VOL. 2, NO. 9 SEPTEMBER 2015
AMEN FOR RAMEN 1981 delivers noodly goodness to downtown
The hautingly beautiful ballad of Tristan Omand
STUDENT SURVIVAL GUIDE Complete protection from starvation & boredom
ART OF THE PARTY Inside the new UnchARTed
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FEATURES 6 FOR THE RECORD Meet Tristan Omand, our new favorite lone wolf balladeer. 12 ART OF THE PARTY The new UnchARTed gallery serves up beer, food and regular live music with local art. 17 STUDENT SURVIVAL GUIDE The low-down on where to find cheap eats, entertainment and adventure in Mill City. 28 AMEN FOR RAMEN Soup’s on at downtown’s new 1981.
EVENTS 4 FOOD TRUCK MADNESS A caravan of kitchens on wheels roll into Kerouac Park. 5 ALL ABOUT BETTE DAVIS A month-long tribute to the fiery and fabulous Lowell-born screen siren at The Luna Theater.
MUSIC & MORE 8 RISING STARS It’s open season for the band Hunter. 10 BLACK MASS Local actor sheds some light on Johnny Depp’s darkest role yet.
18 THINGS TO DO 25 ways to blow off steam this semester.
32 THEATER Q&A with MRT’s new artistic director. On the cover: Charlie Mai, chef from 1981, a new ramen noodle bar in downtown Lowell. Photo by Allegra Boverman.
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HOWL SOUND & SCENE www.howlmag.com EDITOR & PUBLISHER Rita Savard PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Jim Lichoulas III MANAGING EDITOR Sarah Hand MULTIMEDIA ART DIRECTOR Richard Francey DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR Mark Coletti ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR Terry Badman PHOTOGRAPHY Allegra Boverman Allyson O’Keefe Nancy Ho DESIGNERS Carl Johnson Amelia Tucker STAFF WRITERS Nick Tsui Victoria Wasylak Chris Flisher EDITORIAL INTERNS Allison Bush Nikkie Corzo Erika Weiser Kelly Hamill Kristen Fiandaca Zack Britten Lily Faulkner EVENT DIRECTOR Heather Barker firstname.lastname@example.org TAP INTO OUR AUDIENCE email@example.com HEADQUARTERS Mill No. 5 250 Jackson Street, No. 404 Lowell, MA 01852 CONNECT WITH US firstname.lastname@example.org Proudly Published in Lowell, Mass. by King Printing
FOOD TRUCK MADNESS
Score outdoor eats, free-flowing booze and live music beginning 6pm Friday, Sept. 12 at Kerouac Park where 14 kitchens on wheels will dish out some stellar eats for the second annual Lowell Food & Wine Festival hosted by Made In Lowell. Hankering for some amazing Mexican-inspired fare? Then move on and savor the scene at the UMass Inn and Conference Center as seven chefs present their signature taco and tequila pairings at 9:30pm. The decadence doesn’t have to stop there. On Saturday from noon to 6pm, belly up to the festival’s Grand Tasting along Middle and Palmer streets where more than 20 restaurants and over two dozen breweries and wine distilleries will be serving up something to satisfy those hunger pangs. For more info visit www.tlfwf.org
Nobody blows up the big screen like Bette Davis. The fiery and flamboyant Lowell native can shake, rattle or kill when she erupts. How do you celebrate a volcano? Don’t run for cover. Enjoy the vicarious thrill of this siren blasting away every Sunday throughout September at The Luna Theater where screenings of Davis’ best films will show from 2pm to 8pm. $5 admission. Beer and wine served with proper ID. 250 Jackson St., 4th Fl. | lunalowell.com
The hot new audio technology of the new Millennium is…vinyl? Ask David and Dan Perry, owners of Vinyl Destination, and they’ll say the classic music medium’s big revival proves that there are lots of listeners who still want music as an art form and not just a download. Their indie record shop just upgraded to a larger space inside Mill No. 5, giving them room to add thousands of titles to their already impressive stash. In September, VD will also sell high performance and customizable Orbit turntables, built with love by Massachusetts-based company U-Turn Audio. “Who said record stores were dead?” asks David Perry. Not us. Put the needle on the record and turn it up man. 250 Jackson St., 4th Fl. | 978-866-6825
All Age Entertainment Mill No. 5 | 250 Jackson St. Grand Opening Sept. 26 4 | HOWL Magazine | howlmag.com
NEW ALL AGES MUSIC LOUNGE No ID? No problem. The new Hi-Hat lounge opening Sept. 26, will cater to concert goers of all ages. The venues at Mill No. 5, including The Luna Theater and weekly performances at Coffee and Cotton café, are known for bringing in original acoustic and indie rock bands. Now, the newest addition to the mill aims to become a go-to spot for regional and national acts every month. Check out Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion on Sept. 26 at 8PM. 250 Jackson St., 4th Fl.
Luna Theater | 250 Jackson St., 4th fl. Every Sunday in September
Vinyl Destination 250 Jackson St., 4th fl.
FOOD TRUCK MADNESS
Downtown Lowell September 11 - 13
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FOR THE RECORD TRISTAN OMAND
By Victoria Wasylak
t’s a gray and drizzly afternoon outside Rocking Horse Studios where, in between the modest farms and grassy pastures of Pittsfield, N.H., Tristan Omand and Producer Brian Coombes are meticulously reviewing and mixing one of Omand’s newest songs. The melodic and sparse acoustic number, called “Welcome to Lonely Lanes,” sounds like a charming hearthside love song but is really about bowling. In fact, if penned some 20 years earlier it could have been a perfect fit for The Big Lebowski soundtrack. Omand’s crisp strumming bounces off the wood-paneled walls and his unmistakable drawl, courtesy of years listening to Hank Williams, fills the room with warmth and a low rumble like the calm before a storm. “When it sounds like someone’s playing in the next room, that’s what I like,” Omand says, smiling. His 2014 release Eleven Dark Horses was aching and amiable, showcasing Omand’s knack for lyrical details in a collection of songs about wanderlust and the people and places that colored his travels. His upcoming fifth album, scheduled for release this fall, aims to be Omand’s most stripped-down work to date, stirring up sounds that echo a blackand-white memory of Johnny Cash circa Sun Studios. The vocals have a “haunting, shimmering, slightly metallic presence,” Coombes says of the track’s throwback-style reverb. More than half of the new album’s nine tracks stem from a gold mine writing session, where Omand penned five songs — five album-quality songs, that is — in one day.
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“The fact that he’s writing five songs in one day — that’s nuts,” says an awe-struck Coombes.
NEW MUSIC By Victoria Wasylak
“I’ve never had a day like that before,” Omand confesses. “Five keepers!” At this stage in the game, Omand knows his recipe for a successful day of writing. Yellow legal pads, blue pens, and a tuned-up guitar are all he needs to fade into a state of songwriting oblivion. “I keep changing the track listing over and over,” Omand says, pulling a pocket notebook from his jeans. Its pages are etched with his signature blue ink. “I fill up about two of these a year,” he says, gesturing to older, more worn notebooks stuffed inside his messenger bag, which also exhales gas logs and maps from several solo tours. He looks the part of a wandering poet, clad in a distressed trucker hat and two-week-old facial scruff. His gray Ramones T-shirt hints to his musical roots. “When I was 10 or 11, I heard the Ramones for the first time,” he says. “My first introduction to music on a local level was punk rock.”
Hard rock lives on in Familiar Stangers’ new single “Bleed Red,” a scathing and angst-filled diss track. Taking a break from their signature acoustic pop melodies, the Salem, Massachusetts’ duo fleshes out some serious wrath about a poser ex-lover. “There’s nothing in this world that makes you better than me” lead singer Todd Graham hisses on the chorus of this headbanger before ripping into an assault of profanities that strikes like a surprise left hook. Listen to this tune from a distance so it won’t sear a gaping hole in your studded leather jacket.
Omand once romped around Boston as a member of punk bands The Asthmatics and The Stompin’ Charlies. But when The Asthmatics split up around 2009, Omand turned to his yellow legal pads and began writing and recording his own songs. With his ears tuned to some legendary loners of outlaw country, he found new inspiration in Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. “They were punk rock before punk rock was a thing,” Omand says. From behind the wheel of a 2001 Ford Ranger, equipped with his beat up Yamaha six string and a copy of Travels With Charley, Omand has wandered all over the country. He’s played art galleries, dives, and just about any joint where there’s a stage for a lone-wolf balladeer. “Everywhere I go, I’m a stranger,” he says. On “Hotel Sheets,” a slow waltz from Eleven Dark Horses, Omand sings of rolling out his sleeping bag in cheap, unwelcoming rooms and staring at the ceiling. But playing the role of an on-the-run desperado was something he had always daydreamed about.
