The 2023 Lowell Folk Festival in Lowell, Massachusetts, hosts its 36th annual event Friday, July 28th through Sunday, July 30th, with music, traditional crafts and foods that span the globe. This free 3-day celebration presents world-class musicians playing folk music from different cultures and traditional craft artists with their apprentices, giving festival-goers an opportunity to experience the remarkable diversity of the arts. More information, including a complete schedule of performances, activities, and foods available for purchase representing cuisines from 5 different continents, is available at lowellfolkfestival.org.
The Festival opens on Friday, July 28, at 6:15pm with the Parade of Flags at Boarding House Park, led by Haitian musicians Lakou Mizak. Local community members representing the diverse cultures who call Lowell home, will carry flags across the stage representing their country and cultures of origin. The Opening Ceremony will include remarks by local officials and the festival-producing partners.
Friday evening’s performances on the Boarding House Park stage and the Dance Pavilion kick off a remarkable weekend of world-class musicianship that makes the Lowell Folk Festival one of the largest and most respected in the country. A full performance schedule is online at lowellfolkfestival.org.
“On behalf of all our producing partners, we are thrilled and honored to share great artists from around the world in one of the most welcoming communities in the country,” said Lee Viliesis, Lowell Folk Festival Coordinator.
The 2023 Lowell Folk Festival also features moderated conversations/demonstrations that provide audiences the opportunity to hear Festival artists from diverse cultural backgrounds explore the connections, similarities, and differences in their musical journeys.
Saturday at Market Street Stage tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith, percussionist Bernard Linette, Heart of Afghanistan’s Sohail Karimi, and Mouhamadou Sarr (Sona Jobarteh) have a syncopated chat To the Beat; a Conversation in Rhythm. Hot Club of Cowtown’s Whit Smith, blues legend Melody Angel and sacred steel guitar powerhouse Fran Grace will talk about all things guitar in a session called Guitar Slingers: Swing, Blues, Steel.
Also on Saturday at Saint Anne’s Churchyard, Fiddling Around the World has violinists Liz Carroll (Trian), Elana James (Hot Club of Cowtown), Valeria Glava (Cheres) and Tim Laughlin exploring how adaptable the violin is to music of diverse cultures. Igor Iachimciuc, who plays tsymbaly (a type of hammered dulcimer) in the Ukrainian group Cheres, joins kora virtuoso Sona Jobarteh and her bandmates Angelo Freire and Bernardo Saldanha to explore Rites of String: Lisbon to Lviv.
Sunday’s conversation at the Market Street Stage brings together fado singer Sara Correia, Ahmad Fanoos (Heart of Afghanistan), and Linda Lay (Springfield Exit) to explore Songs of Longing, Loss and Love. At Saint Anne’s Churchyard, Fred Thomas and Chuck Mead will compare notes in From the Opry to Soul Train: Rockabilly and R&B Troubadours. Billy McComiskey (Trian), Victor Cebotari (Cheres), Drew Simon (T’Monde), and Sandy Theodorou (REVMA) will discuss their beloved “squeeze box,” in a session titled All Boxed In.
Foods From Around the World, “One of the things we love about the Festival is that it gives us a chance to share the many tastes of Lowell’s cultural cuisines with guests who come from all over the country to attend this event every year,” said Viliesis.
At Boarding House Park, the Dance Pavilion and Market Street, Festival goers will be able to purchase a wide variety of foods prepared and sold by local non-profit community organizations with proceeds benefiting these numerous worthy projects and programs. Foods from a wide array of cultures including Portuguese, Brazilian, Greek, Polish, Asian, Latin, African, Burmese and so many others, promise a rich and diverse culinary and cultural experience for hungry folk arts lovers of all ages.
Major support for the Lowell Folk Festival comes from Mass Cultural Council, the City of Lowell, Saab Family Foundation / Saab Center for Portuguese Studies, Pridestar/Trinity EMS, Richard K. and Nancy Donahue, Demoulas Foundation, John Hunnewell Trust, Middlesex Community College, Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau/ Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, UMass Lowell, Mahoney Oil/Eastern Salt, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center, Enterprise Bank, Aubert Fay Foundation, and Jean D’Arc Credit Union.
The Lowell Folk Festival is produced by the Lowell Festival Foundation, the City of Lowell, Lowell National Historical Park, the National Council for the Traditional Arts, the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, and the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The 2023 Lowell Folk Festival is Friday July 28-Sunday July 30 is free to the public, and presented on various stages throughout downtown Lowell, MA. For additional information, along with performance schedules, visit Lowell Folk Festival.
