The Calhoun Chronicle
The Heart Of Our
Mountain State Music
by Maricia Mlynek
Jake Krack is a
well-known fiddler in Calhoun County. He has even been interviewed by the New
York Times and Chicago Tribune, and his story has graced the pages of magazines
like Fiddler, Dirty Linen and Berea College Alumni.
His fiddle, handmade by his father Reed Krack, has taken him
far beyond ribbons and prizes.
From playing on the porch of his home in Orma to performing at the John F.
Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., he has earned a lifetime of achievements.
Jake recently graduated from Berea College with a degree in
Appalachian Studies and has returned to his home in Orma.
As I stood on the porch of Krack’s Fiddle Shop, operated by
the family, I could hear the sound of a little bow making its way across the
strings of a fiddle.
I smiled as I opened the door to see the maker of the music.
A little fellow of only six was sitting in front of Jake. Together, they were
making some “old timey” sounds.
This is when I saw the essence of Jake Krack. He has
countless awards and honors on his resume, but the gentle smile on his face as
he looked upon his pupil was the core of who he is.
Jake has been the student of master fiddlers. He has
apprenticed under fiddle legends who have taught him so much more than music.
As I stood there, I saw the student as the teacher. It was like
viewing a lifetime of our culture resuscitated. The heart beat of West
Virginia’s old time music and sweet sounding rhythms was beating again.
The little boy that came to West Virginia in search of the masters has become
The soft tones of his instruction were a different kind of
music. He was expressing his love, not only for the fiddle, but also for its
As the lesson was coming to an end, the corners of Jake’s mouth
stretched into a smile. He urged his little student to play along with him. That
smile reflected more than years of practicing and persevering.
Perhaps, Jake saw a little of himself in his pupil. He too had sat
at the feet of some of the most respected fiddlers of the Appalachian region,
like Melvin Wine and Lester McCumbers.
How wonderful to see the music of the legends being played by
the next generations. Together, Jake and his student are making more than music.
They are honoring the masters before them.
Krack has over 30 students, ranging in age from four to 74. He is
also working part time at the Dept. of Culture and History in Charleston, as
well as con-tinuing his own fiddling and performing.
He will appear at Tamarack’s Appalachian Music Festival on
Saturday, May 17. A listing of his other performances can be found at
If you can’t get out to hear him live, he is releasing his 10th CD
this spring, “Jake’s Ramble.” To order it, go to his website or call Krack’s
Fiddle Shop, 655-7504.
The pulse of old-time Appalachian fiddling is strong again.
The tradition is being passed on to the next generation--and to Jake that is
something more important than awards and honors.
He is passing on the songs of a culture that has almost been
forgotten. His teaching promises the continuation of the traditions of our
people and our state.
Listen closely--the heart is beating strong, and the rhythm
is in the strings of Jake Krack’s fiddle.