Appalachian melodies rain down upon patrons at The Purple Fiddle and along with the harmonic showers comes a new respect for simple fun.
This stomping ground in Thomas, West Virginia, hosts a toe-tapping good time on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Performers with acoustic instruments―banjo, mandolin, and, of course, fiddle―in hand strum out folk, gospel, and original songs. From the stage, musicians peer out on a mix of fans―blue hair and Mohawks, tykes in SpongeBob pajamas, teens in AC/DC shirts, and D.C. politicos with ties slung loosely around their necks. The crowd is as diverse as a swarm of new drivers at the DMV.
Owner John Bright is grateful for the mix of customers. "We call this a living room atmosphere," he says. "We wanted a place you can take your 5-year-old son, watch him dance, and feel comfortable―feel safe."
That's why The Purple Fiddle has a no-smoking policy and limits the alcohol to wine and beer. In fact, the broad beer selection includes 65 different brands from across the world, including Bass Ales from Britain and Zatec from the Czech Republic. For local tastes, The Purple Fiddle sells Mountain State Brewing Company beer on tap.
But don't lap up the lager without sampling from the menu with its tasty, health-minded items. You can order Cajun gumbo, veggie chili, sandwiches (we love the Sethster with bacon on pita bread), and wraps.
Head for the Hills
Hidden in the West Virginia mountains, The Purple Fiddle was just the retreat from the Washington, D.C., daily grind that John needed.
A former photographer for The Washington Post, he wanted to escape the smog of suburbia. "I didn't take well to all the road rage and tension," he admits. "And I didn't like who I was starting to become."
While traveling, John and his co-owner happened upon the old DePollo General Store. Hardwood floors, an outside patio, and that penny candy feel sold him on the place. It seemed only natural to add music and food. Nowadays, a creative atmosphere permeates the old building. Guests can even take home a box of magnetic poetry sold at The Purple Fiddle for $10. The words prove helpful when guests want to write a few mountain melodies of their own.
The Purple Fiddle Coffeehouse and Mountain Market: 21 East Avenue, Thomas, WV 26292; www.purplefiddle.com or (304) 463-4040. Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
The Purple Fiddle sits at the center of awesome outdoor vistas. While in the area, check out Blackwater Falls State Park, home to one of the most photographed waterfalls in the state. (304) 259-5216. Also visit Seneca Rocks―great for hiking, fly-fishing, rock climbing, and scenic views. (304) 567-2827.
A NOTE TO OUR READERS
"Play It Again" is from the May 2008 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.