Droves of people visit the Canaan Valley area in West Virginia area during all four seasons for scenic hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and other general outdoor pleasures. Many of these visitors also take time to explore the tiny adjacent mountain town of Davis, WV–population 600ish–with it’s single grocery store and bank, wonderful places to eat (a.k.a. Hellbenders; more on that later) and even more wonderful residents and passers-through. What many people don’t know is that if they continued on just a few more miles to the next tiny mountain town, Thomas, W.V.–population 400ish–they would stumble upon a rare gem called The Purple Fiddle Café, Brews and Stage.
My best friend’s parents (Editor’s Note: Coincidentally, I know these people. And they are fantastic. This should, perhaps, be indicative of the kinds of people here) are some of the few permanent residents of the Canaan area and so we have a summer tradition of visiting the area for long and relaxing getaways. Every summer we hike, eat, drink, and repeat on a daily basis. In our minds those few days are what we live for. The only thing that breaks our routine is The Purple Fiddle, or the peak of Thomas, W.V. night life. Despite its remote and sparse permanent population, Tucker County has a ridiculously active music scene that draws professional and nationally touring musicians from across the state and beyond.
The Purple Fiddle is a restaurant and music venue that offers more than your standard country and bluegrass fare. Rock, reggae, blues, folk–you name it, it’s been played here. It’s even a family-friendly place, so feel free to bring the rug-rats as long as you can keep them quiet. Kidding. This is a place where kids can feel free to be loud and crazy along with the adults.
Once the music starts, the atmosphere is contagious. People dance and drink and laugh and bond over the music and the small town camaraderie. There are dozens of brew choices on the menu–and you can never try just one. If you decide to retreat for some fresh air, there is an attached outdoor area stage-left though on a typical Friday or Saturday night it’s probably more crowded than the interior. Some bands draw big enough crowds that it feels like the whole town is there at once… so wear some deodorant for god’s sake.
John and Kate Bright, the extremely kind and friendly owners of The Purple Fiddle, live in the upstairs portion of the building and work hard to maintain a welcoming and entertaining environment for everyone. Along with the eclectic décor, there is a bit of a country store feel too, as they offer some local novelty items in addition to the band merchandise being sold.
The word on the street is the staff affiliated with the The Purple Fiddle may start recording and producing some of its many traveling artists so if you are already a fan keep an eye out. The Purple Fiddle is easily the heart of this artsy mountain community and every trip I take to Canaan will be punctuated with a stop at the Fiddle.
By: Megan Longfellow