By Lisa Godley
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Nestled in the town of Weirwood on Virginia’s Eastern Shore sits one of the region’s best kept secrets, the historic Do Drop Inn. What started fifty years ago as one of the few places African Americans could go for good food and great music has blossomed into a popular place for civic meetings and community events.
The Do Drop’s Owner, Jane Cabarrus says, her father, Lloyd Giddens built the restaurant and lounge in 1967. And from day one he insisted that everyone who visited was made to feel welcome. “My father always told us, no matter what color they were or what kind of work they did, you treat everybody the same way. He wanted it to be so that everybody could come in and enjoy themselves.”
Joan Wilson’s father supplied the Do Drop with its’ first jukebox. She remembers how people would pack the dance floor and always had a good time. “Places like this helped the people to go on for the following week, because they were used to hard work and didn’t have a lot of places to go. It gave them a place to come and be dressed up and enjoy themselves.”
The building itself, isn’t glamorous. The white wooden structure reminds you of an old country store, school house or church. But once you walk through those fifty year old doors, the history is obvious. Lining the walls are scores of old pictures and posters of musicians and events that have taken place on the venue’s well worn hardwood floors. One of those pictures is of blues singer, songwriter Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup. Never heard of him? Well, I’ll bet you’ve heard at least one of his hits. His song “That’s Alright Mama” was one of three Crudup songs recorded by the king himself, “Elvis Presley. Decades later, Crudup’s sons would utilize the Do Drop as their rehearsal hall while recording their album “Franktown Blues.” It featured a collection of their father’s songs and was nominated in 2002 for the prestigious W.C. Handy Blues Award.
Over the years, scores of musicians have performed at the Do Drop. And it doesn’t seem to matter if they played the venue during its’ hey day or a month ago, most performers feel the Do Drop is special. Billy Sturgis is a music producer who has brought musicians from as far away as Nashville to the Do Drop. “We rehearsed here, wrote songs here, got to know each other here. And you don’t find places like this, anywhere.”
There will be a concert at the Do Drop Inn this Saturday night to celebrate. McKay Shockley, the Snow Hill All-Stars and the Chris English Band will be playing and the event will be filmed for a documentary by WHRO.