‘On the Road’ to Delhi
Small Town Girls return to Fall Fest Saturday at 7 p.m.
Week after week, 12-year-old twins Haley and Hannah, and 15-year-old Cassie Van Maele have been ‘on the road again’ in their second Small Town Girls summer.
This weekend is no exception - Small Town Girls will play at the 4th Annual Delhi Fall Fest Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. The one-hour set will include new country, classic country and some originals.
“It’s been really busy,” said Haley. “Like a show every weekend.” “Too busy,” Cassie smiled. “Very exciting,” said Hannah. “Yeah, exciting,” Haley agreed. “We got to go to new places, too, like Burk’s Falls. That was fun.”
“I loved it,” said Cassie, recalling the longest road trip of their young music careers - four hours to the Magnetewan River area between North Bay and Huntsville (Aug. 18-20).
Although it rained most of the weekend - and while they were on stage - they did enjoy a tour of the village falls and dam, the rented accommodations, and seeing Burk’s Fall Country Jamboree the next day, which included their music teachers, Alison and Darrin Schott.
Between Tillsonburg’s Turtlefest in June and Bayfest in Port Rowan last weekend, they’ve banked some money, spent some money, and had some left over for school supplies.
School was fresh on their minds, especially Haley and Hannah beginning Grade 8 this week.
“We have this huge step of being popular in Grade 8,” said Haley, noting they want to team up to run for student council president(s).
All three sisters agreed Lynn River Music & Arts Festival in Simcoe was the summer highlight.
“There was just so much to do, so much to see,” said Haley.
“Seeing so many other people perform,” said Cassie. “Plus we got like five sets. I liked Bushstock too, I thought it was cool.”
During the summer they learned more new covers, co-wrote more originals, and pushed the band’s song list well past 40.
“Way more than 40, close to 50,” said Haley, who knew in 2015 ‘about 10 songs’ when she competed in the Langton and Norfolk County Fairs.
Just one year ago at the Tillsonburg Fair the band’s repertoire had grown to just over 20 - with two not quite memorized yet. And that took some work, Hannah noted in August 2016, cramming to learn six new songs for the onehour set.
“We keep doing them over and over again,” Cassie explained. “If you keep practicing, then you remember.”
Haley continues to shine as lead singer. Hannah, who excels at solo parts and harmonizing, hasn’t ( yet) reached a point where she’s confident taking over if Haley is ill.
“No, I’m not good at remembering stuff,” she said.
“I know most of them. I know most of You’re Lookin’ at Country, Walkin’ After Midnight is simple, My Church, I Could Use a Love Song... I think I could do 10 songs. Maybe.”
Included in the band’s 50-song list are five originals - four they cowrote since the spring. More are coming, but song-writing took a back seat recently.
“We’ve had a little bit of a break,” said Cassie.
“It’s been going pretty good,” said Haley, “but yeah, we haven’t been doing it lately. It’s been like a couple weeks.”
Their first independently written song is also in the works, a song Hannah sat down to write.
“It was one casual afternoon... I was sitting on the couch watching Netflix. I got up to get a drink, saw the drums, and I was like, ‘ hmmm... I’m going to play the drums today.’ So I was just banging on the drums and you know, it sounded bad. But then it came to me! The song! So then I grabbed the ukelele and just started singing.
“The song is called ‘That’s Alright With Me,’” said Cassie. “We’re trying to get a chorus for it. Well, we have a chorus but we don’t have the sound.”
“It’s hard to write a chorus,” Hannah admitted. “Me and Haley actually tried to write the second verse together.
“It’s about...” Hannah started, but dropped into a whisper. “It’s a surprise.”
A surprise she will reveal when they launch the song.
What they learned this summer is that song writing is fun, but challenging.
“It is pretty hard,” said Cassie. “It comes to you when you’re not thinking about it, but when you try to think about it, it doesn’t usually work out well.”
“It takes a lot of time,” said Haley.
Delhi Fall Fest this Saturday (7 p.m. - note the change from posters and website) and Cornstock in Simcoe Sunday (2 p.m.) represent the start of the 2017 ‘ home stretch’ for Small Town Girls. In coming weeks they will be on stage Sept. 23 in Port Rowan (11:30 a.m.), Sept. 29 in Mount Elgin, Oct. 5 at the Norfolk County Fair (4:30 p.m.), and Oct. 14 at the Tillsonburg Legion (8 p.m.), which will conclude the festival/fair season.
“I want to have a big break so we can learn more stuff,” said Cassie.
“And then we’ll come back and be three times better,” said Haley.
“I’m going to learn the drums during our big break,” said Hannah.
Small Town Girls, managed by their parents, have already booked their first show in April 2018 - the Dairy Expo in Stratford.
Small Town Girls' Haley, Hannah and Cassie Van Maele will be playing at the Delhi Fall Fest Saturday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. Fall Fest stage entertainment (12:30-10 p.m.) begins Saturday with zumba, followed by Danielle Ward (1:30), vintage band (3 p.m.), and dance music DJ at 5 p.m.