The Crooked Tune, An Old Time Fiddler in a Modern World



For eight years, filmmaker Charles Cohen has followed Dave Bing, one of this country’s preeminent Old Time fiddlers, from the backwoods of West Virginia to the pubs in England and back again. The result is an exploration of a thriving musical form that is in no need of saving but rather prefers to twist and turn under the radar, which ironically is the very attraction for the young and old looking for a break from the digital age. It makes Dave Bing wonder can Old Time survive its newfound success?

by Charles Cohen, edited from

This fiddler project has been the obsession of my life. I’ve since enrolled at American University for a three year MFA degree. New Life for Old Time is my thesis. I’m aiming to finish a full length doc by the time I graduate next Spring. I have since followed Dave Bing to several workshops and festivals in West Va. and in England back in Maryland. I’ve visited his and Sue’s home in Roane County which has just as rewarding. I’ve witnessed him playing with Old Time Fiddler with Elder, Franklin George.

And just as vital I’ve gone back with him to the spot in the Williams River, where Dave used to camp as a young man, while he spent days, weeks, months with the Hammons Family. The Hammons are considered a major wellspring for Old Time, their tradition of storytelling, tunes and Living the Life as Hunter and Gatherers, has been passed down since settler days. Their blend thrived in isolation even for West Virginia standards, creating a unique “crooked” sound, which has documented heavily first by local musician Dwight Dillar and then by the Smithsonian.

Dave’s relationship with the Hammons, a generation of musicians who have all passed, has been profound and unique being that he’s the last persistent practioner, who learned straight from them. A major mission of this doc is to not just tell this aspect of oral tradition as its most personal, but show it. Show how as Faulkner so well put it, “The Past is not Dead. It’s not even the Past.”


2 Responses to “The Crooked Tune, An Old Time Fiddler in a Modern World”

  1. Thom Hickey Says:

    Great work. Regards thom.

  2. eyesoreproductions Says:

    Thanks. Looking forward to getting this distributed one day

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