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Solid Sound Opens Friday at Mass MoCA
By Tammy Daniels On: 04:38PM / Wednesday June 24, 2015
The main stage at Joe's Field is getting the final touches for the performances beginning Friday night at Solid Sound.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art was a hive of energy on Wednesday as staff and volunteers made ready for more than 7,000 concertgoers expected to descend on the city this weekend.

The three-day Solid Sound Festival — Wilco Weekend to the locals — opens Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Mass MoCA with music, comedy, art installations, vendors and more.

Saturday is sold out but three-day passes are still available, as are one-day tickets for Friday and Sunday.

Curated by the genre-bending alternative band Wilco, the festival has nearly doubled in size from its initial launch in 2010. The popularity of the biennial event in bringing concertgoers from across the country and the world has led to the museum's investment in outdoor performances, including the annual FreshGrass bluegrass festival that brings in more than 5,000. 

The very personal artistic endeavor was spearheaded by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, Mikael Jorgensen and Glenn Kotche.

"There are a lot of really, really big festivals in the world now. But the big festivals to me are ... I don't think they're very musical. I mean the only real desire was to make a festival we wouldn't be miserable at," says Tweedy in the just released documentary about Solid Sound, "Every Other Summer."

Wilco will play two sets, including an acoustic version on Friday night.

While Wilco may be the main driver, the festival is offering an eclectic mix of activities, from playing catch with the North Adams SteepleCats to an immersive 12-screen video installation in the Courtyard D by exhibiting artist Clifford Ross. The main entrance features SuttonBeresCuller's telescoping "Big Top Grand Stand" and Jim Shaw's "Church Inflatable." The iconic Wilco letters are this year resting by the West Main Street Gate, bracketed by Franz West's "Les Pommes d'Adam," on loan from the Hall Art Foundation.

An army of volunteers were recruited months ago to staff the outdoor gathering, that covers two interior courtyards and the main stage at Joe's Field.

"We also call back everyone who worked at Mass MoCA in the last three to five years to help," said Jodi Joseph, director of communications.

More vendors will also be on hand to feed hungry festivalgoers, including local vendors such as Wild Oats, Desperados, The Hub Spice Root and the North Adams Rotary, which last festival sold more than 5,000 hot dogs.

Further out, three "pop-up" campgrounds have sprung up to service concertgoers. Solid Ground at Noel Field Athletic Complex was an experiment in 2010. It worked so well that the Hoosac Valley High School Cheshire was added in 2013 and the Aggie Campground at Bowe Field in Adams this year.

Both Solid Ground and Hoosac Valley, which benefit the Northern Berkshire ROPES Program and Hoosac athletic program, respectively, are filled up but there's still room at Bowe Field, said Keifer Gammell, box office manager.

Hoosac added a "concierge camping" this year to set up for campers, said Gammell. "You just put down your sleeping bag down and drop your backpack and you're ready to go."

Getting all those people in the downtowns is also the minds of local businesses. The festival is expected to have an economic impact of $2 million - from food and lodging to gas and merchandise.

The North Adams Chamber of Commerce will be handing out paper fans with information on local stores and restaurants to help keep concertgoers cool during the muggy weekend (showers are expected but will hopefully hold off).

Center Street will be closed on Saturday from 9 to 1 for the weekly Farmers' Market and an artisan/craft fair. More than 30 vendors will be on hand.  V&V Steeple City Spirits is holding a "Hops & Sound" tasting festival over Friday and Saturday, with a silent auction on Saturday to benefit the North Adams After-School Program.

Also on Saturday, local historian Paul Marino will offer a free walking tour of downtown starting at 2:30 p.m.; for residents and concertgoers with youngsters, the North Adams Cinema is offering a free screening of "The Goonies" at 11 a.m.

Joseph said visitors can expect a unique experience of art and music on the campus of Mass MoCA.

"Jeff Tweedy said this will be the best Solid Sound ever," she said.

 



     
Solid Sound Festival Skipping 2014, Will Return in 2015
Staff Reports On: 09:13AM / Friday January 24, 2014
Jeff Tweedy performs during the first night of last year's Solid Sound Festival.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Solid Sound Festival won't roll through the city this year but it will be back in 2015.
 
On Thursday, Wilco announced that Solid Sound Festival will return to Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in 2015 from June 26-28.
 
Last year, the festival attracted more than 7,500 people from all over the country to the city for the weekend.
 
This isn't the first year skipped — the band opted out of Solid Sound Festival in 2012 because of a heavy touring schedule for its album The Whole Love. The Chicago-based band did make a stop in the city that summer though for a benefit show for the museum.
 
The 2015 festival will be the fourth Solid Sound Festival in six years.
 
Wilco has no dates set for 2014, however guitarist and singer Jeff Tweedy will perform at Mountain Jam, a festival on the nearby Hunter Mountain in New York, from June 5 through June 8 this year.
 
Jodi Joseph, director of communications at the museum, said Mass MoCA will still be a "summer of music."
 
"We're working on a full slate of programming to take advantage of every stage and venue across our campus," Joseph said in an email Friday morning. "Summer will kick off with a not-to-be-missed 15th anniversary celebration concert and party on Memorial Day weekend, and we won't stop [until] FreshGrass in late September."


     
Thousands Flock to North Adams for Solid Sound
By John Durkan On: 11:09AM / Saturday June 22, 2013
Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy performs during the band's first set of the weekend.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Several thousand people poured into Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art on Friday for the Solid Sound Festival, headlined by the Chicago band Wilco.
 
