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Lowell Celebrates Kerouac (LCK) – Videos, Stories & Photos – 2015–2022

October 30th, 2022 · 7 Comments · Kerouac and The Beats, Real-life Adventure Tales

 

Stories, videos and photos from the annual Kerouac hometown festival over the last several years I’ve been going.

Edie Parker-Kerouac called and told me about the the initial commemorative dedication in July 1988 — which birthed LCK — saying that she, Henri Cru and “Big Tim” Moran were driving up for it, and that their car was gonna be filled with the three of them plus Henri’s wheelchair, but that I should somehow get myself up there.

I’d just gotten married, and we’d just moved into a new apartment in Manhattan, and my disposable income at the time largely went to two tickets to every Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan show in the area, so the idea of renting a car to drive to some place that was not the center of the universe really didn’t rise too high on the to-do list.

Tim Moran wrote a pretty great account of that 1988 commemorative trip to climax the posthumous Edie memoir You’ll Be Okay if anybody wants a detailed account.

Over the next few years — before the internet — I’d hear about the Lowell festival, but St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery was regularly hosting all-star Beat events, and Allen was always inviting his old pals to his Brooklyn College classes we could crash, so there really wasn’t this driving force to drive to Lowell.

Then by ’94 and ’95 NYU was hosting those huge conferences where everybody came in from all over.  And on top of that, LCK’s October fest was in the heart of the arts season in New York.  Labor Day to Thanksgiving is a mad sprint of new plays and movies opening, concerts, poetry readings, art exhibits — you can barely catch your breath.  So, the idea of leaving the red-hot action to drive out to a Town for sumpthin we were already doing in The City never really blipped too bright on the radar.

But by 2015 when The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac came out it finally seemed like a must-do Road Trip.

The cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac by Brian Hassett

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2015The Michael McClure / Andy Clausen year

2015 was featuring both Michael McClure and Andy Clausen, and although I knew very little about LCK, I knew enough that this was the year for these two headliners, and I’d be kicking myself if I put it off another year and just missed them.  So ol’ Ken Morris and I made the initial exploratory expedition to suss out just what this thing was.

We immediately fell in love with the vibe and the people and I knew this was sumpthin I was gonna wanna come back to.  Although I’d been performing in New York for years, nobody up Lowell way had any idea what I did, so I knew I had to Wow ’em.  The only two options were the open mic on Saturday and to join Dave for the Amram Jam on Sunday.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack was not written with performances in mind, but I had to find something Jack-centric in it to do live — and I hit on “The Professor in the Park” section where the two of us talk Jack, then a couple come along and we all jam it out.  Being that I was theatrically-centric after all the stages I’d been on and in front of in New York, I came up with the idea to have other people read the three character parts and do it as a scene reading from a play at the open mic.  That knocked everyone for a loop.  I’ve still never seen anyone do a scene from a play in all the open mics since.  So that was impact #1.  😉 

Then the next day was the annual “Amram Jam,” and since Dave & I had performed together about a hundred times in ol’ New York, I knew this was another chance to slay.

Back in ’97, St. Mark’s Church & Viking Press put on a 40th anniversary of On The Road marathon reading.  Doug Brinkley, David Stanford & David Amram all stressed to the organizer, Ed Friedman, that I was a great Jack reader, and so he slotted me in for the hardest part of the book — what I call “the San Francisco epiphany” — (part two, ch. 10) where Jack starts hallucinating from hunger and the prose becomes the most surreal in the whole book.  Since it’s a real highlight passage, and Dave & I had done it a few times, I pulled out that old hit single, and we nailed it.  From then on, LCK knew who this Brian guy was.  😃

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Here’s a full wild account of that year’s 10-day inaugural LCK Adventure.

Here’s the wild story of how I got into the Pawtucketville Social Club without being a member.  (!)

Here’s a public Facebook photo album with over a hundred pictures:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10156103969390261&type=3

 

2016 — The Birth of The Pranksters

The next year they invited me to do my own show.

