August 31, 2006


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Travel the world in Lowell
Culture Fest features music, food, dance and a fair trade mission
By Erica Febre

This Labor Day weekend marks the third year for The New England Culture Fest taking place in downtown Lowell, Mass., on Saturday, Sept. 2.

The festival is dedicated to the fair trade movement and features a dozen performers from around the world, a fashion show, art and demonstrations, numerous activities for children and ethnic cuisines.

“We aim to push the boundaries of a festival with this event, and plan to transform the city on this day to a global microcosm of people making change through art. It’s also a fascinating realization to look at how the city of Lowell‘s vibrant history and new community of artists and immigrants connect to the worldwide fair trade movement of today,” said Valerie Parker, director of The New England Culture Fest.

The fair trade movement is about providing living wages and safe working conditions for apparel workers, musicians and artisans with a special concern for those in the manufacturing aspect of the apparel business, nationally and internationally. In order to support these facets of the business the Fashionably Fair Runway Show, debuting at this year’s festival, will feature items donated by fair trade designers, retailers and manufacturers from all over the world.

Downtown Lowell, according to Parker, is also where the labor movement began its history with textile mills and canals.

The festival will feature large-scale interactive video installation art, educational public art, film installations and craft exhibitors, all being broadcasted on international television.

The musical lineup for the festival represents cultures from all around the world. Headlining the performances will be Marta Gomez, Latina singer and songwriter, with her South American representation of traditional music.

“I compose and sing music based on the culture of South America. I’m from Cuba but I don’t just focus on that music. My voice is a little pop oriented with a bit of jazz. I’m going to try some different things at the festival, like a duo with a Japanese jazz player, so that will be exciting. It’s really gonna be fun,” Gomez said.

Among the many other performers for the day is Ameranouche, a four-piece gypsy jazz band with interpretations of Cole Porter, Hoagie Carmichael and George Gershwin. Beverly Rush, singer and songwriter and a featured artist at this year’s festival, will present her mix of folk, blues and jazz with narrative skills reminiscent of artists such as Utah Phillips or Ani DiFranco.

The United Roots Dance Troupe, based in the Boston area, will bring their smooth moves and savvy street style to the New England Culture festival representing the popular dance styles of centuries past.

The Boston Afro-Beat Society, takes traditional Nigerian music and blends it with jazz, funk and indigenous trance music to present danceable grooves. Coming from a country torn apart by sectarian violence and protesting, they also present a call for sustainable environmental practices.

The outdoor festival is set to fill the streets with sounds, flavors and sights of many cultures. The festival is sponsored by Second World, a non-profit arts and development organization, and other groups.

Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at

Culture Fest
The New England Culture Fest takes place on Saturday, Sept. 2 in downtown Lowell, Mass., on Middle Street from 1 to 10 p.m. Entrance fee is $7 Children under 12 receive free admission.
Performers include:
• Marta Gomez
• The Boston Afro-Beat Society
• Marcia Higgs & The Dis-N-Dat Band
• Anita Coelho Brazilian Jazz Ensemble
• Christopher Bakriges Group
• Ameranouche
• Beverly Rush
• United Roots Dance Troupe
• Afrika Rainbow
• Boston Bhangra.
Attractions include the Fashionably Fair Runway Show, fair trade art and business expo, performance and fine art demonstrations, interactive video installation art, educational public art environments, kids’ activities and ethnic cuisines. For more information, visit the Web site at