Although familiar faces were abundant — such as Kathy Keeser conducting volunteers and David Bond, a city councilor, shouting, "Get your hot dogs here," from the Rotary Club vender tent — fans from all over the country turned up for the concert.
 
Jeffery Boykin traveled "non-stop, solo, 12 1/2 hours to Vermont" from Raleigh, N.C. for his second Solid Sound Festival. The first festival was also his first trip ever to New England and he bought tickets for the second round, but bailed on the stormy forecast, which he regretted — but a mistake he will never repeat.
 
"It's great, the people are lovely," Boykin said of his experiences in the city.
 
Repeat visitors were common. A young family from Tyngsborough enjoy their regular trip to Solid Sound Festival — this one being the third — and the surrounding artist community.
 
"North Adams is cool, this and Williamstown," said Warren Allgrove, who attended with his wife, Bethany, and son Warren "Ren" Allgove. "It's a good artist community like Lowell — old mills turned into artist lofts."
 
Local businesses saw some spill over from the festival. Desperados owner David Atwell saw a busy morning and a steady, busy day and night vending on site.
 
"The restaurant opened at 11, by 11:30 we had a full house, all out-of-town people," Atwell said, noting he saw really positive energy from the visitors and community.
 
Jonathan Del Sordo, an employee at Mass MoCA who helped check in campers at the H.A. George campsite, said he felt the same energy, both from festival-goers and residents  a like.
 
"Everybody is in the greatest mood," Del Sordo said.
 
Only a couple fans might have experienced some playful jabbing, like the fan who traveled from Wilco's stomping grounds in Illinois donning a Chicago Blackhawks shirt in Bruins territory.
 
Mark and Bruce Marino, two brothers living in Baltimore and Cleveland respectively, are spending the weekend together in the name of Wilco. After Bruce Marino took time planning and mostly "convincing his wife to go to the beach," he said jokingly, his brother jumped on board immediately.
 
And for good reason — the first day alone featured the energetic four-piece group White Denim before the Relatives brought a solid, gospel sound to Joe's Field. 
 
Then fittingly, when Wilco took the stage for its all-request set, the band opened with Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town" to a sea of fans, marking the return of Solid Sound weekend.

 



     
Wilco's Solid Sound Fest Tickets Now On Sale
Staff Reports On: 10:50AM / Friday November 30, 2012

Updated 4:30 p.m. The "early worm" tickets are sold out. But the "early bird" tickets for $124 are still available.

 

 


Updated 2:00 p.m.: Tickets are going fast. There are less than 100 "early worm" tickets left.

 


NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Tickets for the 2013 Solid Sound Festival went on sale Friday with an "early worm special."

Tickets for the three-day festival organized by Wilco are $99 in limited quantity now and when they sell out, another batch of limit quantity tickets will be $124 and eventually $149. They are available here.

The festival featuring musicians, artists and comedians begins on Friday, June 21, and will conclude on Sunday, June 23, at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

A full lineup has not yet been announced. Campsites at Noel Field, dubbed "Solid Ground," will also return with sites for $90 per tent — with a maximum of four people per tent — and $120 for an RV.

The band canceled last year's festival which draws thousands to the downtown in favor of touring to promote their new album. However, they did return to MoCA for a benefit concert.

Check out some of our photos from the 2011 event here.



     
Wilco Offering 1,000 Tickets to Mass MoCA Benefit
Staff Reports On: 09:23AM / Tuesday April 10, 2012
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Those having a Wilco withdrawal because of the absence of Solid Sound Festival this year have a chance to catch them in a benefit performance on Tuesday, July 31.

The band returns to the Hunter Center at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the nonprofit museum. Tickets will be sold by a "name your price" auction and a lottery.

Capacity is capped at 1,000, with general admission and a standing-room only configuration. The benefit is courtesy of Wilco, with additional support from Higher Ground Presents.

"On a different and more intimate scale than Wilco's other New England appearances, this will be a rare opportunity to feel Wilco's 'whole love' up close," said Mass MoCA Director Joseph Thompson. "The museum galleries will be open until 30 minutes before the performance that evening for those who want to take in some art as part of their visit."

The first 500 tickets will be sold to bidders who make the highest offers at www.massmoca.org/wilco_benefit.php over a 2 1/2 day period that begins at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 13, and runs through 10 a.m. on Monday, April 16.

To maximize the chance of getting tickets — and also support Mass MoCA — bidders are being encourged to make the highest offer they can. Those whose bids are not among the top 500 will still have a chance to score tickets to this performance when their bid is placed into a random lottery. Bidders drawn from a hat will be offered the opportunity to purchase a pair of tickets at the price named on their bid form.

"It's an experiment, which we hope proves to be more civilized, more fair, and more fun than the standard mode of ticket sales," said Thompson, "And we hope it brings Mass MoCA the strong charitable support which is at the heart of this special evening."

Wilco has been curating the popular Solid Sound Festival at the museum, which includes music, comedy, art and culture. The two festivals so far have drawn upwards of 5,000 to the three-day events but the planned annual event was put off until next year because of scheduling.

The main draw has been Wilco, which has performanced at least twice at each festival and whose members have participated in workshops and demonstrations throughout the festival weekends. The festival returns to Mass MoCA on June 21, 2013.

Wilco's latest album, the Grammy-nominated "The Whole Love" is out now on the band's own dBpm Records.


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

We're keeping this blog to let you know who's here, where to go, what's happening, the best places to eat and other things of interest to both residents and concertgoers.

Important Links:

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Solid Sound Opens Friday at Mass MoCA
Solid Sound Festival Skipping 2014, Will Return in 2015
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