The first Saturday of the month is coming up and that has Bobby Radford of Ferrum excited. Why? It means Cruisin’ Rocky Mount will be hitting the town’s streets and parking lots at 4 p.m. Saturday. For Radford, cruising includes music.
To pair his passion for cruising with that of music, he has written and recorded a song called “Cruising Rocky Mount.” He recorded the tune in 2019, but it wasn’t his first car song. Before “Cruising Rocky Mount,” he wrote and recorded “Taking My Baby to the Cruise-In Tonight.” (He lets the listener define “baby” which might be one’s sweetie or the car itself.)
Besides singing and songwriting, Radford plays a number of instruments including guitar, piano, bass guitar, dulcimer and the harmonica. He also enjoys a variety of types of music and has seven CDs featuring Gospel, bluegrass, folk, pop, piano instrumental, car songs and even one with moonshine songs.
Radford said he has written about 100 songs and that he really likes the creative process of writing and recording songs. “I never thought I’d have a CD,” he said.
A retired truck driver for Ply Gem, Radford said that time on the road was “a good time for thoughts to come to mind.” He recorded his thoughts while driving and revisited them later to create songs.
Steve Shively, owner of Outlet Recording Studio in Rocky Mount, helped Radford produce his creative works. Radford’s “Cruising Rocky Mount” CD featured himself as the vocalist, with Shively and Sandy Via as background vocalist. Stuart Angel played the guitar and Race Brabson the drums.
Shively said Radford’s been coming around the studio for years and that he can see how Radford’s song would appeal to the interests of the cruise-in crowds.
Both men said they remembered earlier days in Rocky Mount when folks would cruise around town with stops that included Hugh’s Drive-Up Snack Bar.
Cruising around town has regained popularity for drivers and spectators and has become known as Cruisin’ Rocky Mount. The event begins at 4 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month with this year’s events running from April-November. Each month has a particular theme. The hub for activity is at the Franklin County High School’s parking lot and features food and retail vendors.
Radford got into antique cars in 1999 when he bought his first car. Prior to that, he had been racing at the Franklin County Speedway. He finished his racing career by winning the last 100 lap late model race of the last millennium.
This Saturday Radford plans to be cruising Rocky Mount in his 1955 Chevy as he listens to his song “Cruising Rocky Mount.” His song and cruising photos can be viewed on YouTube. He hopes to also record a Blue Grass version of the song.
More information on Cruisin’ Rocky Mount can be found at www.cruisinrockymountva.com.