Kerry Hall packed to the rafters for Festival of Small Halls

THE Kerry Hall was packed to capacity for the Festival of Small Halls after Rural Aid bought up all the tickets and donated them back to the town to help provide a stress break for a community that has been doing it tough, especially with the recent fires.

Local musicians Nigel Stephens, Anabelle Johnson and Kylie Moss warmed up the crowd for the award-winning main acts, UK folk singer Blair Dunlop and Sunshine Coast blues duo Hat Fitz and Cara.

Dunlop, who spent some time kicking a soccer ball with local kids on the grounds of the Kerry Hall and had come to the gig after taking songwriting workshop at Darlington State School earlier in the day, said he had arrived in Australia nine days ago.

"Apparently that was the first day in history that there was no rain anywhere in Australia," he said.

"I've loved touring with Hat Fitz and Cara, they are awesome and I have completely fallen in love with Australia.

"The Scenic Rim is beautiful, it's just a shame there's been no rain."

Dunlop said he had been writing songs since he was about 12 years old.

"I wrote a song in detention when I was 14 and I sang that in school," he said.

"As soon as I realised I wasn't good enough at football I decided to make this my career and coming from a musical family I was lucky enough to have parents who saw it as a viable profession.

"It's the best job in the world, not as lucrative as it used to be but I release my work on my own label and because I have always played live I can make a living."

Hat Fitz and Cara said they had felt the pain of communities suffering from the ongoing drought during this tour.

"Something like this affects people's lives so deeply... we live at Caatharaba (Sunshine Coast), only half an hour inland and we're fortunate to get coastal rains," Cara said.

"Once we heard about what Rural Aid had done for the community, we went online and bought four bales of hay.

"It's an honour to bring music here to Kerry and hopefully it will give people a bit of a lift."

When Dunlop took to the stage, he presented a quality performance and even had people singing along.

Hat Fitz and Cara followed with a performance that had people laughing and cheering.

The final two numbers were performed by all three musicians and included a moving rendition of Levon Helm's Poor Old Dirt Farmer.

The Festival of Small Halls will continue to play regional towns until the tour ends with the Woodford Folk Festival, which starts on December 27 and ends on New Year's Day.