Chris Sutton

There is perhaps no bigger cheerleader for the historic City of Saint Albans than Chris Sutton. An advocate for the city’s revitalization, and a champion for its cultural heartbeat, Chris is one of the primary forces behind Saint Albans’ artistic renaissance. 

But if you ask Chris, he’ll happily share the names of the people who he feels deserve more credit than he does.

“Saint Albans had been dead for a long time,” Chris explained. “If people started businesses down on Main Street, it was pretty much just a matter of time, it seemed, before they went out of business.”

That all began to change, Chris added, when the Coal River Coffee Company opened its doors in conjunction with the surging popularity of the Alban Arts Center. More restaurants followed, and local musician James Townsend began hosting an open mic night at Coal River on Thursdays, which eventually culminated in a collaboration with the Alban Arts Center in the form of 2023’s “Coal River Songwriters Festival.”

“Things just kept getting better and better,” Chris noted. “It’s crazy the amount of talented people who show up there. A lot of them are very local – Saint Albans and Kanawha County.”

It didn’t take long for Chris to realize that a party to celebrate the now thriving city was just what the community needed. Now that community party is preparing to take shape again in the form of the second annual Coal River Songwriters Festival, May 2 through May 4, in Saint Albans. 

For being a champion of his city, and helping to put West Virginia’s amazing musicians on a stage for all to enjoy, we are pleased to name Chris Sutton as the certified RealWest Virginian of the Week!

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