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The Purple Fiddle

New Tradition in Thomas

Text and photographs by Carl E. Feather

purple fiddle
Co-owners and co-founders Kate Richards and John Bright, with son Silas, in front of the Purple Fiddle in Thomas. Photograph by Carl E. Feather.


The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Washington, D.C., and New York City forced many urban dwellers to re-assess their lives and priorities. John Bright and Kate Richards of Morgantown were among them. Those attacks led the couple to start a new business in what they felt would be one of the last places a terrorist would bother striking — the Tucker County town of Thomas.

“If it is [attacked], the whole world is in trouble,” comments John as he takes a break on the patio of the Purple Fiddle, the music café he and Kate started in 2002.

The Purple Fiddle, now entering its sixth year of business, is a crossroads of Appalachian culture and urban sophistication. It makes no apologies for being off the beaten interstate path — devotees from Washington, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and other metropolitan areas have no problem with driving three or four hours to partake of the food, entertainment, eclectic decor, and welcoming atmosphere.

“We had a slogan here — ‘Celebrating rural traditions and urban tastes,’” John says. “It’s like a combination of the best of both worlds. You got the laid-back atmosphere of the country, but you got the upscale tastes of city dwellers.”

You can read the rest of this article in this issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.