EASTERN ONTARIO — Get ready to clap, snap and toe-tap this fall — with Kathleen Edwards at Winchester United Church, Jim Bryson and Meaghan Blanchard at Spencerville Mill, and Cassie and Maggie at the Dunvegan Recreational Hall. That’s just a snapshot sampling of live acts featured at diverse rural venues during the 5th annual Ontario Festival of Small Halls.
One of several new artists booked for this year’s event, Edwards is a musical raconteur from Stittsville. She’s set to play the Winchester venue Sept. 15, a day after her Festival debut at Chaffey’s Lock and a day before her final gig in Balderson.
Festival organizers announced the 2018 schedule today — an energetic mix of roots, pop, folk, blues, soul and even old country-inspired artists booked for three weeks of musical bliss on an expanded number of small-town and village stages. The lineup will see internationally-renowned musicians raise the rafters with incredible sound in 35 cherished community spaces across Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Valley, from Sept. 13 to 30, 2018.
General Manager Kelly Symes said the talent includes some familiar faces from years past, but also looks to the future by incorporating captivating established artists and boundary-pushing emerging artists into the schedule. “This year’s line-up celebrates some of Canada’s most cherished singer-songwriters and story-tellers, many of whom live right here in our region,” Symes said, noting that the Festival continues to offer a unique concert experience: seeing your favourite artist in a setting which allows you to relish the music and connect with local community.
The upcoming show in Winchester marks the third consecutive year the village is part of the Festival series, although the location has shifted; previous performances took place at the Old Town Hall, with Fred Penner featured in 2017.
Also new to the 2018 edition are: Juno award-winner William Prince of the Peguis First Nation of Manitoba; quickly-rising star Colter Wall of Swift Current, Saskatchewan; as well as gifted singer-storyteller Stephen Fearing of Vancouver, British Columbia. Festival favourites Jim Bryson, Basia Bulat and Gordie McKeeman and His Rhythm Boys are back again this year to get toes tapping.
See this year’s regional schedule:
Thursday, September 13
Tamworth Legion (Royal Canadian Legion Branch 458) – Lindi Ortega
Chaffey’s Lock Community Hall – Barney Bentall
Almonte Old Town Hall – William Prince with Outside I’m a Giant
Friday, September 14
Marble Arts Centre, Tweed – Barney Bentall with Mayhemingways
Chaffey’s Lock Community Hall – Kathleen Edwards
Joshua Bates Centre, Athens – Colter Wall
St. Andrew’s United Church, Pakenham – Stephen Fearing
Saturday, September 15
Matawatchan Community Hall – The Redhill Valleys
McDonald’s Corners Agricultural Hall – Colter Wall
Winchester United Church – Kathleen Edwards
Grace Hall, Sydenham – Stephen Fearing
Sunday, September 16
Morton Community Hall – Skydiggers
Balderson United Church – Kathleen Edwards
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kilmaurs – The Redhill Valleys
Thursday, September 20
Spencerville Mill – Jim Bryson with Meaghan Blanchard
Friday, September 21
Delta Old Town Hall – Jim Bryson Band
Union Hall, Mississippi Mills – Cassie & Maggie
Althorpe Bolingbroke Community Hall – Meaghan Blanchard
Rankin Culture and Recreation Centre – We Walk the Line (A Tribute to Johnny Cash)
Saturday, September 22
Merrickville United Church – Basia Bulat
Dunvegan Recreational Hall – Cassie & Maggie
DACA Centre, Dacre – Announcement Coming Soon!
Sunday, September 23
Tatlock Community Hall – James Keelaghan
The Red Brick School, Elgin – Basia Bulat
Maberly Community Hall – Cassie & Maggie with Blue Skies Community Fiddle Orchestra
Friday, September 28
Combermere Community Centre – Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boy
La Fraternité, Alexandria – Dans l’Shed
Seeley’s Bay Community Hall – Announcement Coming Soon!
Saturday, September 29
Westmeath Recreation Centre – Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys
Golden Links Hall, Harrowsmith – Slocan Ramblers
Lyndhurst – Kelly Prescott
St. James Catholic Church, Maxville – Announcement Coming Soon!
Sunday, September 30
Portland Community Hall – Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys
Snow Road Community Centre – Kelly Prescott
Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall – Jeremy Fisher