Monday, August 1, 2011

Lowell Folk Festival

We always like the Lowell Folk Festival. It’s not only big and wonderful: it’s free. Volunteers do ask everybody to contribute a few dollars, but folks from the poor neighborhood certainly can and do attend. Alla and I figured out a couple of years ago that we can stay overnight at a hotel in the middle of town and enjoy two full days of music without driving home late on Saturday night, which makes the show much easier to enjoy fully. This year we almost forgot to make our hotel reservations in time, and they could only offer us a room with two double beds. The big room gave us an opportunity to throw a little party, so we invited our friends Larry and Sarah to stay with us. Everything worked out perfectly.

As we walked out from the hotel yesterday, Alla and Larry spotted a booth offering sunglasses for $8.00 a pair or two for $10. Alla and Larry got together and bought identical glasses. I think their choice must be “fashion-forward,” because the style looked like the glasses the ever-so-trendy guys from Turkmenistan wore last spring at the Minsk State Linguistic University.

Equipped with proper eyewear, we got ourselves a nice spot on the lawn right in front of the stage at Boarding House Park. The program started with a Hawaiian guitar player whom we had just met at the hotel and included a very powerful gospel quartet and a group of sisters who play Texas swing music on the fiddle and sing their own sweet harmonies. We left our stage a couple of times for other opportunities at nearby locations, including a boogie-woogie piano player from Mississippi who both moved our feet and won our hearts, but finished the day with a big salsa orchestra back where we started.

We ate really well this year. Church and other groups from all around town set up booths and sold fresh hot and cold food. We discovered two groups (one Jewish and one Lebanese) selling falafel, and we undertook an in-depth study of the two. I can’t pick a winner because I liked them both for different reasons. If the Lebanese gave their recipe to the Jews, I think that would have been ideal. The Lebanese falafel had more flavor, but the Jewish falafel came with much better salad.

Today we moved around a bit more so that we could hear some groups we’d missed on Saturday. Still, we tried not to spend all our time walking from one stage to another, and we ended up hearing and seeing some really great groups simply because they came up next at whatever stage we happened to be watching. I wouldn’t have expected to enjoy the Cambodian dance troupe, but they turned out to be a wonderful surprise. All-in-all, we had a fantastic weekend.

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