In case you couldn’t tell from their name, Ben Katzman’s DeGreaser is a time warp to the golden age of garage rock and proto-punk, and their new single “You Shred (But You’re Really Just Playing Me) Baby” is no exception. Paying homage to ‘60s rock not only in shredding style, but in length (it’s not even 3 minutes long), the track is an elastic, off-the-wall romp with the precise sound quality of a song that was recorded onto a cassette at a basement show – but that’s what being a punk from Jamaica Plain is all about. Pop that into your tape deck and smoke it.
“I can remember being in high school, plotting out all these tours I wanted to do,” he says, spreading out a map of the United States he pulls from his trusty messenger bag. If Omand’s next album weaves more winning simplicity with lights-on-the-highway reflections from the road, the future for this dark horse out of Manchester, N.H. looks bright. “Singing and playing guitar like I do now is what I’ve worked for my whole life,” he says. “I’m on to something good.” You can see Tristan perform live Sept. 17 at the Common Man Restaurant, 88 Range Road, Windaham, N.H., and Oct. 10 at the Common Café and Tavern, 2 Quincy Road, Rumney, N.H. Listen and learn more at tristanomand.com
Covering a song by a band with a cult following is always a risky (possibly career-threatening) business, but Boston’s folk-rock outfit Grey Season does it with such confidence that it’s hard to so much as raise a finger in protest. Fusing The Doors’ “Back Door Man” and “Five To One” into a seamless folk take on the two classics, the end result sounds like a close, honkytonk relative of “Roadhouse Blues.” The song debuted on Grey Season’s cover album, aptly named Undercover, alongside equally masterful covers of “Maggie May” and “Sweet Virginia.”
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IT’S OPEN SEASON
The band Hunter is on the loose, nailing musical goals like clay pigeons and accruing gigs like sportsman trophies. Keep yours eyes and ears peeled for their sharp melodies and clever lyricism.
By Victoria Wasylak | Photo by Elle Jean
year ago, Hunter Stamas didn’t even consider herself to be a musician. Yet this summer, she and her band opened for Guster and Atlas Genius at Radio 92.9’s Earthfest, not to mention that the group’s first album debuts August 29. We guess you could say a lot can change in the matter of a mere 12 months. “I wasn’t really a musician at all. I never would have imagined myself playing shows,” Stamas said of her “basement musician” status last summer. The self-taught singer, guitarist and harmonica player booked her first show in July 2014, before Hunter was even a complete band. Wrangling mutual friends together, Hunter formed just in time for that premier gig – but not without a good deal of hustling. “Zack specifically had to learn 45 songs because we didn’t have a bass player,” Stamas said. Bassist Zack Warneka hit the studio every day after his day job, putting in another four hours of practice after eight-hour shifts to learn 45 songs in two weeks.
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From that pivotal gig that drew them together, the band began taking on grueling three- hour gigs at pubs to gain recognition, which got them radio interviews within months of their musical debut. “When you start out, they [venues] want three hours and nothing less, because you’re no one,” Stamas said. Fortunately, considering the band’s exponential growth, shorter opening gigs have become the norm, leaving the band more time to focus on their album. Hunter’s writing tactic is a group effort between all the band members – self-taught Stamas and Warneka, and drummer Connor Coburn and guitarist Cameron Gilhooly. “It’s a synergy,” Gilhooly said. “None of us could write the whole thing by ourselves.” But together, sonic bliss starts to happen. If the album is half as robust as their old-timey folk tune, “Smooth Seas Never Made for a Skilled Sailor” (their only prior release, which initially put them in the running to perform at Earthfest), then the band should be ripe for opportunity. For Hunter, the question of genre is still a sticky one. Their 10-track album, recorded at Vine Street Studio, is what Coburn calls “three separate acts in a play,” in which the band tries on musical styles as easily as clothes in a dressing room. “There’s three overarching genres – there’s folky-indie songs, there’s surf songs that have a lot of reverb, and there’s the heavy songs – the Slayer-inspired stuff,” he teased. “People always say ‘I don’t know who you sound like’ ” Stamas said. Neither does she, for that matter. After some contemplation, the only accurate description she can imagine is “alternative.” The band’s live sound is a whirlwind of Americana and masterful showmanship, not excluding covers of The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” and The Cranberries’ “Linger” which those numerous three-hour gigs helped to perfect. Their own music, however, seems to dodge any other label besides “outstandingly original.” “What sets us apart is, unlike other bands, we take our all influences and write something original,” Stamas said. “You will have the most difficult time comparing us to other bands and defining us — for better or for worse.”
MILL NO. 5 birdsong at morning & special guests at coffe & Cotton every wedesday at 7pm luna sessions at the luna theater every thrusday at 8:05 9/5 jed crook at coffee &cotton at 3pm 9/6 jess and jamie at coffee & Cotton at 1:30pm 9/13 hashtag hoedown at the farm market stage at 11 am 9/19 aloud & melvern taylor at coffee & cotton at 7:30pm 9/26 beware the dangers of a ghost scorpion at the hi-hat at 8pm
Download the new album at hunterstamas.bandcamp.com
9/2 brown boot boys at the farm market stage at 11am MILLNO5.COM
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KILLER gangster hits theaters Sept. 18 with an all-star cast, including an unrecognizable Johnny Depp playing the lead role of crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger in Black Mass. Based on the book of the same title by authors Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, the film puts us smack in the middle of 1970s South Boston, where FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) persuades Bulger to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The alliance helped Bulger evade law enforcement, and consolidate power to become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Beantown’s history. The 86-year-old Bulger, who faced charges for 19 murders, was finally captured after 16 years on the lam in 2011. In 2013, he was convicted of killing 11 people and was sentenced to two life terms plus five years in prison. He is now behind bars at a federal prison in Florida. Bulger declined to meet with Depp and the film’s director Scott Cooper, so the character of Bulger was built by watching FBI surveillance tapes, pouring over photographs and interviewing Bulger’s family and people who knew him. Depp, 52, stayed in character throughout filming, and the result is chilling, says Michael Swanson, who plays the role of a uniformed Boston police officer in the movie.
A Lowell native plays the role of a uniformed Boston police officer in Black Mass
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“He’d pull up in a black Escalade with three or four of his crew and just snap into character,” Swanson recalls. “There are many people who have achieved looking like somebody else but not necessarily their persona. Only the upper echelon of truly great actors can pull that off. Depp was mesmerizing.” Swanson, a Lowell native who now resides in Hudson, N.H., left his longtime job as an art director at Boston College just last year to pursue acting full-time. He’s worked on and appeared in a number of films, including The Boondock Saints, Me, Myself and Irene, The Perfect Storm, Ted 2, and, most recently, played the part of a persistent reporter sticking a microphone in Melissa McCarthy’s face in the new Ghost Busters reboot slated for 2016. But he’s looking forward to ducking into a dark theater later this month and seeing Black Mass unfold on a big screen. “Whitey Bulger is a pretty despicable character and I don’t believe this film is going to romanticize him at all,” Swanson says. “Here you have a killer who rose to become a top criminal king pin and his brother is a top politician in the state. It’s just crazy. You can’t write fiction as good as this. ”
MICHAEL STEVEN SWANSON
The story of Boston’s notorious
By Zack Britten
MORE MADE-IN-MASSACHUSETTS MOVIES
GRAB SOME POPCORN AND
CHECK OUT ZACK’S PICKS Hocus Pocus (1993): Three wicked witches (Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and a pre-Sex In The City Sarah Jessica Parker) rise from the dead to wreak havoc on Salem. Every Halloween, it’s impossible to escape this movie and the spell it puts on you. The Invention of Lying (2009) With an all-star supporting cast of Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, Jennifer Garner, and Louis C.K., comedic genius Ricky Gervais produced, wrote, directed and starred in this comedy set in a world where people can only tell the truth — until Gervais discovers how to lie. Shot in Lowell and Andover. The Departed (2006): An epic thriller about an undercover cop and a mafia mole that finally earned Martin Scorsese a Best Director Oscar. With a star studded cast including Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicolson, Martin Freemen, and Mark Walberg and filmed in a ‘wicked awesome’ location, this hit movie became an instant Boston classic. Shutter Island (2010): Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio team up again to deliver this psychological thriller about a U.S Marshal and his investigation of the disappearance of a murderess in a hospital for the criminally insane. Gone Baby Gone (2007): Yet another gritty detective movie made in Massachusetts, Gone Baby Gone, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, is about two Boston detectives and their investigation of a little girl’s kidnapping, which in the end turns into a professional and personal crisis. Jaws: (1975): Filmed entirely at Martha’s Vineyard, this Steven Spielberg classic about a man-eating great white shark is still a great movie to show your annoying little brother just before you go to the beach. Don’t tell mom. The Fighter (2010): This Oscar-winning biopic about retired welterweight boxing champion Micky Ward stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo, and was filmed in Lowell. Good Will Hunting (1997): This award-winning movie about a troubled, yet genius, M.I.T. janitor propelled its writers and stars — best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck — into Hollywood stardom. Mystic River (2003): Clint Eastwood directed this Boston-filmed drama about childhood friends (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon) united after a tragedy and the darkness that falls when one man considers taking the law into his own hands. Boondock Saints (1999): An epic box office failure, this film about two Irish Catholic twin brothers (Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery) who hunt down and kill Boston’s gangsters with their own brand of vigilante justice has become an epic cult classic.
