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Thread: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #27

  1. #1
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Ottawa, Canada

    Default Blues, Stomps, & Rags #27

    Kenny Hall (1923-2013), who has been discussed elsewhere on the Forum, was a popular and influential California fiddler and mandolin player, specializing in old-time music, but influenced by other regional and ethnic styles. Hall was born in San Jose, and based in Fresno for much of his life. He first played piano, which he hated and didn't take to, in 1929 at the California School for the Blind in Berkeley. Hall became familiar with old-time music through radio broadcasts and old records, beginning fiddle lessons in 1935, and moving on to mandolin in 1937. He first held the mandolin like a fiddle, since he'd never seen it played. Hall was known for his vast repertoire, and learned many tunes from migrants to California during the 1930's and 40's. Furthermore, "The radio still had much old-time musical inspiration for Kenny including a variety of old-time and ethnic music programming, like the Voice of Portugal broadcast from Oakland, as well as Canadian radio shows featuring fiddle-band music. In particular The Happy Hayseeds had a regular morning show, and Kenny learned much of their repertoire " (Grey). He performed publicly for a few years, but stopped as old-time music became less popular following WWII.

    After, a twenty year hiatus, during which Hall worked for a broom manufacturer and later sold brooms, new musical friends encouraged him to perform again. Hall recorded with Sweet Mills String Band and the Long Haul String Band in the 1970's and 80's. In his latter years, he held regular barn dances, and had a standing gig at the Santa Fe Basque Restaurant, as well as performing at festivals and concerts. A great many California musicians, including some at Mandolin Cafe, played with and were influenced by him. Kenny Hall was, by all accounts, a skilled musician, a great storyteller, and an all-round character. (Information from Moss, Mark D., "Mandolinist & Fiddler Kenny Hall Passes," Sing Out!, Sept. 19, 2013; and from Gray, Vykki Mende, "Where Did Kenny Hall Learn All Those Tunes?", The Old-Time Herald, Vol. 7, No. 4, both available online. To you Californians who knew Kenny, he deserves a Wikipedia entry.)

    Although Hall is not known as a blues man, it was through the blues that I was introduced to his playing. He appears twice on the CD, Sam Chatmon 1970-1974 (Flyright FLY CD 63), though I haven't found any other Kenny Hall blues recordings. The guitarist and singer, Sam Chatmon, was an important blues artist and a veteran of the influential 1930's stringboard, the Mississippi Sheiks. Hall's hard-driving style with minimal decoration is well suited to blues, so I'm sure you'll enjoy his dynamic mandolin playing on the recordings below (both are included on the Sam Chatmon CD).

    Here's the first song. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Sam Chatmon - My Little Woman [1970]".

    The second is Chatmon's re-recording of an old Mississippi Sheiks classic, now a blues standard. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Sam Chatmon - Sittin' On Top Of The World [1970]"

    "It's just music; you can't break it."

    Buffy Ste-Marie on experimenting with your sound.
    "On Reserve", CBC Radio.

  2. #2
    wannabe mandolin wizzard bluesmandolinman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Berlin, Germany

    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #27

    I had not associated Kenny to Blues, but I agree his playing fits fine in these 2 examples

    thanks for posting
    Carl Martin - Everyday I have the Blues

    My gear : 1927 A0/Ajr , JM-11 , Fender 346 white XH

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