Solid Sound Festival Comes to an End
Exceptional live music was around every corner Sunday on the third and final day of the Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCA. The Nels Kline Singers wowed fans with a thrashing set; Avi Buffalo left one satisfied concert-goer exiting the Hunter Center saying, "That's the best guitar playing I've seen this weekend."; and, of course, Jeff Tweedy and Wilco dropped the curtain.
Tweedy played a solo acoustic set at Joe's Field, then invited guest performers to join the stage, including Sir Richard Bishop, The Books' Nick Zammuto, Avi Buffalo, The Baseball Project's Scott McCaughey. The last few tunes were played by all of the members of Wilco, minus drummer Glenn Kotche.
Rain started falling during the last hour of Tweedy's performance, but that didn't keep fans from dancing and clapping along.
MoCA Executive Director Joe Thompson was in attendance during Tweedy's "Plus One" set, so check back later tonight for a full transcript of iBerkshires.com's interview with Thompson. He said that more than 5,000 fans attended Saturday's festivities, while more than 3,000 came back Sunday.
|Tags: Wilco, Solid Sound Festival, Avi Buffalo|
Light Attraction for Wilco Fans & Residents
Main Street looked like a small-town version of the City of Lights on Saturday night as the downtown did its best to attract at least the fringe of the 5,000 or so expected at the Solid Sound Festival at MoCA. (What's Solid Sound? It's right here.)
Some 1,000 feet of twinkle lights criss-crossed over the sidewalk on the sunny side of the street, augmented by theater lights shining on two of the city's more elegant structures, the Dowlin Block and the Hoosac Bank Building. Matthew Adelson, lighting designer at both the Mahaiwe and the Williams College '62 Center, set up the display.
The evening, much like the Wilco-curated festival, was a laidback affair, although there was brisk business at many of the local eateries and steady draw into the galleries, if not much art being purchased.
The theater lights were a nice touch.
"We smoked! This morning we had a line at the door ... This was just amazing," Mark Petrino, owner of Petrino's Cafe, told us in the wee hours of Sunday morning after a marathon day. The cafe started with a waiting line for breakfast; it was ending past 1 a.m., with a dozen or so patrons chilling to the sounds of 8 Foot River, a Great Barrington band.
There was music up and down Main Street and on Eagle. The night was mild, the sidewalks busy but not packed, and people clustered around the street musicians, sat on the new benches or strolled into open galleries. Not everyone stayed open to the advertised 2 a.m., but most kept their doors open to at least midnight.
Keith Bona, owner of Creations and a city councilor, said it wasn't a record day, but a very good day. He didn't get the sales predicted by Jonathan Secor of MCLA Gallery 51, who'd bet him $20, but he must of been close. Neither would state the figure, but Secor said he'd considered spending $100 "to get his dignity and his $20 back."
We hear the galleries didn't sell much on Saturday, but didn't really expect to. Brian Handspicker at the Berkshire Arts Colony did note a significant increase in foot traffic into the gallery at 107 Main St. on both Friday and Saturday. When we wandered over about 9:30 on Saturday night, there were a half-dozen people in the gallery — all local. Handspicker said quite a few city residents had stopped by on Saturday evening, while out-of-towners had visited during the day.
This festival crowd was mostly middle-aged, and many brought their children along. Joe Thompson, MoCA's executive director, described them as "rock daddies," with a strong streak of social responsibility. "They don't like waste," he told us last week. "They don't like to see overflowing trash cans." That's why we think the Smart Car we saw with a New York plate on Main Street belonged to Wilco fan; we don't see too many of those models around here.
These fans are also pretty hungry, if Saturday was any indication.
Seriously Supreme Pizza salesmen
Over on Marshall Street, the guys of Guys and Dogs were crowded with customers. Jack's Hot Dog Stand at the other end of Main Street was open to midnight and reportedly packed most of the night; another street vendor on the other side of Marshall had a waiting line, too. We also heard The Hub, which closed by 11, did a boffo 400 covers on Saturday. Supreme Pizza was covering both ends of the street, with a pair of fast-talking salesmen reinforced with Red Bull wheeling and dealing on single slices near the old Moulton's General Store.
Supreme's general manager Spencer Leonard said the proof was in the piled and empty pizza boxes behind their table. "We couldn't keep up with them," he said.
Vinnie Melito and David Lewis of Guys and Dogs, said they'd spoken to people from as far away as California and the feedback had been positive about the city and the Berkshires. "One guy said 'this place is jewel,'" said Lewis.
It wasn't just the out-of-towners impressed on Saturday. We met a young resident named Paul Oparowski who was chatting up pretty much anyone to find out where they were from and what they thought. "Everyone's been so friendly," he said, adding he hoped more events like this would continue. "It was awesome."
Our reporter Patrick on the job at MoCA
For all the focus on Solid Sound, the real drivers of the early evening were people from right here. They were on the street and in the shops and resaturants. "It proved we could do it ourselves," said Secor.
