Listen in Lowell (Free)

July 22nd, 2008 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »


Regulars here or at Marry in Massachusetts know the deal. Get your lazy butts out of the Boston area and be in Lowell this weekend. This is the third weekend in July and for over two decades that means it’s the (fabulous, fun, free) Lowell Folk Festival.

In my not-so-subtle way, I continue to berate locals here for not trotting the half hour to Lowell for this. Yes, yes, I know that Lowell folk like many residents of smaller cities and towns, as well as those who live in suburbs, are provincial hicks about coming to Cambridge or Boston. We’re the same here. “Yeah, you’ve told me about it, but I’ve never been,” is typical from the insular slugs here.

If you’re real gritty, you can bike two plus  hours, but you can also take the train from North Station. Even if you insist on driving, you can park Lowell-y for about $5.

Let me be plain again. Do it!

By the bye, this is connected to the small-admission-price Lowell Summer Music Series. Those aren’t free but do have a wide range of well-known musicians and the occasional Shakespeare.

You like:

  • Blues
  • World
  • Cajun
  • Gospel
  • Bluegrass
  • Folk (U.S., African, European, whatever)
  • parade.jpgReggae
  • Quebecoise

It’s all there and many other varieties. It’s non-stop on multiple stages. There are workshops. Oh, and there are a couple musical parades.  It’s free.

Can’t make Friday evening? Come Saturday. Can’t do Saturday. Come Sunday. Check the sked and the description of the performers.

We have gone from the beginning and never come home without one or more new favorites — musicians we didn’t know or barely knew whom we continue to enjoy as a result.


The warning is that the conflicts in simultaneous performances in six venues within easy walking distance make for tough decisions. Picking where to be when and sadly doing triage to decide whom you have to skip this time are hard.

It’s tempting to say you get your money’s worth. Just be sure when the pleasant volunteers come around asking for donations to keep the festival going and free that you chip in a few or five or ten bucks. You’re getting a whole day of music. At virtually every stop, you are right by the stage.

This is too good to pass up. If it’s your first time, go. You can evangelize to your friends next year.

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