It’s emerged that one of my late-life missions is to turn the current crop of Merry Pranksters onto their antecedents and to turn the current Beats onto their offspring.  Thanks to one Indy brother helping another, Philip Thomas sponsored the Wizard of Wonder to make the trip, and thus birthed the Pranksters coming to Lowell!

Chris Foster / The Wizard of Wonder at Lowell Celebrates Kerouac

A couple years later, the LCK staple Alan Crane (RIP) pulled me aside and told me how important a development this was in the energy of the festival.  And Amram’s master jazz drummer Kevin Twigg said the same thing unprompted in 2022.  Color was infusing the red brick of the ol’ town.

Here’s video of the whole first solo show — which was great! — in four parts, including (in order) — the Wizard of Wonder’s Pranksterish introduction;  Jack goin to Lowell from Vanity of Duluoz;  a wild Hitchhiker’s Guide hitchhiking part;  a funny 420 Jack moment;  [part 2] the First Avenue “car chase” scene done live for the first time, with musical accompaniment by Jason E and George K (and reprised with the Amram Trio in 2022);  [part 3] The Hitchhiker’s Guide arrival in San Francisco including the Steve Jobs guy;  [part 4] and it climaxes with the Pic premiere performance — first time anyone ever did that book into a microphone in public.

We also did a reprise of “The Professor in the Park” 4-person theater piece from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac with Mary Emmerick, Ken Morris and Philip Thomas, but the camera never captured it.

And here’s the classic Ode to LCK I wrote that year and has been performed at every LCK since

Guylaine Knupp told me in 2022 that this ^ piece “changed my life.”

In 2017 she was wondering about going to this Kerouac thing in Lowell — and when she Googled it, she found my riff, and she said it told her that this was gonna be FUN and not a bunch of academics behind tables reading papers.  And, boy, not only has she been a refreshing part of every open mic since, but she took to the whole Beatster scene and has been chumming around with one of us for the five years since.

Oh yeah!  Then the next day was insane!  There’s a part in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack where I do a descriptive riff on a bunch of the core Beats.  Knowing Dave Amram’s ability to adjust & adapt instantly to the oratory he was accenting, I told him in advance the idea of doing a different musical interpretation of each of the Beat figures I’d riff about.  He LOVED the idea, and went for it full bore.

If this isn’t the best ever Amram & Brian on stage on film, it’s damn close.  😉

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And besides everything else — there was this whole Jack gravesite Adventure!

Or here’s a public Facebook photo album with 50 pics.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10157638478870261&type=3

 

2017 — The George & Sky year

The kool-aid really got spiked in 2017 when original Merry Prankster George Walker came to town to join me for the “Kerouac & Cassady Ride Again” show.  My Prankster girlfriend Sky came and beautified the scene from Tulsa;  Gubba & Uncle Mike flew in from Vancouver, and Hootie from New Mexico;  joining Wonderland regular Phil Thomas from Indianapolis, Guylaine Knupp making her first appearance from Quebec, actor & Edie Parker friend Thomas Galasso from Detroit, Nancy & Vilous Fox from Texas, Brandon Loberg from The Beat Museum in San Francisco, Brett Sigurdson from Minnesota, Jason Pacheco from PA, all blending into a soaring psychedelic soup of celebrants.

 

We also picked up copies of my second book in The Beat Trilogy — How The Beats Begat the Pranksters — which was published on Sept. 26th, just 13 days after it was first conceived of as a book!

Here’s George Walker describing how the book came to exist in two weeks (!) and what it’s been like working together.

 

NEED THE VIDEO OF THE GEORGE & BRIAN POLLARD SHOW

Here’s George Walker introducing my Road Show and the opening ode to LCK —

And here’s the first-ever public performance of “The Grateful Dead: Jack Manifested as Music” —

NEED VIDEO OF THE REST OF THIS SHOW.

Here’s the Sunday Amram Jam where I perform the climactic chapters of both The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jack Kerouac and How The Beats Begat The Pranksters with the Amram Quartet.

