Right after the band introduction on this live recording done at the Pocahontas County Opera House, Mike Bing asks, “Before we get started, has anyone ever heard of Sherman Hammons around this place?” Then Tim Bing dives into “Cumberland Gap” in his distinctive melodic clawhammer banjo style, and no prisoners are taken from here on out. The Bing Brothers have made about one recording per decade. This is the third one, and so you do the math. They have been around a while. Marked by a hard-driving style that reflects the gumption it takes to live in the Mountain State, they sound like bluegrass, but different. Mike Bing’s mandolin drives with the force of an 18-wheeler as does brother Tim’s banjo. Their best foil is the driving bow of Jake Krack, one of the best fiddlers from a state full of great fiddlers.
Danny Arthur has played guitar and fiddle with the band for 31 years (there’s your answer), and more recent additions are Tim Corbett on bass and Bob Lieving on guitar. The hard-driving band focuses on fiddle tunes, where unlike many old-time bands, they take breaks. Six of the twenty-five cuts actually were not recorded in Pocahontas County, but at a concert in Shepherdstown, Jefferson County, W.Va., out on the panhandle. The straightforward vocals get the job done and they are better at this than most old-time bands.
Jake Krack is far more comfortable playing fiddle tunes than the songs and there are a great many of good tunes here including “Hell Broke Loose In Georgia,” “28th Of January,” “Maid Behind The Bar,” and “Forked Deer.” The sound for these live recordings is well-balanced and clean. The program features a wide variety of songs and keeps the listener’s interest. This is a worthy addition to the Bing Brothers catalog. (Mike Bing, Rt. 2 Box 128M, Marlinton, WV 24954, myspace.com/thebingbrothersband.)RCB