Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mills along the River

Many New Hampshire towns grew up along rivers, where mills took full advantage of the available water power. Milford retains a little bit of urban character with its little active business district near the river, including some attractive old mill buildings in restored condition built right on the banks of the river.

We stopped at the Red Arrow Diner in Milford after our climb of Pack Monadnack Mountain. Very good sweet potato fries and nice coconut cream pie.

Below: the nicely restored mill buildings line the river. The Red Arrow is just out of the view to the right.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Urban Evening Concerts

Last weekend I was fortunate to attend open air concerts on two sucessive nights up in Lowell, Massachusetts. Lowell is one of several old mill towns in New England. Fortunately, there has been a lot of reinvestment in the city, resulting in a lot of adaptive reuse of the old mill buildings. Lowell also tries hard to attract visitors to the city with cultural events including the Lowell Folk Festival and the Summer Music Series.

Last Friday, I caught two women singer/songwritters/guitarists. Patty Larkin, a fantastic guitarist and based locally in Mass., opened the show. Suzanne Vega followed, and I just loved her music ... a perfect blend of creativity with a dark edge and a joyousness bordering on just a little crazy at times. And her lead guitarist was great, adding not only lines and textures but all sorts of just the perfect noise and distortion to complement the mood and lyrics of the songs! I'm a bit of composer and guitarist, but how I wish I could write and perform like Suzanne!

On Saturday, it was Herbie Hancock (see photo above right). Not only is he a great pianist, but equally great at composing and arranging. He played a good bit of material from his current CD, The Imagine Project, which was a delicious blend of jazz, fusion and traditional music from all corners of the globe. He and his band played for about 2 1/2 hours, and we could have all enjoyed another couple of hours of it.

So here's a few photos from my two nights listening to music in Lowell.

Below, the stage is ready for Friday night's show.

Below, a tall smokestack rises above one of Lowell's many preserved mill buildings.

Below, sunset, as we all wait for the music to begin.

Below, Patty Larkin playing on Friday night.

Below, Herbie taking an extended piano solo on Saturday night.