Neutral Ground Fest gathers community support


Sophia Maxim

Wild Roots Rising vocalist and instrumentalist, Julia Houghton, performs a folk song on a banjo.

Sophia Maxim, Lead Page Designer

Neutral Ground Fest, a benefit event for the relocation of the long-standing coffeehouse, gathered the community members together on the Mississippi River batture.

The event featured many regular Neutral Ground performers and raised funds to support its ongoing relocation efforts.

The Neutral Ground Coffeehouse has been a gathering place for musicians for over 40 years.

Singer and pianist Lilli Lewis credits the Neutral Ground for much of her development as an artist. When Lewis and her wife began playing at the coffeehouse, she found an accepting community.

“The Neutral Ground was always a safe place to play for years,” Lewis said while performing. “It was the only place in town that would let us play.”

Lewis expressed gratitude for “all the people who made us feel so at home and took good care of us for all those years when we were just trying to find out what it means to be self-expressed. ”

Despite changes, the Neutral Ground plans to continue with the support of the community.

Singer and guitarist Ashley Beach began attending the Neutral Ground since 1996 while in high school. Now, she coordinates open mic events and works with artists at the coffeehouse. To conclude the event, she emphasized the the role of the community in shaping the future of the Neutral Ground.

“You should be thanking yourselves, because the neutral ground is yours. Ours. It’s a shared space. It is what you make of it,” Beach said. “What do you want to see? What do you want to be? What do you want to do?”