New Family Stage at the Hilltown Spring Festival

Hilltown Families Family Stage at the
5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
May 14th at the Cummington Fairgrounds

On Saturday, May 14th, 2011 at the Cummington Fairgrounds, the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival will celebrate the hilltowns and beyond.  Produced by the Hilltown CDC, the Hilltown Spring Festival will include everything from the quirky to the sublime (you decide which is which!).

This year the will be three music stages, including a new Family Music Stage which will present family-friendly music from 10:30am until 4:30pm, including local stars The Nields, Ben Rudnick and Friends, Mister G, Sarah Pirtle and Lui Collins. Here’s the line-up:

Lui Collins

In the Hilltowns, many kids have their introduction to music with Lui Collins in her Hilltown Music Together and Kids’ Jam Classes.  Families in the Hilltowns are blessed to have this contemporary folk singer-songwriter as their jumping off point to music and singing.  Hilltown Music Together and Kids’ Jam, along with Lui’s newest venture, Kids’ Jam Curriculum, combined to form Lui Collins’ Upside-Up Music. Kids’ Jam Curriculum makes Lui’s innovative and entertaining Kids’ Jam music available to homeschoolers and music and classroom teachers. — Lui currently lives in Ashfield, MA and as a professional musician she has been touring for over 30 years, playing the clawhammer banjo and inspired by traditional southern Appalachian music.

Sarah Pirtle

Sarah Pirtle is an award-winning author and musician who writes and sings for all ages.  Pocketful of Wonder, her ninth recording, received the Gold Award from Parents’ Choice, and in 2007 she received the Magic Penny Award for lifetime achievement in children’s music.  Sarah was invited to perform at the Hudson River Clearwater Folk Festival when her first recording, Two Hands Hold the Earth, became the favorite of Pete Seeger’s grandson. Later, as the principal founder of the Children’s Music Network, she got to know Pete and feel his encouragement for her songwriting for adults as well as children. Currently living in Shelburne Falls, Sarah helps to build supportive communities for young people. She is recognized as a national expert on teaching social skills. Her music and her chaplaincy training add compassion and depth to her work as she leads programs rooted in a basic trust of the innate caring available inside people.

Ben Rudnick & Friends

The acclaimed American roots Style family music band, Ben Rudnick & Friends (BRF) will join us this year on the Family Stage.  With a high level of adventurous musicianship, their award winning recordings contain a unique acoustic sound ranging from light folk to bluegrass, calypso and rock.  Five of their family music CDs (Emily Songs, Blast Off!, Fun and Games, Grace’s Bell and A Frog Name Sam) have received national acclaim, including awards from Parents’ Choice, NAPPA and the Children’s Music Web. Since BRF original songs aren’t overtly children’s music, and enthusiastic renditions of well known songs appeal to all, everyone in the audience from the oldest to the youngest gets involved with the excitement of their performances!

Mister G

Over the past year, Mister G (Ben Gundersheimer) has performed with Dan Zanes in Northampton, and for kids in Europe and Latin America. He closed out 2010 with two shows at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Closer to home, Mister G played headlining sets at the Green River Festival and the WRSI Meltdown. Winner of the first songwriting scholarship in the history of Berklee College of Music, Ben spent 20 years touring internationally as a bandleader and solo artist before getting his Masters in Elementary Education at Smith College in 2008. As Mister G, he has led innovative songwriting workshops in settings as varied as Sunnyside Preschool, Dana Farber Cancer Clinic, the 92nd St. Y, Horizons for Homeless Children, and the Smith College Campus School.