Here’s a public Facebook photo album with over 200 pictures of LCK and the George & Brian East Coast tour.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10159453924440261&type=3

 

2018 — The John Cassady year

This was the year On The Road with Cassadys came out.

John Cassady and I decided to team up together on a stage again, and LCK agreed to cover some of his expenses, and lo and behold we brought his dad and Uncle Jack back to life on stage.

Here’s the story about John and I rejoining forces at LCK.

NEED THE VIDEO OF THE FRIDAY NIGHT ROAD SHOW AT ZORBA’S.

Here’s the “Brian and John Present Jack & Neal” show, as filmed by the Lowell TeleMedia Center —

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Here’s the Sunday afternoon Amram Jam where I joined the Amram Trio to do the On The Road scroll auction, and a piece Dave and I did often back in the ’90s in New York — Visiting Vincent — in honor of the Loving Vincent movie screening later that night.

 

This was also the year of the birth of “Sunday Night at the Movies” at LCK with the screening of Loving Vincent where we explored the connection between the two artists of eternity who celebrated and immortalized the least among us.

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Here’s a cool radio interview turned into a photo-filled video that I did with local hero Wireless Mike on WUML just before the festival.  There’s a time-coded breakdown in the video “Show more” description where you can click on the blue numbers and jump to any of the subjects — the writing process, going to LCK, the connections between the Beats and the Grateful Dead, proof of greater forces, the “On The Road with Cassadys” book, embracing the magic “IT” and all sortsa other cool riffs.

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Another funny twist was the local Lowell Sun putting me on the front page above the fold!

And yet another cool 2018 subplot was Sebastaan Laading’s “I Am Jack” art installation where you could type on an old Kerouac-era manual typewriter — and have the words projected onto a hi-def video screen.

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And here’s a public Facebook photo album with over 70 pictures.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10160965941400261

 

2019 — The Cathy Cassady / Al Hinkle year

This was the year Cathy Cassady came for the first time and put on her show telling her family’s life story with colorful photographs and even more colorful anecdotes.

Don Gagnon photo

It was also the year after Jack’s close friend Al Hinkle had passed away and a bunch of us laid down some nice tributes to him. 

Here’s Cathy and her husband George who created this cool poster as a tribute.

 

 

Here’s the memorial to Al at Zorba’s Music Hall on Friday Oct. 11th, 2019 . . .

 

Here’s the core volunteer crew who make LCK happen — at the wrap party in Reality Alley.

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Here’s the Sunday Amram Jam show — where I do a tribute to the late-great Graham Robinson — the new “Ode to Jack” performance poem — and the climax to “Holy Cats!  Dream-Catching at Woodstock” . . .

NEED SATURDAY ROAD SHOW VIDEO

Here’s a public Facebook photo album with over 30 pictures.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10162504420360261

 

2020 — the Covid–cancelled year

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2021 — the all-events-outdoors year

It was still too Covidy out there in the world, and with no indoor events, which is most of the fun of this epic gathering, this Jackster stayed next to his writing machine until the coasting was clearer.

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March 12th, 2022 — Jack’s birthday centennial

Here’s the wild Road Trip Adventure to Jack’s centennial birthday celebrations sculpted in pictures, prose & poetry.

Editor David Stanford and publicist Dennis McNally at Kerouac 100 in Lowell

 

2022 — the “Jack on Film” year

Here’s the Soundcloud audio of a rockin Sept. 17th interview with Wireless Mike Flynn on WUML where we riff on “Jack on Film” and the collaborative realities of movies, and Oliver Trager’s Lord Buckley show, and Jerry Cimino and The Beatmobile coming, and the glories of global connecting, and the importance of cool planning in festivals, and all sortsa other cool stuff —

Here’s the Saturday night “Jack at 100 Road Show” — raw YouTube live-stream —

Here’s the 2-minute “Ode to Jack” video:

https://www.facebook.com/uel.gardner.7/videos/487039859809908

Here’s the Car Chase scene with the Amram Trio during the Amram Jam on Sunday afternoon, October 9th . . . 

