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Wilco Finds Berkshires Home Away From Home
By: Andy McKeever On: 07:50PM / Friday June 24, 2011

Wilco met with the media in the Katharina Grosse exhibit inside the museum before the second Solid Sound Festival kicked off.

Wilco members Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche said the Berkshires have become the other half of the band's base with their management opening shop in the next county over in Northampton.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshires is considered a second home to the band Wilco.

"A tentacle of our global operations has planted itself firmly in the Berkshires. Our management, our longtime manager, made a home here in Northampton so a lot of things have grown around that operation," band leader Jeff Tweedy said during a meeting with the press Friday prior to the kick off of the Solid Sound Festival. "Chicago is where we work and record the records and rehearse and this area is where all of the other types of decisions are made."

The band returned to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts on Friday for the three-day long festival. While the festival draws thousands of people, it is still minor in comparisons to other major festivals in the country — exactly the way Wilco wants it.

"I love the scale. I don't really have any aspirations to outgrow the [museum]. Last year, we could have obviously accommodated more people," bassist John Stirratt said. "This is the antidote of the big rock concert. All I aspire to is to keep going and get more of our friends here to play."

The band's even selected Mass MoCA and the festival for the release of its first single under its new self-label. The 7-inch vinyl is on sale for $8.

Museum Executive Director Joseph Thompson said the museum is very proud to continue being the host.

"We are really, really proud to be the host of Wilco. The band is very near the core of our DNA at Mass MoCA," Thompson said. "We just couldn't imagine a better group of people."

Instead of playing the larger festivals, the band is curating its own festival for the second year in a row. When asked to explain why, pianist Mikael Jorgensen responded, "Why not?" Guitarist Nels Cline said that by curating their own festival, they get a chance to direct the whole weekend.

"I think a lot of our bands wouldn't necessarily be invited to the big festivals so it's kind of nice to be able to invite ourselves to our own festival," Tweedy said. "It's all stuff that we have some connection to or if we haven't made contact with, it's bands we'd like to make contact with."

Stirratt said the band would love to invite every band they have known but they are not getting ahead of themselves. Tweedy said the band will not even begin to think about next year's festival until this year's is complete (and the "pain of planning" it has passed).

However, the festival has already shown growth with an additional Friday night set by the band and the Solid Ground tent set up at Noel Field. The festival is also being held earlier in the year.

"It rained a lot more this year than last year. It did rain last year but not as much," Glenn Kotche, drummer, said.

Thompson said the show will go on rain or shine. If the weather gets very bad the audience will be ushered inside temporarily but the show will continue on right after.



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Solid Sound Festival curated by Wilco at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art runs Friday through Sunday, June 26-28.

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