The Nields

Nerissa and Katryna Nields grew up singing folk songs in the kitchen and in the back seat of the family car. Katryna learned to sing melody with their father, eventually making her an ideal front person for the band. Nerissa, on the other hand, tackled the harmonies; with that skill, she provided a natural counterpoint to her sister’s vibrant lead. As a duo, the sisters have toured nationally for years and been the darlings of the coffeehouse/festival scene, with tunes ranging from off-the-hook idiosyncratic to kicking to heartbreaking. They were a part of Lillith Fair, and have shared the stage with Natalie Merchant, Suzanne Vega, Sarah McLaughlin, Dar Williams, The Indigo Girls, James Taylor, Joan Baez, the Band, 10,000 Maniacs, Billy Bragg, Dan Zanes and countless others, all of whom informed and enhanced their musical repertoire.

A most recent influence on their music is children. “Having children has brought us back to our roots in a powerful way,” says Nerissa. “I’m much more drawn to the honesty of folk music, the simplicity of it. My kids love singing songs from Sister Holler. And I love how, when we sing these ‘Nerissa’ songs in concerts, everybody sings along, even though it’s the first time they’ve heard them. They’re songs that really invite the listener into the music making process.”


Two other Music Stages will present another dozen local performers, ranging from rock to jazz to folk to blues to bluegrass to African drumming, and one of the stages will be completely solar-powered, thanks to the Solar Store of Greenfield (more details to come). — So on May 14th from 10am-7pm, bring the family and come enjoy local music, local food, local artisans and local businesses, with  kids’ activities all day!  Admission is only $5 per person, children 12 and under are admitted free. Parking is free, too!

The Hilltown Spring Festival is sponsored by Hilltown Families, Maude’s Music, and 11 local cultural councils supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.  Additional sponsorship dollars were provided by 32 generous local businesses.  The full list of supporters is at

Hilltown Spring Festival 2009 Music Schedule

Hilltown Spring Festival Music Schedule
Saturday, May 30th, 2009 from 10am-6pm
Cummington Fairgrounds, Cummington, MA


  • Hampshire Chamber Singers & Hampshire a Capella
  • Marla BB Kids rock ‘n’ roll band – KIDS SHOW
    Marla BB has sung her Sassy Mama Blues across the country for over two decades. She chose the Hilltowns as her home to raise a family. She started the Hilltown Kids’ Rock ‘n Roll Band for her daughter & friends. Debuting at the Ashfield Fall Festival (where they brought tears to the audience’s eyes with their heartfelt “Peace On Earth”) last year, they are thrilled to bring their upbeat grooves to the Spring Festival this year!


  • Improvers Anonymous & Landslide, Actually
    Improvers Anonymous, an improvisational comedy group from Hampshire Regional High School. Landslide, Actually is a group of teenagers from Western Massachusetts who fuse classic rock sensibilities with modern rock experimentation and go for broke with songs that range from heart-breaking slow jams to bluesy funk riffs, fuzzed out garage rock, middle eastern-inflected reggaeton, and acoustic singalongs that build to the point of explosion. Their age belies their considerable musical invention and talents. They don’t want to sound like any other band out there; they craft an individual sound that becomes easily recognizable. The Shelburne Falls Independent says, “They’re smart, they’re funny, they’re fun, and they rock out.” See for yourselves.
  • Hilltown Charter Cooperative Public School Chorus
    The Hilltown Charter Cooperative Public School Chorus, directed by Penny Schultz, is a non-auditioned group made up of thirty-three 3rd through 8th grade students from The Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School, a regional K-8 school in Haydenville, MA serving students in Hampshire and Franklin counties. The chorus performs music from community singing traditions around the world. They sing about peace, justice, and the celebration of life and community. The director, Penny Schultz, has been teaching music and dance at HCCPS for 13 years. The chorus is one of her special loves. The chorus is supported on piano and accordion by the remarkable musician and composer, parent volunteer Chris Haynes.


