BEN HALL, “Ben Hall!” Tompkins Square. 11 tracks.
There is no bluegrass on this album, which highlights the thumbpicking guitar style popularized by Merle Travis and Chet Atkins.
But both thumbpicking and bluegrass have a common godfather — Arnold Shultz, a black Ohio County, Ky., miner who worked with (and influenced) a young Bill Monroe and his uncle, Pendleton Vandiver, at square dances in the late 1920s.
The late Mose Rager of Drakesboro, Ky., taught Travis the thumbpicking style he had learned from Kennedy Jones.
“Kennedy Jones, the man that taught me to play, learned a lot of chords from Arnold Shultz,” Rager said once.
But thumbpicking was Jones’ invention, he said. “Arnold played with his thumb and finger. He didn’t have no pick.”
Still, Shultz’s influence was there in the music that has been passed down to Hall.
Hall, a 22-year-old picker, was discovered by the late Charlie Louvin.
The album includes Travis’ “Cannonball Rag,” “Guitar Rag” and “Sweet Temptation”; Woody Guthrie’s “Oklahoma Hills”; the Louvin Brothers’ “Every Time You Leave” and Hall’s own, “Mimi & Me.”
Can’t find it in stores? Try www.tompkinssquare.com.