Thumping South and Twanging North

June 5th, 2008 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

It’s music time again around Boston. Think Great Woods Tweeter Center Comcast Center down in nondescript Mansfield and the peachy keen Lowell Folk Festival.

First, non-harrumphing news is that the TBAs in the huge Lowell festival performance list are now almost entirely announcedl. I’ve been touting this greatest free folk festival anywhere for years. There’s still room for maybe 50% more attendants, so I’ll do it again. Its’ free. It’s easy to get to. It has great known to you and you’ve never heard of musicians. It’s free. It’s two full days (7/25-27 this year)  and change of everything from straight folk to hard blues to world music. Did I mention it’s free?

We’ve been going almost every year for a couple of decades. We have literally never gone without returning with new loves — and the CDs — of a couple of finds. You don’t do that every day, month or even year.violin

Some coverage and commentary from last year are over at one of my political blogs. Plus, when you get up there, you learn about their other music series and get a sense of the restaurants and sites of the old mill city.

I have friends and even co-bloggers who say that Boston gets all the attention and money unfairly. A lot of fellow Bostonians think of Lowell as out-there, hard to get to sticks. I equally ridicule both sets of provincials. Chomp on these fruits and let the juice run down your chin!

To the no-longer-Great Woods, I had a better time at last night’s Eric Clapton concert than I expected. My own prejudice as an early boomer is that too many of me would be there. That was half true. I also figured his opening band would be some clod designed to rouse the crowd but not be good enough to offer him competition. I was dead wrong there.

It was moderately amusing tailgating in the amusingly labeled VIP parking lot (150 yards closer to the constipated exit). There were a lot of boomers playing Frisbee badly with their teen children, and blowing joints without their teens by the portalets. But a surprising number of early 20s and 30s couples were there too.

My adult son as well as my teens at home discovered my Clapton music, both in CD and on vinyl. They’re particularly fond of album covers bigger than dinner plates.

I remember Clapton from the Yardbirds and Cream days. He didn’t do that, didn’t play that last night.

The review in today’s Globe pretty well covered the Clapton end of the concert. He did not play to the memories of people my age and nearly his. He was as bluesy and rocky as a guitar great who loves love ballads can be. The two women with me, my wife and her Brownie Scout buddy, play guitar and really related to the big screens that showed his finger positions repeatedly. Their only complaint was one I shared. I suspect the camera guys were as stoned as the foursome in front of us. The bass player or the women vocalists would be churning for a long time before they’d wake up and pan over to them for a few seconds.

The big surprise was the opening group, Robert Randolph and the Family Band. If you haven’t heard him, click over to his website. You can see and hear over a dozen cuts and videos there, and catch a lot more on YouTube. Make sure you spend 14 minutes with his slamming vocals and hot steel guitar on What you come to do on the audio portion of his site.

Warm weather is hot music around here.

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