Coming Up: Lowell Summer Music Series

Lowell Summer Music Festival

Photography by Ray Houde

Once there was a time when popular music was the best music. But this was long before bars pulsed with synthetic beats, before sound engineers cobbled together songs in the studio, and before pop stars flaunted the latest meat dress. It was a time when musical artists were artists. I know, shocking, right? As evidence of this mythical era, I present the top 10 albums of this week in 1976.

But the good days aren’t gone forever. If you, too, would like to see “art” and “artist” rejoined, perhaps we will see each other at the Lowell Summer Music Series, which starts tomorrow. The series features a diverse artist line-up — vaguely blues, folk, rock, and country — but touching all genres. The performers will all take the stage in Boarding House Park in downtown Lowell over the course of the show, which runs from June 18 to September 10 (mostly on weekends). I’ll be the one on the lawn, downing a grilled kielbasa sub from the food tent as Gregg Allman belts out the chorus of “Whipping Post.”

I had a chance to catch up with a few of players before their schedule kicks off; they might just be looking forward to the series as their listeners.

“I’ve been playing in the Boston area for more than 40 years,” says Allman, founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. “I always enjoy coming to the area and putting on a performance.”

Allman plays the series as a solo act. Béla Fleck, another featured artist, returns with his full band together for the first time since 1992. The world-class banjo player will appear alongside bassist Victor Wooten, Future Man on “drum-guitar,” and harmonicist Howard Levy, whose return completes the original Flecktones line-up.

“I liked the place a lot,” Fleck says of Boarding House Park, where he has twice played as part of the music series. “It felt really relaxed and earthy with folks sitting on blankets.” Indeed, concert-goers bring blankets and chairs. They sit on the lawn, among the trees and long brick buildings, leftovers from Lowell’s 19th-century textile industry. Artists hit the stage at 7:30pm. After, there will be time to find a bar for post-show drinks.

$20-$48, various days, Boarding House Park, 40 French St., Lowell, 978-970-5200,

Chris Malloy is a contributing writer to Boston Daily.