Gene Segal Spotlight

"Eleanor" from their CD Ear Candy
TGS Spotlight Player from January 28, 2010

When these two of America’s leading young players of the acoustic guitar, flatpicker Robin Kessinger and finger-picker Todd Hallawell take the stage together, guitar aficionados will want to be in the front row. Their musical collaboration showcases not only each player’s technical brilliance, but also a crop of lovely original tunes performed in a musical dialogue of great taste, subtlety and charm. Robin, from St. Albans, West Virginia and Todd, originally from California and now living in the Richmond area, have different backgrounds yet are united by the common bond of dynamic and virtuosic musicianship.

Robin Kessinger has won too many guitar contests to mention, including the National Flatpicking Championship in Winfield Kansas, the West Virginia State Championship, and titles in Georgia, Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky, to name a few. The Kessinger family’s musical heritage is a rich one. His father Bob Kessinger was an accomplished mandolin player. Robin’s great uncle, and former teacher, Clark Kessinger, was a legendary old time fiddler who recorded over 70 sides with Brunswick in the 1920s and was one of the most popular and influential fiddlers of his generation. As a young child Robin found the music of his family enthralling and took up the guitar, perfecting the flat-pick style of playing. Today, Robin headlines festivals, participates in guitar contests throughout the nation, both as a performer, a judge and instructor. He has been featured on PBS and BBC television specials and National Public Radio. In 2009, a festival named in his honor will be inaugurated in his home state.

Todd Hallawell grew up in California in a musical family. His parents had met in the violin section of an orchestra and as a young boy he was exposed to many styles of music and taken to see such legends as Andres Segovia. At the age of seven, when his grandmother gifted him with a Sears Silvertone guitar, he gave up his dreaded organ lessons and never looked back. He has won the prestigious National Fingerstyle Championship, among many others around the nation. Returning to public performance after many years as a music producer and audio engineer, he is a regular performer at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society (CAAS) in Nashville, and has recorded a pair of critically acclaimed albums, Before My Time and From Nashville & Back.

Of his distinctive playing, Guitar Player magazine writes, “Hallawell attacks his steel-strings with the precision of John Williams and the punch of Jerry Reed.” - Andy Ellis

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