Fred and Ivan Laam played on Stockton radio station KGDM for 25 years as the Happy Hayseeds. Kenny Hall listened to their program and learned many tunes from them. He joined them with his mandolin for a program.
“Forest de Bondi” is found in Mellie Dunham’s Fiddlin’ Dance Tunes (1925), a book that Kenny Hall learned many tunes from with the help of Miss Natalie Bigelow, his music teacher at the California School for the Blind.
A rare Crockett family music tape from Elnora Crockett contained this previously unknown fiddle tune played by Dad Crockett on fiddle and Clarence on guitar. Ron Tinkler and Jim Ringer used to take Kenny Hall out to Dad’s place in Fowler, CA for Sunday afternoon tunes with Ron Hughey and Frank Hicks. However, this tune never surfaced from those sessions.
Ron Hughey brought this crooked modal fiddle tune from Missouri with him when his family moved to Fowler, CA around 1927. Ron played fiddle in the Sweets Mill Mountain Boys with Pete Everwine on banjo, Frank Hicks on guitar, and Kenny Hall on mandolin.
Kenny Hall played these three tunes in a medley. Greenfields of America (G) is in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883), as is Dominion Reel (C). The third tune is The Rival (G), a hornpipe first published in 1850 in Boston by music publisher Oliver Ditson under the title “Turner’s Hornpipe.” Kenny probably got the medley from a 78 rpm Radiex record by the Four Irish Masters called “Miss McLeod’s Medley Reels.” Kenny said the band consisted of saxophone, accordion, banjo, & fiddle. We’ve never heard a recording of the 78 rpm record.
Kenny Hall taught this tune to both Terry Barrett and me, at different times, as “Wilkin’s Clog.” We have not found any other source for the tune. The second part has some unique syncopation.
Kenny Hall taught us this four-part version of the “Heel and Toe Polka,” which was recorded by Henry Ford’s Old Fashioned Dance Orchestra for Columbia Records in 1926, complete with a sousaphone instead of a string base. Kenny had this 78 rpm record with “A Southern Schottische” on the flip side. The Heel and Toe Polka is a melody and a dance. Different tunes have been played over the decades as the back up for the dance. The last two parts of this tune are often called “Jenny Lind Polka,” which was also recorded by Bill Monroe.
This tune comes from Sherman Mason who was active in the California State Old-Time Fiddlers Association in the early 1970’s. In April 1972 he took first place in the Senior Division of the CA State Old-Time Fiddler’s Contest. The tune was collected by Jeff Shelby and seems to be related to the “Mother Flanagan/Blackberry Blossom” family of tunes.
Kenny Hall taught us this medley by The Four Provinces Orchestra, one of his favorite Irish-American bands. The 78 rpm record was in his “chest high” collection. It seems to have been released on Columbia and Vocalion, so I wonder which record Kenny had? You can tell we really like this one since we went on for over 5 1/2 minutes.
I put these three reels from Kenny Hall into a medley so I wouldn’t forget them. The first two reels were unnamed for decades until an old recording of an Irish harmonica player was discovered revealing the name of the second tune to be “The Shelf.” Then, thanks to Frank Dalton of Embreeville, PA, we learned that the first tune is “Bonny Kate,” found in a medley recorded by the McNamara Trio on Vocalion in 1923. There’s no doubt Kenny had this 78 rpm recording in his “chest high” collection. The tunes in the Vocalion 78 rpm medley are: The Morning Star/Mason’s Apron/Bonny Kate/Little Judy’s Reel aka Maid Behind the Bar/The Morning Star. The third tune in our medley, Mountain Hornpipe, is also played by Melvin Wine, but he calls it “Old Skedaddalink.”
Kenny Hall said that this waltz was a favorite of Frank Hicks. Frank was an amazing rhythm guitar player from the San Joaquin Valley who influenced many western swing players. His back up chords were simply phenomenal. Frank played guitar in the Sweets Mill Mountain Boys with Kenny on mandolin, Ron Houghy on fiddle, and Pete Everwine on banjo.
Kenny Hall wrote the words to this song for his girlfriend in 1941. Her name was Betty June Taylor but he called her “Tex” since she was from Texas. You can read all about it in “Kenny Hall’s Music Book” by Vykki Mende Gray.
Kenny loved the Carter Family, and he loved the melody of the “Wildwood Flower.” He loved Texas too, because the weather was so hot, for one thing. Kenny once hitchhiked to Texas with Jessie Desmond, the son of Mrs. Clara Desmond, from whom he learned “Hobb Dye,” “Sandy,” and “Peeler Creek Waltz,” — all Texas tunes.
The original title for this 19th century ballad was “I’ll Twine Mid the Ringlets,” with lyrics by Maud Irving and music composed and published by Joseph Filbrick Webster in 1860. The Carter Family recorded it in 1928 as the “Wildwood Flower.”