Small Town Girls to open Turtlefest's Downtown Block Party stage entertainment
In their first year as a band Small Town Girls' playlist has grown to include dozens of country songs. They cover legends like Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline and young artists like Kacey Musgraves, Ward Thomas and Brett Kissel.
And now the three Langton sisters - Cassie, who turns 15 in August, and twins Hannah and Haley Van Maele, who will be teenagers in October - have three new original songs.
Music In My Car was written by Nashville's Tim Taylor, who co-wrote Canadian Kid with Kissel, the song Small Town Girls used to enter a video contest for a chance to open for Kissel on his Ice Snow & 30 Below Tour (Jan. 12-Feb. 4).
"I like it," said Haley.
"It's great," said Hannah.
"I think it's really cool," said Cassie. "The words all flow with the title."
The Van Maele sisters co-wrote the other two, Little More Canada and self-titled Small Town Girls, collaborating with songwriter Jason Hamor from Nebraska via Skype over the last two months. More new material is on the way.
"We're writing a new song called Careless," said Hannah.
"Yeah, and it goes like this," said Haley. "'Driving downtown with the windows down, my hair's in my face, all over the place,' and... 'the truck is movin, I can't stop groovin...'"
"Yeah, we're still working on that one," said Cassie.
Some days songwriting can be a challenge, but it's something they enjoy figuring out together.
"It's not 'too' hard," said Cassie.
"Sometimes it can be hard," Hannah admitted.
"It's pretty hard to think of some ideas, but then things like 'pop,'" said Haley.
"Sometimes we think up ideas on the spot, but then sometimes we take the week to think about stuff and it comes to us," said Cassie. "We forward ideas back and forth (with Jason Hamor)."
"Yeah, he writes stuff during the week and we kind of think of stuff," said Haley.
"And then we put it all together to make a verse or something at our next Skype," said Hannah.
They keep their instruments close in case they are needed when online. The Small Town Girls song took about two weeks because Cassie had already finished most of the first verse. The next song took longer, but they expect to get quicker as they gain experience.
"The one we're working on now (Careless) is almost done," said Haley, adding with a laugh, "because I wrote the chorus. Everyone thought it was annoying... then I started singing it all the time."
"You sang it until it wasn't annoying," Cassie quipped.
"Then they were saying, 'hey, that's not that too bad...'" Haley continued. "Oh yeah, I already knew that."
Even if one sister writes a complete verse, the girls stressed the importance of working together. Their songs are - and always will be - a combined group effort.
"Yeah, we write together - it's a lot easier," said Hannah.
"It's way easier working together," Cassie nodded. "We all have ideas and it just goes faster."
Some bands only have one songwriter, some have multiple members who write songs individually. Not Small Town Girls.
"Why would you do that?" Haley wondered.
"Why would you write separate, that's just kind of stupid," Hannah agreed. "No, not happening in this group. It's Small Town Girls by Small Town Girls. It's a lot better to share the credit than not get any at all."
Although they are young songwriters, they only have to look to Kissel, who released his first album at the age of 12 (according to his web bio), was a CCMA Rising Star nominee at 16, and released his third album at 18.
Kissel's a rare exception, but there's a lot to like about the two originals Small Town Girls played Saturday, May 13th at Stampede Corral Classic Country Matinee in Kitchener - Music In My Car and Small Town Girls. If someday they have a breakout song, it could be one of those, said Haley.
"Probably one of those two," she nodded.
"Unless we write a better one," Cassie pointed out.
"That's possible," said Haley.
"No. We won't," said Hannah.
"You don't know that," said Cassie.
"Yeah, I do," said Hannah. "I like that one... Small Town Girls."
"Yeah, I like that one too," Cassie agreed.
Some of Small Town Girls' new material will be played Friday, June 16 in Tillsonburg when the band opens the live stage entertainment, presented by Country 107.3, at Turtlefest's Downtown Block Party.
There is no admission for the 7th annual country music concert, but VIP Experience tickets are available ($50 plus HST, call 519-8420-4281 or email email@example.com). The show starts at 6:30 p.m.
Also on stage June 16 are The Western Swing Authority, Eric Ethridge, and Marshall Dane, who along with Small Town Girls opened for Kissel in Barrie on Jan. 20.
Over the past four months the Small Town Girls were regular guests at the Stampede Corral Classic Country Matinee. They played a 12-song set Saturday, May 13 for the season finale, backed up by the house band (Darren Lachance, Steve O'Grady, Sean O'Connor and Michael Warren) for the first six.
"It's just fun," said Haley after their one-hour set. "We get a chance to play with the band."
"Really fun," said Cassie.
"It's just fun and it's good experience," said Hannah.
"And the food is delicious," said Haley.
"Especially the poutine," Hannah nodded.
Small Town Girls also played at the Doll House Showcase: Celebrating Canadian Women in Music, March 19 in London. And there have been shows closer to home, including a 45-minute set at Delrose in Delhi on May 12, and a set for the Simcoe Lions Club last Thursday.
On Friday, June 9, they will once again be in the spotlight singing O Canada at the Country Music Association of Ontario celebrity softball game at Labatt Park, London, part of the four-day CMAO Awards 'weekend.'
"All the celebrities are playing baseball and after there's a concert," said Cassie.
It will be the largest outdoor venue they've performed at so far, but they are comfortable singing the national anthem.
"We know all the words," said Hannah.
"We just had to learn the chords," said Haley.
They have tickets for the CMAO gala awards night on Sunday, June 11 at Centennial Hall, which will feature performances from Genevieve Fisher, Jessica Mitchell, Tim Hicks, River Town Saints, Aaron Pritchett (who headlined the Tillsonburg Fair in 2014), Jason Blaine, Cold Creek County, and The Western Swing Authority.
"Thanks to Don Holbrook, he gave us tickets," Hannah noted.
This summer they'll 'crank up the tunes' and 'cruise along with the windows down' as they hit the open road 'dashboard drumming and strumming on an air guitar,' opening for The Good Brothers in LaSalette (June 24)... opening for Whistler Creek in Mount Brydges (July 8)... playing at the Burk's Falls Country Jamboree (August 19)... Bayfest in Port Rowan (Sept. 1)... and more.
Follow them online at https://smalltowngirls.bandzoogle.com/home, Facebook (The Small Town Girls), YouTube, Twitter (thesmalltwngrls) and Instagram.
- with files from Postmedia Network