Lowell Folk Festival Gets the “Spirit and the Customs”

Globe staffer James Reed delves deeper into what the Lowell Folk Festival is really all about in today’s edition.

It’s an obvious but overlooked fact about folk festivals: In the truest sense, they’re not just about singer-songwriters wielding acoustic guitars or dancers kicking up their heels to Cape Breton fiddlers. Organizers of the Lowell Folk Festival realize this and have consistently enlivened their free event with a deep and relevant understanding of what folk entails.

Going on its 24th year, the three-day fest has always presented acts that embody the spirit and customs of their respective communities.

Check out the performers Reed highlights here at boston.com.

2 Responses to Lowell Folk Festival Gets the “Spirit and the Customs”

  1. kad barma says:

    One area about which the Lowell Folk Festival organizers continue to remain a bit tone-deaf is in their relationship with the local activities that spring up to complement and support their event. Given the deep financial and logistical support by the City of Lowell (Police services, fire protection, Public Works support with trash, etc.), as well as all the city citizen volunteers without whom the event simply could not exist, it’s ironic to note that, in their diligence to protect their “brand” and ensure consistent quality for their audience who patronizes the “Lowell Folk Festival”, they have taken a decidedly antagonistic stance against anyone and everyone who, in all best intention, might want to participate from a private perspective. Rather than help people understand how to bill their support for the event, (e.g., to clearly note when activity is a complement to, rather than a part of, the “Lowell Folk Festival”), the most common correspondence local artists and others receive contain legal threats and other unpleasantries. In my opinion, it does NOT need to be this way.

    By co-opting the name of the City of Lowell as part of their name, festival organizers have shown their eagerness to trade on the reputation of others. It’s bad behavior and hypocritical to then turn around and snub the artists and businesses and general citizens of the city regarding their consistent support over the years. Why should evening entertainment for the thousands of visitors who come here for the daily music program be unwelcome and unappreciated? Agreed that there should be clear identification of festival events, as opposed to complementary events, but there’s no effort on the part of the festival organizers to encourage this, and to guide it with proper ways to communicate and “brand” the other stuff.

    Hopefully, one of these years, they’ll learn to do a better job. It’s the support of the city, and all the volunteer and other efforts that surround the festival, that have made it possible for the event to grow to its current level of success. Respecting that it’s important to protect that success, it’s also good policy (not to mention being a good neighbor) to help everyone understand how to participate.

  2. Marie says:

    bk – The Lowell Folk Festival organizers have come a very long way from the early days of the festival in terns of local involvement – so too have the businesses and downtown denizens who used to lock their doors and pull down their shades during the event. In fact the evolution of these relationships is one that those of us who are seniors in the effort take pride in… as always communication needs to be on-going, sensitive and timely especially with those new to the scene. All the partners in today’s LFF are year-round partners in some way with those local activities to which you refer. Enjoy the Festival!