German Village Gazette

Halfway Home highlights society's folk celebration

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Halfway Home will perform as part of the Columbus Folk Music Society's Coffeehouse event Saturday, March 23. The group's members are (from left): Brian Szuch, Patti Ramsey, Patrick Casey, Renilda Marshall and Mike Hale.
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When the members of the musical group Halfway Home first encountered one another while performing in the "session scene" in central Ohio, they felt right at home.

"After a while, you get sort of a feel for one another and basically there's a comfort and trust that builds up after being exposed to playing with one another for such a long time," said Patrick Casey, who sings and plays guitar, accordion and mandolin for Halfway Home.

The five-musician acoustic band will perform at the Columbus Folk Music Society's next Coffeehouse gathering, Saturday, March 23, in the social hall of Columbus Mennonite Church, 35 Oakland Park Ave.

The evening will begin with an informal jam session at 6 p.m., said society member Diane Boston. A brief open stage will begin at 7 p.m., followed by an auction of musical items, home-baked goods and more at 7:30 p.m. All proceeds will support the Central Ohio Folk Festival, scheduled May 3-5.

Halfway Home will take the stage around 8:30 p.m., Boston said.

Admission is $5 for Columbus Folk Music Society members, $7 for nonmembers.

Halfway Home's members are Casey and his wife, Renilda Marshall, of the Bexley area; Mike Hale of Reynoldsburg; Patti Ramsey of Gahanna; and Westerville resident Brian Szuch. All five sing. Marshall plays bass; Hale performs on the guitar, mandolin, bouzouki and percussion; Ramsey is on guitar and percussion; and Szuch plays guitar, dobro and mandolin.

"One of the nice things about this group is we all come from slightly different backgrounds," Marshall said. "We're a little bit difficult to pigeonhole because, simply put, we play what we like."

Boston said the band's genre is Americana music -- "part folk, part country, part rock, part blues and who knows what else.

"But there is one common thread in the group's repertoire: All the songs are heartfelt tunes that speak to the human condition," she said. "There are songs about ramblers, gamblers, lovers, workers, poets, hobos, prisoners, saints and sinners."

"Anybody who finds something they like brings it in," Marshall said. "I have been known to say that we play music that ranges from Grandpa Jones to the Rolling Stones, and that's actually true."

Indeed, Casey said among the songs Halfway Home intends to perform March 23 is Eight More Miles to Louisville by Grandpa Jones.

"We're going to have vocal mikes ... but most of the stuff's going to be played acoustically," Casey said.

"Our music, we have fun playing it, and by gosh, we make sure the audience enjoys it, too," he said. "We enjoy our audience and we enjoy each other, and I think that comes through."

Band members also enjoy that the society is around to show that folk and Americana music still has a devoted following, Marshall said.

"It's vital to have an organization like the Columbus Folk Music Society," she said. "These are people who truly are working every day and every week to keep that music and message alive.

"Folk music literally means "music of the people." It's music everyone can enjoy. It's music everyone can participate in. It's the kind of music that brings people together. Over the years, it's had an amazing social effect by giving people a voice to address things they find are problematic within their community or within their government. It moves people.

"It's a vital part of what we are as human beings."

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