Monday, December 16, 2013

Episode 192 (12-16-13): Rain, Romance, and the Rockfish River in "Blue Ridge Girl" by Chamomile and Whiskey

Click to listen to episode (3:08)


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of December 16, 2013.

This week, we feature a Virginia band’s song about land, water, music, dance, and romance along one of the Old Dominion’s most famous geographic features.  Have a listen for about 50 seconds.


You’ve been listening to part of “Blue Ridge Girl,” by the band Chamomile and Whiskey, on the 2013 album “Wandering Boots,” from County Wide Records.  The band formed in Nelson County’s section of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the dominant geographic influence on that historic and scenic Virginia county.  The Blue Ridge is also the place of origin for the Rockfish River, a James River tributary mentioned in the song.  And another phrase in the song—“the scarred mountain-side”—brings to mind the devastating and lingering effects of a different kind of Blue Ridge “girl”: Hurricane Camille.  On August 19, 1969, that storm’s remnants became concentrated along the Blue Ridge in Nelson, producing an official total of 27 inches of rain in the Rockfish River basin and the county’s adjacent Tye River basin.  The resulting flash floods caused over 100 deaths and left behind eroded slopes, altered channels, and debris that remain decades later.  Shaped by that tragic event and by eons of other natural events, Nelson County’s Blue Ridge lands and waters continue today as a foundation for life, livelihoods, and music lyrics.  Thanks to Chamomile and Whiskey for permission to use this week’s music.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

[All Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of 12/16/13]

A July 2009 view of the Rockfish River's confluence with the James River (background), where the Virginia counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, and Nelson converge.
An undated winter-time view of the Rockfish River in Nelson County.  Photo courtesy of Michael W. Lachance.

Acknowledgments and Sources: “Blue Ridge Girl” and Wandering Boots” are copyright by Chamomile and Whiskey and by County Wide Records, used with permission of Chamomile and Whiskey.  More information about Chamomile and Whiskey is available online at, and information about Charlottesville-based County Wide Records is available online at

Information on the Rockfish River and the impacts of Hurricane Camille in 1969 was taken from Unprecedented rain: Hurricane Camille’s deadly flood in the Blue Ridge mountains, “Capital Weather Gang” column, Washington Post, 8/19/13 (this source discusses of the weather phenomena causing the abnormally heavy rainfall in Nelson county); the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities’ “Encyclopedia  Virginia,” online at; and from “Assessment of the Rockfish River in Nelson County, Virginia,” by Robert Hopper and Julie Still, Virginia Water Resources Research Center/STEP Program, October 18, 2004 (for access to this report, please contact Alan Raflo at 540-231-5463 or

Additional information on Nelson County was taken from the county government’s Web site,

A look back at the August 1969 Nelson County flood--with several photos of the immediate aftermath--is available in a 9/21/06 article by The [Charlottesville] Hook, online at

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