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Brian O'Donovan Hosts The Lowell Folk Festival

By Brian McCreath   |   Thursday, July 14, 2011
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The members of the traditional Irish band Dervish, who hail from County Sligo, in the northwest of the island.

2011 Lowell Folk Festival Saturday, July 30, 2011 Noon to 6pm Downtown Lowell, Massachusetts The Lowell Folk Festival is about as eclectic as they come: performers from around Lowell and around the world descend on the downtown area, where hundreds of thousands of spectators are treated to everything from Inuit throat singing to Ethiopian funk to Louisiana zydeco. Even for the interests of "A Celtic Sojourn" alone, there will be a lively Irish band and a corps of Highland-style bagpipers from Worcester.

Brian O'Donovan will broadcast live from one stage of the Lowell Folk Festival on Saturday, July 30 at 3:00pm. This year the Lowell Folk Festival celebrates twenty-five years of world music, ethnic food and family fun. Things kick off with a parade on Friday evening, July 29 at 6:40pm, and the festivities continue through Sunday, July 31. A full schedule can be found here.

Among the stellar lineup of world musicians is the Irish band Dervish. Hailing from Sligo, in Northwest Ireland, and led by the strident vocals of Cathy Jordan, this group packs a big sound. For over two decades, Dervish has brought an initmate touch to their performances, a quality embedded in traditional Irish music.

In this video, they give us a terrific Celtic-tinged cover of Bob Dylan’s "Boots of Spanish Leather":


There is enough diversity in Lowell, though, that the huge ethnic food selection will be distinct even from the ethnic lineup on stage. To expand your horizons a bit beyond all this fine Celtic music, you'll be able to sample a spread featuring favorites from Brazil, Jamaica, Burma, Portugal and many, many more.

All of the ethnic foods are provided by the respective community organizations from Lowell or the surrounding area. And all of the proceeds will go to support worthy causes and programs in those communities.

And there will be plenty of opportunities to cool down from the rich selection of music and food. This year, the festival is hosting a tribute to apprenticeship and its role in sustaining traditional arts in New England. There will be nine master artists on hand to lead workshops on their areas of expertise. You can stop by to learn a bit about traditional instruments from a Puerto Rican luthier, about ancient Khmer ornamental design from two Cambodian artists, or about old metal printing techniques from a Boston press owner.

Among the other Celtic-influenced musicians on hand will be the bluegrass fiddler Michael Cleveland, seen here performing the 1920s standard "Lee Highway Blues":

To round out the weekend, there will be all kinds of artworks for sale, an activity area for families and small children, and more; here's a rundown of some of activities happening on the side. And many cultural institutions around Lowell are participating, from museums and theaters to Native American groups, hoping to encourage the broader public to explore the depths of Lowell's historical and cultural life.

So for now, while you wait for the Celtic-themed broadcast, or wait to go check out all the music from around the world in person, here's one more video of bluegrass artists featured at the festival. Guitarists Eddie and Alonzo Pennington hail from Kentucky, and play with a complex, traditional style called "thumb picking":

Boston Has Nation's Highest Ratio Of 20-34 Year-Olds

By Jess Bidgood   |   Thursday, July 7, 2011
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Jul. 7, 2011

Young people gather on Boston Common for public re-enactment of a 1971 speech by Howard Zinn in 2007. (Mark Tribe/Flickr)

BOSTON — Boston is home to a bigger proportion of adults ages 20-34 than any other city in America.

2010 census data analyzed by Boston's Redevelopment Authority and confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau shows 35 percent of Boston's population to be between the ages of 20 and 34. That represents an 11-percent increase from the 2000 census, which helped Boston knock previous first-place city Austin into spot number two.

Professor Alan Clayton Matthews, an economist at Northeastern University, says Boston's particularly dense, urban university presence is the biggest driving factor behind its young population. "Since these educational institutions are located right in the middle of a huge labor market, many students stay to work in Boston," Matthews said.

In a statement, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the city is working hard to retain college graduates.“Boston continues to be an attractive city for this highly sought after age group,” Menino said. “With the recent successes in our Innovation District, we’re continuing to build reasons for them to stay, and to attract more.”

Matthews said the 11 percent increase in the age group's ratio is partially due to university expansion, but was significantly rooted in the city's efforts to more thoroughly count its college students during the 2010 census.

The city has long been defined by its big presence of young professionals. Matthews said Baby Boomers who flocked to Boston helped the city transform from a declining manufacturing center into a technological hub.

"Going forward, it is still the reason why reason why Massachusetts and the Boston area will probably remain one of the key technology areas in the country. It’s the ability to attrct young students and to retain many of them in the workforce after they graduate,” Matthews said.

But he says the city risks losing some younger adults to increases in the cost of living.

Mayor Lang Will Decide On Senate Run Next Year

By WGBH News   |   Thursday, July 7, 2011
1 Comments   1 comments.

Jul. 7, 2011

BOSTON — New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang says he hasn’t ruled out a run for Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate seat next year, but that he won’t make a decision until January 2012.
In an interview with WGBH’s Emily Rooney, Lang said his future plans could include continued runs for public office.

