The Town and the City Festival returns to Lowell this weekend

LOWELL — The Town and the City Festival will return this weekend, bringing music and arts performances to venues around Lowell.

This will be the third year of the festival, which takes its name from Jack Kerouac’s first novel. However, it has not been held since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, making this weekend a comeback for the event.

Organizer Chris Porter said there will be about 50 performing acts throughout the city between Friday and Saturday.

“We’re talking about solo acoustic performers and full bands, we’re talking about different genres of music to spoken word performances as well,” said Porter, who also serves as president of the board of the Kerouac Foundation. “It’s really meant to be an eclectic event and a venue-hopping experience.”

Both local and national acts are set to perform, with musical performances including Robyn Hitchcock, the Adam Ezra Group, Screaming Females and Jon Langford and Friends. A musical tribute to Kerouac will be performed by West Coast indie rock band Fences.

There will also be spoken word acts, including a block of performances by Lowell Storytelling, giving residents a chance to tell their own stories about Lowell’s diversity, culture and daily life.

“The greatest thing about festivals is the discovery. You might find your next favorite band or performer,” Porter said. “I think people should go to things they know and they know they like, but also check something out on a whim if the description of an artist piques one’s interest. People should go and experience a number of different venues.”

Ethan Anderson, frontman for Seattle-based Americana group Massy Ferguson, said he was excited to play the festival for this same reason.

“It’s our first time playing in Massachusetts and our first time in Lowell, and we’re excited about it,” he said. “What I like about the festivals is the opportunity to see acts that you wouldn’t normally see. When you play shows, usually you’re playing with somebody opening for you or someone you’re supporting, but you don’t get to see a cornucopia of acts.”

In addition to performances, the festival will include the first-ever The Town and the City Festival Record Show from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at Mill No. 5. Music fans will be able to shop for vinyl and other collectibles from over 30 vendors as well as enjoy live music.

The two-day festival is being produced by Porter Productions with support from the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and the Lowwell Cultural Council.

Porter festival invite visitors to download the app, which is available on iPhone and Android and includes the full lineup of events.

He said the festival is a celebration of both Kerouac and the city where he grew up.

“It’s meant to be in the spirit of Jack, in discovery, exploration and love of life, but it’s also a celebration of Lowell,” he said. “I want to show off Lowell. I want to support businesses here, because they obviously had a really tough time the last two years. … We’re really psyched and honored to produce this in Lowell and we hope to for years to come.”

The Town and the City Festival will take place in various event spaces, bars, cafes and galleries on Friday and Saturday. Tickets to individual events as well as day passes are available.

For a full lineup of events or to purchase tickets, visit thetownandthecityfestival.com.

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