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or anyone thinking a trip to an art gallery is a little stodgy, UnchARTed just might change your mind. Some days it’s a bit like falling down a rabbit hole. Others, it’s like climbing a beanstalk or floating in space. But everyday, the 103 Market St. art house cofounded by Lindsay Parker and Michael Dailey is a place for people of all ages to bend and stretch their imaginations. “There’s a lot of galleries in Lowell, there’s a lot of venues and there’s a lot of bars, but there’s not one place that’s doing all of it,” says Parker, seated in the lofty new room that used to be a meeting place for teenage gamers and Dungeons and Dragons pros. “I think that makes us really unique in the neighborhood right now.” Since re-opening their doors in August after raising $15,000 from a Kickstarter campaign, the artists of UnchARTed have gained 1,000 extra feet of gallery space, a kitchen that’s been dishing out some of the city’s tastiest pizza and a bar that serves up beer and wine. UnchARTed has come a long way since its first public show in May 2010, on the upper floors of 126 Merrimack St., where every kind of art imaginable — including a flying vagina — decked the walls. In 2012, the original group of about six artists had tripled in size and moved to a larger space at 66 Merrimack St. that had a ground-level gallery and affordable studio spaces, with rents ranging from $75 to $250 per month. More than a place for artists to work, UnchARTed morphed into a unique community with people in residence that covered the gamut of creativity from painters, sculptors and writers to botanists, dancers and furniture makers. Looking back, Parker says the concept is something she was always working towards. As a freshman at Montserrat College of Art, Parker had a professor pose the question: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? “I wanted to be in a farmhouse with 25 artists, working together in a sustainable community, with a print shop in my garage or my barn, and teaching workshops,” she says.
UNCHARTED Photos by Allyson O’Keefe
Little did she know that four months after graduating she was going to stumble on a vacant space in downtown Lowell, which would naturally evolve into her vision of a shared community. Over the course of its five-year run, UnchARTed has established itself as a space dedicated to the social appreciation of local work, bridging art with performance and music. But the 66 Merrimack St. location would eventually wield some problems of its own. The artists’ rent was covering the lease but wasn’t enough to chip away at other costs like the materials needed to hang and coordinate shows or to pay bands playing at the space. “If we wanted the gallery to thrive and make money, we had to move again,” Parker says. Dailey and Parker turned to crowdfunding through Kickstarter. Within the first couple of days, UnchARTed raised a couple thousand dollars and Dailey thought, “Cool, we’ve got time. We can do this.” Three days before the campaign’s closing deadline, UnchARTed was still several thousand short of meeting its goal. On Kickstarter, not meeting your funding goal means receiving no money at all. “I was actually close to letting go, figuring we’d start over eventually with another fundraising platform,” Dailey says. A good friend persuaded him not to throw in the towel and in the eleventh hour, Dailey combed through all of his contacts on social media, asking for help to spread the word. “It was like a game show,” Dailey says. “I was calling people I hadn’t talked to since high school. There was something about that rush of getting it over the edge.” Dailey and Parker were surrounded by friends at a downtown bar when the clock was ticking down to deadline. “All of a sudden we were counting down and (the donations) tipped over our goal,” Parker says. “Everybody was cheering and hugging each other. It was an unbelievable feeling, to have that kind of support from friends and strangers. It meant we were offering something that people really wanted.” UnchARTed raised $1,000 over its $14,000 goal from 263 backers. On a recent Friday night, the new gallery space was buzzing with plainclothes browsers, stuffing their faces with pizza, listening to live music and perusing local art. “It’s not a farmhouse, but it will do,” laughs Parker. “It still has the spirit.”
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Seasonally Crafted Menus. Beer. Live Music. Cocktails. From our Family to Yours HOT SUMMER DEALS 9.99 MEALS Proudly featuring Glenview’s classic entrees 2-5PM | Monday -Friday
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Make your own sundae at our Award Winning Brunch Sundays | 10AM-2PM 248 Princeton Street • N. Chelmsford, MA 978.251.3591 • glenviewpubandgrill.com
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181 Industrial Avenue Lowell, MA 01851-5147 P| 978.458.2345 F| 978.458.3026
photos by Tory Germann
207 Market Street Lowell, MA 01852
124 Merrimack St., Lowell MA
Get Food Happy
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YOUR SOURCE FOR LOCAL NEWS, WEATHER & TRAFFIC
BEATLES & BEFORE ROCK OVERNIGHTS AND WEEKENDS
FULLY INTERACTIVE RADIO 978.454.4980 | EMAIL | SOCIAL MEDIA 16 | HOWL Magazine | howlmag.com
LIVE MUSIC All Ages Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus 61 Market St. | 978-454-BREW An eclectic downtown coffee shop oozing with great java, food and creative energy. Open mic for music and poetry takes place the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month from 6:309pm. Live acoustic performances on Saturdays from 1-3pm. brewdawakening.com Life Alive 194 Middle St. | 978-453-1311 Downtown’s best place to score delicious vegetarian dishes and smoothies also hosts live music every Thursday and Friday from 6-8pm. lifealive.com Mill No. 5 250 Jackson St., 4th Floor | 978-6561828 Inside this historic Lowell textile mill, you’ll find a Victorian streetscape lined with retail shops, a farm-to-table café and an indie theater that hosts some of the region’s best live music and more. millno5.com UnchARTed 167 Market St. | 978-495-0917 A fresh multimedia art space specializing in solo and group shows for emerging artists. Doubles as a performance venue for live music until 1am, and the kitchen serves up tasty pizza and salads until 11pm. 21+ The Back Page 15 Kearney Sq. (rear) | 978-455-4418 Low lighting, great cocktails and not a bad seat in the house make this nightclub along the Eastern Canalway a great spot for catching stellar blues, rock, jazz, funk and soul acts. backpagelowell.com 15 Kearney Blue Taleh Sq. (front) | 978-453-1112 This sushi bar with a stellar drink list hosts jazz and blues musicians on Wednesdays, and, if you’re in the mood for a melody, the piano bar is known for weekend sing-a-longs.
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WAYS TO BLOW OFF STEAM THIS SEMESTER By The Howl Street Team | Photos by Nancy Ho
LOSE YOURSELF IN A MOVIE
The Luna Theater 250 Jackson St., 4th Flr. | 978-656-1828 Lowell’s art house theater features new indie movies and cult classics. Students receive a sweet discount ($8 per show). lunalowell.com
TAKE A CANAL BOAT TOUR
National Historical Park Visitor Center 246 Market St. | 978-970-5000 The history behind building the city’s 5.6 miles of canals seems to unfold like a Martin Scorsese film (think Gangs of New York with Boston accents). For about $6, a boat tour of the canal ways is fun and will give you a new appreciation for Lowell. But hurry, the tours close for the season after Columbus Day weekend. www.nps.gov
TEST YOUR “SMAHTS”
Old Court 29 Central St. | 978-452-0100 The city’s oldest pub trivia challenge takes place at this Irish restaurant and pub every Tuesday at 8pm. oldcourtirishpub.com
TASTE THE BEST DOUGHNUT IN THE WORLD
Donut Shack 487 Westford St. | 978-937-0178 We dare you to find a better doughnut anywhere. Get the marshmallow-filled.
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MEET-UP WITH THE EVIL GENIUS SET
Larry’s Comics 66 Lakeview Ave. | 978-459-5323 The 5th largest comic shop in New England hosts weekly fantasy card games like Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic: The Gathering and Heroclix tournaments. larryscomics.net
EAT A FREE HOME-COOKED MEAL Jessie’s Place
11 Central Sq., Chelmsford 978-710-0765
The second Monday of every month, restaurant owner Jessica Kelley pays it forward to the community by offering everyone who walks through her doors between 5-8pm a free meal. jessiesplacerestaurant.com
FIND 200 ARTISTS UNDER ONE ROOF
Western Avenue Studios 122 Western Ave. | 978-710-8605 With more than 200 creative minds spread over five floors of an old mill building, Western Avenue Studios now holds one of the largest concentrations of working artists in the northeast. On the first Saturday of every month, the artists open their doors for you to explore and play from 12-5pm. westernavenuestudios.com
DANCE WITH ABANDON
Cappy’s Copper Kettle 245 Central St. | 978-735-4866 Undisputedly the city’s best time-warp spot, Cappy’s hosts an oldies dance party every Friday and Saturday at 9pm with a very mixed crowd — think Deer Hunter meets Friends. Yes, it’s weird, but totally fun. Call a friend from the four-walled pay phone booth inside the bar and tell them to join you. So old-school there is no website.
