Frank Turner’s festival Lost Evenings — which brings its third installment, and first outside of London, to Boston this week — came out of the rugged folk-punker’s experience on the circuit, and knowledge that he could very easily put one on himself.
“Basically, I’ve played every festival in the universe,” says the UK-based musician, who’s been making music as a solo artist since 2005. His extensive experience inspired him and his associates to figure out how he could put his own stamp on a multiday, multi-band event. “The idea of curating an in-city festival — picking one big venue and having [events in] smaller venues around it — gradually kind of evolved,” he says.
The first Lost Evenings took place two years ago at The Roundhouse, a hulking London building in the middle of Camden Town. “To everybody’s surprise, it went incredibly well,” Turner recalls. It went on to win the Golden Welly Award for Best Independent Festival at 2017’s AIM Independent Music Awards, and a sequel took place at the same building a year later. “We did the second one there because we felt that we would do well to just consolidate the lessons we’d learned,” says Turner. “None of us had put on a festival before; we had no idea what we were doing the first year. But the plan always was to move internationally.”
Bringing the third installment of Lost Evenings to Boston wasn’t necessarily a given, but the passion Turner inspires from audiences here made it appealing. “I have a long and public love inside of Boston that is ongoing,” Turner, says with a laugh. “It slightly has to do with the fact that Boston is often ahead of the curve when it comes to UK bands hitting the USA — that’s a well-documented historical phenomenon.” It was helped along by a cosign from the Dropkick Murphys, the feisty folk-punkers who double as hometown heroes. “We toured with the Dropkicks back in 2012 and 2013, which is the equivalent of being handed the keys to the city, as far as I can tell,” he says. After that run — which included three St. Patrick’s Day shows at the House of Blues and a support slot at Agganis Arena — he’s consistently played to sizeable crowds in Boston, headlining Agganis and, last year, playing a six-night run at the Theatre District nightclub Royale.
Lost Evenings, though, will have Turner and his associates taking over a chunk of Landsdowne Street — and a little bit of Allston as well. The main stage and the Nick Alexander stage, which features up-and-coming acts, will be located in House of Blues. Panels on topics ranging from life as a member of Turner’s road crew to mental health in the music industry to active bystander training will take place in the House of Blues’ Foundation room in the afternoons, while an open mic will be ensuing at Bill’s Bar. Stingray Tattoo in Allston, meanwhile, is adding an array of Turner- and Lost Evenings-themed designs to its menu. (Turner’s crammed weekend agenda includes adding Lost Evenings III-themed body art to his collection.)
The array of bands supporting Turner, both on the main stage and the Nick Alexander stage, is full of bands who Turner and his associates (including people at his label, Xtra Mile Recordings) adore. “We’ve picked up a reputation over the years as picking the best support acts, and that’s why my audience tends to be respectful towards four acts. It’s something I am really keen on, and proud of.”
Turner is particularly over the moon for the four second-billed acts on the Lost Evenings III bill, folk-pop patriarch Loudon Wainwright III, brawny rockers The Hold Steady, wry guitar-slinger John K. Samson, and pugilistic punkers Against Me!. “The main four [support acts] across the main stage are basically my four favorite musical acts of all time, playing one, two, three, four,” he says. “It’s just crazy. I cannot believe Loudon Wainwright III is playing. I am just out of my mind excited about that. John K. Samson’s my favorite songwriter of all time. Against Me!, The Hold Steady — it’s great.”
That feeling extends all the way down the bill. “I am so excited to be a part of this,” says Tim Howd of The Only Humans, who play Sunday. Howd and his folk-punk group, who hail from “the death metal heart of Massachusetts” (between Boston and Lowell), won the opportunity to represent Boston on the festival’s bill. “You really get a sense that [Turner] is completely genuine in his love for music and love of the people he plays with, and that extends to the musicians he plays with, as well as his fan community. I’ve never been at a show where everybody wasn’t just so excited to be there; I’ve never been at a show where it didn’t feel like he was so excited to be there.”
Excitement, it’s pretty clear, is Turner’s MO — and sharing it is even more essential. “One of my only sadnesses about Lost Evenings as a festival, is that in terms of my own physical stamina, I simply cannot watch every band,” he says. “Otherwise I would expire on the spot, you know? But I’d love to, because I want to see more.”
Lost Evenings III
Featuring Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, Loudon Wainwright III, The Hold Steady, John K. Samson, Against Me!, and others. At House of Blues, House of Blues Foundation Room, and Bill’s Bar and Lounge, May 16-19. Times vary; see www.lostevenings.info for a full schedule of shows, panels, events, and ticket availability.Maura Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.