Week 3 and 4 on the Spring Tour 2018

Week 3

Local schoolkids join Madison Violet on stage

We kick off week 3 with Melbourne Cup day and a public holiday in the town of Aramac!  Our hosts fell in love the the Kimberley boys, and according to the MC Dawn ‘The Best’ James, Harry & Elwood were lucky all the local ladies were married because otherwise they wouldn’t have been leaving Aramac!

 Lisa and Brenley popped into the local school in Muttaburra sharing and finding the harmonies that existed in this dinosaur country. The participants even got their time to shine that evening performing alongside Madison Violet!

We were way out west, under the beating hot sun, trying to welcome the storm that skirted around us.  We’d been travelling well keeping up the liquids, but then unfortunately the best production manager in the world hit a roo.  First time in five years of Small Halls and this one made its mark! With the radiator and power steering out of action we jumped into action and tried to make the next gig – swapping out clothes and essentials for guitars and fiddles, squishing as much as we could into our little Carnival – we were determined to make Moranbah and perform acoustically!

Lisa tries to squeeze in with the luggage!

But with the fate of the van on the side of the road, we had to make an executive decision and halfway to the gig we had to cancel.  The artists sent all their love, and apparently Moranbah went right ahead and still went to the hall to listen to the CD’s and enjoyed their own variation of the night!

With a new van to fit five musicians, baggage, six guitars, a banjo, fiddle an amp and of course a coffee plunger, we farewelled ourproduction manager for the weekend and hit the road for a 10hr drive to Undara National Park.  We were greeted with a tree snake, green tree frogs, had a delightful rest and morning strolls through this gorgeous country.

We were welcomed into Georgetown & Dimulah, harmonised with the local community, conversed with a bunch of the local farmers, had the wonderful Mitch Steele and Aurelle Brunjes open the evenings, and karaoke kicking off as we loaded the van and waved goodbye.  Week three ended with 2,098km travelled and two final great turnouts and a fresh bag of mangoes!

 

Week 4

After a relaxing day in tropical Cairns, we headed down the coast road to Mackay turned right and headed back inland to Nebo.  We arrive to the beautiful sight of our production manager Harry, with all the gear set up, the bunting blowing in the breeze and our beautiful sound back on track!  We really missed him!

Week four was a week of records –  we had our smallest hall in the tour – 70 people at capacity in Ilbilbie and our 6ft something Elwood nearly didn’t fit on the stage.  We had a sell out show in Kaplower squishing as many people into that small hall as we could! We also camped out proper festival style in Goovigen in some gorgeous Glamping tents, and had communities putting on festivities all day until the musicians kicked off in the evening.

New friends for life

Over the week we travelled 1,982km south and we rounded our tour off with a show at the first small hall we drove past – Felton Community Hall!

We’ve had so many laughs, so many plans for Canadian and Western Australian tours between Harry Jakamarra and Elwood and Madison Violet, seen some amazing country, 19 gorgeous small halls and countless conversations with wonderful people from all sorts of backgrounds.  After four and a bit weeks together and 6,513km the hugs were long as we said goodbye for a few days and let the muso’s rest up for their final hurrah at Queenscliff Music Festival!

Spring Tour – Week 2

Week two kicks off with a ‘Bandivesary’ – 19 years together for Madison Violet in Wallumbilla. We definitely have a festival vibe with the local school band and markets pumping as the sun goes down!

Wallumbilla Hall ready to rock

After the show, Harry & Elwood got chatting to residents local to the area for 83 years and were told the story of Leather Legs – the true inspiration for Sargent Small, a song that goes down a treat in Outback QLD.

Learning the stories

Next stop, Clermont where the musical talent just kept coming – a beautiful local support act where our host jumped up to play bass, and another local musician jumped up with his banjo to join in on a classic Jakamarra song. The boys from Broome sure have spread their music out into a very different kind of landscape!

From here we headed out west to the small grazing towns with the alive and well small halls of the Barcaldine Shire.

Jericho Town Hall

The heat kicked up a notch, and we slowed down our pace.

This slower pace in the heat was met with the casual nature of shop opening hours, and we were delighted that shops were closed on Sundays back to when people didn’t have to be on 24/7.  In all of the Barcaldine Shire region the people showed up and were well up for big chats, and we learnt a lot about the area and how it’s changed over the years.

Roo spotting

 

We checked out the roo’s cooling off in the shade, spied emus and echidna’s and the tour party soon learnt that their tour manager was a bit of a twitcher (bird watcher) as she pointed out all the bird species along the way.

We finished up the week returning to Barcaldine, where locals were out in force to see the Small Halls Festival’s new line up in town, and the local’s made the night their own bringing along their picnics & coolers. We saw the wonderful community spirit of Barcy!

 

 

Spring Tour – Week 1 on the road

Stories from the road – on tour with Tour Manager Aimee Gray

Happy team hit the road!

With four folk musicians, four guitars, a banjo, a fiddle and plenty of bunting we hit the road to our first small hall ‘Rocky Creek’.

As we meander down the dirt road keeping an eye out for the wallabies cooling off in the shade, we turn a corner to find an 83 year old corrugated shed with a buzz about the air.

The full moon rose and a lightening show powered across the range and our wonderful musicians Harry Jakamarra, accompanied by his brother Elwood Gray, and Lisa and Brenley from Madison Violet brought the house down and welcomed the start of the tour, and the start of hopefully more rain in these drought affected regions.

