High on Lowell, Again

July 27th, 2008 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Damn it. I just can’t help myself. I’ve headed to the Lowell Folk Festival with my family for 20 years. They’ve been doing it two years longer.

My promo for this year was here. There’s more coming with the summer music series (up close concert seats for like $20). Lowell is fab and free, yes free. I berate chums from Boston, Cambridge and around here for not going. Not going is like not bothering to pick up the 100-dollar bills some guy throws out the window for you.

Among the folk doing folk, in the broadest sense, music this year were boogie woogie piano, gospel, fado, steel guitar, cajun, bluegrass, reggae and R&B. Everything short of chamber music is likely in the mix, with up to six stages around town at a time. Unless your idea of music is what the dentist plays, they have you covered.

Check out the playbill, replete with audio samples, here.

Pix tricks: Click a thumbnail for a little larger image.

I don’t have pix of everyone, but did a few snaps between foot stomping and clapping. Consider:

Telecaster guru Redd Volkaert. He’s twang guitar king and former chief string guy for Merle Haggard for about eight years. telecaster.jpg
steelqueen1.jpg He teamed up with with Cindy Cashdollar, the queen of steel.
They were great at jumping on each other’s tunes, while letting the other solo. steelqueen.jpg
spool.jpg We split up so each of us could catch favorites (bluegrass for one and fado for another, for example). Our youngest was sometimes less thrilled than we.
A nice touch this year was two well experienced musicians. Henry Gray and the Cats did boogie woogie blues. hgray.jpg
Over at the government plaza, where you can walk around with a beer, fans of a wide range of ages truly grokked Sister Marie Knight. rocking.jpg
sistermarie.jpg She’s famous in the gospel and early rock circuits. She’s 83, but has a rich and powerful contralto of a 20-year-old.

I confess Sister Marie was the hit of the festival this year for me. That’s often the case. An unknown becomes a favorite on the spot or as in this case, someone you figured was out of it is well in it. She moved people.

I’m not going to get too crazy about it. I’ve been bringing folk and urging many others to visit Lowell for this or that. You can search this blog or Marry in Massachusetts for Lowell references. Top of list though is the folk festival. If you don’t go at all or even if you miss a year, it’s a big loss.

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