By: Tammy Daniels On: 10:46AM / Tuesday June 28, 2011
Ponchos were the de rigeur fashion at Solid Sound Festival this weekend.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The second annual Solid Sound Festival started soggy but ended with sunshine as more than 6,000 music lovers descended on sleepy North Adams for three days of Wilco-selected fun.
There's no doubt the influx (nearly half the city's population) was a boon to business. There were lines to get into restaurants and the number of feet on the street was remarkable. They filled up hotels and motels throughout the area and some 230 campsites at "Solid Ground" at Noel Field.
The festival was a family affair for many.
The Hub did a record 514 covers (last we knew) by the wee hours of Sunday morning; more than 300 old '60s and '70s vinyl albums flew out of Empire Antiques. Inside the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, there were lines at the locally-operated food booths. The Rotary had sold more than half their 3,000 hot dogs by mid-Saturday afternoon. Despite the 150 kegs rolled into the campus, Public Safety Director E. John Morocco said there had been no incidents.
Fans of alt-rock Wilco came from near and far and ranged from the sharply dressed to those in casual shorts and T-shirts, from the stroller to the gray-haired. Children were ubiquitous - being pushed and carried, dancing and playing.
Amy Joyce of Albany, N.Y., was there on Saturday afternoon with her husband and three children ages 2,4 and 6. Both Wilco fans, the couple had driven in for two days. The constant rain hadn't deterred them; a lot of the activities for the kids were inside Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, she said
Classic vinyl was in demand.
We're more than happy to be here to see them," said Joyce, adding they'd come last year was well. "We made a weekend out of it."
The Joyces had opted for a motel over a campsite. "We're not that brave!" laughed Joyce.
Festivalgoers huddled under umbrellas and the numerous "skyways" dating from the complex's days as a mill, and sported the fashion of the day: ponchos in bright primary colors and mud boots (for the hardier, sandals and no protection). As the music moved through the several outdoor venues, the crowd flowed forward to surround each stage, stomping through puddles.
"This is awesome, everything is awesome," said Ken Williams, who'd driven from Somerville to spend a soggy weekend at Solid Ground. Williams, "a big Wilco fan," had missed last year's festival and had to hear about it secondhand from a friend. "So I had to come this year."
He had nothing but praise for the festival, the area and the people. "I've never been to North Adams before. It would have been better if the weather was nicer ... but it's a beautiful place."
The band thanked their fans for being so devoted.
Friend Liz Sussky of Amherst, who'd come to spend the day, chimed in it "was a beautiful drive up here." Both said they would definitely return.
On Saturday night, a brief thunderboomer had MoCA volunteers herding the crowd into the protection of the galleries, an emergency procedure worked out in case bad weather struck. But the thunder was the last gasp — the skies (almost) cleared and fans moved back into muddy Joe's Field to hear Wilco's second performance of the festival.
Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy nodded to their dedication, telling the sea of bobbing heads: "thank you for being so devoted and standing in the rain. ... Thank you, so much."
Afterwards — seven encores afterwards — the crowd spilled out onto Main Street as the city stayed up late to party.
Still, there were a few people wondering, like the elderly lady who spotted my photo press pass on Saturday night, "What's a Wilco?" After a second successful festival, no one should be left questioning the windfall that is Wilco.
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Editor: I'm a little confused. Who complains about no business? All I've heard is that business was booming this weekend. Or are you saying there is no business in general? - Andy McKeever. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I agree I didn't know the Hub wasn't open for breakfast anymore and suggested that to a few people I met as I was volunteering. Even though they aren't open for breakfast anymore, I wonder why they didn't just for Sat & Sun? Especially since cup and saucer (or whatever it was called closed)
yes downtown boomed over the weekend , but sunday most stores were closed and that includes the hub....having the stores n shops closed this past sunday is crazy, north adams biggest weekend of the year with tourists
Overall this weekend was huge financial shot in the arm for the city. That said, I've spoken with a couple businesses that took a bath financially this past weekend. Chalk it up to not understanding where the people were going to be and what they would be buying.
Unfortunately this is all too common in North Adams. The inability to offer products and services in a manner or at a time that people with disposable incomes will actually shop downtown for is not unique to Solid Sound weekend. We've been missing the tourist/summer home trade for decades because so much of our population is blind to their desires.
Just look at the Holiday Inn - An experienced upscale hotel group buys it, but can't find enough business to pay for the needed renovations to keep the franchise contract. We can complain all we want, but until we understand "where the money is," (hint: it's currently not in North Adams) not much is going to change.