SIP SOME FARM-FRESH CIDER
Parlee Farms 95 Farwell Road, Tyngsboro 978-649-3854 Known for having some of the best apple cider and apple cider doughnuts in the area, Parlee’s has over 20 varieties you can pluck from the orchards come fall. parleefarms.com
SCORE SOME SWEET LOOT
Marketplace at Mill No. 5 250 Jackson St. | 978-656-1828 From retro furnishings and vintage clothes to vinyl, comics, toys, original artwork, jewelry, organic beauty products, tasty treats, farm-fresh produce and much more — you name it and you’ll find it at the monthly marketplaces falling on the first Saturday of the month at Mill No. 5. millno5.com
GET YOUR LEBOWSKI ON
Brunswick Lanes 647 Pawtucket Blvd. | 978-454-0476 Every Friday $10 gets you two hours of Cosmic Bowling, shoe rental, prizes, contests and more. Bathrobe optional. bowlbrunswick.com
WANDER THROUGH A HISTORIC CEMETERY
Lowell Cemetery 77 Knapp Ave. | 978-454-5191 Take a free tour of one of the earliest Victorian garden-style cemeteries in the country, filled with unique stone sculptures, art and history. Tours are Friday, Sept. 25 at 1pm; Saturday, Sept. 26 at 10am; Friday, Oct. 16 at 1pm; and Saturday, Oct. 17 at 10am.
SHOOT SOME STICK
Maxamillians Billiards 315 Middlesex Rd., Tyngsboro 978-649-0400 There are nights when you want something a bit more relaxed. This is why pool was invented. Maxamillians is Greater Lowell’s largest pool hall, with everything you need whether you’re channeling your inner Minnesota Fats or just want a quiet night out with friends. maxamillians.com
SEE ARTWORK BY SOMEBODY FAMOUS
Whistler House Museum of Art 243 Worthen St. | 978-452-7641 Born in Lowell on July 11, 1834, James McNeill Whistler established himself as a painter in Paris and London, developing a distinctive style known for muted colors and simple forms. His masterpiece is largely credited as “Whistler’s Mother” (“Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1”) and his work later provided the inspiration for Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. New exhibits are shown regularly at the Parker Gallery. whistlerhouse.org
BECOME A COLLEGE HOCKEY FAN
CHANNEL YOUR INNER THESPIAN
TAKE THE SELF-GUIDED FIGHTER MOVIE TOUR
UMass Lowell River Hawks Hockey at the Tsongas Center 300 MLK Jr. Way | 978-934-5738 To hell with major league ticket prices. This champion Division I hockey team will give you plenty of reasons to have a blast at the ice rink. goriverhawks.com
New England Ghost Project Dracut | 978-455-6678 Join Greater Lowell’s own zany team of paranormal investigators, The New England Ghost Project, as they hunt for spirits at houses, landmarks and other places rumored to be abuzz with supernatural activity. neghostproject.com
RUN WITH ZOMBIES
Panic in the Dark The freaks come out at night along a creepy 5K obstacle run at Shedd Park on Oct. 24. Try to out race flesh-eating zombies before you become dinner, then join the “Brain Bash” after party with live music, and prize giveaways. Race is 18+. Check online for changing fee schedule. panicinthedark.com
SWING LIKE TED WILLIAMS
Kimball’s Farm 400 Littleton Rd., Westford 978-486-3891 Flex your batting muscle at Kimball’s Grand Slam batting cages. After you’ve had your fill, work on your putt at the fun center’s 18-hole mini golf course, take a bumper boat for a spin or brush up on your air hockey game at the arcade. Top it all off with the homemade ice cream. kimballfarm.com
GET HIGH (ON ADRENALINE)
Skydive Pepperell Pepperell | (978) 433-9222 For the thrill seeker: Skydive Pepperell allows you to jump from a perfectly good plane at 13,000 feet in the air. skyjump.com
FIND YOUR ZEN
Sutra Studios 250 Jackson St., Mill No. 5 | 844-337-8872 Exams got you stressed? Stretch and chant your way back to sanity with yoga for beginners, $16 to drop-in on a class.
Merrimack Repertory Theater 50 E. Merrimack St. | 978-654-4MRT There’s really not a bad seat in the house at the recently renovated Merrimack Repertory Theater where an intimate stage spotlights quality and affordable plays. mrt.org
The award-winning 2010 boxing biopic starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams is based on the real-life story of retired Lowell welterweight champ Micky Ward. Explore the grittier side of the city by following historian and local blogger Dick Howe’s convenient map connecting the dots to all the local places that appeared in the movie. richardhowe.com/2010/12/30/the- fighteron-the-ground-in-lowell
HOWL AT THE MOON
HOWLoween Bash 250 Jackson St. at Mill No. 5 Find a costume and head down to Mill No. 5 on Saturday, Oct. 17 for a goulish groovefest featuring live music, craft beer, a haunted historic tour with members of the New England Ghost Project and cap it all off with a scary movie at the Luna Theater. howlmag.com
EXPLORE THE BEATS
Another Lowell-born celebrity, literary icon Jack Kerouac helped define the countercultural “Beat Generation” through spontaneous prose fueled by outrageous cross-country road adventures and a love of jazz. Check out the annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Fest from Oct. 8-12, where you’ll find pub tours, live music, poetry readings and even an annual road race in his honor. lowellcelebrateskerouac.org
RE-CONNECT WITH YOUR INNER CHILD
City of Lights Parade Downtown Lowell Every November, typically after Thanksgiving, the city rolls out the holiday season with a parade of floats and marching bands before flipping the switch that illuminates City Hall and the downtown historic district in thousands of twinkling lights. Pose for a selfie with Santa and cast your vote for the best hot chocolate in the city. Lowell.org
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
LIVE MUSIC ALL AGES Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus 61 Market St. | 978-454-BREW An eclectic downtown coffee shop oozing with great java, food and creative energy. Open mic for music and poetry takes place the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month from 6:30-9pm. Live acoustic performances on Saturdays from 1-3pm. brewdawakening.com Life Alive 194 Middle St. | 978-453-1311 Downtown’s best place to score delicious vegetarian dishes and smoothies also hosts live music every Thursday and Friday from 6-8pm. lifealive.com
Mill No. 5 250 Jackson St., 4th Floor | 978-656-1828 Inside this historic Lowell textile mill, you’ll find a Victorian streetscape lined with retail shops, a farm-to-table café and an indie theater that hosts some of the region’s best live music and more. millno5.com UnchARTed 103 Market St. | 978-495-0917 A fresh multimedia art space specializing in solo and group shows for emerging artists. Doubles as a performance venue for live music until 1am, and the kitchen serves up tasty pizza and salads until 11pm.
21+ The Back Page 15 Kearney Sq. (rear) | 978-455-4418 Low lighting, great cocktails and not a bad seat in the house make this nightclub along the Eastern Canalway a great spot for catching stellar blues, rock, jazz, funk and soul acts. backpagelowell.com Blue Taleh 15 Kearney Sq. ( front) | 978-453-1112 This sushi bar with a stellar drink list hosts jazz and blues musicians on Wednesdays, and, if you’re in the mood for a melody, the piano bar is known for weekend sing-alongs. bluetalehlowell.com Dudley’s 19 Merrimack St. | 978-455-3050 A downtown neighborhood bar with cozy booths, a stand out pub-style menu and WiFi. But the main attraction here is a big back patio where you can catch bands outdoors while the weather is good. Garcia Brogan’s 131 Middlesex St. | 978-446-0005 A Mexican-Irish hybrid restaurant and pub with two spacious rooms, an outdoor patio and bands every Friday and Saturday night. garciabrogans.com Gemstones 105 Market St. | 978-458-1288 Upstairs from The Blue Shamrock bar, this club is the place to catch rock, metal and hardcore bands. reverbnation.com/venue/gemstones
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The Last Safe & Deposit Company 160 Merrimack St. | 978-455-0092 Owned and operated by award-winning musician and producer Steve Perez (a.k.a. D-Tension), this basement bar is the best venue in the city for seeing up and coming indie bands, underground rock, hip-hop, and tasty jazz, funk and soul Wednesday through Sunday. thelastsafe.com Thirsty First 280 Central St. Originally the Farragut Hotel, Abraham Lincoln stopped here when he gave a speech in Lowell on Sept. 16, 1848. These days, the Prohibition-era themed bar has plenty of craft beer on tap, an outdoor patio and live music on weekends. The Worthen House 141 Worthen St. | 978-459-0300 Built in 1834, this may be the city’s oldest tavern but it serves up some of Greater Lowell’s best new bands. While you sit at the bar and sip on a cold $2 PBR draft, look up and you’ll glimpse one of the last antique belt-driven ceiling fan systems in the country. worthenhousecafe.com
ADVENTURE THE GREAT OUTDOORS Bruce Freeman Rail Trail A 6.8 mile stretch of pavement over a former railroad track links Lowell to Carlisle and makes for a decent dose of nature no matter the season. Park for free (or take the bus) at the Crosspoint towers lot on Industrial Ave. A large storm drain marks the start of the trail.
