 23, 2013



Turn 5 Concert Series

With Blackberry Smoke, The Worx and more

This time of year, folks by the thousands hit the Martinsville area for racing. On Saturday, NASCAR's truck series hits the old "Paper Clip" for the Kroger 200, and the circuit's Sprint Cup stars make left turns on Sunday at the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500.

After the races, some high-powered country and rock will be happening near the track at the Turn 5 Concert Series. Blackberry Smoke, an Atlanta-area Southern rock and country band that has opened a couple of Zac Brown Band shows in the Roanoke Valley, returns to the region to headline Saturday night's action. Warm-up act Old Southern Moonshine Revival, despite a name that sounds a bit like Old Crow Medicine Show, approaches its music from the same direction as Blackberry Smoke.

Friday night features a couple of hot Roanoke bands. The Worx is arguably the region's top party band, bringing deep grooves and musical smarts to a variety of pop and country covers. Madrone is building its following with original hard rock music, but throws in some choice covers along the way.

Like its sister festivel, Rooster Walk, this event is for charity, according to co-organizer Johnny Buck. Last year, the series donated $18,000 in the Martinsville region. This year, the profits go to Martinsville Speedway Children's Foundation and the Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship at Martinsville High School.

Friday lineup: The Worx (10 p.m.), Madrone (8 p.m.), E.T.A. (6 p.m.)

Saturday lineup: Blackberry Smoke (10 p.m.), Old Southern Moonshine Revival (7:45 p.m.), Tenured Soul (6 p.m.)

Where: Turn 5 Concert Venue, 423 Clover Road, near Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville

How much: $10 Friday; $15 Saturday; $20 both days in advance; $25 two-day pass at gate; free to 12 and younger with paying adult

Tickets:; Woodall's Music & Sound, 2163 Virginia Ave., Collinsville, 276-647-1973; Daily Grind Coffee House & Cafe, 303 E. Church St., Martinsville, 276-632-0035



Allen Thompson Band

With Eric Brace & Peter Cooper

Roanoke Valley native Allen Thompson returns for a night from his new home, East Nashville, Tenn., with a couple of that town's strongest independent forces. Eric Brace & Peter Cooper, who record together and separately for their own label, Red Beet Records, are strong songwriters and performers who recently released their jokingly titled "The Comeback Album."

See the video for Brace & Cooper's "Mad," featuring guest appearance from Mac Wiseman, Duane Eddy and Marty Stuart, via

Both have backgrounds as reporters, and Cooper for years has been a respected critic and reporter for The Tennessean newspaper.

Thompson, a Northside High School and Radford University graduate, has been in Music City for several years, and in 2012 joined forces with his band to release "Salvation in the Ground." It was Thompson's third album, and showed real songwriting growth. Since its release, he and his six-piece band have played such gigs as the radio show Music City Roots and the popular web program Daytrotter.

Details: 8 p.m. Kirk Avenue Music Hall, Roanoke. $12.,,


Merle Haggard

The country music stalwart they call "The Hag" first hit country music's top spot in 1967, with "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive," and followed that with two more decades of country favorites. Even though the hits don't come like they used to, Haggard stays on the road. By the time this year is finished, he will have played almost 100 dates from coast to coast and Canada.

He returns to the Roanoke Valley for the first time since 2009, when he brought his band to Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre. It was a free-wheeling show full of hits, and it featured the latest of Haggard's intriguing lead guitarists. This time, that guitarist is his young son, Ben Haggard, whose influences are the cream of the Hag guitar crop -- Roy Nichols, Clint Strong and Merle Haggard, too.

Read our 2009 story about Haggard at

This is one of the greats of the old-school, and he's the guy that so many of these new-school country performers name-check when they're trying to seem hip. When he was here the last time, he could still sing well and the show was a lot of fun.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Salem Civic Center. $42.75.,,


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