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WILTON

Music en plein air

Wilton’s Hilltop Cafe: Eatery hosts Saturday night music series  with local musicians taking the outdoor stage each week

  • The Folksoul Band of Greenfield will be appearing on the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton's newly constructed outdoor stage this Saturday, as part of the cafe's summer music series.

    The Folksoul Band of Greenfield will be appearing on the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton's newly constructed outdoor stage this Saturday, as part of the cafe's summer music series. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • A crowd gathers around a recently constructed stage featuring the Doodads and Don'ts, on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    A crowd gathers around a recently constructed stage featuring the Doodads and Don'ts, on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Doodads and Don'ts of Milford perform on Hilltop Cafe's outdoor stage on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    The Doodads and Don'ts of Milford perform on Hilltop Cafe's outdoor stage on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • A crowd gathers around a recently constructed stage featuring the Doodads and Don'ts, on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    A crowd gathers around a recently constructed stage featuring the Doodads and Don'ts, on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • A crowd gathers around a recently constructed stage featuring the Doodads and Don'ts, on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    A crowd gathers around a recently constructed stage featuring the Doodads and Don'ts, on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Hilltop Cafe, located at the Four Corners Farm in Wilton, recently constructed an outdoor stage to hold live music events in the cafe’s own backyard.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    The Hilltop Cafe, located at the Four Corners Farm in Wilton, recently constructed an outdoor stage to hold live music events in the cafe’s own backyard.
    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Tara Greenblatt Band will be premiering songs from their new CD, "Animal Body," when they appear on the Hilltop Cafe stage on July 20.

    The Tara Greenblatt Band will be premiering songs from their new CD, "Animal Body," when they appear on the Hilltop Cafe stage on July 20. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • The Folksoul Band of Greenfield will be appearing on the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton's newly constructed outdoor stage this Saturday, as part of the cafe's summer music series.
  • A crowd gathers around a recently constructed stage featuring the Doodads and Don'ts, on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • The Doodads and Don'ts of Milford perform on Hilltop Cafe's outdoor stage on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • A crowd gathers around a recently constructed stage featuring the Doodads and Don'ts, on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • A crowd gathers around a recently constructed stage featuring the Doodads and Don'ts, on a Saturday evening of music at the Hilltop Cafe in Wilton.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • The Hilltop Cafe, located at the Four Corners Farm in Wilton, recently constructed an outdoor stage to hold live music events in the cafe’s own backyard.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • The Tara Greenblatt Band will be premiering songs from their new CD, "Animal Body," when they appear on the Hilltop Cafe stage on July 20.

Live music is ringing through the hills of Wilton every Saturday night, as residents gather behind the Hilltop Cafe, facing a small, wood-frame stage with a backdrop of large hay rolls, soaking in the music of each week’s featured artist. This Saturday, Greenfield’s Folksoul Band will play.

The first half of their planned set will just let the listeners sit back and enjoy the music, but the Folksoul Band is ultimately a party band and by the end of the night everyone will want to be up and dancing, according to band leader Fred Simmons.

Shea Vaccaro, who works at the Hilltop Cafe and organizes the music venue there, said at a recent Saturday music set that it wasn’t very long ago that this setup was a dream. The cafe has been dabbling with the idea of including live music for some time, trying it out on the patio attached to the cafe, and in a nearby barn on the property, but neither of those locations really suited the needs of live music. Without a proper space to handle a music series, the staff at the Hilltop Cafe didn’t give up — they simply decided to build their own stage.

Lincoln Geiger, a farmer at Four Corners Farm — which shares land with the cafe and provides produce when it’s in season — along with cafe supporter and musician Ramsey Thomas of Peterborough began building a wooden stage behind the cafe whenever they could spare a moment, and by the start of summer a wooden frame and sound system was in place. The cafe had a new home for its summer music series.

Most of the artists Vaccaro secures for the cafe are folk musicians, he said, but all are family friendly and as local as he can get them. On June 29, it was the Doodads and Don’ts, a three-piece folk band that hails from Milford. But a few of the band members, the guitarist and upright bass player, are both employees of the cafe.

“In this area, and in New England in general, there is a growing folk scene,” said Vaccaro. “I really want to be able to bring these great people and great musicians to this intimate environment.”

The Folksoul Band is a seven-piece band that’s gotten a lot of its style from New Orleans and West African folk tunes, but also has plenty of their own original music, too. Beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, the band will play a mix of old New Orleans favorites, while mixing in their own original music, said Simmons in a phone interview Monday.

It’s been a busy year so far for Folksoul Band, Simmons said. For the first time, the band made the leap to produce a music video, with Keene High School media students, for their song “We Can Make it Better.” The song, essentially a letter to the president, asks the nation to address the issues facing New Orleans, including damage still lingering from Hurricane Katrina, the British Petroleum oil spill, and rising sea levels that are washing the Mississippi Delta away. New Orleans is close to Simmons’ heart, as bringing a little Mardi Gras flavor North was the main motivation for forming Folksoul in 2007 . So when the band was looking to make a video for one of their songs, “We Can Make It Better” was the obvious choice, Simmons said.

It’s not the Folksoul Band’s first appearance at the Hilltop Cafe. Last fall, when the music series was still held in the barn across the street from the cafe, the band made an appearance, but this will be their first time on the outdoor stage. “It’s a great audience there that seems to come out,” said Simmons . “We had a great time playing for them, and we’re looking forward to playing on the new stage.”

Tara Greenblatt of New Ipswich, who plays the drums for the Folksoul Band, will be heading back to the stage again the following week with her own band, The Tara Greenblatt Band. It will be the perfect venue to perform some of the music from the band’s newly released third CD, “Animal Body.”

Greenblatt, who wrote the music for the CD, said the music came from a place of feeling separated from the earth.

“I tend to feel more animal than human a lot of the time,” said Greenblatt in an interview Monday. “By that, I mean I feel very in touch with the conflict of being disconnected from the earth. When we’re sitting at a computer and watching the world happen on the screen, I can’t help but to be jarred by the fact that the same world is happening right outside my window.”

It’s ironic that she’ll be singing about those themes on the stage at the Hilltop Cafe, said Greenblatt, because at the new venue it’s really not possible to be any more connected to the environment out in the fresh air.

“I’m so honored to perform there,” said Greenblatt. “They’re such a wholesome, heart-filled people that really care about providing local food and providing an interconnectivity between the food and the farm.”

“It seems like slowly, each week, another piece falls into place,” said Vaccaro. “By next season, we’ll really be swinging. I’d really like to see the stage completely finished, and to the point where we can really gather a regular crowd. I think it’s a great community and a place that has a great energy for music. Every artist I’ve brought here has enjoyed those aspects, so I really hope to just keep growing in the direction we have been.”

High Mowing student and musician Sophia Darby will open for the Tara Greenblatt Band on July 20 and will be the headliner the following week on July 27.

The Hilltop Cafe will be closed in August for kitchen renovations, but the music series will return on Sept. 7. There is a $5 cover charge for all outdoor concerts, which begin at 7 p.m., at the Hilltop Cafe.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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