Music Highs in Lowell

July 25th, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Like the cold buffet under the eyes and hands of the great garde manger chef, the Lowell Folk Festival can get a variety of presentations. We went again, for perhaps the 20th time, to the nation’s largest free folk festival. Alternately, we trotted less than 30 miles from the very bottom of Boston to one of the great yet oddly obscure regional annual music events.

I don’t fear telling Bostonians of the glories of the festival. We Bostonians don’t even go to most of our own local free or unique local events. A grand cultural aspect of Boston is that we have great pride in our individual neighborhoods; the dumb aspect is that we rarely travel across town, God forbid, much less to places 25 or so miles away.

We’ve been trotting to Lowell for this for over 20 years of the 24 it’s been going and you likely haven’t and almost certainly won’t next July. Thank you very much. You can cram next to a half million others at the July Fourth Esplanade thingummy.

Lowell meanwhile has:

For the folk festival, it’s still easy to saunter over to one of the nine simultaneous stages and get a prime seeing and listening spot. I don’t expect Bostonians to ruin that any time soon.

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Choiniere Among the new-to-us folk we heard and saw today was Michèle Choinière, French-American singer/songwriter from northern Vermont. She can do an amazing dance while seated.
She sings of French lyric themes of love, loss and lust. choiniere1
bua The festival seems to stretch to include folk from far — Asia, Africa, eastern Europe, Latin America and on and on. Of course, there’s always Celtic/Irish. This year included Bua, a traditional Irish band, comprising American musicians. An amusing angle is that they performed their skillful music with the stereotypical stiff posture. At one point, a 11-year-old or so girl went to the lower stage and step danced to their jigs. While her legs flashed, her upper body was as still as the musicians’.
A crowd pleaser was Bruce Daigrepont and his Cajun band.  The audience jammed the dance floor for the whole hour of his animated set. Couples spun or hugged and left the floor with smiles and sweat. Little boys and girls sat on parents’ or grandparents’ hips or jumped in glee. You’d have thought Lowell had waited a year to dance to Cajun music. Daigrepont
icepatrol The festival is also family and kid friendly. There’s lots of activities and foods aimed at younger listeners. I suspect the pair nestled in the 90-degree day next to the ice-cube bags were helpers and not just hot.
A Southern delight and consummate showman was Swamp Dogg (a.k.a. Jerry Williams Jr.). He sang rock, accompanied by the traditional horns. He also filled the dance floor. swampdog2
swampdog1 He’s short and stocky, but that didn’t keep him from hopping down from the stage to dance.

Honestly, as much as I fear to write it, more of us from Beantown need to make the half hour or so trip (under an hour by train, including the T to North Station) to Lowell. Regardless of how it might crowd up the festival, I have to tell you it’s worth going.

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