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Kenny Hall (1923-2013)

Long-time Fresno musician and folk-music icon Kenny Hall passed away last week, less than a month shy of his 90th birthday. Several readers have inquired about funeral arrangement and the like.

Here is some information from Mike Mueller, the past president of the Fresno Folklore Society and a close friend of Hall and his wife Marta.

  • There will be a wake for Hall 6 p.m. Sunday at Frank’s Place.
  • A rosary/view is happening on Oct. 3 at Yost and Webb Fineral Home, 1010, T St. in Fresno. Viewing is from 5 to 8 p.m. with the rosary conducted at 6 p.m.
  • Hall’s funeral will take place 11 a.m. Oct. 4 at St. Anthony‚Äôs de Padua with a burial service immediately following at Belmont Memorial Park.

Contributions for Hall’s funeral expenses are gratefully accepted and can be made through Mueller or Jim Ross with the Fresno Folklore Society.

From Mueller:

We know Kenny is in a good place, tuning up to play with Frank Hicks, Ron Hughey, Jim Ringer, Gene Bluestein, Otis Pierce, Jeff George, Mr. Sanford, his school-teacher Natalie Bigelow and countless other musicians and artists. Kenny died suddenly Wednesday night of natural causes and was not in pain.

Responses to "Kenny Hall (1923-2013)"

Ted Nunes says:

Kenny Hall was one of the first musicians I met when I first started playing music in Fresno sometime around 1999-2000. Looking for a folk music scene I was invited to come play at a Fresno Folklore society house show. I was asked to sit in and play a couple songs. I had no clue who Kenny Hall was when I walked through the door but after sitting down in the circle it was clear that everyone else in the room knew who he was. I was extremely intimidated playing the songs that I had written while the small crowd listened intently. In the end, there wasn’t a person in the room listening more intently than Kenny Hall. I felt like he was dissecting my songs with ever word and passing chord. When I finished, after receiving a small applause, kenny nods his head in my direction and says, “Nice song”. It might seem like nothing, but coming from someone with such a rich history in folk music it meant everything to me.

Steve Ono says:

Mighty fine, Ted Nunes. I saw Kenny Hall for the first time at a benefit for a suicide prevention hotline at the First Christian Church in Downtown Fresno in 1968 at the age of 14. It took me another 6 years before I had the confidence to play with him and my future mentor Frank Hicks.

Ben says:

I recall the Sweet’s Mill festival that Kenny was so involved in. I played there in high school with Jon Eben and Bob Hershenow. A very kind, good guy and a true musical treasure. RIP Kenny.

Richard Iyall says:

In the summer of 1968, the year I graduated from Bullard High School in Fresno, my mother, the late Dr. Marilyn Lewis, D.V.M. took at least one sister and me up to Sweet’s Mill for the music festival. It changed my life. One of the greatest things about it was the music and presence of Kenny Hall. He was, of course, an extremely adept musician, developing his own style for playing the mandolin; and accumulating the ability to play an enormous number of old folk tunes, mostly nothing that was written after 1910. But he was such a kind person, a leader with a very kind heart. He was a great story teller. In 1969 I went back up to Sweet’s Mill in the summer. That year, Kenny and any other musicians that were playing with him on that Saturday night had a contest. It was to see who could last the longest– the musicians or the dancers. I loved it all so much, I danced with Julie Wimer until Kenny finally called it a night. It was almost dawn. I could have kept dancing more, it was so much fun.

It must have been in 1970 or shortly afterwards that I was in Berkeley, enjoying the culture, when I was able to catch Kenny playing at a bookstore. I don’t think it was Moe’s. I think it was the other one. But it was certainly comforting to be in his presence, listening to his music.

I enjoyed being around Kenny many times, going to Sweet’s Mill it seems like every year until Virgil Byxbe’s Last Party there. Once, he told me that he had a photo of his friend and mine, Cindy Medrano, in his wallet. Now, what a blind man does with a photo, I don’t know. But it was special to him, just the same. From a bar on Kings Canyon, to the Wild Blue Yonder, to some friends’ apartment on Franklin, to the Santa Fe Basque, or anywhere, it was always good to hear Kenny play. He made many a joyful noise unto the Lord. Could he be learning the harp now? He’s certainly in good company.

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