Clark Kessinger (1896–1975) was an American musician and fiddle player born and bred in West Virginia. Several of his relatives were also fiddle players, but Clark’s first instrument was the banjo, which he started playing at the age of five. He later took up the fiddle and in the years before the First World War began performing at country dances around West Virginia. After the war, his reputation grew and he started a radio show with his nephew Luches Kessinger in Charleston in 1927. Due to the success of the radio show, Clark and Luches rebranded as “The Kessinger Brothers” and released a recording on Brunswick Records which came to be a bestseller.

Clark retired from recording in 1930 but maintained an active local performance schedule. In the 1960s, after the death of his nephew and band-mate, Kessinger returned to the music scene and formed a new band with Gene Meade (guitar) and Wayne Hauser (banjo). Together they won first prize in the Galax old-time music contest, and Clark himself later won many more prizes in various contests, including the World’s Champion Fiddle Prize in 1971. Later than year, he suffered a stroke which left his left hand paralysed, bringing his musical career to an end. His records have been reissued on Folkways and County Records, and he is widely regarded as one of the best fiddlers in the Old-Time country music tradition.

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GRC4 #45

Minutes by Clark Kessinger