White Water Rafting From April through May, you’ll find an urban white- water gem, where you can plunge over class III to IV rapids. The Concord River rafting trip by Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust and Zoar Outdoor in- cludes passage through an 1850’s lock chamber that puts you smack in the center of downtown Lowell. Lowell-Dracut-Tygsboro State Forest Spanning three cities, this 1,140-acre forest has six miles of trails for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. UML Outdoor Adventure Program Part of the campus recreation center, this program seems to remain one of the university’s best kept secrets with endless opportunities for students to do fun stuff for cheap throughout the seasons including hiking, surfing, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, snowboarding and more.
The Back Page Wednesdays, 9pm The Safe Wednesdays, 9pm
Lowell Regional Transit Authority: The LRTA city bus system gets you just about anywhere you want to go in Greater Lowell for around $2.
The Worthen House Wednesdays, 9pm
Communter Rail: The MBTA makes it a snap to travel be- tween Boston and Lowell. A round-trip ticket from Lowell is $18.50 and from Boston’s North Station, you can pick up trains to Salem, Mass. and popular beach destinations along the north shore like Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester-By-The-Sea and Newburyport.
Buses to New York City: You can catch a Peter Pan bus from Lowell to NYC for about $100 round-trip. For the frugal, Bolt Bus still provides one way tickets to the Big Apple departing from Boston’s South Station for under $20. Seats fill up fast so be sure to check schedules and book tickets in advance. Reserved seating will guarantee you a spot. boltbus.com | wanderu.com
Thirsty First Thursdays, 9pm
Blue Shamrock Mondays, 9pm Dudley’s Tuesdays, 9pm Garcia Brogan’s Sundays, 9pm Thirsty First Wednesdays, 9pm
GALLERIES & MUSEUMS Gates Block Studios 307 Market St. | 978-221-5018 artsleagueoflowell.com American Textile History Museum 491 Dutton St.| 978-441-0400 athm.org Ayer Lofts Art Gallery 172 Middle St. | 978-970-3556 ayerlofts.com Boott Cotton Mills Museum 115 John St. | 978-970-5000
Garnick’s 54 Middlesex St. | 978-459-0766 A cool throwback to the days of juke boxes and turntables. The interior has a garage sale vibe with vinyl stacked in bins and piled in crates along the floor. While you’re combing through the stash, chances are that one, or all, of the brothers who run the joint will chat you up about “the good old days” of Lowell.
Vinyl Destination Mill No. 5 | 250 Jackson St. Father and son shop owners David Perry and Dan Perry are mad about music and they’ve got a killer vinyl collection to prove it. Flip through the thoughtfully curated stacks and you’ll find plenty of clean, high-quality records for new vinyl converts and serious collectors alike.
RRRecords 219 Central St., Lowell | 978-454-8002 A fixture in downtown Lowell since 1984, Ron Lessard ‘s record shop is packed from floor to ceiling with new and used albums spanning genres and decades. Even during the years vinyl seemed to be forgotten, this shop soldiered on thanks to collectors seeking out Lessard’s extensive wares online.
University Music 1717 Middlesex St. | 978-453-6488 A mom and pop music shop selling instruments and accessories, and offering lessons, rentals and repairs.
Brush Art Gallery and Studios 256 Market St. | 978-459-7819 thebrush.org Loading Dock Gallery 122 Western Ave. | 978-656-1687 millWORKS Gallery 219 Jackson St. New England Quilt Museum 18 Shattuck St. | 978-452-4207 nequiltmuseum.org UML University Gallery 71 Wilder St. | 978-934-3491 UML Dugan Gallery 883 Broadway St. | 978-934-3491 UnchARTed Gallery 167 Market St. | 978-996-2886 Western Avenue Studios 122 Western Ave. | 978-710-8605 westernavenuestudios.com Whistler House Museum of Art 243 Worthen St. | 978-452-7641 whistlerhouse.org Zeitgeist Gallery 167 Market St. | 617-285-1610
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SHOPPING & ESSENTIALS
Humanity 128 Merrimack St. | 978-458-7467 We like to think of this fab downtown women’s clothing boutique as the broke girl’s Anthropologie. Shop owner Ani Vong covets indie brands from around the globe along with items from local designers. Best of all you’ll score some great clothes at an affordable price.
Van Gogh’s Gear 307 Market St. | 978-970-2100 Whether you’re a novice or pro, this downtown shop is fully stocked with everything you need including easels, paints, charcoal, pencils, pads, brushes and gadgets galore. Show your ID and take advantage of the student discount
Eyeful Beauty 33 Middle St. | 978-710-5775 A trendy but laid-back salon with awardwin- ning stylists specializing in cutting edge looks. Stocks great organic hair products, including the Kevin Murphy line. eyefulbeauty.com
Pollard Library 401 Merrimack St. | 978-674-4120 E-readers have sort of made cutting down trees a necessity of the past. But really, is there anything quite as satisfying as the feel of those dry, crisp, papery pages between your fingers? The Pollard Library — which Jack Kerouac credited for opening his world beyond Lowell before he was old enough to go “on the road” — is stacked with reading material, holds book sales throughout the year and has a very knowledgeable and friendly staff to help you navigate the stacks. pollardml.org Serpentine Books 250 Jackson St., Mill No. 5 Step back in time in the city’s newest shop filled with rare and used books.
BICYCLES & REPAIR
City Bicycle 181 Market St. | 978-446-3949 Need some wheels? City Bicycle has an ex- cellent selection of old-school vintage bikes made in the U.S. and Europe, ranging from city cruisers to racers. Of course, you’ll also find brand-spanking new models along with accessories for cheap transportation around Lowell. Shop owner James Hill also offers full service repairs whether it’s changing a flat tire or giving your two-wheeler a tune- up with the works.
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Wicked Original 250 Jackson St., Mill No. 5 Channel the fab 50s, mod 60s or groovy 70s. You’ll find all that and more inside this cozy vintage clothing shop on the fourth floor of Mill No. 5.
Persona 51 Market St. | 978-710-7869 Downtown’s premiere skateboard retailer also sells casual street wear for guys with a full range of hoodies, T-shirts, jeans and a stacked selection of sneakers from classic Chuck Taylors and Vans to Nike, Reebok, New Balance and more.
GIFTS & THRIFT Found 33 Middle St. | 978-654-5059 A fun and funky place to explore and find one-of-a-kind items, antiques and collectibles from different decades in- cluding artwork, pop culture, jewelry and mid-century furnishings. foundlowell.com Rogers Toy Co. 150 Middle St. | 978-454-5517 Find party games in a pinch and plenty of nostalgic toys like Star Wars action figures, Sea-Monkeys, virtual pets and Super Soaker water guns. rogerspools.com The Flower Mill 96 Merrimack St. | 978-677-6894 The stunning blooms at Joanna Hall’s sweet-smelling shop are perfect whether you’re snapping up a single flower to brighten someone’s day or need an artistic and thoughtfully designed arrangement for a special occasion. lowellflowermill.com Abbey’s Treasures 70 Gorham St. | 978-455-9941 Second hand furniture, antiques, clothing and gently-used wares.
GROCERY MARKETS Bangkok Market 179 Chelmsford St. | 978-452-5852 Looking to stretch a dollar as far as it will go? Want to add some new flavor to your culinary adventures? Then put this Asian market on your to-do list. You can actually walk out the door with 7 limes for $1 and a week’s worth of noodles, rice, fruits, veggies and more for around $15. Cotes Market 175 Salem St. | 978-458-4635 Pre-made comfort food to go. This family owned and operated store in Lowell’s Acre neighborhood for four generations is famous for its slow-cooked beans ~ they sell around 300 pounds a week. They’re also known for their French-Canadian pork spread, meat and salmon pies. facebook.com/pages/cotes-market Pailin Rose Market 6 Branch St. | 978-459-7280 Get a taste of Cambodia without the jet lag. Another great South- east Asian market to explore, Pailin offers tasty fixings like ba- nana leaves stuffed with sweet sticky rice, dragon fruit, prahok (fermented fish paste that’s a staple in most Cambodian dishes), fresh turmeric and ginger root. Palika Bazar 1290 Westford St. | 978-441-1505 One of the best-kept secrets of the Drum Hill section of Lowell is this Indian grocer tucked in the back of a strip mall. There’s a good selection of prepared dishes to go, plenty of spices, teas, cosmetics and food products — not to mention the fresh cooked $1 samosas at the counter. Silva’s Market 40 Perry St. | 978-453-4643 A small Portuguese market that sells homemade bread baked fresh daily and torresmos (marinated pork with chili peppers, wine and garlic). V-Mart International Market 123 Church St. | 978-710-6237 Downtown’s newest international market has aisles of ingredients perfect for cooking affordable Asian fusion recipes.
