FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Fairmont State University’s Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center continue a series called ‘Trunk of Traditional Tunes.’ 

David Bing presented traditions from West Virginia musicians and family bands at the Folklife Center on Sunday. Bing, a fiddler and fiddle maker, is the recipient of the Folklife Center’s Traditions Award for his lifelong efforts to preserve and perpetuate West Virginia’s rich cultural heritage. 

The ‘Trunk of Traditional Tunes’ series is supported by the West Virginia Humanities Council through the American Rescue Plan. Each presentation throughout the series will be recorded to be used as part of an online curriculum that will be available to schools and community organizations. 

“West Virginia is traditional music, in fact most traditional music lives in the oral tradition. So, in other words, my mother teaches it to me, and I teach it to my child, or I go to the neighbors, and they sit out on the porch, and they play the fiddle,” said Francene Kirk, Interim Director of Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center. “Usually what happens is, someone picks up a fiddle and says ‘here, let me show you how to play that. And then that person learns that tune.”

On Feb. 20 David O’Dell will discuss the history of the West Virginia State Folk Festival and the many talented folk musicians who have added their sounds to the festival culture on at 2 p.m. ‘Dell is a professor of chemistry at Glenville State College.  

“Now we do have music colleges who write these things down and who record these things, but most of it is the oral tradition. And in other words, you just learn it from somebody who knows it,” Kirk said. “And as we move from generation to generation there is always that fear that something is going to happen, and something is going to be missed.” 

Officials with the center stated they have had some wonderful musicians come in such as fiddle players, hammer dulcimer, dulcimer players, ballad singers.  

The following artists will be showcasing their talents at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center:  

  • On Sunday, March 6, at 2 p.m., the National Endowment for the Humanities Heritage Fellow, John Morris, will discuss Clay County music and musicians. Morris plays the fiddle and banjo. 
  • Children’s author, Sarah Sullivan, will discuss her book, Passing the Music Down, on Sunday, March 13, at 2 p.m. Her story is about a young boy and his fiddle teacher, based on the story of Braxton County fiddler, Melvin Wine. 
  • Folklorist, Emily Hilliard, will speak about folklore collection and traditional music on Wednesday, March 16, at 7 p.m. Hilliard is the program officer for folk and traditional arts at Mid Atlantic Arts. She is the former West Virginia state folklorist and the founding director of the West Virginia Folklife Program at the West Virginia Humanities Council.