A wonderful turnout of every generation enjoying the festivities and food the local community put on, along with the music the Festival of Small Halls brought.  Massive smiles all round!

Yowie Country!

Continuing on down the road we take a turn for a couple of shows in northern NSW. Mallanganee and Jiggi showed us the NSW hinterland hospitality with some captivating local support acts.

In Mallanganee, the local community put it their all with the country hospitality, with every cent raised being donated to the local Rotary to distribute for drought relief.

One amazing door volunteer

That night, we were blessed with rain that only added to the joy under that roof. Folks travelled from Tenterfield, Drake and Brisbane to attend.

Back up and west to Queensland for Moonie’s Small Hall festivities and the harvest has just started, even still people came out to get amongst their community, see these fine musicians and take a peaceful moment in a small hall.

As we drive to Peranga we start to spot more wildlife – not too much stuck to the road, but Harry has been keen on a new banjo skin for while and has been eyeing off some road kill.

Cake from the lovely team in Peranga

The Canadians are showing an interest in Harry’s skinning abilities and have put in an order for Goanna skin guitar straps so we’ll keep you posted on how this turns out!

And after 1,198 kilometres, load in and load of out five small halls, a good amount of sausages and steak sandwiches, wonderful sing alongs, stamping feet and excellent conversations with the locals, we retire for a rest day ready to plan for week two.

Spotting Australian wildlife

 

 

 

Summer Tour 2019 – Cygnet to Illawarra – Announcement

The announcement of Fru Skagerrak (NOR/DEN/SWE) and Liam Gerner (AUS) is set to deliver a musically dynamic experience of contrasts against the classic backdrop of Australia’s Small Halls. Armed with matching love for the stories of our time, these two gifted outfits are joining the call of rekindling the time-old tradition of gathering in the local small hall for a special night of live music, storytelling and community connection.

Excited to create their inaugural musical pairing for the Summer Tour 2019, Fru Skagerrak and Liam Gerner are preparing for a unique tour of Australia’s small halls.

“We can’t wait to change our woolen beanies for Australian sun hats and come visit your vast continent, said Anna Lindblad of Fru Skagerrak.

“We’re super excited to meet all the small communities and see the out of the way places!”, said Ms Lindblad.

Featuring first in the inaugural Festival of Small Halls Departure show at the Woodford Folk Festival, the Summer Tour 2019 returns to Tasmania for the third time on January 4th. Fru Skagerrak and Liam Gerner begin their journey in the northern wilds of the state at the Stanley Town Hall before looping eastwards to the likes of Wynyard, Rowella and Meander and continue south to the beloved Cygnet Folk Festival. After plunging down to the southernmost town in Australia, the party heads north to Australian institution Illawarra Folk Festival, the kick-off into two weeks through inland, central and northern New South Wales.

The music of Fru Skagerrak takes you on a journey through Scandinavia; from lowlands to mountains, from slow airs to lively polkas, in major and in minor, and everything in between. Fru Skagerrak – ”Lady Skagerrak” – are three master musicians – one from each Scandinavian country: Maja Kjær Jacobsen from Denmark, Elise Wessel Hildrum from Norway and Anna Lindblad from Sweden.

In 2011, these three globetrotting musicians met for the first time at Tønder Festival, Denmark’s biggest Folk Festival, in a roaring session that had engulfed the backstage bar. Through the mayhem of tunes you could feel a certain Scandinavian groove, and in that moment the connection between these three fiddlers was clear. After meeting at Tønder Festival for three consecutive years, Fru Skagerrak finally saw the light of day in August 2014.

The trio brings together the diverse traditions from each of their homelands, which surround the Skagerrak strait. Through a repertoire of traditional tunes, new compositions, and songs in their respective languages, they express their kinship and love of their shared heritage. The result is an explosion of the sounds that exist in Scandinavian music today.

Steeped in blues and country music, Liam Gerner left the Adelaide Hills to try his luck in London. The young guitar slinger quickly made a strong impression and earned a crust opening for Paul Weller, Jason Isbell, Drive by Truckers, Paolo Nutini and many more.  Liam then headed to the US, joined Texan country rocker Ryan Bingham’s band and experienced frontline American roots music. Returning to Australia in 2014, Liam released his debut album ‘Land Of No Roads’, a startling collection of original songs he composed while touring with Bingham and cut with some of LA’s finest players and his follow up ‘Liam Gerner and the Sunset Pushers’ (2017).

Since then Liam has been touring relentlessly throughout Australia, New Zealand and the USA.  Now based in Melbourne, Liam has developed his songwriting, collaborated with local musicians and formed The Sunset Pushers, a band as fluid and soulful as his songs.  Liam tours extensively in Australia/New Zealand and is an in-demand guitarist working touring and recording with The Eurogliders, Pnau, Pnau & Elton John, records with Empire Of The Sun, and Vika and Linda Bull.

Liam Gerner and his collaborator Nashville based Luke Moller recorded ‘The Bulletin Debate’ a collection of poems Liam turned to song. The poems were written in 1892 between Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson, printed weekly in the Bulletin newspaper and reflect their differing opinions about our relationship with the Australian bush. This album will be released in 2018.

To find out if the tour is visiting a town near you, or to grab your tickets, head to festivalofsmallhalls.com. If we’re not, please extend the invitation. As always, we’d love to come visit.

For more information visit: www.festivalofsmallhalls.com