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With show co-producer & video wiz Julian Ortman

Here’s the bulk of Sunday’s “Jack on Film” YouTube live stream – from The Subterraneans through Beat Angel and the Vincent Balestri Zoom-in climax —

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Here’s “The Making of ‘Jack on Film‘” story about how this whole show came to be.

Here’s a sample of the notes for one of the 17 films or TV shows for “Jack on Film.”

Here’s a public Facebook photo album for the centennial summit with over 100 pictures —

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=Brian.Hassett.Canada&set=a.10166810994945261

 

Here’s Prankster Ashlee Spirit’s great cell phone footage from the middle of the audience of Jack actor Vincent Balestri’s live Zoom call which hit it so far out of the park they haven’t found the ball yet  —

 

Here’s her audience footage of the Magic Trip movie set-up and the clip —

 

Here’s her audience footage of the Neal Cassady movie set-up and clip —

 

And here’s a cool profile piece that came out in the local Oakville News after LCK and just before this page got built.

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And here’s a story that came out just after this was published by Beat Museum founder Jerry Cimino about the “Jack on Film” show and the great Vincent Balestri.

Jerry Cimino praises "Beat Angel's" Vincent Balestri

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For tons more performance and interview videos from all over the continent check out the Online Video Collection.

For this site’s cookie jar full of other stories on Kerouac and the Beats check here.

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by Brian Hassett

karmacoupon@gmail.com   —  BrianHassett.com

Or here’s my Facebook page if you wanna join in there —

https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Hassett.Canada

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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kevin Twigg // Oct 30, 2022 at 1:39 PM

    Well done, Brian!!!!! Very cool.

  • 2 Brian // Oct 30, 2022 at 3:12 PM

    Thanks, Kevin! It was unexpectedly cool/neat to explore/restore all those once-a-year festivals — almost like timelapse photography — to see all the people who weaved in and out, and to relive how it grew … from me knowing no one to group photos with 50 people!

    It’s also given me a focus to make sure I find all the missing footage and get those shows on YouTube.

    Then I’ll make a YT Playlist that’ll have every performance from the first open mic to the epic “Jack on Film.” 😉

  • 3 Kevin Twigg // Oct 30, 2022 at 5:31 PM

    It’s definitely a hub for full documentation. And people DO weave in and out. It’s really interesting. But no matter if they “go home in October or not” they (we) are all kindred spirits.

  • 4 Gubba // Oct 30, 2022 at 6:45 PM

    Love all the Pranksters and Jacksters tangled together in these happenings.
    Been to three now. You were the draw, Brian Hassett, that got me there, but all the fine folk have intermingled and have a strong sense of family. I will be back!

  • 5 Brian // Oct 30, 2022 at 7:54 PM

    Right on, Gubba Dale! And yeah — that’s what both Julian and Hummer were sayin, too. How there’s all this great stuff you *learn* over the 5 days — but it’s *the people* that’s the key, and how nice & friendly everyone is, and how everybody gets along so well even when we come from such different parts of the world and with such different backgrounds and perspectives.

    And I don’t know if you saw in the piece, but when Twigger and I had a good sit-down at Zorba’s on the opening night, he brought up unprompted and out-of-the-blue how LCK got so much better when all the Pranksters started showing up.

    And this year, think of everything that Ashlee Spirit & Company brought!

    It’s like when I was talkin to Becky Boyce — she said how the Lucky Dawgz and Pranksters blended so well she can’t even remember who started in which group!

    And Julian and I also riffed on how f’n *great* it was to have you in the “Jack on Film” audience — how your laughs and Wows and Whoas were like having another member in the band.

    Here’s to more Magic of Jack!

    Hey — that should be the next show title — “The Magic of Jack”!

    I could work with that.

  • 6 Spirit Mentalist // Oct 30, 2022 at 9:49 PM

    I will definitely be back!

  • 7 Jane E. Walker // Oct 30, 2022 at 10:17 PM

    What an incredible piece of work, Brian!! I will be here in Brianland and Kerouacville for many days!!

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