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Bing Brothers to play Party on the Patio

Sep. 19, 2013 @ 09:12 PM

The Bing Brothers featuring Jake Krack will perform at the last Party on the Patio of the season Friday at Heritage Station in downtown Huntington.

The powerhouse group of old time roots music artists has local ties and is filled with award-winning talent.

The concert will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. Sept. 20. Admission is free.

The West Virginia-based Bing Brothers featuring Jake Krack have won numerous awards over the years. From individual instrument contests to band contests, the group has been handed many ribbons at events ranging from the Vandalia Gathering stage to the Appalachian String Band Festival to the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention. The members of the band who will perform at Heritage Station include Mike Bing on mandolin, Tim Bing on banjo, Tim Corbett on bass, Danny Arthur on guitar and Jake Krack on fiddle.

Krack has been a championship fiddler since he was a kid and has won many contests over the years throughout Appalachia. In 2013 alone, he won 1st place at the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention fiddle contest and came in second place in the same category at the Appalachian String Band Festival.

Krack picked up the fiddle when he was a toddler while watching his father trying to learn the instrument.

“My Dad was a limestone carver when he picked up the fiddle,” said Krack. “He was trying to teach himself how to play while doing that job. But, at the end of the day, after doing that kind of work, his fingers didn’t really move like they needed to. I watched him teach himself, being a little boy of four years old and watching my Dad play the fiddle around the house. He would let me hold the fiddle with his help. But, I wanted to do it myself. So, he took a cardboard box and cut the shape of a fiddle out of it and I pretended to play that until I was six. Then, he carved a limestone birdbath with a fiddle carved into it, to scale and everything, and he traded that for my first fiddle, which was a quarter size.”

By the time he was a young man, Krack had been featured in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and on CNN, appeared on PBS, Mountain Stage and the Prairie Home Companion, and was given scholarships as well as a National Endowment for the Arts grant. 

Originally from Indiana, Krack eventually moved to West Virginia with his family so he could soak up the old time music traditions of the state and study under master fiddlers like Melvin Wine, Lester McCumbers and Bobby Taylor.

“When I was in Indiana, my teacher, Brad Leftwich, turned me onto a fiddler named Melvin Wine in West Virginia, so we started spending a lot of time there,” said Krack. “I spent a lot of time in front of Melvin with the fiddle and a tape recorder on most of the time. But, there were a lot of other neat little things that I learned from him. One of the favorite things that I learned from Melvin was how to flip a pancake in a skillet. I saw him do it during one of the first times I went to visit him as a nine or 10 year old boy. It was about the neatest darn thing I had ever seen.

“Melvin was born in 1909 and began to learn to play music in 1918, so by default he was a gateway to older music,” continued Krack. “He learned from his dad, who learned from his dad and on down. The main thing that I think about is, when Melvin was learning, he wasn’t influenced by television or radio. So, I felt like he had a different approach to music than somebody who was (influenced by TV and radio).” 

To get a good taste of Krack’s fiddling talent, you can watch a video of his performance at the Appalachian String Band Festival contest by going to Youtube and typing in ‘Jake Krack Clifftop 2013.’ Backing him up on guitar in the video is local Barboursville musician Danny Arthur, who has played with the Bing Brothers for more than three decades.

“I love Danny’s guitar playing,” said Krack. “He plays with drive. He’s unlike anybody else. His playing is just solid and dead-on. Sometimes I don’t know if he realizes it, but his playing is pretty awesome stuff. The punch that he puts behind music changes it all, no matter whether you are playing fast or slow. It’s definitely due to the snap in his right hand.”  

Despite Krack’s early success and notoriety on the circuit, as a young man he decided to seek higher education and get a day job that was not music related. To him, it was a matter of not wanting to get burned out on the music he loved.

“It has never been my goal to be a professional musician or anything like that,” said Krack. “So, going to West Virginia was about going after ‘the sound.’ Being a professional musician never seemed attractive to me. One time, a high school teacher told me, ‘You know, Jake, before I was a school teacher, I was a forester. The reason I was a forester is because I loved being in the woods. But, as soon as I had to go out to the woods every day from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., no matter whether I wanted to or not, it wasn’t fun being in the woods anymore.’ That made a lot of sense to me. Now, with some people, it is completely different for them, and that is obvious. But, that kind of rang true for me.”     
 

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