Father Son and Friends, a traditional Celtic-Americana folk band with Scots-Irish roots, will headline the music entertainment for the Battle of Sunset Lake. The group will take the stage at the Taste of Vicksburg on Saturday at 6 p.m. It will also be playing periodically at the Recreation Park campsite during the two days of the event, June 25 and 26.
The group, formed 25 years ago, now calls Englewood, Ohio home but travels the country promoting their Celtic heritage at Highland games, Irish festivals, historical festivals and in theaters and pubs.
Recently, Father Son and Friends were asked to play on the Mumford and Sons “Gentleman of the Road” tour and received an Irish Music Awards Nomination for “Top Traditional Group in a Pub, Festival, Concert,” according to the group’s website.
Joey Hall, the father, started playing music at 11 because his dad was a mandolin player and dance caller. Joey admits he made some mistakes early on in his life. He dropped out of school and ran the streets for a bit. Then, to support his young family, he got his GED and put himself through college. It was during this time that he started re-enacting with some friends.
While re-enacting, Joey started playing a lot of the music from people he was influenced by as a kid in Kentucky. “I used to play music with my aunts and uncles when I was growing up. We used to listen to people like Bill Monroe and the Beatles,” Joey recalled. Also influenced by the likes of Jim Croce, Andy M. Stewart, Brian McNeil, and John Denver, Joey started to consider playing music professionally. “I didn’t really want to form a ‘band’ so to speak. I wanted to play music with my son and some friends,” Joey said. He was sitting around a campfire at a festival in Vincennes, Ind. when, from out of the shadows, a man approached and said, “You guys are pretty good. You should record this stuff!” That led to forming the group.
During the early years of the band, Joey had the opportunity to go back to school and receive his master’s degree in education from Wright State University in 1994. After teaching special education for a number of years, he retired to take Father Son and Friends on the road full time.
Now, he crisscrosses the country putting thousands of miles on the tour bus as he drives the rig-merchandise store for the band to various festivals and fairs. “I’m the old guy – how did I get stuck doing this?” Joey joked. “But, it’s what I like to do.”
His son, Shawn Hall, spoke while plucking at his mandolin. “My dad has been playing music for as long as I can remember, everything from Credence Clearwater Revival and John Denver to old bluegrass tunes and sing along camp tunes.
“Then some friends of ours, now known as Hoggeye Navvy, introduced us to Celtic music. We got to spend time sitting around with people like The Battlefield Band, Patrick Street, Tannahill Weavers and others … so dad started researching our Celtic roots. I would say that is when he was bit by the ‘Celtic bug’. It was during that time that dad gave me my first guitar. It was his old Ovation, you know–the ones with the round backs on them. It sat in the case for two years before I started to learn to play it. Not because I was taking lessons or anything practical like that, but because I was too busy chasing girls,” he said.
In 1989 Father Son and Friends formed as an “official” band. “We have been fortunate enough to play in several countries and have had quite a few adventures–and what do I have to show for it? A closet that has more skirts in it than pants,” Shawn joked. That’s because they perform in kilts.
When he is not on the road, Shawn works in marketing and advertising for media giant Cox Media Group in Ohio. He also has a recording studio and does voice work on the side when the tour schedule allows. In 2004, Shawn married Tracie, his childhood sweetheart. They gave birth to their shining star Alexander on September 29, 2011. Shawn said he can’t wait to rename the band “Father Son and Holy Crap.”