Dan Hilbert’s Acoustic Symphonies at the Fairfield University Bookstore:
It is a chill, crisp Friday night in downtown Fairfield, Conn. You pass by the many trendy shops and bustling restaurants as you stroll along the streets with your friends. You exhale and see your breath condense into the cold, frigid air and your fingers start to tingle with a discomforting numbness. After exploring the lively little town for quite a bit now, you decide it is about time to grab a hot drink at the Starbucks Café in the Fairfield University Bookstore.
As you enter inside, serene sounds of acoustic symphonies fill the room as you inhale the sweet smell of coffee brewing. A feeling of peace and contentment washes over you. People gathered around the talented performer are sitting on cozy couches with their friends while they sip sweet lattes, hot chocolate and coffee. The intimate, relaxed atmosphere in the Café is perfect after a long week of hard work. The performer’s musical talent amazes you, and you begin to wonder who this musically gifted artist is and what his story is behind the Café Music Series.
This remarkable acoustic guitarist performing at the Café is Daniel Hilbert. He made a surprise visit to the downtown bookstore last Friday night, performing a two-hour set. Hilbert serenaded the Café crowd with hit songs ranging from folk to country rock, and he sure made an impression on me. Luckily after he performed, I was able sit down with him and ask him about his background and experiences as a music artist.
Hilbert has been playing guitar since he was 15 years old, so for about 30 years now. Surprisingly, he has never taken singing lessons before, given his extraordinarily gifted voice. To prep himself before a gig, he does vocal and guitar warm-ups on his own. In high school, he sang and played guitar in a band that he recalls as being “very 80s.” He chose to play more country and rock-type of music because it suited his voice better.
Hilbert went on to explain how his wife plays an influential role in his music career. He describes her as being a good listener and how she is always helpful in giving her honest opinion.
Hilbert writes some of his own songs, although he did not play any last Friday night. Instead, he played more popular country songs such as “Wagon Wheel,” “Sweet Carolina” and “Work Song.” He describes his style as being half-country, rock and folky, and labels his music genre as Americana. Some of his favorite artists include Ryan Adams, Joe Purdy, The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, Zac Brown Band and The Wood Brothers.
Hilbert’s first start at the Café Music Series was by coincidence. He was interested in playing at cafés and coffee shops in town and the downtown bookstore just so happened to be in need of musicians to play for the Café Music Series. Compared to other gigs he has performed, he describes the music series as being more “intimate, relaxed and chill.” He plays at multiple bars in town such as The Tavern and describes the music there as being more “ruckus-like” because of the loud and dynamic crowds.
The Café Music Series is much different from his usual gigs at bars. While he appears to make playing the guitar look so easy, he describes the Café Series as being the hardest to play since it is more of a quiet atmosphere and people notice mistakes more. But given his brilliant musical capabilities, Hilbert has nothing to worry about.
Hilbert’s future plans as a music artist are to keep playing in the Café Music Series, as well as in other restaurants and bars in town. He is happy to play for pleasure and is grateful to call his music playing a “passionate hobby.”
Be sure to check out this amazingly talented guitarist and singer the next time he performs at Chef’s Table in downtown Fairfield. He plays there every Sunday at noon during lunchtime, and it is not something you want to miss out on. What better way to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon than to enjoy a delicious meal at Chef’s Table and listen to the sweet symphonies of Hilbert.