Bitter Creek

As played by Clark Kessinger from the West Virginia region

Reel or Breakdown in G

From the Clark Kessinger Collection

3 files for this tune:

Melody-Only Transcription (PDF)
Full Transcription (PDF)


Recording of Clark Kessinger released on the album Clark Kessinger: Old Time Music with Fiddle and Guitar


The presence of this tune in Kessinger’s repertoire poses a bit of a puzzle for me. This tune is generally associated with Texas, and particularly with Benny Thomasson, although it was probably first recorded in 1929 by Oscar & Doc Harper. Kessinger is known to have been influential in the development of Texas contest-style fiddling, but the earliest recording I can find of Kessinger playing Bitter Creek is from 1971. The Fiddler’s Companion also associates this tune with Tommy Jackson, who may have recorded it in the 1950s or 1960s. So the question is, when did Kessinger learn Bitter Creek, and from whom did he learn it? We may never know.


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