We know lots of other places were open — Christo's, Village, Red Sauce and the Richmond Grille among them — but didn't make it that far. There was a farmers' market on Eagle Street in the morning we missed because we were busy chasing some great deals at the townwide tag sale in Adams. If any readers have info on how other venues did, tell us about them.
DNA Launches Website for Solid Sound Fest
Nearly 8,000 people are arriving in two weeks for the Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCA and the city is putting its best foot forward to help those visitors leave as much of their spending money behind as possible.
Develop North Adams has just launched a website with everything North Adams to direct the thousands of concertgoers to restaurants, shops and alternative entertainment (you have to give your ears a rest sometime).
We're excited about the idea of the midnight madness on Aug. 14. The downtown will reopen at 9 and go until 2 a.m.! Joe Thompson had expressed his hope that city would take advantage of the festival and, in the process, help slow the traffic heading out of the city on the Saturday night after Wilco plays. The idea is to get the concertgoers to linger, drop some cash, and then leave, mitigating any traffic jams.
Check oout the full website here.
history, things to do, shopping, eat & stay, entertainment, nature
|Tags: Solid Sound, website|
DCR Commissioner Rick Sullivan, second from left, lunches with members of the Massachusetts Mayors Association at Gramercy Bistro on Wednesday.
Nineteen of the state's 46 mayors spent the morning at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art on Wednesday. This is believed to be the first time that the Massachusetts Mayors Association has held one of its monthly meetings in the state's smallest and farthest-west city.
The mayors, weighed down by a Wilco bag full of goodies, were given an overview of the city by their host Mayor Richard Alcombright, MoCA Director Joseph Thompson and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President Mary Grant.
"You're kind of rated on the weight, [Pittsfield Mayor] Jim Ruberto told me this morning, of the gift bag," said Alcombright to his guests. "I think the weight of the gift bag is substantial, and I also think the things you will find in there are substantial, too. I'm really trying to make a great impression."
MMA President Robert Dolan, mayor of Melrose, and Mayor Richard Alcombright. Alcombright invited the association to hold its monthly meeting in North Adams, for the first time anyone can recall.
But no prizes for who traveled farthest, he said, because "the mayor of Beverly didn't give me a gift when I drove the farthest last month."
This the second time the association has met in the Berkshires this year; their annual meeting was held a couple months ago at Cranwell Resort in Lenox.
"It's a wonderful respite for all of us in eastern massachusets to get out here and see the beauty of this area and see all the exciting things that are happening, particularly in North Adams," said Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan, president of the association.
All joking aside (including a shot from Alcombright that he could offer Wilco Solid Sound Festival tickets at "face value" that evoked a roar of laughter from the mayors), the meeting was an informal affair for Alcombright to introduce his city to his peers and for the elected officials to talk legislative strategy.
The main speaker was Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr., a former Westfield mayor, who touched on the challenges and priorities of the DCR and answered specific questions on how his department can work with local officials on everything from dams to skating rinks to forest use.
Gov. Deval Patrick had stressed to him that the best decisions in governement are made at the local level, he said, but Sullivan felt they are really made at the citizen level.
"They're made at your level, they're made at the citizen level and one thing that I've tried to bring to this job is a true working relationshiop with the cities and towns because I do think you know your communities best," he said. "You know what's best for your constituents. I have worked very closely, very personally with everyone in this room."
Also attending were several representatives from Sen. John Kerry's office, members of the administration and other staff, and representatives from the museum and college.
Sullivan's talk was followed by a closed meeting to discuss legislative updates and strategy. Guests were treated to lunch at Gramercy Bistro on the museum campus and were offered tours of the museum and the city in the afternoon.
The meeting was underwritten by Mass MoCa, MountainOne Financial Partners, Berkshire Bank, the Porches and Greylock Insurance Agency.
|Tags: meeting, DCR|
DownStreet Art Draws a Crowd
The downtown's new benches were popular.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — DownStreet Art kicked off its third year with another successful launch on Thursday.
Some 37 galleries, double the number of the freshman year, opened to the hundreds of visitors drawn downtown. There was music at both ends of the street and people lingered in the restaurants and — on the benches.
It's not graffiti, it's a sign of the times.
The long-anticipated benches arrived earlier in the day and were quickly installed along the south side of the streets. They were rarely empty and aided the flow of people along the main drag. In the past, people have tended to cluster at both ends of the street: around the Berkshire Bank plaza up to Holden Street and again around the gallery at 107 Main.
The benches weren't the only changes — bright green footsteps led the way east along the sidewalk with the occasional "Art This Way" signs to keep people going in the right direction. But the sight of some young people stenciling the sidewalk Thursday morning led to several calls to City Hall reporting graffiti.
Expect to see more sidewalk art because once completed, the footsteps will mark a trail from Mass MoCA to Main. There's also plans for signs (and maybe even some footprints) on the pillars of the Veterans Memorial Bridge if the state gives the OK. The idea is to make sure motorists and Mass MoCA visitors know where the art is.
What else can we say? One fellow we ran into was driving by and wondered what everyone was doing out. "I stopped and all these art galleries were open."
That's pretty much the point — giving people a reason to stop.
Who was out and about last night? Find out here.