STUDIOS one location
fiber artists • glass artists • jewelers literary artists • metalworkers • painters photographers • potters • printers wood workers • sculptors • and more
Market Street Market 95 Market St. | 978-735-4532 A neighborhood and independently owned “everything” shop in downtown Lowell, Market Street Market stocks its shelves and coolers with an awesome selection of specialty beers and wines. Here, you’ll also find a nice variety of homemade soups and deli sandwiches, farm fresh produce, meats, cheeses, deserts and prepared dinners to go. marketstmarket.com Tutto Bene 58 Prescott St. (rear) | 978-459-9463 This place just feels like venturing into a little nook of Italy. A great place to try wines from around the world, with many bottles priced under $20. The staff is knowledgeable and can help find something for any budget. tuttobenecellars.com
WESTERNAVENUESTUDIOS.COM Find us here!
FIRST SATURDAY OPEN STUDIOS every month year round • 12:00 - 5:00pm
122 Western Avenue • Lowell, MA 01851 howlmag.com | HOWL Magazine | 23
THE GRUB: FOOD & DRINK
THE BEST OF BEST DRINKS WITH FRIENDS
Garcia Brogan’s 131 Middlesex St. | 978-446-0005 The Cactus Bowl is a beverage made for sharing. A giant concoction of both dark and light rum, this Mexican and Irish hybrid bar adds triple sec, grenadine, a splash of pineapple juice and as many long straws as you need. garciabrogans.com
BEST VEGETARIAN Life Alive 194 Middle St. | 978-453-1311 Homestyle hippie-cooking with names like The Rebel, The Goddess and The Hot & Healthy Bachelor are packed with fresh steamed veggies and out-of-this-world sauces that are guaranteed to have even the most die-hard carnivores running back for more. lifealive.com Udupi Bhavan 1717 Middlesex St. | 978-654-6653 Filling and intensely flavored South Indian cuisine that also won’t leave your carnivore friends feeling shafted. We love the crispy golden-brown dosas and crepes stuffed with everything from masala-laced potatoes to Szechuan spiced veggies. udupibhavan.net
BEST BURGER Thirsty First 280 Central St. Besides great craft beer and a crazy-good grilled chesse selection, the pub’s kitchen makes a burger worthy of Holy Grail status. We recommend the Ward Eight — a thick and juicy patty seasoned to perfection, topped with bacon, caramelized onions and melty blue cheese mixed with a cheddar cream ale sauce.
BEST SUSHI Blue Taleh 15 Keanrey Square | 978-453-1112 Fresh, top-quality sushi is sliced and diced right before your eyes at this downtown Japanese and Thai restaurant that’s stylish without being pretentious. bluetalehlowell.com
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BEST COFFEE SHOPS
Brew’d Awakening 61 Market St. | 978-454-2739 A busy quintessential neighborhood spot with a laid-back bohemian vibe that spotlights local art and music in addition to fair-trade coffee, café sandwiches and crepes. brewdawakening.com Coffee & Cotton 250 Jackson St., 4th Fl. | 978-656-1828 Coffee addicts, listen up: inside Mill No. 5 you’ll find a warm and inviting café with a flavor for all things farm-to-table, including homemade desserts, savory sandwiches and beverages made with love and ingredients sourced from local farms and small, independent growers. While there’s a laundry list of reasons to dig this coffeehouse— like the friendly service, free WiFi and weekly live music — the standout is the cold brew coffee and ass-kicking espresso. Drink up and don’t be surprised if you see a unicorn run by or write the next great American novel in under an hour. 5.lunalowell.com/coco Rosie’s 10 Marsten St. Every morning beans are freshly roasted in-house at this cozy coffee and tea room, setting it apart from other java joints in the city. Try the homemade carrot cake when it’s available and experience a sweet slice of food nirvana.
BEST ALL-AROUND DINING Simply Khmer 26 Lincoln St. | 978-454-6700 A place for the food adventurous — including Travel Channel host and food connoisseur Andrew Zimmern who featured this restaurant on his popular TV show Bizarre Foods —here you can chow down on expertly cooked and seasoned bull frog legs or alligator. But for those who want to keep it a little less bizarre, you absolutely can’t go wrong with authentic Cambodian dishes like Amok Trey, curried boneless Talapia fish steeped in a flavorful coconut sauce with kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, shallots and served up in banana leaves; or the original Khmer Loc Lac, beef sautéed in a savory lime and pepper sauce and served over a bed of fresh greens, tomatoes and cucumbers. simplykhmerrestaurant.com
BEST PLACES TO SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH
Corn & Co. 250 Jackson St. | 617-420-2311 Think of it as popcorn reborn. At Lowell’s own gourmet popcorn shop, the flavor possibilities are endless and offer something for every palate from savory, sweet and spicy to chocolatey, fruity and, yes, even bacon flavored. There’s even a Lucky Snacker of The Month popcorn club. cornandco.com Little Delights Bakery 132 Merrimack St. | 978-455-0040 There’s something to be said for variety and Little Delights is saying it — in the form of cupcake flavors like dirty tiramisu, Tuscan cream, death by chocolate, caramel apple and green tea. New flavors are introduced regularly and the bakery also whips up delicious one-of-a-kind cakes for any occasion. Sweet Lydia’s 160 Merrimack St. | 978-888-7616 Nothing beats the nostalgic combo of melted marshmallow and chocolate sandwiched between graham crackers — unless you add in even more yummy goodness like toasted coconut, caramel, fresh raspberries and peanut butter. Revenge on your diet never tasted so sweet at this downtown shop that puts a new twist on an old campfire favorite. sweetlydias.com Top Donut 700 Aiken St. | 978-459-6113 Make it a point to stop in this crazy-popular locally owned doughnut shop and experience what all the hype is about. The glazed and cream filled doughnuts, as well as the apple fritters have a cult following.
BEST FOR A NO-FAIL FIRST DATE Mill No. 5 250 Jackson St., 4th Flr. On that all-important first rendezvous, Mill No. 5 makes for the perfect, casual spot with a cozy café to grab a bite and some coffee, and an adjacent Victorian lounge with fireplaces, sweeping sky views and comfy nooks for chatting. While you’re there, peruse the record bins and Vinyl Destination and pop in for an indie or classic film at the Luna Theater.
BEST PLACE TO GRAB BREAKFAST WITH FRIENDS Owl Diner 244 Appleton St. | 978-453-8321 Arguably the most famous diner in Lowell, the Owl has established itself as a tasty and dependable family run institution. An Appleton Street landmark since 1951, in this classic diner car you’ll find a friendly atmosphere with waitresses who call everybody “Hon,” 32 omelets all named after Lowell streets and thick cuts of grilled ham that are out-of-this-world good. owldiner.com
BEST DELIVERY THAT ISN’T PIZZA Eggroll Café 110 University Ave. | 978-970-3411 Mango bubble tea and steak & cheese eggrolls. Has a better snack combination to fuel exam-cramming sessions been invented? No. Delivery until 9pm. eggrollcafe.com
BEST PLACES TO WATCH THE GAME TreMonte Pizzeria 112 Middle St. | 978-453-1110 TreMonte has several flat screens crowning the horseshoe-shaped bar for sports fans. While you’re getting your game face on, you might want to keep up your energy by sampling the restaurant’s staple — delicious stone fired pizza. tremontepizzeria.com Wicked Irish Pub 197 Market St. | 978-458-9482 Merging the needs of the die-hard sports crowd and that of the casual fan, there’s plenty of room to sit around the bar and yell at the plasma TVs or catch the action from a table while hanging back with friends. Even if your team is losing, the super friendly bar staff and the beer will give you something to cheer about.
FAMOUS PEOPLE BORN IN LOWELL Jack Kerouac, writer Bette Davis, actress James McNeill Whistler, painter Ed McMahon, entertainer Olympia Dukakis, actress Paul Tsongas, politician Michael Chiklis, actor Micky Ward, pro-boxer and junior welterweight champion
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MORE GRUB: FOOD & DRINK
10 UNDER 10 TEN MEALS UNDER TEN DOLLARS El Potro 124 Merrimack St. | 978-455-2840 This popular Mexican cantina with a second location in Somerville is famous for its authentic sauces, slow-roasted meats and pico de gallo-drenched wonders. The fun and kitschy decor, house mariachi band and 30 kinds of tequila are just the icing on the cake at this hopping spot that serves the city’s most consistently satisfying Mexican food. Try one of the filling huraches (toasted cornmeal patty topped with meat & veggies) for around $5. elpotromexicangrill.com Viet Thai 368 Merrimack St. | 978-446-0977 A no-frills downtown institution where the service is fast and friendly and the food, delicious and cheap. The Tom Yum Soup (a hot and sour soup with your choice of beef, chicken or shrimp) is hands-down the best you’ll find anywhere, for just $3.50. The Com Bo Nuong rice plate with grilled sliced beef, cucumber and tomatoes is hearty and satisfying for $6.25. vietthailowell.com Marko’s Mediterranean Grill 90 Thorndike St. | 603-557-0048 Everything on the menu at this Mediterranean food truck parked daily at the Lord Overpass is under $10, including the oversized salads smothered in house made tazatziki and marinated grilled meats ($7), and the filling vegetarian falafel sandwich ($5). Open 11:30am- 3:30pm Mon-Sat. Arthur’s Paradise Diner 112 Bridge St. | 978-452-8647 The epitome of old-school,this landmark establishment has its priorities straight. Arthur’s has been serving perfect, greasy food at low, seemingly inflation-proof prices for more than 75 years. You can’t say you’ve been to Lowell without trying the famous Boott Mill sandwich — a toasted bulkie roll baked fresh daily and piled high with home fries, egg, cheese and your choice of sausage, ham, bacon or corned beef hash. Some cholesterol junkies order the works. This gut-buster will only set you back $5.75. Hours: 6am-12pm Mon-Fri and 7am- 12pm Saturday. Cash only.
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Time Out Cafe & Eatery 72 Merrimack St. | 978-735-4514 A cheery downtown cafe that makes amazing panini sandwiches (like the Havana: tender pork, cooked ham, swiss cheese and pickles) ranging from $3.50-$7. But you can’t beat the deli style half sandwich and bowl of soup (chicken noodle, cheddar broccoli or pasta fagioli) for $5.50. Add a nutritious banana or papaya shake for $3. timeoutcafeandeatery.com Olympos Bakery 214 Broadway St. | 978-452-3366 The pastry offerings at this family- owned Greek and Italian bakery will make your mouth water. But if you’re really living on the cheap, you won’t regret spending $3.50 on the classic grilled ham and cheese (or tomato and cheese) made with bread baked fresh in-house daily. They also make their own pizza for around $1.30 a slice. olymposbakery.com Elliot’s Famous Hot Dogs 37 Elliot St. | 978-458-3179 Snappy Kayem dogs made of pork, beef and spices on a toasted buttered bun are a tasty deal for under $2 at this landmark snack shack. Order two with the “works, extra heavy” or smothered in chili and you’ll get a satisfying meal for under $5. Lowell’s native son, the late comedian Ed McMahon, would always stop here when he was in town. Hong Cuc Deli 11 Grand St. | 978-441-0110 Quite possibly the best Vietnamese sandwich shop anywhere. The BBQ beef banh mi (Vietnamese baguette) merits worship and their creative drink selection with options like the aloe juice and mango bubble drink and kiwi slush make this lunch spot a necessary stop on your to-do list this semester. Oasis Grill and Restaurant 912 Gorham St. | 978-452-0833 Unbelievable Brazilian barbecue. The food tastes homemade, the bar is cheap and best of all you can pay by the pound, which means a huge lunch for around $7. Coffee & Cotton 250 Jackson St., Mill No. 5 If you’re looking for a tasty pick-me-up, you don’t have to look farther than the grilled cheese sandwiches on artisan breads at this downtown coffee shop. The savory breakfast sandwich is otherworldly.
WHERE TO FIND FOOD AT MIDNIGHT Club Diner 145 Dutton St. | 978-452-1679 If you’ve found yourself out in downtown right until the bitter end, then this historic dining car is most likely your next stop after bars close. From home cooked meals like meatloaf and baked chicken to breakfast, this is the place for late night food action and people watching. Open until 3:30am. Wings Over Lowell 26 Market St. | 978-441-9464 Started by two UMass students, this successful national franchise has locations in New York, Somerville, and Burlington, VT. If you’re craving hand- cooked wings made with real meat at affordable prices, you’ll find a menu packed with chicken wings (including boneless) and nearly 20 different sauces to choose from. Open until 1am, they deliver and you can order online. wingsover.com Suppa’s Pizza and Subs 94 University Ave. | 978-970-3961 Fat food for a fat appetite. Suppas portions are huge. Their 2-foot subs are legendary, including the steak stick (a deep fried cheese steak) and the buffalo fat chicken ( jalapeno poppers, spicy french fries, thick strips of buffalo chicken and mozzarella cheese). Delivery until 1am. suppaspizza.com China Star 369 Broadway St. | 978-454-7578 Affordable, clean and delicious, this restaurant offers some great dishes for sharing with friends including two lobsters with ginger and scallions, roast duck and Asian-style barbecue. MonThurs and Sun until 1am, and Fri-Sat until 3am. Romeo & Juliet Café 16 South St. | 978-453-9468 A great late-night destination for Brazilian with service as warm and inviting as the food. Try the famous X- Tudo burger – a big beef patty loaded with the works including cheese, bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato, corn, peas and stick potatoes. Open Friday and Saturday until 3am.
PLACES TO TAKE YOUR PARENTS (OR HAVE THEM TAKE YOU) Cobblestones 91 Dutton St. | 978-970-2282 One of our favorite bars also happens to be an award winning restaurant with creative comfort food and a swanky dining room housed in a historic brick building. A seafood lover’s paradise, no other restaurant in Lowell can rival this raw oyster bar, fresh fish offerings and succulent crab and lobster dishes. cobblestonesoflowell.com Fuse Bistro 45 Palmer St. | 978-323-0424 This downtown bistro located in a former fire house takes pubstyle food up a notch with creative dishes made from farm-fresh ingredients like pan-seared Scottish salmon, grass-fed beef entrees, amazing chicken and waffles, and our favorite fish tacos ever. fuse-bistro-com
BARS 4 BEER LOVERS Cobblestones 91 Dutton St. | 978-970-2282 This casual downtown bar is serious about beer, with an impressive selection of craft brews and draught beers that change with the seasons, including several Made-in-Massachusetts labels like Harvard Lager, Slumbrew and Blue Hills to name a few. cobblestonesoflowell.com Dudley’s 19 Merrimack St. | 978-455-3050 This neighborhood watering hole serves up a killer small-plates menu perfect for ordering a variety and sharing with friends. Then there’s the bar that boasts a dizzying selection of craft and domestic beers, along with a spacious outdoor beer garden and a backroom encased in floorto-ceiling windows that makes for a sweet four-season meeting spot. Lowell Beer Works 203 Cabot St. | 978-937-BEER With nearly 15 house-made brews on tap, the outdoor patio at this beer stop offers an excuse to sit outside while the weather permits and try them all. beerworks.net The Old Court 29 Central St. | 978-452-0100 The Cheers of Lowell, no place does Guinness better than this fun and friendly neighborhood bar where owners Jerry Murphy and Finbarr Sheehan actually hail from Ireland. oldcourtirishpub.com Thirsty First 280 Central St. | 978-454-7600 Guilt-free drinkers are welcome at this popular downtown watering hole that serves up about 30 different specialty brews with several on tap. Selections change weekly and bartenders are happy to pour samples so you get the beer that best suits your tastebuds. wardeightlowell.com
WHERE TO DRINK WHEN YOUR BROKE The Worthen House 141 Worthen St. | 978-459-0300 Yes, we already mentioned this Lowell institution is a great place for live music. But the $2 PBR drafts and pitchers for under $10 are just another excuse to get out and visit one of the city’s oldest — and friendliest — dives, whether you’re kicking it with friends or flying solo. worthenhousecafe.com
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Peter Huynh and Chef Charlie Mai
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SOUP’S ON AT 1981 By Rita Savard | Photos by Allegra Boverman
