Tom T. Hall’s Son?

Every as soon as in a hillbilly moon, someone asks me if I’m that Dean Hall, the son of nation music singer Tom T. Hall.

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“Yes,” i reply, “But I placed in to be a ” or something like that. I normally quip miscellaneous to that effect, just to let them understand I don’t take my music heritage as well seriously. So uneven someone asks, ns never mention it. I choose meeting and engaging with human being under the sembeant of mine actual persona and not part preconception that a nation music singer’s kid—especially life in Nashville. If this seems odd, I’ll explain why.

Early years in Kentucky

I prospered up in Kentucky through a single mother and also was deep into playing and also writing music prior to I ever heard of Tom T. Hall.

My mother’s surname was Opal Inez McKinney. We stayed in a quaint city in east

Kentucky, Grayson, wherein she was affectionately well-known as “Hootie.” My mommy was strikingly beautiful, a talented artist, and also a hard worker.

Tom was fresh out of the army and returned to his hometown that Olive Hill, Kentucky, searching for work. Mine mother and grandfather jointly owned and also ran a restaurant and entertainment center in Morehead, Kentucky, which was around thirty miles from Grayson and around twenty from Olive Hill. Tom, ten years she junior, met my mom there, and they started dating. They were married top top February 16, 1961. After ~ a dispute over restaurant ownership v my mother and grandfather, Tom left town. Ns was born Dean Todd Hall 4 months later on that very same year.

Grandfather McKinney ran the Morehead organization for a when longer, yet it eventually closed. My mom moved home to Grayson to raise me and also manage the family-owned trailer park. Mine grandparents’ home sat on the corner of that same property. That’s whereby I prospered up—in one Appalachian trailer park.

Man that the House

As an just child, I had actually it made: I had actually the operation of the place. I don’t think my mom ever before dated again; if she did, I never ever knew it. Ns loved the truth that there was just the two of us because I was the male of the house. What son doesn’t desire to that freedom and also responsibility? That’s whereby I got my live independence nature—I think for myself.

My mommy taught me just how to beat drums when I to be three. I had actually a tiny north kit augmented with spare pots and pans native my 

grandmother’s kitchen. When I to be six, she bought me an acoustic guitar and also a Mel only chord book. Discovering a book full of chords to be an arduous job for a six-year-old, however luckily I uncovered my incentive in a B.B King LP, which among the tenants left behind. I would search approximately on mine acoustic guitar until I uncovered the signature B.B. King note up top top the neck and also play along. When the tune was over, I’d hold my finger ~ above the keep in mind so ns wouldn’t shed my place and also start the record player over again. That’s exactly how I started playing the blues.


My songwriting muse to be sparked by one more left-behind trailer park gem: a 78 RPM single of Johnny Cash’s A Boy called Sue. Shel Silverstein’s lively lyrics and also Cash’s penetrating shipment painted a irreversible portrait in mine mind’s eye. Imbued with an interest in blues and songwriting, I’ll never ever forget the minute I heard Jimi

Hendrix’s Purple haze on the radio. It is the moment when i knew what I want to execute with mine life before I even learned the my musical heritage.

One night at a school talent contest, one of my classmates sang Harper sink PTA. Throughout the performance, a teacher leaned over and asked me if ns knew that the writer of that tune was my father. It is the day I uncovered that my fatherwas a songwriter. The didn’t rather sink in at the moment because I had bigger points to worry about—I to be up next, performing an original composition on mine guitar. The year to be 1971.

First roadway Gig

“This bus ain’t gonna discharge itself.” That’s what mine father’s road manager would certainly say to me every morning top top the road. In the beforehand 80s, unloading road equipment was my an initial major skilled show organization job. That wasn’t glorious, but I to be in present business. A travel hillbilly circus the sorts—riding a 40-foot tourism bus v the center of the night and also waking up in some brand-new city or town, grabbing a fast breakfast and a shower, and also head over v the crew to set up gear. Compared to my 2 years of university fading in the rear check out mirror, this was exciting stuff. In every new town, I would certainly think so this is where course 60 the end of Grayson, Kentucky, leads.

Then I gained lucky. After a couple of years, the etc player stop or obtained fired, and I was available the lead etc position. That’s whereby I learned come play nation music—listening to just how stellar session musicians and producer Jerry Kennedy intertwined musical hooks and also fills in between and also around the lyrics my father’s story songs. That was quite the education, not too far removed native the blues I’d learned in Kentucky, a matter of degree rather 보다 kind, like refined bastard musical children wrought native the American South’s folk traditions. Oh, and also that bus tho didn’t unload itself.


Working in mine father’s band was great, yet there was one point that always hung end my head prefer a chicken-rustling equine thief at the foot of the gallows: nepotism. Return I can play every track backward and also forward in mine sleep, figure is reality. The figure of nepotism impinged upon mine independent nature. I had been play blues gigs with members of Bobby Bare’s band, Pullybone, in in between road dates. Sooner or later Bare’s etc player left the band, and also his roadway manager and also bass player at the time, Ken Smith, readily available me the job. I didn’t hesitate. I learned all of Bare’s songs, plenty of of castle penned by Shel Silverstein and also several created by my father. Nice high cotton, indeed. Bare would normally let Ken and also me song a pair of blues song in the middle of his show, authorized in through us on a chorus the “Mustang Sally.” I never regretted the move, although ns probably can have defined my motivation to my father a tiny more plainly at the time. I ultimately formed my very own blues band and got a opportunity to play with plenty of talented artists along the way, nepotism notwithstanding.

The Story Continues

My mommy never remarried, and also she passed away after a long bout with cancer on march 10, 1985, two days prior to her 59th birthday. She loving and also undying support will never be forgotten. She’s right there v me in every keep in mind I play.

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These days, my father and also I often hang out at his farm external of Nashville. We mostly talk around poetry, philosophy, religion, or songwriting—you know: the simple stuff. Oh, and how we discovered all those roads eventually lead earlier home.