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Wilco Finds Berkshires Home Away From Home

Andy McKeever

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.

Tags: album      

Solid Ground Filling Up

Andy McKeever

Javier Higuera was one of the first to arrive at Noel Field for the Solid Sound Festival. Higuera drove from Arizona stopping in major cities on the way for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Solid Ground expects to be filled to the brim.

According to Police Sgt. David Sacco, a founder of the local ROPES program, 250 tent slots and all 10 recreational vehicle spots have been sold and the campers have been trickling in all morning. Each tent can have up to four people.

"Check in started at 11 a.m. and they've been filtering in consistently since then," Sacco said Friday afternoon. The ROPES organization, lead by local emergency responders, is coordinating the camping area at the municipal park.

The site at Noel Field is expected to be full by 8 p.m. and the ROPES volunteers of more than 200 will be helping concertgoers and keeping order. The team has been shuttling people to the site by using golf carts; the threat of stormy weather does not seem to be a deterrent.

"In case of severe weather we're suggesting they head to their cars," Sacco said. "The Eagles Club also called and said that if we needed to have a mass exodus, they'll open up for us."

Some 5,000 concertgoers are coming to the area from all over the country and beyond. Sacco said there are two reservations from Canada and one from South Africa. ROPES Program coordinator John LeClair said he has seen people from across the country including Ohio, Wisconsin and California.

Well-prepared camper Javier Higuera was all set up by 1 p.m. after driving from Arizona to attend the festival. Higuera left his home on Saturday and has been stopping at major cities along the way.

ROPES set up vendors that expect to be open until 1 a.m. or even later depending on business.

"I've never been east of Denver before," Higuera said. "This is a trip of a lifetime."

Higuera is meeting up with a friend on Sunday and will be driving back – hitting even more cities along the way. Higuera said he does not have to be back to work until July 5, so he is enjoying the vacation.

The campers are flowing in with cases of beer and wine, grills, Frisbees and Wiffle ball bats.

Police are not expecting any problems. LeClair said that last year police had "zero" incidents and he expects the same this year. Medical staff and security will be on site throughout the festival, he said.

"This isn't a mosh pit," LeClair said. "They are all very nice."

Tags: Solid Ground, Noel Field      

Like Wilco's Album & Get Solid Sound Discount

Staff Reports

We caught this on the Mass MoCA Facebook page on Wedneday, May 11.

The early "worm" (not bird!) tickets were sold out weeks ago at $99.50 a pop.

A pretty good price considering the tickets give admission to all three days of the festival and the biggest contemporary art museum in the United States.

(You should see the stuff they have in there.)

Regular tickets are listed at $124.50 on the Mass MoCA website but if you follow the (way too many) links through to purchase the tickets, they're at $116. Not sure what that's all about.

Anyway, if you haven't got your tickets yet you can save a few more bucks if you get your friends and their friends, etc., to LIKE like crazy on the Wilco Spring 2011 Tour Photos. You've got until 5 p.m. on May 12 at 5 p.m. We were LIKE No. 349.

Tags: tickets      
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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.

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