Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2023 Schedule

Lowell Celebrates Kerouac 2023 Schedule

Celebrating the 35th Anniversary of LCK Festivals Observing the 60th Anniversary of the Publication of Visions of Gerard. For more information, please visit lowellcelebrateskerouac.org

Pre- Festival Events

Saturday, September 30:

9:00 am. Marathon Reading of Jack Kerouac’s Visions of Gerard . Held in observance of the 60th anniversary of the novel’s publication. The reading will be preceded by a brief presentation by Steve Edington on some of what motivated Kerouac to write Vision of Gerard.

Sign up here

Pollard Memorial Library Community Room. 401 Merrimack Street.

Monday, October 2:

6:00 pm. Personal Memoir Writer’s Workshop. Led by Judith Bessette.

Pollard Memorial Library. 401 Merrimack Street

Judith has created a framework and guide for writers interested in documenting their family history, with a nod to Kerouac.

[This workshop will also be offered on Friday, October 5—see below]

Festival Events

During the Festival Gormley’s Café at 343 Market Street will be running specials featuring French Canadian cuisine and favorites from Jack’s days in Lowell. Closed on Sunday.

Thursday, October 5:

2:00 pm. Personal Memoir Writer’s Workshop. Led by LCK’s Judith Bessette.

Lowell TeleMedia Center. 246 Market Street.

Judith has created a guide for beginning writers and those interested in creating a framework for documenting their family history, with a nod to Jack Kerouac. 

4:00 pm. Exhibit Reception: Thirty-Five Years of LCK Festivals. An exhibition of many of the posters for LCK Festivals beginning with the Dedication of the Kerouac Commemorative in 1988. Curated by Judith Bessette.

Lowell TeleMedia Center. 246 Market Street.

5:00 pm. LCK Festival Opening Gathering at The Old Worthen. Worthen House Café.

141 Worthen Street.

5:30 pm. Jack at Night Walking Tour. Includes stops at the “Watermelon Man Bridge,” the Grotto, and the Archambault Funeral Home where Jack was waked. These sites are described in Doctor Sax. Led by Bill Walsh. Departs from, and returns to, The Worthen.

7:30 pm. Music and Poetry at The Worthen. Hosted by John McDermott. Features poets Meg Smith, Dan Bacon, and Jim Dunn. Music by Mark Aleo and Jed Rosen—aka “Bedlam and Squalor” as well as Mike Dion of the ODB Project and George Koutmanzelis of Aeolian Kid.

Worthen House Café. 141 Market Street.

Friday, October 6:

9:30 am. Lowell High School Jack Kerouac Poetry Contest. Sponsored by LCK.

[This is an LHS event and not open to the public.]

11:00 am. Reality Alley Poetry Workshop. Led by Dan Bacon in “Reality Alley”—aka The Old Worthen Courtyard. 141 Worthen Street.

2:00 pm. Talking Jack: New Routes for Jack Kerouac. A conversation presented by the Beat Studies Association. What famous band’s record label invited Kerouac to record an album in the 1960s? Why is Neal Cassady not the only inspiration for Dean Moriarty? How did a Bible-thumping, Broadway-loving mayoral candidate influence On the Road’s reception in 1957? Why does Kerouac matter now and in the future? Come consider these questions and more as members of the Beat Studies Association offer new stories and insights about Kerouac’s life, work, and legacy at this interactive event. Led by Brett Sigurdson and members of the B.S.A. Hosted by Kurt Phaneuf

ALL Gallery. 307 Market Street.

4:00 pm. Van Tour: A Merrimack River Anthology—Kerouac’s Ghosts. Inspired by the structure and content of Edgar Lee Masters Spoon River Anthology, this inaugural LCK tour commemorates Lowell’s extensive Franco-American cultural history by sharing passages from Jack’s oeuvre while visiting the final resting places of many personages behind the Duluoz Legend. For over 130 years Cimetiere St. Joseph has interred Ti-Jean’s family members—including his first cousin, Herve—boyhood buddies, teachers, clergy, area political and business leaders, veterans, sports stars, fellow scribes, even the unheralded, enigmatic, infamous and tragic figures who comprise the polyphony of voices informing Kerouac’s work. Comfortable shoes recommended.

96 Riverneck Road in East Chelmsford.

Led by Kurt Phaneuf. Van departs from the ALL Gallery.