  • The Academy Freightshakers~bluegrass (The Academy at Charlemont)
    The Academy Freightshakers count among their sources and influences Mac Wiseman, Old Crow Medicine Show, Woody Guthrie, Guns n Roses and They Might Be Giants. This fun-loving student band from The Academy at Charlemont plays a mix of original songs, roots music, and new arrangements of pop classics.
  • Stephen Katz innovative cellist
    “With a bow and fingers as light as feathers, Stephen Katz makes a cello bring out meanings you might not have suspected were there.” — New York Times
    “Stephen Katz makes some remarkably innovative music with the cello. While revering its traditions, he is on the cutting edge of liberating the instrument… His composition Eight Days of Eve is the most beautiful piece of “looped” music I have ever heard.” — Paul Winter


  • Huntington Dance Centre
    The Floralia Children’s Company of the Huntington Dance Centre performs musical adaptations of popular children’s stories. This year’s production is “Penny Pan,” a new twist on the story of Peter Pan with singing pirates and dancing mermaids – it is sure to entertain audiences of all ages.


  • Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem~ KIDS SHOW
    Valley favorites Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem invite families to buckle up for their children’s show – a rollicking musical trip across America! We’ll head down to the Georgia Sea Islands, hop over the Appalachian mountains, swing through a Mississippi blues joint and duck into a zydeco dance hall on the way. We’ll play some old songs and some new songs. We’ll mix up folk and blues songs. We’ll even play some rock and roll, on a drum set made of cardboard!
  • Dave Bartley & Friends (jazz)


  • Lilac Wine~an intoxicating ensemble
    Lilac Wine is an intoxicating ensemble that will seduce you with their canny song selection, mellifluous vocals and harmony, and kaleidoscopic string instrumentation. Comprised of Kim and Josh Wachtel of Radio Free Earth, Sarah Stockwell-Arthen, and Heather Cupo and Sean Kimball, the act is not to be missed.
  • Malachite~celtic rock fusion
    “Somewhere between the acoustic lilt of traditional Celtic music, the rowdy brawl of Irish pub songs and the punk sensibilities of the Pogues lies a Hilltown gem called Malachite.” – Daily Hampshire Gazette


  • Dan Houghton & Garry Jones~bagpipes & guitar
    Dan Houghton is a Scottish piper, flautist and DADGAD guitarist currently residing in the Brattleboro area. Winner of many competitions, including the Scottish Lowland and Border Piper’s Society Open Borderpipes and New Composition events and the St. Chartier Mâitre de Cornemuse, he has toured and taught extensively throughout Britain, Europe, Ireland, America, Asia and the Antipodes.
    Garry Jones is a guitarist, instrument maker and composer of rich pedigree from Queensland, Australia by way of Ireland, now residing on the banks of the West River. He plays a wide variety of musical styles but always with a strong Celtic traditional influence.
  • Swing Caravan~alt-jazz for the people
    Swing Caravan is a toe tappin’, finger snappin’, get it down deep in your soul kind of group. Their music is rooted in the great acoustic Gypsy Jazz tradition of Django Reinhardt from France in the 1930s and 40s. Their sound ranges from uplifting and blazing fast swing rhythms to heartbreaking acoustic ballads with vocals. They play Reinhardt compositions, American jazz standards, original compositions, and some other eclectic surprises. The band is rapidly becoming known throughout western Massachusetts for their ability to refresh this traditional music with a modern approach and sound that is all their own. Their performances are special because of the fun, spontaneous playfulness that the group shares with audiences. Swing Caravan’s instrumental playing, singing, and group chemistry opens up the idea of jazz as a popular music to a broad acoustic music audience.


  • Zoë Darrow & the Fiddleheads~celtic fiddle tunes
    Zoë Darrow and the Fiddleheads play traditional Scottish, Irish, and Cape Breton style fiddle tunes. Zoë Darrow’s soulful interpretations of Celtic music and her charming persona are not to be missed.
  • The Primate Fiasco ~psychedelic dixieland
    The Primate Fiasco is what you might call a psychedelic dixieland band. With the instrumentation of tuba, trumpet, clarinet, banjo, drums, and vocals, any modern style of music can be fused with that New Orleans festive sound to create high energy jams that will move the feet of hippies, ravers, jazzers, break dancers, and their grandparents.

%d bloggers like this: