Milking the Folk Festival

July 9th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Is this a Pluggers cartoon? We’ve been doing the Lowell Folk Festival for all of its 25 years, missing one when we were far away. We’ll do it again, at the least this year on Saturday, July 30th.

lffbluesThere are ways to maximize your thrills and rewards. Because so much happens in a time slot and because acts can stagger starts, you need to game the system a wee bit. It’s a type-A sport worth the trouble.

Note that this free (let’s stress that) music extravaganza:

  • Has six stages with simultaneous performances
  • No stage is more than 10 minutes stride away from another, giving you time to sample, shift if you aren’t delighted, and be sure to catch must-see shows
  • Will often offer two, three or more acts you’d like to catch at the same time
  • Has performers who give more than one show a day – different time and stage
  • Has a devil of a lot beyond the narrowest stereotype of folk music
  • Is certain to present a band or singer you don’t know and will be delighted to have heard

The performer list and the schedule for all three days are available. For me, this means:

  1. Reading the full list to identify shows I won’t miss
  2. Grabbing the spreadsheet version of the sked and sorting it by time and day for my project management thing
  3. Finding out if my essential performers are on stage more than once (time and/or day)
  4. Picking one or more types of music or acts I don’t know and want to chance
  5. Highlighting my choices
  6. Highlighting (different color) promiscuous options, like nearby shows that are in the same time slots, for possible flitting among them

My first go this year is on the fridge. Shemekia Copeland (pic) is great. We’ve heard her several times here and first caught her at the LFF. She’s always worth it. So, I started with the 5 PM show.

Otherwise, unless I feel whims or someone drops out, I intend to start with:

  • Birmingham Sunlights (a cappella gospel) at noon
  • Eden Bent (blues/boogie woogie) at 1
  • Michael Cleveland (bluegrass) at 2
  • Rhythm of Rajasthan (India) at 3
  • Bill Kirchen (honky tonk) at 3:30 (sneaking out to double up here)
  • Quebe Sisters (Western swing) at 4 (likely coming late if Kirchen is really good)
  • Copeland at 5

There’s more later as well as options to skip around among stages. Yet, that’s already a full day and maybe musically tiring, even for listening sponges. We could probably leave after those and feel quite happy.

This is a good time to play off Mr. T here. I pity the fool who does not catch at least one day of the LFF.

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