5:00 pm. Poetry and Paint with John Sinclair and Frenchy. American countercultural icon, Blues scholar and esteemed poet, John Sinclair, will read selected poems from his many collected works while renowned New Orleans based live-action painter and Lowell native, Randy “Frenchy” Frechette, captures the scene on canvass in real time.

Lala Books 189 Market Street.

7:30 pm. A Tribute to David Amram. An evening of tributes for the many years David has been a part of our LCK Festivals—and all the great things he has brought to them!

The program will begin with a very special multi-media presentation by Lowell poet, author and past LCK Board member, Meg Smith; and Walt Whitman Birthplace Writer-in-Residence and New York poet, George Wallace. The writers will share stories focusing on David’s literary and musical influence, both in Lowell and in the world at large.

State Senator Edward Kennedy will deliver a special citation from Governor Maura Healey. State Representative Vanna Howard, and Lowell Mayor Sokhary Chau will also offer tributes.

World renowned recitalist, soloist, and chamber musician Yoshiko Kline will perform Piano Sonata 1960 by David Amram, a favorite work of Kerouac’s by Amram, and introduced by the maestro himself.

The evening’s finale will be a jazz performance by the David Amram Trio featuring multi-instrumentalist David Amram, Kevin Twigg on drums, and Rene Hart on bass.

Doors open at 7:00pm; Program begins at 7:30 pm.

Olympia’s Zorba’s Music Hall. 437 Market Street.

A $10.00 cover charge is requested to support Lowell Celebrates Kerouac.

Saturday, October 7: 

9:00 am. Commemorative at the Commemorative. An LCK Annual Gathering. We take time to honor the lives those in the Kerouac World, either in Lowell or beyond, who have recently passed away. This year we remember Phil Chaput and John Dorfner. On this 60th anniversary of the publication of Visions of Gerard we’ll hear a few passages from the novel and reflect on how the loss of his older brother affected Jack’s life and writings. We’ll also remember the first LCK Festival in the summer of 1988—35 years ago—which was the Dedication of the Jack Kerouac Commemorative where we gather this morning. Sharing his memories of that event will be Brian Foye, one of the founders of LCK.

Corner of Bridge and French Streets.

10:00 am. Bus Tour of the Kerouac Sites of Lowell. Led by Bill Walsh. Includes stops at Kerouac’s birthplace, some of the neighborhoods he describes in his Lowell novels, and the gravesite at the Edson Cemetery. Departs from the Commemorative. The approximate time of the tour is two hours. Reservations suggested by calling 978-970-5000.

A $10.00 donation is requested to cover bus costs.

10:00 am. Walking Tour of Downtown Kerouac Sites. Led by Kurt Phaneuf. The walk takes in some of the downtown places in Lowell described in the Lowell novels. This year Kurt dedicates the tour to John Dorfner, author of “Visions of Lowell.” Departs from the Commemorative.

Donations gratefully accepted.

11:30 am. Documentary screening of Go Moan For Man: The Literary Odyssey of Jack Kerouac.

Middlesex Community College Donahue Family Academic Arts Center. 240 Central Street.

2:00 pm. Annual LCK Parker Lecture by Paul Marion. Jack Kerouac’s Evolving Position in Lowell, 1950 to 2023 Paul, one of the founders of LCK, will discuss the evolving public perception of 20th-century author Jack Kerouac in his hometown, examining the dynamic relationship between an innovative, news-making writer and the city that shaped him.

The editor of Kerouac’s early writing, “Atop an Underwood” (Viking/Penguin, 1999), Marion is the author of “Mill Power,” about the modern revival of Lowell, and several collections of poems. He lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts.

MCC Donahue Family Academic Arts Center. 240 Central Street. 

3:30 pm. Library Haunts and Hookey Tour. Led by Bill Walsh. The tour centers on the Pollard Library’s Kerouac Corner, noting the times Jack played hooky from Lowell High School in order to read books of his choosing.

Pollard Library. 401 Merrimack Street.

Donations gratefully accepted.

4:00 pm. Open Mic. Upstairs at The Worthen. Hosted by Cliff Whalen and Tom Mansour. Emceed by Dan Bacon.

