Popular Dayton band ready to add another generation to its lineup

By Jim Bucher

“There are bands, then there are bands.”—Anonymous

How true is that statement?

The Beatles were a band less than a decade. The Rolling Stones are still rolling, even though they may soon use Hoveround power chairs. In the middle somewhere is a group that doesn’t possess the international infamy, but in these here parts they’re pretty darn well known.

It’s Father, Son and Friends (and no it’s not the title of a new Netflix series.) celebrating 30 years together as one of Dayton and the Miami Valley’s most popular bands.

“We have come a long way from playing around a campfire at a re-enactment in Vincennes, Ind., where someone stepped up out of the shadows and said, ‘You guys are pretty good, you should record some of this stuff.’ My dad, Joey, and I looked at one another and blurted out in unison, ‘Why don’t we?’” says Shawn Hall, the “son” in Father, Son and Friends and media consultant for Cox Media Group.

Today they play not only locally, but all over the map.

“Over the last 30 years, we have been fortunate to make multiple trips to Scotland, Ireland and Canada, fairs and festivals all over the country and have a planned tour in Germany in 2020,” Shawn says.

Their “sound” is really a cross between Irish/Celtic music and American folk with hints from Peter Paul and Mary, James Taylor, John Denver and The Dubliners, The Clancy Brothers, Battlefield Band and Stan Rogers. Now that’s a mix of music, and much more than a bunch of folks playing instruments.

“To us, it’s not just about the music it’s about the show. We demand audience participation. Clapping along, singing along. We love it when people come out and have a large time with us,” Shawn says.

Now, you’ve heard from the son, how about the father, Joey Hall?

“All I ever wanted was to play music with my son and some friends. Never imagined that people would have liked it as much as I do,” he says. Plus, he gets top billing!

Speaking of the “friends” Quentin Marsh (fiddle/vocal) is the alumni and engagement officer at the Eastman School of Music; Liz Marsh (percussion) is the education coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association in Rochester, NY; John “Preacher” Johnston (mandolin/vocal) is a retired early childhood development professor from the University of Memphis and Stephanie Mauer (penny whistle) is a music teacher in Lafayette, Ind.

I think Shawn would agree, it’s good to have friends. But thinking out loud here, I absolutely loved my dad, but could I work with him or he with me? For this father and son it’s no problem.

“We joke that Jerry Springer built his talk show based on a Father, Son and Friends show,” Shawn says. “It has truly been a privilege to share these adventures over the years with my dad. Now, my 6-year-old son, Alex, is joining us on stage. Three generations carrying on the tradition and the music. It truly is awesome,” Shawn says.

This special bond shows, reaching out to the audience who flock to see them when and wherever they take the stage. 

“We work hard to ensure that the audience enjoys the Father, Son and Friends ‘experience.’ It is almost euphoric. When the audience responds to the energy you are giving and gives it right back to you…it is raw emotion. We love it and it’s important that they are entertained and forget about the day they had or whatever stress they may be feeling,” he says.

Bar and venue owners know this group has a built-in following which is great for business. One of their early supporters was Dublin Pub co-owner Steve Tieber.

“I met Shawn in the early ’90s when he was the famous Shawn Stevens from Z-93,” says Tieber. “We instantly became good friends. When I shared we were opening an Irish Pub he quickly told me that he and his dad had a Celtic band. I saw them play at the Trolley Stop and they were incredible not only as musicians but as showman. They kept the crowd entertained with their ballad/folk style music and humor. Shawn introduced me to Celtic Rock music in 1997 when he played a cassette tape of Seven Nations. These guys have been a fixture at The Dublin Pub for 20 years and have played all 20 St. Patrick’s Day events. Wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without them,” Tieber says.

Shawn says, “None of this would have been possible without the support of our families and friends. Not only those that have supported us from the beginning, but those that are just finding us now. The more the merrier.”

The group just released an album, Road Agents, in March and recently returned from a tour in Ireland. Next, they’re gearing up to launch the 30th Anniversary Tour, and plans are for his son to join the group.

“It is going to be fun watching Alex start lessons and grow up playing music with his dad and grandpa,” Shawn says. “I am really looking forward to that.”

Wow, Father, Son, Grandson and Friends. Has a nice ring to it don’t you think?