Stages set for Small Halls Festival weekend

 In Events, Visit Creemore

Small Halls Festival is coming up next weekend, beginning Thursday, Sept. 28 with a book launch for Dan Needles’ new publication, True Confessions from the Ninth Concession, a compilation of stories from his beloved column published monthly in area magazines.

Needles will be speaking but the really great thing, he says, is that his wife Heath is laying out a dessert table. “Even if they don’t like the book, they will love the desserts,” he said.

“This is home turf for these stories, this is where they came from so I like talking to my home audience,” said Needles.

He said he has chosen to include about 80 columns written over the past 20 years.

“I picked out the ones I liked and they tell a story of a family making its way in the countryside over a period of great change,” said Needles, “the party line gives way to the internet and small farms turn to agribusiness.”

Events continue throughout the weekend with Terry O’Reilly, also at Duntroon Hall on the Sunday, and country singer Dan Davidson headlining at Brentwood Hall on Saturday night.

Former member of rock band Tupelo Honey, Davidson is fairly new to the country music scene. Nominated for two Canadian Country Music Awards, Found was the top selling Canadian country song in Canada for several weeks last summer and was the eighth highest charting Canadian song in the country.

Avening Hall is hosting back-to-back concerts with the Jeremy Fisher Trio on Friday and NQ Arbuckle and Carolyn Mark on Saturday.

Fisher, a three-time Juno award nominee, released his sixth studio The Lemon Squeeze in 2014, including the hit Uh-Oh featuring Serena Ryder.

He is set to release a ten-year anniversary vinyl edition of Goodbye Blue Monday, produced by Avening Hall regular Hawksley Workman.

“I’m going to do a short tour in Ontario and Quebec where we play that record cover to cover so you can probably count on hearing a lot of those tunes at our show on the 29th,” said Fisher.

In addition to other projects, Fisher said he is in the process of finishing his first Jeremy Fisher Junior album, to be released on November 24.

“It’s a collection of fun, silly and singable children’s songs that I’ve written over the last year watching my daughter grow from and infant into a toddler,” said Fisher.

Neville Quinlan, the NQ of NQ Arbuckle, and Mark performed at Avening Hall in 2010 after the release of their 2009 Juno nominated album Let’s Just Stay Here, featuring the song Officer Down. The band didn’t show up so the two of them had to wing it and the show was beautiful and very amusing.

Both performers are a bit nutty and always hilarious. Whatever happens, it will be magical and entertaining. Come for the banter, stay for the music.

The band’s 2014 release The Future Happens Anyway includes Lifeboat, a song for Carolyn Mark.

At Dunedin Hall, Steph and Stewart are celebrating their first anniversary. That is the premise of the play One Good Marriage, written by Sean Reycraft. The play is set in a community hall where a couple slowly reveals the darkly humourous story of their marriage.

“The things they are going through are serious but it’s very funny,” said Heidi Lynch, who plays Steph.

The couple has moved to the area looking to meet people and the audience has been invited to celebrate their anniversary.

“It’s about people who are looking for community – who have lost their community,” said Dunedin resident Steve Lucas, who is directing.

Lucas, a set and lighting designer, doesn’t usually direct but he has worked with Lynch on a number of projects and she has worked with co-star Alex Crowther on a number of plays.

“It’s always nice to work with people you trust and have a great time with,” said Lucas.

Lucas said he wanted to make sure there was something happening at Dunedin Hall during the festival and the venue lends itself perfectly to the play. There will be two shows on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15.

On both Saturday and Sunday, Station on the Green will be the home base for several arts events.

Woodcarver Jim Harkness is curating a multifaceted owl show on behalf of Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society. He himself has carved the 12 owls of Ontario and 40 others for people to decorate and submit to the show at Station on the Green.

He said owls fascinate people and their eyes make them the most human of birds.

“I live on the ninth concession where there is a large population of owls and people come from all over to see them,” said Harkness.

He has also invited photographers, artists and students to show their owl work.

On the lawn, James Stacey is showing lawn furnishings that he has created out of repurposed wood pallets.

“I’m starting with pallets because they’re easy to find and easy to work with. And most people have the basic tools they’ll need to make themselves something useful,” said Stacey. “I want artisans to see what they can do with pallets, but I also want people generally to start thinking differently about the things we throw out.”

The bowl show is at Creemore Log Cabin, where eight area potters will show the bowls they made specifically for Canada 150, there will be a selection of bowls borrowed from area private collections and Cyndy Reycraft will display her collection of antique soup bowls.

It all coincides with Artists on Location happening throughout Creemore. Find a list of artists at the Station on the Green Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There are dozens of other events happening at halls in Clearview Township throughout the weekend. Many are free and family friendly. For a full schedule, visit

Trina Berlo photo: Steve Lucas (from right) is directing actors Heidi Lynch and Alex Crowther in One Good Marriage Sept. 30 at Dunedin Hall during Small Halls Festival. 

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