Reflections on a Summer of Love

As we look towards the change of the seasons, we invite you to grab a cup of tea and come on a journey with us…

Look back through the Spring/Summer that was 2018/19. We toured six musical acts through three states on three tours. We performed 96 shows at 58 small halls, five of Australia’s finest festivals and one hospital. Our road took us across the red dirt of the outback, into the rainforests of the far north, back down the shining beaches of Australia’s east coast and all the way down to Tasmania’s southernmost town. We found small halls, not so small halls, relived glamorous balls, saluted memorial walls and wondered at memories inlaid in the walls.

We are so pleased and proud to share this short film, created by Harry Jakamarra on the Festival of Small Halls Spring Tour 2018 with Madison Violet, Harry Jakamarra and Elwood Gray.

Experience life on the road, from outback Queensland to the Queenscliff Music Festival through the lens of these wonderful and talented musicians.

Week 2 on the Road with the Summer Tour 2018 – Tasmania fights back

When we are invited to a community, it is with open hearts and gratitude we accept the invitation.  Festival of Small Halls is an advocate for the rural communities it partners with – many of the communities we visit are trying to save their small halls.  With what most call “progress”, we are seeing more and more of the rural communities losing the fight to hang on to their halls, the young people are moving away, the buildings are not being used enough. There are multitudes of reasons why the doors are being shut. Festival of Small Halls helps communities see what is possible – we come equipped with some of the best in the industry to lend a hand, let the town show the potential of its hall, work together with a community coming together in a common goal.

Nothing makes us happier than when we visit a community that has already put up the fight to save their meeting places.  Tonight in Meander, Tasmania we have witnessed such a case.

Photo courtesy of Damaris Rey Photography

Christine, one of the halls’ committee members spent some time with me tonight, explaining the work and time that has been put into saving their hall.  It was no easy task, it takes a village, and beautiful passionate people like Christine to organize.  Meander greeted us tonight with a sold out show, a testament to the community, and the hard work of the people that love this place.

We were so happy to hear the story of the Meander community.  Our “Small Halls” hold our history and we should never give up that fight.  We send our best wishes to all the rural communities across Australia; we wish them many nights of foot stomping music, many generations of future events in the places we gather, and mostly we ask them to never give up.

Love from the Road,

Merit Femino

Tour Manager

Festival of Small Halls

Stories from the Road – Week 1 in Tasmania

There is a saying out here on the road to Australia’s Small Halls, “if these floors could talk, what stories would they tell?”  Most of the halls that open their doors to us were built in the era of Saturday night community dances, a time when most people were born and raised in the same town, and our communities were centred on our common care for each other.  We are here to tell you that feeling is still alive and well in the rural communities of Australia.  Although, the halls don’t see as much action as they once did, nevertheless the communities that surround them are working hard to keep the heart beating under the floorboards. Festival of Small Halls is merely a facilitator of helping that mission; we bring music to the buildings dripping with a people’s history.  The halls of these small communities are the meeting places of a town, they celebrate, mourn, and gather in them.  The floors are worn, bowed, and creak with the history of a place.  If those floors could talk, they would tell us stories of first dances, weddings, anniversaries, loss, homecomings, and the connection people share when they live and grow together.

Those floors have a soul, a heartbeat, every divot a memory, every scratch a moment in someone’s story. We are lucky enough to add our own marks, leave our own foot stomping impressions on the floors across Australia, and for a night we are a part of that story.  They welcome us with open arms, thank us for coming all that way, but we are convinced we leave with so much more, than what we give.  We are the lucky ones.

Merit Femino

Tour Manager

Festival of Small Halls

 

Image courtesy of Damaris Rey Photograpy

The Summer Tour 2019 Has Begun

Scandinavian folk trio Fru Skagerrak and Australian troubadour Liam Gerner have arrived in Tasmania to begin a five week journey across Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland with the Festival of Small Halls Summer Tour 2019.

Australian touring musician Liam Gerner is looking forward to the stories and characters dotted through the regional landscapes of Australia.

“I’m looking forward to being so intimately connected to the audiences on this tour. All the stories and unique connections of these towns will be closer and much easier to immerse ourselves in,” said Liam Gerner. 

 

Fru Skagerrak, on their maiden tour of Australia, are fast discovering the joys of a classic small hall in Australia’s country towns.

“It is so exciting for us to have this opportunity to discover so much of this vast country on our first tour of Australia, especially to be on a tour that travels so far off the beaten track,” said Anna Lindblad of Fru Skagerrak.

The touring party are travelling more than 7,000 kilometres across regional Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland.

Included in the tour route are two showcases at partner festivals Woodford Folk Festival, in Queensland, Cygnet Folk Festival in Tasmania and Illawarra Folk Festival in Bulli, New South Wales.

Fru Skagerrak, which translates to ‘Lady Skagerrak’, is made up of three master musicians – one from each Scandinavian country that surrounds the Skagerrak strait: Maja Kjær Jacobsen from Denmark, Elise Wessel Hildrum from Norway and Anna Lindblad from Sweden.

Their music promises to take audiences on a journey through Scandinavia; from lowlands to mountains, from slow airs to lively polkas, in major and in minor, and everything in between.

In stark contrast, former rock and roll guitar slinger Liam Gerner started out earning a crust opening for Paul Weller, Jason Isbell, Drive by Truckers, Paolo Nutini and many more. He headed to the US, joined Texan country rocker Ryan Bingham’s band and experienced frontline American roots music before returning to Australia in 2014 to release his debut album ‘Land Of No Roads’. Along the road, Liam got to play songs with Jackson Browne in LA, trade licks with Dale Watson in Austin and jam with locals in South Central LA juke joints. He even got to play Johnny Cash’s J200 at Marty Stuart’s house and discuss songwriting with Tom T Hall in Nashville.

“All these experiences helped prepare me for working in the Australian music community,” said Liam. “Embracing my US and Australian influences and musical friends has helped shape my new music.”

Liam now tours extensively across Australia and New Zealand, and is an in-demand guitarist touring and recording with the likes of The Eurogliders, Pnau Pnau & Elton John, Empire Of The Sun, and Vika and Linda Bull.

“Since returning to Australia, much of my writing has been focused around my connection to home,” says Liam. “That being the conflicting emotions and realities of what it means to be Australian.  My blood has been reboiled by listening afresh to Midnight Oil, Archie Roach and The Cruel Sea while my mind has been expanded by the bush poetry of Don Watson, Neil Murray and Banjo Patterson.”

The Festival of Small Halls Summer Tour 2019: Cygnet to Illawarra is presented by Woodfordia Inc in partnership with Cygnet Folk Festival, Illawarra Folk Festival and Woodford Folk Festival.

The Festival of Small Halls Summer Tour 2019: Cygnet to Illawarra is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.