BILL BURKE & FRED COON: Black Bear On The Mountain

Burke & Coon: Black Bear on the Mountain


Black Bear On The Mountain

There is something special about listening to musicians who have played together for a long time. Bill Burke & Fred Coon met at a music festival in Arizona twenty years ago.

Bill, besides being a fine banjo, mandolin and guitarist, is a highly respected cabinet maker and luthier. He made the banjo that Fred plays on the CD.

The CD is a collection of old-time standards and more unusual selections. Some less common tunes include the title track, a tune that Fred and J. P. Fraley played many times. There is a trio of seldom-heard tunes later on the CD including “Uncle Ned,” taught to Fred by Ted Ward on a visit with Doc Watson, the banjo instrumental “The Loaded Lion” from the playing of Winfred Moore and “Smoke Town Strut” a guitar tune fingerpicked by Bill and originally recorded by Sylvester Weaver.

The CD concludes with one of my favorite tunes: “Elk River Blues” from the playing of West Virginia’s Ernie Carpenter. Black Bear On The Mountain is a simple but no less exceptional recording of two friends trading tunes either solo or in that special harmony that only musicians of a common mind can bring.

Tom Druckenmiller

About Tom Druckenmiller

Tom has a long history with Sing Out! as a writer and regular contributor (for more than a decade) and deep and rich skills as a radio host and programmer of folk and roots music! He’s been a folk musician and teacher for over forty years. Tom began playing and singing Bob Dylan and Tom Paxton songs, but fell in love with old-time music and the clawhammer banjo after hearing John McCutcheon at the legendary Bethlehem folk club Godfrey Daniels. He has studied with old-time music greats Dwight Diller, Riley Baugus and Norman and Nancy Blake … and has, himself, taught at many music camps and workshops including The Augusta Heritage Workshops (in Elkins WV), the Pocono Dulcimer Fest (in Stroudsburg PA) and the Maidencreek Old-Time Music Festival (in Blandon PA). Druckemiller’s continuing regular local radio gig “In The Tradition” has aired on WDIY-FM in Allentown PA for the past 16 years, and he also co-hosts the “Sunday Folk” program on the station.

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