Bring 5 big festivals a year to MoCA and then we will be talking about a serious impact on economic growth.
Perhaps instead of making comments you have no idea about, your information on the Holiday Inn is way off base, almost all of the guest rooms have been renovated, as well as the pool area. Perhaps if the former "local" owners hadnt let the place fall into disrepair and put some "local money" in it.
External renovations have been planned, but from what I understand the corner office on Main St doesnt want the "exterior look" changed and even rejected the standard Holiday Inn signage that was to be placed in front.
So to understand "Where the money is" its certainly not going to come to North Adams when the City Government and good bunch of select people continue to make things difficult for any new business to want to come here, ie: Super Walmart and even telling a business it cant paint its store in the primary colors of its business (Carr Hardware)
We need at least 3-5 more festivals, street fairs, art/farmer markets regularly, more events, and a larger MoCA presence downtown. Oh...and when there are 6K plus new, spending, people in North Adams...who in their right minds closes their stores, or restaurants.....doesn't make business sense to me either.
Okay Just... first of all, maybe you're the one who should know the facts before speaking or writing. The Mayor has not in any way told Holiday Inn it cannot do its standard signage. The Redevelopment Authority approved the signage package a month ago, and approved everything Holiday Inn requested. The "issue" has been city ordinance dictates signage has to be a certain height above the ground so that you can see beyond it when pulling out of the Inn's driveway. Their sign design didn't meet that height requirement, so they're reworking the height of the signage, and that's the only "issue" with signage. The design was approved, the look was approved, and all other signs were approved.
On the color issue, Carr Hardware's official colors do not include bright yellow. If you've ever been to any of their stores across the county, it's not a "company" color. The owner of Carr Hardware made his peace with that issue, why can't you? They're opening a brand new larger space on State Road, which has already been approved by the Planning Board, including their signage, which isn't yellow.
Editor: Can we try to keep this on topic? I understand this particular post is responding to a previous comment but overall this comment section is veering off-topic. -Andy McKeever. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
For the record, the comments by "Just" above re: the Holiday Inn are in error (one of the great weaknesses of these comment boards - anybody can say any damn thing). The city approved the Holiday Inn signage but one of the signs presented a traffic hazard (it would have prevented people from seeing traffic as they exited the parking lot). Everything else is OK and the Holiday Inn people know that.
i would like to know ...what businesses took a bath over wilco weekend?.....as per local hotel....it was sold out over weekend, but i wonder why did they close restaurant early friday, would have been a great night to stay open for drinks
Great Festival. Great Weekend. Great showing by North Adams. Sure, a few businesses missed the boat, but it was better than last year.
MASS MoCA involvement in the downton is great (and necessary), nut I also wish there was a way to get more local involvement within MoCA. Joe's Field would be a great place to hold a community event, like a fair of some sort. Too many locals have never set foor in it, at least not since Sprague closed..
Finding breakfast downtown Saturday and Sunday was crazy. Thank god for Brew Haha and Big Shirls but that's only a handfull of tables for 6000 people. Not sure what the Hub was thinking not to bend their schedule for one weekend. I noticed Desperados opened on Sunday when they normally don't and they were packed.
Before making an unsupported comment about the Holiday Inn, currently for the time being know as The Hotel North Adams, why don't you next time at least learn the facts before sticking your foot in your mouth and making an assumed comment on the Hotels Ownership and renovation status something that you seem to know nothing about. If you want to know the real story about the Holiday Inn in North Adams please do your homework next time before speaking. Stop in and learn the real facts for starters. But what is even more confusing is this, I'd like to know why or how that comment even relates to the topic of this forum which is suppose to be about Solid Sound and not a personal unsupported comment about the business of the Hotel North Adams!
Director of Sales
The Hotel North Adams
It was great that the town gave everyone something to do after the concert on Saturday, but the absence of places to get breakfast on Saturday and Sunday was really noticeable. I was working our booth at the Eagle St. market (lots of friendly faces, no sales), and it was a really noticeable absence. I sent folks to Linda's Cafe, hearing that the lines at BrewHaHa were out of control. This is something that should be addressed for future concerts, the same way that late night was handled.
Editor: The odd thing is that St. Elizabeth's decided not to do breakfasts this year because it wasn't worthwhile last year. Maybe there were more hungry breakfast eaters this year - all at Solid Ground? I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)