Clarke Buehing has been a major force in minstrel, old-time, and parlor style banjo music for over thirty years. Clark has also made over twenty-five gourd banjos since his first in 1984, not including quite a few dipper gourd banjos that he has given away as gifts. Clarke has performs around the world on these interesting instruments, and also is a recognized master of fingerstyle, ragtime and minstrel banjo.
Growing up in Illinois, Clarke studied piano drums, and clarinet until the seventh grade. Later, he developed an interest in folk music, and after seeing Hobart Smith perform at his school, picked up the banjo and fiddle. After attending college in Oregon, and then studying at the San Francisco Art Institute, Clarke drifted to Berkley, traveled and performed in Europe, studied classic banjo in Connecticut, classical mandolin in Boston, and so on until he landed in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Clarke knew Billy Matthews in Osage, Arkansas, and in 1985 they formed the original Skirtlifters with Hawk Hubbard. The current Skirtlifters, including guitarist Thom Howard and fiddler Tom Verdot, have performed in Europe and across the U.S.
Clarke developed an interest in gourd banjos in the 1970's after seeing an exhibit at the Miles Musical Museum in Eureka Springs, but it was not until about 1984 that he made his first gourd banjo from a small dipper gourd. In 1984 he also developed a friendship with Scott Didlake, who was also interested in classical banjos as well, and took Scott to see the Miles exhibit as well. They exchanged many letters and ideas on gourd banjo making until Scott's death in 1994.
An in-depth interview of Clarke and his music by Calvin Minner can be found in the November 1992 edition of Banjo Newsletter (Vol. XX, 1Vol.).