When you walk through the doors of a beautiful small town church at night, and you end up seated in the last available pew before it’s standing room only, you know you are about to become a part of something remarkable. The Festival of Small Halls currently traveling through Ontario’s Highlands offers an unforgettable night of big music in a small town.
The Ontario Festival of Small Halls, now in its 4th year, features great Canadian music, small intimate venues, and a wonderful spirit of community that you generally won’t find at any big city music festival.
There’s something special about small town Ontario. Something that makes all visitors feel “at home”, no matter where they are from.
Perhaps it’s the warmth of the people, the spirit of community, the beauty of the landscape, the history and charm of the small town halls and churches, or the feeling of belonging, that makes small towns so special.
On this night, in charming Pakenham, Ontario, at the awe-inspiring St. Andrew’s United Church, we experienced a spirit of community and hospitality that I remember experiencing only once before – in Prince Edward Island.
It was in a magnificent historic white wooden church, in Kensington, P.E.I., where I was fortunate enough to be a part of another remarkable small halls concert, featuring musician Matt Andersen.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, this concert was part of the original Festival of Small Halls series, which takes place in Prince Edward Island, Australia, and now, in small towns across south-eastern Ontario.
We discovered the reason many of The Ontario Festival of Small Halls performances are featured in beautiful, historic churches like Pakenham’s St. Andrew’s United Church – the acoustics.
It doesn’t take much to make exquisite voices sound great but, the round room in which this evening’s “congregation” sat, lifted the vocals to another level.
Opening The Ontario Small Halls Festival in Pakenham, was Arnprior, Ontario native, Vicki Brittle.
This International Songwriting Competition (Honorable Mentions), and Canadian Songwriting Competition Finalist, was also a featured “She’s The One” RBC Bluesfest performer in 2017.
Born and raised in a small town, Vicki, and her music, embody the beauty, warmth, and charm of the area she grew up in.
With a beautiful voice that was made for a venue like this, Vicki delighted the crowd with a wonderful selection of original music, ending her set with an ethereal cover version of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking On Heaven’s Door”. A performance that had the audience mesmerized.
Rosie & The Riveters
Turning things up a notch, Rosie & The Riveters, had this small town audience tapping their toes the minute they entered the stage wearing their stunning red vintage dresses.
Completing their classic vintage look with 1940’s-era hair and make-up, Rosie & The Riveters captured the audience’s attention with their sophisticated harmonies, humour, great stage presence, and wonderfully written tunes.
Featuring the impressive vocals of Alexis Normand, Allyson Reigh, and Farideh Olsen, theirs was a performance that could not have been better paired with a more glorious venue.
Be a part of something small, before it becomes something big.
The Ontario Festival of Small Halls is gaining recognition…and quickly.
You can’t keep something this good, hidden for that long.
There is one weekend left to experience The Ontario Festival of Small Halls in 2017.
The Ontario Festival of Small Halls continues September 28-October 1, featuring four evenings of great Canadian musical talent, with performances held in ten Ontario small towns.
This is your chance to experience your own unforgettable night of big music in a little place.