Australia replicating P.E.I. small hall festival

Dave Stewart
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P.E.I. musician Rose Cousins

One of the organizers of an Australian folk festival liked what P.E.I. is doing so they’ve decided to replicate it.

The folks Down Under have launched their own Festival of Small Halls, modelled exactly after the version in Prince Edward Island.

Chloe Goodyear, director of creative partnerships for the Woodford Folk Festival, attended the ECMAs three years ago in Charlottetown and chatted with a few locals, one of whom was Harry Holman, who suggested she check out the Festival of Small Halls.

“I loved it immediately,’’ Goodyear told The Guardian in an email this week. “Just the name itself is so romantic and evocative. I was totally sold.

“I also love the style of music that it promotes, as in Australia that’s a style that is under represented in the commercial gigging world so I like the fact that we’ve got an idea to work with that helps us to promote this kind of music.’’

Not only is Australia replicating a festival which started on P.E.I. in 2008, they want to share artists. P.E.I.’s Rose Cousins, a frequent Small Halls guest, is currently on tour in Australia with Australia’s own Jordie Lane.

Ray Brow, founder and president of the board of directors with P.E.I.’s Festival of Small Halls, says sharing artists — where Australian performers tour P.E.I. and vice-versa — is where the future lies.

“It’s, of course, fabulous that they would think enough of our festival that they would virtually replicate it,’’ Brow said. “They even went so far as to register the domain name Festival of Small Halls.’’

Those who Google the Festival of Small Halls will be taken to the Australian site because the P.E.I. version’s website is simply www.smallhalls.com.

Goodyear said music performed in small halls is generating new interest in a high calibre of music and in a democratic presentation of music in a space that belongs to the people.

“Things are going beautifully. We’ve got Rose Cousins and Jordie Lane on this tour and we’re travelling with our own sound guy which makes the quick load in and out much more manageable for everyone. We’re definitely learning as we go.’’

Goodyear plans on returning to P.E.I. for the ECMAs in 2014 and plans on sitting down with the small halls people.

“I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to take (P.E.I.’s) beautiful idea in Australia.’’

Brow said the P.E.I. Festival of Small Halls has also drawn interest from Toronto, New Brunswick and on the south shore of Nova Scotia - all that despite the fact that festivals like Celtic Colours in Cape Breton and the Lunenburg Folk Festival are much more entrenched in the industry.

Brow said it speaks to the incredible level of musical talent in such a tiny province.

“Oh, absolutely! We punch way above our weight.’’

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: The Guardian, Google

Geographic location: P.E.I., Australia, Prince Edward Island Charlottetown Toronto New Brunswick Nova Scotia Cape Breton Lunenburg

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  • Strange that
    December 16, 2013 - 08:25

    Small Halls Christmas Fair was a huge success yet it was cancelled last year & this year.