A large group turned out for the Benefit Concert for Elford “Ford” and Maggie Hoff last Thursday at the West Union High School. Homemade confections were available as concessions or to take home, and numerous musicians took the stage to entertain the crowd.
On March 3, the Hoffs lost their home to a fire. They managed to save themselves, Tigger, the family dog, their goat, and the storied Liberty Band drum. The numerous musical instruments, household wares, clothing, and irreplaceable keepsakes were lost to the fire that completely destroyed their home.
The goal of the concert was to help the Hoffs rebuild their lives by raising money through the sale of concessions as well as through good will donations. Hats were passed at two intervals during the concert so individuals could donate.
The Hoffs have left their mark on the community, as evidenced by the turnout of musicians who had Maggie as an instructor. Whether as the leader of the Liberty Band, a private tutor for children, or for her work at the First Presbyterian Church, Maggie has touched the lives of many in West Union.
The concert began with Chris Bedel welcoming the audience and explaining the circumstances that led to the benefit being held. The Liberty Band set up behind him, and, with Maggie directing, they performed their classics, “Wagon Tunes” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Mary Hill drove in from Columbus to sing “Good Night My Someone” from Maggies’ favorite play, “The Music Man.” Hill avoided using the microphone, as her voice is powerful enough without it, joking how she would deafen everyone if she did use it. Nancy Schneider accompanied Hill on the piano.
Eli Bedel then took the stage to play his banjo to the tune “Little Sally Walker.” When he finished, he switched to the violin, while he was joined by his mother, Suzane Chouteau. Eli accompanied his mother, as she sang “By My Side,” while playing on her grandfather’s guitar, which he carried with him through Europe during World War 1.
Two West Union students followed the Bedel family. Caitlyn Cooper sang “Mr. Tambourine Man” with Shruti Nayak accompanying on the piano.
Jordan Werring and Wade Hook sang a duet of “Only in God,” with Hook playing the piano in accompaniment. Werring drove in from Columbus where she works as the Music Director atChrist the King Catholic Church, Piano Accompanist at Denison University, and Private Music Teacher at Encore Music Studios. Hook is a volunteer firefighter and paramedic in West Union.
The hats were passed around for donations the first time , before Neil DeAtley sang “Written in Red,” while Elaine Collins accompanied on the piano.
Timmy Morrison, the only musician present who was not a former student of Maggie, sang “Anchor Holds” to music he brought with him. He had heard of the concert and offered to sing on the Hoffs behalf.
Nayak took the stage once more to play “Starlight Waltz” on the piano, giving the audience a peaceful pause to the wonderful singing.
Jason Cooper followed Nayak, singing and playing the piano to “Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me.” Cooper sang in a powerful old-time church style that made Chris Bedel say that he regretted not having heard Cooper play and sing before.
Donations were once more taken up, before the Gray family - Brad, Jody, and Liz - and Michael Barnhart performed an instrumental Irish Medley. Brad had carved the mandolin he played as well as the music stand used. Liz played a rarely seen instrument called a melodica, which looks like a small piano keyboard, except she has to blow into a tube for it to work. Jody provided percussion with a long, narrow drum, and Michael used an Irish flute, which is held straight out from the musician rather than being held to the side.
A small group of friends consisting of Jimmy Biham, Matthew Trefz, Jeremy Caldwell, Lauren Bihl, Marye Kinhalt, and Davina Cooper, which Chris Bedel titled “The Group,” sang “Lean on Me” and “Shall We Gather,” while accompanied by Elain Cooper.
Nancy Schneider took the stage by herself to give another piano solo with Hymns of the Cross Medley. She remained on the stage to serve as accompanist to Tim Hamilton who played “Portrait of a Trumpet” with the nameske instrument. Hamilton drove in from Morehead, making it just in time for his performance.
If you missed the concert and wish to give to this cause, donations may be sent to the First Presbyterian Church at 104 South Second Street, West Union, OH 45693.