Kenny Hall (1923-2013) was an amazing mandolin player and an exciting fiddler who was born blind in San Jose, California. For over 50 years he was a major force in the California old-time music tradition. Kenny is also recognized as being important to the entire Western fiddle and string band revival that started in the 1960’s. He acquired a phenomenal repertoire of traditional folk songs and string band music by listening to the radio, collecting 78-rpm records, and playing with other fiddlers and musicians from Missouri, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas. Eventually, Kenny learned tunes and songs from every part of the United States as well as from other countries including Canada, Mexico, Latin America, Portugal, Brazil, Ireland, and many parts of Europe. Kenny’s energetic musical style could lift a room and inspire musicians while spreading cheerfulness to players and listeners alike. The notes from his mandolin would sparkle, and the art of his fiddling was compelling. He was eager to teach and share his music with others, always encouraging those around him. He continued to play regularly in Fresno, California, where the hot weather suited him, until his passing in 2013.
Five professional recordings of Kenny’s music were commercially produced. At least another six collections were made with friends from the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley in California. There are surely countless recordings of his concerts, workshops, jam sessions, and lessons in the possession of his friends and fans.