Mass MoCA, preeminent curator of cutting-edge visual art has also established its reputation as a purveyor of live entertainment.
Mass MoCA, the preeminent curator of cutting-edge visual art in the Berkshires, has also firmly established its reputation as a purveyor of live entertainment.
At the vanguard of its foray into the phonic is the biennial Solid Sound Festival, which takes place June 26-28 and is headlined by festival founders and alt-country messiahs Wilco. A weekend-long campout where you’re equally likely to stumble into a mandolin workshop, a falafel booth, or a bizarre bit of street theater, Solid Sound has become a summer staple for dance-starved, vibe-hungry visitors to North Adams.
It’s also a festival where New England acts are well-represented, including the Expandable Brass Band and Northampton’s Speedy Ortiz, who were added earlier this month when Springfield native and blues icon Taj Mahal had to bow out of his slot citing health issues.
“This will be my first time playing at Solid Sound, but I was gonna go either way,” says Speedy’s Sadie Dupuis. “We’re really looking forward to playing with Wilco and Real Estate.”
Also on the bill are New England rock legends NRBQ. The band’s sax player, Klem Kimek, credits New England’s wealth of live-music venues for his musical evolution: “Me and my pals were music hungry, and New England was small enough that any venue in the six states was reachable by road trip to catch great music. It was a full-time hunt — bars, colleges, theaters, the Berkshire Music Barn, hockey rinks, and stadiums all presented great live music, and giants roamed the earth. Don’t get me goin’…”
Vermont folk artist Sam Amidon (performing with Bill Frisell), played a couple years back and “immediately loved the wide range of music and arts and the genuine spirit of celebration that pervades the festival,” and says he can’t wait to go back.
Brookline, Massachusetts native (and Montague Book Mill haunter) John Hodgman returns to curate the comedy stage, along with fellow Daily Show alum Jessica Williams. Hodgman says he found his way into Solid Sound through the side door.
“I attended as a paying customer at the first Solid Sound in 2010,” he says. “Like all brilliant things that I love, I immediately wanted to parasitically attach myself to it. I succeeded.”
For kids, Vermont’s Circus Smirkus provides thrills and laughs, while performances by the Needham, Massachusetts-based nonprofit Plugged In, a program that helps kids who want to start or join bands get their jam on, might inspire younger audience members to strap on a Strat.