Lowell Does It Together: A Doin’ It Together Fest Preview

“I loved my first DIT fest, it was a mixed bag of first day of school jitters, and excitement to play material that would only live for that brief period of time. Getting to share that with the audience was pretty unique for me. The fest sort of encompasses every stage of a band, from beginning to end. They’ve just managed to make it fit within 24 hours.” – Robert Gabriel Wall (The Band Dennis), DITF Participant

“For me, DITF is the crowning event of Lowell’s music scene. The cross-pollination of styles and the crucible of game-show-like time pressure lead to the creation of live art that would exist nowhere else but Lowell, Massachusetts. The combinations are new every time, but the ingredients remain a recognizable signature of a wonderful creative community.” – Patrick Shaughnessy (Formerly of The Sinbusters), DITF Participant

“Fun is what it is about, if you get lucky, you make friends and future bands out of the time together, but at minimum, you are going to have some f*cking FUN.” – Angela Bruce (PNDB), DITF Participant

On November 30th, mass crowds of local musicians from Lowell and the surrounding areas will gravitate towards UnchARTed Gallery for the annual Doin’ It Together Fest. An event which got its start at the legendary 119 Gallery, Doin’ It Together Fest is a two-day affair in which musicians are randomly drawn from a pool of participants, and then assigned in groups to form brand new bands on the spot. They are then given the next day (December 1st, in this instance.) to meet and write 20 minutes worth of new, original material, with a collection of performers they’ve never worked with before, and may have never even met. Then every band regroups to perform their new material for a raucous, and probably highly inebriated crowd of their peers.

It’s a distinctly chaotic happening, now entering its 9th year of operation, and has become a beloved occurrence of Lowell’s local music scene, attracting hordes of musicians from all over to form spontaneous bands since its founding in 2009 by Olivia Close of Lowell band Big Mess, and noise artist Stephanie Germaine.

“I don’t know of any other event, aside from maybe XFEST, that brings together so many people from different musical backgrounds and from all various, sometimes unrelated, corners of the “music scene” and kind of forces them to meet and work together.” Says Jimm Warren, a prolific booker among the Lowell scene, member of bands Inspector 34, Table Trash, and Squash, and the current administrator of Doin’ It Together Fest.

“It puts a very cool and productive creative pressure on everyone and you end up creating stuff that you would never have expected. It’s something I love working on because people get so excited about it. Everyone has a blast, makes amazing bands, and gets to SEE amazing bands. Even if you’re not taking part as a performer, it is truly a one-of-a-kind show that will never happen again and is just a lot of fun.”

One can always be assured of a memorable anecdote from participating in Doin’ It Together Fest as well. A 5-time veteran of the festival, Abram Taber, of Philadelphia-based band Sun Hat remembers one of his favorite moments:

“Watching the other bands was always a pleasure as well since you often got see different side of someone you’d seen perform many times before. I especially remember when Gaetana Brown (Now of Philadelphia-based War Twins), who I knew as a solo folk singer, fronted a crushingly loud garage rock/proto-punk band with Al Gentile (The Analogs), Bill McCann (Action Park), and Nick Egersheim (Big Mess).

She skulked the stage, a female re-imagining of the archetype created by Rob Tyner and Iggy Pop—and with more energy and vocal prowess than the two of them put together!”

Sign-ups for Doin’ It Together Fest are still currently happening until November 1st. Instructions to sign up are available on its Facebook event page. You can also contact Jimm Warren via dirtydouglasradio@gmail.com for additional information.

The band meet-ups will be occurring on November 30th at UnchARTed Gallery, while the performances will be occurring the day after on December 1st.

 – Lee Martin

Featured Photo by Bill Marsh