New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang talks with Rep. Barney Frank and Gov. Deval Patrick in New Bedford in January. (Office of Gov. Patrick/Flickr)

“I might want to throw my name out in different races and I think the Senate race next year is a really important race,” Lang said, “but I’m not going to make a decision until after the first of the year.”
Lang said that he may instead compelled to return to his law practice when his term is up. “I’m going to look at everything, you know, as far as whether or not I ever run again. I’m certainly anxious to get back to private life, I’m looking forward to doing some public interest type of law as well as private practice,” Lang said.
Newton Mayor Setti Warren faced hometown criticism when he announced his bid for the Senate seat earlier this year, less than two years into his term. Also in the race are City Year co-founder Alan Khazei and Somerville activist Bob Massie. Some observers say Rep. Mike Capuano and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Elizabeth Warren could also enter the race.

One Month Later, Tornado Victims Rebuild

By Adam Reilly   |   Tuesday, July 5, 2011
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Jul. 5, 2011

Watch: Greater Boston visits Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The city of Springfield looks a little like a war zone. In the Six Corners neighborhood, uprooted trees sprawl across the ground, trash covers empty lots and and spray-painted X’s mark the doors of condemned houses. But just over a month after tornadoes ravaged Springfield, Monson and other nearby communitites in Western Massachusetts, the story here isn’t ruin. It's recovery.

Exactly one month after the tornado hit, Jacqueline Miller was talking about her home of 24 years with a contractor.

"We’ll frame it, we’ll insulate it, we’ll drywall it," the contractor said.

"Okay, cool," Jaqueline answers.

It wasn't always easy for her to have matter-of-fact conversations about the rebuilding of her home: At first, she says, the trauma was devastating. 

"It was one of the worst things that I have been through," Miller said. "To just have the clothes on back, and don’t where we were going to stay that night for a while, it was just such an empty and hollow feeling. Like whatw am I going to do? I was heartbroken."
In mid-July Miller’s home is slated to be demolished and rebuilt. And Miller says all of her neighbors have decided to come back home.
"We all talked about it. No one said they’re moving away. They’ve been there thirty-something years, they’ve been there forty-something. So they want to come back. 'We’ll see you in a little while,' that’s what we’re always telling each other," Miller said.
Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno strikes a similarly optimistic note, saying that the tornadoes gave Springfield a chance to showcase its character.
"What’s keeping us going 24/7 has been the resiliency of the people. They’re anxious to rebuild," Sarno said. "We’re not only rebuilding structures and infrastructure, we’re also rebuilding human lives."

As horrible as the damage was, Sarno adds, it’s given Springfield a chance to redefine itself.
"Nobody wants a tornado any time of devastation, national devastation. But this almost gives you an opportunity to reinvigorate an area and come back bigger better and stronger," Sarno said.

Jacqueline Miller isn’t worried about her neighborhood improving. She just wants it to be the way it was before, with the same sense of community that always knitted it together
"I think we’ll be happy, I think we’ll be content. Because like if I cook out on the grill I call, “I got the grill hot, come put some food on.” It was a nice neighborhood," Miller said.

And if Miller has anything to say about it, it will be again.

Fourth Of July Guide: Fireworks, Redcoats And Celebration

By Luke Boelitz   |   Thursday, June 30, 2011
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BOSTON — If you’re in the city this weekend, take advantage of the many events happening here. This year is the 30th anniversary of Boston’s Independence Day celebration, Harborfest. We’ll also be highlighting some events that happen regularly throughout the summer.

The 2009 fireworks over the Charles River in Boston. (Ben Saren/Flickr)

Thursday, June 30th:

Extreme Sailing Series, 11am-7pm, Fan Pier (Recurring daily until July 4)
This is the first day of local competition for the Extreme Sailing Series. An international sailboat racing tour makes its first stop ever in the United States. The boats are fourty foot catamarans and they will be racing around a course set in the inner harbor every day from 2-5pm until July 4th. The race village on Fan Pier opens at 11am every day.
Bostonians Behaving Badly: A Tour of Boston’s Riots, 5:30pm-7pm
Meet at Park Street Station on Boston Common to discover lesser-known riotous events that shaped the history of Boston and the Nation.

Admission $12, Boston By Foot members $5

Clambake on Boston Harbor’s Spectacle Island, 6pm-9pm
Enjoy an authentic New England clambake by the Summer Shack on the beach with lobsters and steamers. Admission $70-$80, reservations required. Order tickets online and view details at
Twilight Sky Viewing 7pm-8:30pm
Walk the ramparts and enjoy Boston’s skyline.
Castle Island Association/DCR (617-727-5290)
Fort Independence, Castle Island, South Boston

Extreme Sailing Series Fireworks 9:50pm
Sponsored by The Fallon Company, Fan Pier (617-261-4500)
In the Harbor at Fan Pier, ONE Marina Park Drive
A spectacular fireworks show to kick-off racing on the Harbor!

