Once the epicentre of regional town life, Australia’s special small halls are again coming to life thanks to the country’s largest dedicated regional music tour, Festival of Small Halls.
Touring over 80 regional Australian halls every year, Festival of Small Halls brings the best in contemporary folk and acoustic music for Autumn, Spring and Summer tours, each featuring a well-known homegrown artist and renowned international act.
Introduced by Woodford Folk Festival programme director and international 'Spirit of Folk' Award-winner, Chloe Goodyear, Festival of Small Halls was inspired by Prince Edward Island's highly successful festival of the same name.
“As in Prince Edward Island, our small halls were built to provide a place for communities to come together; be it for the Saturday night dance; celebrations of births, deaths and weddings; or to hold town meetings and connect in times of crisis.
“Many of these Halls have continued to play this role in their community, and some are just waiting to be brought back to life.
“To have the chance to work with these communities to continue, or resurrect something so important to them, in the spirit of hospitality and out of a great appreciation for live, original music from artists who really connect with their audience, really is an honour,” said Chloe, who launched the first Australian tour in 2013.
Festival Of Small Halls’ Executive Producer, Eleanor Rigden said running the Tour as a not-for-profit organisation under the wing of Australia’s largest folk festival promoter enables them to “bring in the best contemporary folk artists, who otherwise would not be able to afford touring these regions.”
“From our farmlands to the flood lands, the rainforests to the outback, the towns that are a bit off the beaten track tend to be left off big tours, which means regional folk are missing out.
“We are passionate about changing that. And so are the townspeople and our folk festival partners like Woodford, The National, Port Fairy and Mullum, who work with us to make it possible.”
Eudlo resident and Festival Of Small Halls’ local community volunteer, Stephanie Tonkin, said, “Small Halls’ shows are a chance for the whole town to get together.”
“Family, friends, children and the young at heart gather in our very own hall, all lit up beautifully and brought back to life.
“We break between acts to eat, drink and catch up with each other. It’s really special,” she said.
Ms Tonkin, 62, said helping to organise the event in her hometown is “a chance to pitch in together to create an event that is becoming a bit of a tradition here in Eudlo.”
“Now that the tour has been here a few times, word spreads like wildfire! People enjoy rekindling the time-old tradition of meeting in the town’s small hall, as well as having the opportunity to see quality, contemporary music on our doorstep.”
This Autumn tour sees Festival Of Small Halls take on its biggest tour yet visiting 25 regional towns across South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales in March and April.
“We've spoken to communities all over the country, and they want access to wonderful music without the cost, challenges and inconveniences of packing up the family to get to a show in the city,” said Ms Rigden, who is currently working on plans to expand the Tour to Western Australian and Northern Territory.
Ms Rigden said the upcoming Autumn tour is “an incredible display of contemporary folk that will make for a very special night in these very special spaces.”
Past Festival Of Small Halls tours have seen acts like The Mae Trio, Irish Mythen, The East Pointers, Liz Stringer and The Little Stevies tour regional towns across New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.
Festival of Small Halls 2019 Autumn Tour
Festival of Small Halls has launched its largest tour yet in partnership with major Australian festivals Port Fairy Folk Festival and the National Folk Festival.
Featuring award-winning Canadian trio The Once (CAN) and master Australian folk collaborator John Flanagan (AUS) the Autumn Tour is bound for 25 regional towns across South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales in March and April.
The tour route pays homage to the vast expanses of regional Australia, beginning in the quaint settler town of Port Fairy for the internationally-acclaimed event Port Fairy Folk Festival. The band of travellers then stretch out into South Australia, as far as the former outback ghost town of Beltana. They take in rich farmlands, the red dirt of the gold fields, scenic coastlines and rolling mountains through the Garden State of Victoria. The tour winds down in the Snowy Mountains and agricultural heartlands of New South Wales, before finishing with a bang at treasured Australian event, National Folk Festival.
Tickets on sale now at festivalofsmallhalls.com
Tour dates: festivalofsmallhalls.com/tours/autumn-2019
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Kylie Cobb: 0402 434 523 or firstname.lastname@example.org