Island flashback: The Stephen Hart Band and the Ululators will play this weekend

Ululators return.

Stephen Hart is releasing his first solo album, “Steve’s Songs: The Best of Both Worlds,” in an Island music celebration that includes his old bandmates from the Ululators: Paul Thurlow, Jimmy Parr, Sam Holmstock, and Rick Bausman, and added talent from his current band, Tom Major and Steve Tully. The Ululators haven’t played together professionally in 25 years.

Hart celebrates the release of his album by playing from the new release beginning at 7 pm on Saturday, July 29, at Union Chapel. When his performance ends, the Ululators will come together for the second half of the show.

“We were on the road for five years,” Hart said when The Times caught up with him last week. “We’re all way better than 25 years ago; we’ve all been playing … and we’re older and wiser.”

The Ululators were a successful band back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, opening for Phish, the Wailers, Third World, and Toots and the Maytals. They used to blow the roof off the Hot Tin Roof, judging by the YouTube videos available.

Paul Thurlow explained that the band started out as a drum ensemble, playing at the Katharine Cornell Theatre, and with irony, he noted that he was setting up to play his own free community concert at the same theater last weekend.

“We weren’t really a reggae band, we played funky stuff too,” Thurlow noted. “But we were always a dance band.”

He said the first time the Ululators played, they were pretty surprised when people actually showed up. They eventually added a manager and started playing gigs off-Island, at venues large and small.

“We had a lot of fun,” Thurlow said. “We made a record in ’89 at Newbury Sound up in Boston, and it was their first all-digital recording. Everyone was really excited, and I still think that record sounds pretty good.”

Mr. Hart in action.

He said Steve Hart’s always been enthusiastic about playing again. Hart went on to form other bands and play music festivals around the state. He’s also a custom home builder and cabinetmaker. After the Ululators, he opted to stay near his home base on the Island, raising his son Zenon and putting him through Northeastern University. Now that his son is grown, he said, he’s planning to get back to his music. Hart plays several instruments, including guitar, drums, piano, and Native American flute, which he learned by playing with the late William Waterway.

Stephen Hart, these days. Courtesy Stephen Hart

“The Best of Both Worlds” features 12 original songs, from the country-tinged “Every Day” to “Soul Sisters” and “Sun Shine Down,” definitely danceable tunes. His website describes Hart’s vocal style as influenced by Gregg Allman, Bob Marley, Stephen Stills, and Tom Petty.

“Union Chapel is beautiful,” Hart said. “I wanted a place where people could dance, and the acoustics, with a sax player, will be incredible.”

For tickets, $25, visit Hart’s website, hartmusicman.com, or brownpapertickets.com. You can also get tickets at Third World Trading in Oak Bluffs or at Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury.