Americana group brings mix of music, storytelling to First Baptist

If taking a pay cut while transitioning from waitressing at Chicago’s famous The Second City to serving as its improv keyboardist was insufficient to teach humility, Laura Hall learned plenty from comedian Drew Carey.

Singer and multi-instrumentalist Hall toured for a time with Carey, the former host of television’s comic “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” where Hall has long served as piano player.

Carey, who currently hosts “The Price is Right” TV game show, “was already a big star,” she said, speaking by phone from her family’s farm in Carrollton, Illinois. “And yet, he always was so approachable with everyone, and so kind to literally every single person who just wanted to shake his hand or to take a picture,” she said. “It’s just part of who he is.”

Hall, on guitar, ukulele and accordion, returns to Columbus Aug. 6 with husband/bassist/singer/storyteller Rick and guitarist/singer Kelly Macleod as the nationally touring Americana trio known as the Sweet Potatoes. The group will perform a free show 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at First Baptist Church, 3300 Fairlawn Drive.

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The trio plans about an hour of original tunes.

The Halls didn’t specify, but their song “Pray For Peace” seems especially timely for today’s turbulence. They also perform covers of material from artists such as Johnny Cash, the Wailin’ Jennys and the Soggy Bottom Boys, featured in the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

The husband-and-wife Halls and Macleod, who as a rock singer toured years ago with Eddie Van Halen, last played at First Baptist in July 2014. In an entertainment world in which artists sometimes struggle to remember the town in which they awaken, the Halls well remember their local stop and show with no prodding.

“They treated us so very well,” Rick Hall said. “They fed us afterward. They were just so hospitable — and they were a great audience, too.”

Plus, the Sunday School students drew pictures to welcome them.

“They were just so welcoming and so lovely that you just don’t forget that kind of hospitality,” Laura Hall said.

Neither does one forget the group’s rich, sweet harmony on songs such as “I Don’t Mind Missing You,” or the lighter, “Not Gonna Let It Get To Me,” in which an average day unravels in chaos well before noon.

First Baptist organizer Keith Arbuckle, a fan of the group via mutual Columbus friend Tim Grimm, especially enjoys “Not Gonna Let It Get To Me.”

“I really like the quality of their music, the quality of their musicianship and the fact of their genuine demeanor and genuine personalities,” Arbuckle said.

If genuine refers to down-to-earth ways, they come by it honestly.

Rick Hall spent a recent morning on their Illinois farm, a far cry from their Los Angeles home, putting up a grain bin with his brother. Hall, an actor who has been on shows such as “Seinfeld,” currently appears in the Disney Channel’s sitcom, “KC Undercover,” playing the head of a spy agency.

“I’m kind of like the character of Bosley from ‘Charlie’s Angels,’” he cracked.

But the Halls’ world frequently spins a bit faster than life down on the farm. Consider that Laura Hall just completed a two-week live version of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” at the Palladium in London, England — then hustled to join Grimm and Roger Banister of Columbus at club gigs in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

She also recently finished scoring a soon-to-be-released documentary, “After Auschwitz,” examining six women’s lives after their World War II-era suffering. Her husband, meanwhile, also has been performing his one-man show, “Pigboy.”

“I love all the different projects that we’re able to do,” Laura Hall said, calling their lives a blessed one. “But the Sweet Potatoes are where I can write the most as simply me, right from my heart.”

Her husband considered their life for a moment — and offered his own perspective right from the heart.

“Every year, when we do our taxes,” he said, “we are amazed that we made it another full year — as musicians, and especially, musicians in Los Angeles.”

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Who: Amercana trio the Sweet Potatoes in a family style concert, playing original tunes and a variety of folk/country covers along with a sprinkling of storytelling.

When: 7 p.m. Aug. 6.

Where: First Baptist Church, 3300 Fairlawn Drive in Columbus.

Admission: Free.

Information: 812-376-3321 or