Cheres, celebrated as “the best purveyor of authentic Ukrainian folk music in the United States” plays at Saint Anne’s Churchyard on Saturday at 1:15pm and Sunday at 5:15pm, and at Boarding House Park on Sunday at 1:00pm.
Chuck Mead, a true Rockabilly and Honky-Tonk legend, performs at Boarding House Park Friday at 7:15pm, on the Market Street Stage Saturday at 4:30pm and at Dance Pavilion Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday 1:15pm.
Fran Grace, who was proclaimed a “Queen of Sacred Steel” by the Sacred Steel Hall of Fame performs at Market Street Stage on Saturday at 3:30pm; on Sunday she’ll be at Boarding House Park at 12:00pm and Market Street Stage at 4:05pm.
Fred Thomas of the JB’s, one of most influential bass players alive today, will perform Saturday at Dance Pavilion at 5:20pm and Boarding House Park at 9:30pm; and at Dance Pavilion Sunday at 5:05pm.
Heart Of Afghanistan Feat. Ahmad Fanoos & Sohail Karimi perform songs spanning Afghanistan’s rich and complex musical heritage on Saturday at Saint Anne’s Churchyard at 4:15pm, and at Market Street Stage Saturday at 1:15pm, and Sunday at 12:00pm.
Hot Club of Cowtown celebrating over 20 years together, is widely recognized as one of the finest ensembles in western swing and hot jazz today, and can be seen on Saturday at Boarding House Park at 8:30pm and at the Dance Pavilion on Saturday at 12:00pm and Sunday at 3:45pm.
Jason Samuels Smith, called the next greatest American tap dancer in the tradition of Savion Glover, Gregory Hines, and his own grandfather Benjamin Smith- who trained the legendary Nichols Brothers, performs Saturday at Boarding House Park at 2:05pm and on Market Street Stage Saturday at 6:15pm and Sunday at 1:00pm.
Lakou Mizik brings music, community, and spiritual connection from their native Haiti to backyards (and festivals) across the globe. They perform on Friday at 8:45pm at Dance Pavilion, Saturday at Boarding House Park at 5:20pm and at John and Merrimack Street on Sunday at 2:30pm.
Melody Angel has received critical praise as “the Future of the Blues” and will perform at Boarding House Park Friday at 9:15pm and Sunday at 5:30pm . On Saturday she will be at the Dance Pavilion at 8:45pm and Sunday at 2:30pm.
The Red Trouser Show, featuring Tobin Renwick and David Graham, will perform their “never-before-seen combination of precision acrobatics paired with daring feats,” Saturday at 4:30pm and Sunday at 12:30pm at John Street and Merrimack Street,
REVMA performs music from a wide spectrum of Greek traditions, ranging from lively island dances to mesmerizing polyphonic ballads. They will be performing on Saturday at Dance Pavilion at 1:15pm and Boarding House Park at 3:05pm. They also perform Sunday at 3:00pm at Saint Anne’s Churchyard.
Sona Jobarteh, a rising world-music phenomenon and the first professional female Kora virtuoso to come from any West African Griot dynasty, performs at Boarding House Park Friday at 8:15pm and Saturday at 4:05pm, and at the Market Street Stage Saturday at 7:15pm
Springfield Exit, led by Linda Lay, considered one of the best singers in grassroots bluegrass and country music, plays Boarding House Park Saturday at 12:00pm and Sunday at 3:15pm. On Sunday, they play at Saint Anne’s Churchyard at 12:00pm.
T’Monde, Louisiana’s acclaimed Cajun ensemble plays at the Dance Pavilion Friday at 7:15pm, Saturday at 3:50pm, and Sunday at 12:00pm, as well as Boarding House Park on Sunday at 2:00pm.
Trian, thought to be the best trio of Irish musicians in America, plays Saturday at Boarding House Park at 1:00pm, at Saint Anne’s Churchyard Saturday at 6:15pm and Sunday at 1:45pm, and the Market Street Stage Sunday at 5:20pm
Zuni Olla Maidens, perform traditional Zuni dance and song (current members of the Zuni Olla Maidens are all from the same extended family that has led the group since the 1940s) Saturday at John Street and Merrimack Street at 12:00pm, Saint Anne’s Churchyard at 2:20pm, and the Market Street Stage at 5:30pm. On Sunday they’ll be Saint Anne’s Churchyard at 1:00pm.