141 Worthen Street. 

7:00 (Doors open). An Evening of Music at Zorba’s. Local Beatles tribute act Glass Onion open the evening at 7:30, followed by the featured Robin Lane Band at 9:00 pm.

Robin will be playing songs from her recent album, “Dirt Road To Heaven”, and sharing stories and songs from the days leading her Boston based band, The Chartbusters, as well as her early experiences in the music scene on the West Coast during the 1970’s.

Lowell’s Party Band will close out the evening.

Olympia’s Zorba’s Music Hall. 437 Market Street.

A $15.00 cover charge is requested to support Lowell Celebrates Kerouac.

Sunday, October 8:

10:00 am. Mystic Jack Tour. Led by Bill Walsh and Suzanne Beebe. A walking tour of the sites described in Visions of Gerard. Begins at the site of the former St. Louis de France Church.

241 West 6th Street.

Donations gratefully accepted.

12:00 Noon: Escape to New York—LuAnne Henderson’s and Neal Cassady’s 1946 Journey to New York. A review and reconstruction of the events leading to Neal Cassady and LuAnne Henderson’s 1946 arrival in New York City prior to the opening of On the Road. The presentation includes photographs of the places where the events occurred and the behind-the-scenes people who took part in their story. Conflicting information from earlier biographies in reconciled. An online map will also be shown.

Presented by Frank Brusca.

Lowell National Historical Park Visitors Center Auditorium. 246 Market Street.

1:30 pm. Annual Amram Jam. Signups begin at 1:00 pm. Bring your Kerouac inspired poem or prose to read while accompanied by David Amram, Adam Amram, Kevin Twigg, and Rene Hart. Emceed by Mike Flynn.

The Old Worthen—downstairs. 141 Worthen Street.

5:00 pm. Ghosts of the Pawtucketville Night Tour. Led by Bill Walsh and Kurt Phaneuf.

Visit some of the sites as described in Kerouac’s Doctor Sax. Walk from The Worthen, or meet at Cumnock Hall, UML North Campus, 1 University Avenue.

Donations gratefully accepted.

6:00 pm. (Doors open at 5:30). Brian Hassett’s Jack on Film, Take 2. Every portrayal of Jack on film or television will be shown and curated by the author of the Beat Movie Guide webpage. Rarities from Saturday Night Live and Quantum Leap will be screened alongside classics like BigSur and Naked Lunch, and all with audience interactive discussions. Special filmmaking guests will be joining via Zoom.

Luna Theater. Mill Number 5. 520 Jackson Street.

A $5.00 donation is requested to support Lowell Celebrates Kerouac.

8:00 pm. Music at The Worthen.

An evening of music with the Girl With A Hawk band.

Donations gratefully accepted.

Monday, October 9:

10:00 am. Kerouac’s Nashua Connection Tour. Led by Steve Edington. A van tour to the Kerouac Sites of Nashua, New Hampshire as primarily described in Visions of Gerard, Doctor Sax, and Vanity of Duluoz. Concludes at the St. Louis de Gonzague Cemetery and the burial sites of Leo and Gabrielle Kerouac, Gerard Kerouac, and Jan Kerouac. Returns to Lowell at approximately 1:30 pm.  Reservations suggested by calling 978-970-5000.

Departs from the Lowell National Historical Park Visitors Center. 246 Market Street.

Donations gratefully accepted.

10:00 am. LCK Loop Tour. Led by Bill Walsh. Begins at the Commemorative, touches on a number of Lowell’s Kerouac Places, and ends at The Worthen for a Wrap Party.

2:00 pm. (Approximately). Wrap Party at The Worthen. Give a farewell toast to Jack and have a safe journey home!

Post Festival Event:
Jack Kerouac Memorial Walk on October 21

Jack Kerouac passed away on October 21, 1969 in St. Petersburg, Florida. His Funeral Mass was held at Lowell’s St. Jean Baptiste Church on October 24. He is buried in Lowell’s Edson Cemetery.

For the past several years Lowell Celebrates Kerouac has held a Jack Kerouac Memorial Walk on the date of his passing. We’ll meet at 6:00 pm on Saturday, October 21 at The Grotto. The Walk goes past the former Archambault Funeral Home where Jack was waked, the St. Jean Baptiste Church, and the Pollard Library, with readings at each stop. The Walk concludes at The Worthen with a toast to Jack’s memory.