eal ramen doesn’t come in 10-for-a-dollar deals at Market Basket. Real ramen is rich, layered and bursting with flavor. Enter Chef Charlie Mai, master of the art of the slurp. Mai, along with business partner Peter Huynh, own downtown Lowell’s new ramen-centric restaurant, 1981, where gargantuan bowls of noodles are all the rage. The eatery’s name stems from a birthday Mai and Huynh both share: Jan. 9, 1981. While they’re not brothers by blood, a sampling of their menu leads us to believe this was a brotherly match brought together by some otherworldly power. “I’m not going to lie, we met on AOL chat when we were around 16,” Huynh says, laughing at the thought of dial-up Internet, mushroom haircuts and the days when MTV still played videos. “We’ve been best friends ever since.” Inside their 129 Merrimack St. space, the soundtrack is a nod to the guys’ childhood. Michael Jackson’s Thriller pumps out over the speakers while Mai carefully unfurls a wrapped bundle cradling his knives, a harbinger of lunchtime. He was trained in traditional French cooking at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and spent a couple of years honing his creative chops at the popular Boston pop-up restaurant, Whisk. These days, his signature stamp comes in a steaming dish that greets hungry guests like a warm blanket and a hug. Mai’s broth is an art from combining pork bone, warm spices and herbs slow cooked for days until they break down to create the hearty stock for his Tonkotsu ramen. The end result is a seemingly bottomless bowl of thin straight noodles with bounce and bite, soaking in a savory broth enhanced with a dash of mayu (black garlic and sesame oil), nori (seaweed), a soft-boiled egg, fat hunks of braised pork belly and our favorite — perfectly tender, pickled wood ear mushrooms that soak up all the flavor for an unbelievably delicious bite ($11). Vegetarian ramen options, made fresh with local seasonal produce, will change with the seasons, Mai says. All of the sauces are made in-house including Mai’s special kimchi, a sweet and spicy mix prepared with pickled vegetables, sea salt, ginger, chili, sugar and more, which takes around two weeks for the chef to craft. Experience the kimchi on a steamed bao bun, where it gives a sensational flavor boost to the pork belly confit, scallion and aioli ($8). “Charlie comes up with some crazy ideas but in the end, we eat it and we’re like Wow!” Huynh says. howlmag.com | HOWL Magazine | 29
A couple of years ago, Huynh and Mai, both from the Boston area, were visiting friends in Lowell when they found themselves craving a hearty bowl of ramen. “We both worked in the restaurant industry for a while and love good food,” Huynh says. “Then it just hit us — why don’t we do it ourselves? After the light went on, it was all about let’s make this happen.” In the open kitchen, Mai is at the helm. Clad in a brown leather apron, he slices and dices, sears meat and slaps down noodles with lightening-quick reflexes. He has a clear view of the room, where he waits for it — the synchronicity of slurping, messy faces and smiles. These are his badges of honor. “Getting to watch people eat the food and enjoy it is all part of the fun for me,” Mai says. A wet bar in the center of the room will serve as another outlet for imagination to flow with a lineup of specialty cocktails, Japanese whiskey and sake.
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The dining room’s interior makeover is a simple and clean combination of Huynh’s modern and Mai’s rustic tastes with raw wood, metal and exposed light bulbs. But being sentimental for the past (perfect timing for Deniece Williams’ Let’s Hear It for the Boy to cue up on the playlist), the pair left the writing on the wall behind the bar as a tribute to the former Mambo Grill restaurant, a beloved burrito spot, where, over the years, diners inked the bricks with signatures and sayings like, “She said yes to the dress! 9.4.12.” “There’s an awesome community in downtown,” Huynh adds. “Every neighboring business from El Potro and Bishops to Humanity and UnchARTed have stopped by to say hi, offer a helping hand and words of support. We’re looking forward to adding something new to the mix and keeping everybody well-fed.”
Learn more at: 1981ramenbar.com
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MEET SEAN DANIELS MRT’S NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
WHERE ARE YOU FROM? I say I’m from Florida, because that’s where I was when I was 15, and I consider that to be my most awkward year – but really, my family moved around a lot – DC, Arizona, Florida – every seven years we moved. If it was really for Witness Relocation, my parents did a good job of hiding it. WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO LOWELL? The audiences of MRT. Very few other audiences in the country are invested in their theatre as a whole – usually you see people attending based on whether they know the title of not – not here. Charles Towers did a fantastic job of attracting an audience that is game for new stories and new experiences – that’s actually incredibly rare in the American Theatre. WHERE DID YOU RECEIVE YOUR EDUCATION /TRAINING? I went to Florida State University, but most of my actual education came from co-founding my own theatre company at 22 with eight of my friends, and running it for 10 years. We had to learn on the job, and luckily enough that theatre, Dad’s Garage Theatre Company, celebrates its 20-year anniversary this summer. After I left Dad’s Garage, I went on to be the Associate Artistic Director/Resident Director at California Shakespeare Theatre, then the Tony-Award-winning Actors Theatre of Louisville, and then Geva Theatre. Each stop has been a real education in how you develop new work and connect your theatre to your community.
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HOW’D YOU GET INTO THE THEATER BIZ? It’s slightly embarrassing. As a very small child, my parents took me to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and I wept and cried and screamed and loved it. I left wanting to be an artist. Also, on principal, I have never watched that musical again as I have a sneaking suspicion it will never be as good as it was in my 6- yearold brain. WHY YOUR JOB ROCKS? I feel like the most revolutionary act right now is to turn off your phone and go sit in the dark and listen to someone else’s story for 2 hours – to try to understand the world from someone else’s point of view. So, I get to be a revolutionary. That rocks. BEST WORK DAY EVER? I have a few. I was working on a show that Graham Chapman had written and Michael Palin. And then John Cleese called me up one day to wish me luck on it. Later Palin called before opening and left the greatest voicemail message of all time. Another time, I was doing a show about Jimmy Carter, and Jimmy Carter showed up. At intermission he went around and shook everyone’s hand and thanked them for supporting the arts. Then there was a show I opened at Manhattan Theatre Club this year that got great reviews and then transferred to the West End in London at the end of the summer (and later was named the #1 London Musical of the Year). When you’re a kid you always dream that you’ll be doing that kind of thing, and when it happens you have to remind yourself to not smile all the time and at least pretend like you’ve done this sort of thing before. And yes, I ate fish and chips pretty constantly. FAVORITE SHOW YOU WORKED ON AND WHY? I co-wrote and directed a show about the science of Rock and Roll with some friends that premièred at Actors Theatre of Louisville (which is known for the Humana Festival of New American Plays). My father, who loved music, had Parkinsons and a chunk of the show was about how music helped to ease his symptoms and adjust his brain chemistry. Even though it was very tough on him, he made it to opening. At the end, instead of just applauding, he threw his walker at the stage. It was maybe his greatest rock and roll moment ever.
ONE THING THAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR JOB? I spend a lot of time directing and a lot of time setting up systems for audience members to get closer to the art itself. I’m always proud of hit shows, but I’m equally proud of the audience engagement efforts we developed at Geva, mainly the Cohort Club, which received national press on being an innovative way to connect community members to the work. I can’t wait to bring it to MRT. I’m a big fan of the art form, and I love it when I help someone else to fall in love with it as well. YOU HAVE A BIG MUSIC BACKGROUND, WHAT’S CURRENTLY ON YOUR PERSONAL PLAYLIST? D’Aneglo’s album – it makes the world seem a bit warmer. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO FOR ENTERTAINMENT WHEN YOU’RE OFF WORK? Moderation has never been my strong suit – so I either binge watch Netflix at home, or I try to travel out of the country whenever I have a free moment. So, this past weekend was all of Black Mirror, and the weekend before was Jamaica. That’s about how it usually goes. WHO IS YOUR HERO IN THE ARTS AND WHY? Actually my parents, because they grew up going to the theatre and galleries and independent movies, and when my brothers and I were born, they made sure that we all went to as many art events as we could. It was only later that I realized that other families didn’t go to the theatre all the time, and that arts education stopped shortly after 7th grade. So my hero is my parents, and every parent who wants to make sure that arts remain an important tool in how their child develops into an empathetic human being. FAVORITE QUOTE FROM THE STAGE? My favorite quote is: “Mistakes are the portals of discovery” – which isn’t really from the stage as it’s James Joyce – but seriously, whose gonna say no to a James Joyce quote? IF YOU COULD TIME TRAVEL 10 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE, WHERE WOULD YOU HOPE TO SEE YOUR FUTURE SELF? I hope I’m somewhere getting my haircut, because that would mean I still have enough to need constant maintenance.
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MERRIMACK REPERTORY THEATRE
“The best musical I’ve seen this year.”
“Absolutely the best original musical of the year so far…”
PHOTO OF: BENJAMIN SCHEUER, PHOTO BY MATTHEW MURPHY
“BEST NEW MUSICAL”
Written and Performed by
Benjamin Scheuer PRODUCTION SPONSOR
AUGUST 26 – SEPTEMBER 20
MRT.ORG | 978-654-4678 | 50 E. MERRIMACK ST., LOWELL, MA 34 | HOWL Magazine | howlmag.com
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