Small Town Girls playing at Delhi Fall Fest Saturday, 7 p.m.


Week after week this summer, Small Town Girls' Haley, Hannah and Cassie Van Maele have been 'on the road again.'

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 12-year-old Haley. "Like a show every weekend."

"Too busy," smiled Cassie, recently turned 15.

"Very exciting," said Hannah, 12.

"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 music careers - four hours to the Magnetewan River area between North Bay and Huntsville (August 18-20). Four hours on a good day when GPS is working, longer when GPS misdirects you to Bruce Peninsula.

"It was terrible," said Hannah, not as enthusiastic as her sister about the unexpected eight-hour family-bonding drive. "Mom was like, 'Oh my gosh we're going to be there in like 10 minutes girls.' Ten minutes later, 'It's going to be another four-and-a-half hours...' I was mad."

"I didn't really care because it was pouring rain anyways so were just going to be sitting in the house," said Cassie, not bothered by the detour through Wiarton. "It's not like it would have been much different."

"She got her own seat - me and Hannah had to share a seat," said Haley. "It was so cramped... because of all our pillows and blankets. We had blankets everywhere!"

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.

"It's like enough for a guitar... for me," Haley joked. "Not for you, don't think about yourself here, for me."

"Cassie's the one that needs a new one!" Hannah laughed.

"I need both," Cassie nodded.

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). "We've got a catch phrase..."

"Vote 'The Twins for the Wins,'" said Hannah.

"Some will vote for her, some will vote for me and BOOM, we crush the votes," said Haley, adding with a laugh, "then 'Haley & Hannah, 2017-2018 Prez.'"

"We do have lots of ideas for Spirit Days," said Hannah. "But they might not even let us run in pairs this year."

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.

"Yeah, probably Lynn River," Hannah nodded. "The busking - we made a lot of cash."

"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 one-hour set.

"We keep doing them over and over again," Cassie explained. "If you keep practicing, then you remember. Like when you memorize your times tables, you repeat it over and over."

"I'm so good at times tables," said Hannah.

"It just comes naturally to me," said Haley. "I have a good memory."

"You have a good memory?" Cassie laughed. "You can't even remember your times tables!"

"Give me one," Haley countered.

"12 times 11," said Hannah.

"138!" Haley guessed. "Give me another one! Another one!"

"Eight times seven."

"Oh, um 56! Wait, that was right?"

Whether or not she remembers multiplication tables, 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 co-wrote 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. SpongeBob. Yeah, I love SpongeBob! 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.

"You can sail across the ocean, you can fly across the sea. You can climb up Mount Everest, if you parachute back to me.

"Wait, that's not what I came up with first. Mount Everest... I was thinking 'you could jump back down to me...' but that would hurt. Then I was thinking, 'you could fly down to me' but people can't fly. Then I said, 'you could parachute back to me' because you can actually parachute, so it works.

"Originally, instead of the Everest line, I was going to say 'driving down the highway, with you in the passenger seat' but that didn't sound good. So that's the second part of the verse. Then it's 'As long as we're together, that's alright with me.'"

"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. We were saying something about 'You can take a rocket up to space..."

"Wait, what's it actually about?" Haley asked.

"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, Sept. 10 (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.) - their biggest show since opening for Brett Kissel in January 2017 - which concludes 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.