Tunes and Tales: Old Time and Bluegrass Musicians of Pocahontas County

July 30, 2013 |


Each Sunday in August, local musicians Mike Bing, Bill and Richard Hefner, and Jake Krack will be giving talks about the native music and musicians of Pocahontas County that inspired them. “Tunes and Tales” is a new series hosted by the CVB and local radio personality and banjo player, Caleb Diller.

When Caleb was growing up, he says, he rebelled against his father’s love life of old time music. Whenever they would visit friends and family in Cass, WV, musicians would come to play with his father, Dwight Diller. Caleb remembers his sister out catching fireflies, and all of the kids in the neighborhood laughing and just listening to the tunes bounce off the houses and the hills.

“I was about 12 years old whenever I finally started picking up the banjo and messing around with it. I didn’t want Dad to know that I was playing it.

“And one day I happened to be out back, well I thought he was gone. Well he came back in, and then he caught me playing the banjo. And he’s like, ‘Well that’s perfect. Let me show you one little thing.’”

Now, Caleb is 29 years old, and he has received two grants from the local Cal Price Appalachian Enrichment Series to teach the public the stories of local music and musicians. His father, Dwight Diller, an accomplished banjo player and musical historian, joined Caleb last year in a musical workshop entitled “A Native Song”. Dwight brought a slideshow of some of his photos from the Hammons family and helped talk about the origin from many of the local tunes that the Hammons played.

This August, Caleb will be joined by four local musicians Mike Bing, of the Bing Brothers, Jake Krack, who is now of the Bing brothers band, Richard Hefner, of the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys, and Bill Hefner, another founding member of the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys, Guitar craftsman and Luthier.

Caleb says he hopes the talks will help more people appreciate old time music in Pocahontas County. “A lot of people, they’ve seen these people play live. They’ve heard their albums, or maybe they’ve been to Allegheny Echoes, and they’ve learned a little bit about how they play these instruments. But I wanted to dive in a little bit more about how did they get to that point?”

The music of the Allegheny region has many influences, says Caleb, including Irish, British, even some of the rhythms that were brought in by slaves, or music of some of the Native Americans inspired the local tunes that were played throughout these hills.

Caleb says he now understands that this history of native Pocahontas tunes are a part of his story too.

“If before I die I can play any tune as well as Sherman Hammons plays Muddy Roads, I’ll die happy.”

Complete Schedule for Tunes and Tales:

August 4  Kicking off a whole month of Tunes & Tales is the lead singer and banjo picker of the legendary Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys, Richard Hefner. Join Richard where his music began at the historic mill, in Mill Point. Program begins at 4:00 p.m.

August 11 Bill Hefner, at historic Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park. Bill will take us through his early days of touring with the band to his present day occupation of crafting instruments. To go along with the beautiful and historic setting, Bill will also play some Civil War tunes. Program begins at 4:00 p.m. 

August 18  Jake Krack will speak at the Pearl Buck Birthplace to discuss what drove him and who helped him along the way in achieving international notoriety in Traditional music.  Program begins at 4:00 p.m. 

August 25
Master of the mandolin and old time music, join Mike Bing, of the Bing Brothers Band atop the beautiful Highland Scenic Highway, on the Big Spruce Overlook. Mike will be talking about his earliest lessons in music as well as playing in the Bing Brothers and his experience at Allegheny Echoes. Program begins at 4:00 p.m.

For more information, contact Caleb Diller – 304-799-6004,

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