The Bing Brothers Band feat. Jake Krack

old-time string band Marlinton and Huntington, West Virginia
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of the Artist

West Virginia’s Bing Brothers Band plays old-time music with a “hard-driving style that reflects the gumption it takes to live in the Mountain State” (Bluegrass Unlimited). “Old-time” refers to the rural American string band traditions that developed from the meeting of the African banjo and European fiddle in colonial times, traditions that have been well-kept in the mountain communities of Appalachia. The Bing Brothers are among West Virginia’s most formidable and respected keepers of this priceless musical legacy.

Mike and Tim Bing grew up raising hogs outside of Huntington, and inherited a love for rural life and traditions from their parents. Music was the soundtrack of daily life, whether singing on the porch of the family homestead in nearby Wayne County, or seeing the legendary Flatt & Scruggs perform each time the local Heck’s Department Store celebrated a special occasion. Oldest brother Mike was in college when an uncle gave him a mandolin: “It fit my hand,” Mike now recalls. His youngest brother Tim took up the banjo. In 1974, when Tim was still a teenager, they officially launched the Bing Brothers. During the early years, the brothers built a rich repertoire of old-time music under the tutelage of family friends, Sherman and Burl Hammons of Pocahontas County.

Four decades later, they are still going strong. With his distinctive clawhammer style, Tim is a 14-time West Virginia State Champion on the banjo. Mandolin player Mike leads efforts to maintain West Virginia traditions: he is the founder of Allegheny Echoes Summer Workshops, now marking 22 years of teaching music “in a traditional way in a traditional setting.” In 2012, the brothers Bing were awarded the Vandalia Award from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History for “their lifetime contribution to West Virginia and its traditional culture.”

Since 2002, the Bing Brothers’ line-up has included the stellar playing of guitarist Bob Lieving, a friend of Mike’s since high school, and bass player Tim Corbett, who by day is a Barboursville police corporal and canine handler. The newest member of the band is fiddler Jake Krack. Jake’s parents moved the family from Indiana to West Virginia so he could study with old masters like Lester McCumbers and National Heritage Fellow Melvin Wine. Jake has since become one of West Virginia’s—and indeed the nation’s—top old-time fiddlers. Among other honors, he is a six-time winner of the Best All Around Performer division at the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention. Since the current Bing Brothers line-up solidified in 2010, they have won top Old Time Band honors at Galax four times, toured Australia, and performed on Broadway—always delivering West Virginia old-time music at its finest.

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