Friday, July 1st:

Free Admission to the MFA, 10:00am-9:45pm
Admission is waived at the Museum of Fine Art Boston on this day thanks to the generosity of the Highland Street Foundation. The Grooversity Brazilian Trio will be performing in the Calderwood courtyard beginning at 5:30pm as part of MFA Summer Fridays. 
Tour Historic Boston Light, 10am-1pm (Recurs July 2nd)
A guided tour of Little Brewster Island, site of thefirst lighthouse in the nation. Climb 76 steps and meet the U. S. Coast Guard keeper.
Admission $29-$39, reservations recommended
Depart from Fan Pier at the Moakley Courthouse, Northern Avenue, South Boston.
BaHa Brothers Concert, 4:30pm-7pm
Classic beach rock for a summer evening.
On the Plaza at City Hall 
The Dark Side of Boston, 6pm-7:30pm
A walking tour of Boston’s oldest neighborhood, which withstood the scourges of smallpox and influenza and the Great Molasses Flood.
Admission $12, BBF members $5
Meet at Hanover and Cross streets, North End
Boston By Foot (617-367-2345)

Saturday, July 2nd:

Middlesex County Volunteers, 10am-4pm
Roving fife and drum along the Freedom Trail.

The British are Coming!, 11am-Noon
The Redcoats invade the city! Soldiers arrive by sea and march up King (State) Street to the Boston Common.
Redcoats on the Common, Noon-4:30pm
Redcoats perform military demonstrations and skirmish with Colonial militia.
Boston Common, corner of Charles and Beacon Streets
Boston Harborfest (617-227-1528)

Tour U.S. Coast Guard Vessels, Noon-4pm (Recurs July 3rd)
Topside tours aboard U.S. Coast Guard vessels.
U.S. Coast Guard base, 427 Commercial Street
North End

Party on the Plaza: DISCO INFERNO, 6pm-9pm
A flashback to the 70s with a fun interactive stage show from the disco/funk era with opener Girls Nite Out.
On the North Stage, City Hall Plaza
Rain date: Sunday, July 3rd at 7pm

Sunday, July 3rd:

30th Annual Chowderfest, 11am-6pm
Sample clam chowder from some of New England’s best restaurants. Vote for your favorite!
On the Plaza at City Hall, rain or shine (617-227-1528)
Admission $8-$12
Liberty’s Pulpits: Boston Churches in the Revolution, Noon-12:30pm
Hear the inflammatory language of Revolutionary preachers.
Old South Meeting House (617-482-6439)
310 Washington Street
Admission $1-$6, 18 and under free
www.osmh.org www.nps.gov/bost
Tours of Fort Independence, Noon-3:30pm
Tours of a 19th century fort, built with Cape Ann granite.
Castle Island Association/DCR (617-727-5290)
Fort Independence, Castle Island, South Boston

*Don’t miss a stop for lunch at Sullivan’s, a popular beach stand.

Monday, July 4th:

Flag-Raising Ceremony and Parade, 9am-10am
Follow the parade to the Granary Burial Ground and then to the Old State House.
Meet at the flagpole on the Plaza at City Hall.
Cookout Aboard a Schooner, 10am-1:30pm
Enjoy a cookout while saluting the USS Constitution aboard the Liberty Clipper.
Central Wharf at the New England Aquarium
Admission $60-$100, reservations required
USS Constitution Turn-around, 10:30am-1pm
“Old Ironsides” gets underway to salute the Nation.
At the Charlestown Navy Yard

Boston Esplanade Concert and Fireworks, 8pm-10:00pm
A concert at the Hatch shell and followed by Fireworks over the Charles River.


Lawmaker: Time To End Mass. Ban On Selling Fireworks

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Thursday, June 30, 2011
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June 20, 2011

BOSTON — As the Fourth of July approaches, one Massachusetts lawmaker wants to end the state's long-held ban on the sale of fireworks. 

Small fireworks are seen on Plymouth Beach. (Mark Chisholm/Flickr)

Gardner State Rep Rich Bastien says Bay State residents are sneaking over the border to other New England states to buy fireworks.

“At this point, anybody in Massachusetts can drive within an hour to go purchase fireworks, every night they’re being used in our communities. The ban is ineffective. So my point is let’s legalize it, let’s put some common sense regulations in, and let’s keep the revenue and the jobs in the state,” Bastien said.  

It’s illegal for Massachusetts residents to bring in fireworks from other states, but Bastien says it happens all the time and it’s costing the Bay State money — about $40 million, according to his estimates. So Bastien's filed a bill that would legalize the sale of fireworks in the commonwealth. But using them would still be illegal without registering with the local fire department.  

The Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts says changing current law could lead to an increase in injuries and strain fire departments’ resources.  Massachusetts is one of just four states — along with New York, New Jersey and Delaware — with a complete ban on fireworks.  The new bill is currently under review by the Legislature's Committee on Public Safety.

About the Authors
Brian McCreath Brian McCreath

Jess Bidgood Jess Bidgood
Jess Bidgood is WGBH.org's news editor and producer.
The WGBH News team comprises the WGBH radio newsroom, The Callie Crossley Show, The Emily Rooney Show and WGBH Channel 2 reporters and producers from Greater Boston and Basic Black. 
Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.
Sarah Birnbaum
Sarah Birnbaum is WGBH News' State House reporter. Send her a news tip.


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