Behind the scenes at Solid Sound

Here’s the low down on Glenn Kotche’s installation for  Solid Sound from our director Joe Thompson:


I caught MASS MoCA staffer Cody Johnson mounting the first of six speakers to be installed down the 100’ long elevated walkway leading from our lobby to the LeWitt building.  The speakers will be used to create a sound sculpture by Wilco’s magical percussionist Glenn Kotche, for the upcoming Solid Sound ’11 festival.

One of the greatest things about Wilco is the way the band’s aesthetic interests cast such a wide wake, parts of which wash up on MASS MoCA’s shores in felicitous ways.

Guitarist Nels Cline (who just released a fantastic new album with alto saxophonist Tim Berne, and drummer Jim Black) for instance, will be joined by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore in what promises to be a mind-bending set.  Fans who attend the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival here will fondly recall Thurston’s electrifying performance at our 2006 Marathon…which loops me back to Glenn Kotche, who also performs from time to time with Bang on a Can, perhaps not surprisingly, given Glenn’s experimental turn of mind, and his use of intricate, often visually stunning instrumentation. Those of you who attended Solid Sound ‘10 will remember Glenn’s elegant, playable, handiwork placed throughout the LeWitt Wall Drawing Retrospective, which Jeff Tweedy named inGLENNtions.

This year, using the LeWitt walkway as a sort of sonic preamble for the band’s newest (and still unreleased) work, Glenn will orchestrate audio snapshots sampled from the recording process from the band’s upcoming album.  The result of his “fly-on-the-wall” recordings was a rich collection of overdubs, full band tracking, fragments of meal conversations between band members, pinball games and playbacks.   For the LeWitt walkway installation, Glenn selected six of his favorite recording fragments for each of the six speaker locations.

And then, in Glenn’s own words, “I  used the drumbeat that opens the record as a guide for their arrangement – assigning one recording to each voice of the beat.  The rhythms of each voice determine when tracks are audible or muted.  The result is a collage of behind-the-scene mini-clips of our recording work over the past 11 months. Each speaker has a dedicated collage that loops, going in and out of phase with the other 5 speakers over the course of the festival.”

This is one of a half dozen or so Wilco-specific exhibitions that will be installed June 24-26. Look for it when you come to Solid Sound. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that tickets are still available.

Posted June 14, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Music, Wilco Solid Sound Festival, Work-in-progress
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Flickr Finds: Wilco & Solid Sound

In honor of the upcoming 2011 Solid Sound Festival, (just two weeks away) which will be featuring 20 live bands including the one and only Wilco, we have found some of the best Flickr pictures from last year’s festivities. Along with the sweet music; art, comedy and falconry… yes… falconry, will all be in the mix this year. These photos are just a little reminder on what an amazing experience the weekend was in 2010, and definitely an insight into what you can expect this time around.













For those of you who have waited until the last minute to get your tickets, visit Solid Sound now!

Also, for a new addition to this year, MASS MoCA and the City of North Adams have teamed up and created the Solid Ground Tent Site for overnight stay. Camp out within walking distance of the museum, downtown merchants, restaurants, and of course bars at a totally affordable price. Watch and see:

YouTube Preview Image

So, if you have no place to stay for this awesome weekend, give our Box Office a call for details and reservations, 413. 662 .2111




Posted June 10, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Flickr Finds, Wilco Solid Sound Festival
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What a difference six months makes

Solid Sound August 15, 2010

Same spot, six months later, this morning, February 8, 2011.

We can’t wait for Solid Sound to return in June!

Posted February 8, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Wilco Solid Sound Festival
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Solid Sound Festival Feedback

It’s official. We survived Solid Sound Festival weekend. Not only did we survive, but we succeeded in putting on a music festival that made a big impression on everyone who attended. Over the past few days we have been inundated with positive feedback from the festival so we thought we’d share a few of our favorite comments here.

Photo Credit: Rick Levinson

From the Twitter Feed:

MusicGeekSvcs#solidsound 3 cheers to the MassMoCA and Wilco crew for a flawless day 1 at Solid Sound. Pronto was a pleasant surprise. Mike’s got soul!

anniesezso#solidsound This decade’s Woodstock for the Hipsters

beaucolburnBeen here 20mins and I can already tell coming was one of the best calls I’ve made in ages. Incredible.

theRSLLove the fact that there’s a live comedy stage @MASS_MoCA – just a brilliant idea #SolidSound

marcc212I mean, seriously perfect on every front:music, comedy, the grounds, exhibitions, food/drink…& tweedy in the dunk tank. #wilco #solidsound

JaminDimeMavis Staples has one of those gorgeously booming voices. I got the chills.ahhhh #solidsound is where its at

paulcalypseMight have been the best Wilco show I’ve ever seen. Lots of rare tunes for the hardcore fans. #solidsound

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted August 17, 2010 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Wilco Solid Sound Festival
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Here it comes…

Posted August 12, 2010 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Wilco Solid Sound Festival
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A dozen reasons to get off the couch and head to Solid Sound this weekend

12. The Perseid Meteor shower peaks tomorrow night (Thursday) and continues Friday and Saturday. To really see it, you have to get away from the city lights.

11. There’s a sales tax holiday in Massachusetts this weekend (14/15), so you can shop and rock for less.

10. Two words: Jacket Weather. Escape the dog days in the city and head for the mountains: fantastic forecast for North Adams this weekend (sunny, highs in the upper 70s, lows around 60)

9. Admit it, you’re itching for one last road trip before summer ends and reality beckons. Check promotions with Zip Car for rentals and ZimRide for sharing.

8. Speaking of road trips; the journey can be just as fun as the destination. There are 3 drive-in movie theaters en route to North Adams — (Hyde Park Drive-in (NY), Pleasant Valley Drive-in (CT), and Northfield Drive-in (NH/MA/VT border). Or for a different slice of Americana, local minor league baseball teams at home this weekend include the Tri-City Valleycats (Troy, NY), Lowell Spinners (MA) and Pittsfield Colonials (MA).

7. If you’re the outdoorsy type, there is great hiking, kayaking, camping etc. all over the area. Mass., VT, and NY state recreation websites can direct you or check this out here.

6. Plus, there’s excellent dining from one extreme to the other.

5. Once you’re in the festival, you can come and go as you please. Want to go the the Clark or Norman Rockwell Museum, the ropes course at Jiminy Peak or get all spiritual at the Hancock Shaker Museum? No problem… split for a while and come back.

4. When you’re at MASS MoCA you’ll join people from at least 40 states and 10 countries at the festival, making it both an international and cross-country scene (new friends, perhaps?) There, in addition to the festival, you’ll have full run of the museum… including Time Magazine’s #1 museum installation of the year, the Sol Lewitt Retrospective.

3. How about the festival programming? The great music, from Wilco to the band members individual projects to Mavis Staples, Sir Richard Bishop and a ton more cool stuff, plus the comedy and performance spaces where you can see Todd Barry, Kristen Schaal, John Mulaney and Hannibal Buress and multiple performances by the Bread and Puppet Theatre Co. and Story Pirates. Not to mention exhib its including Glenn Kotche’s “prepared drums” (which you can play), Nels Cline’s Stompbox Station… (again you can play), Polaroid photos from Patrick Sansone, Cassandra C. Jones’s video installation, a pair of Luthiers explaining their work, live poster screen-printing, a dunk tank, a record store where you can listen to lots of vinyl (etc.) on a Solid Sound system, plus… A veritable world of fun. Oh and if you get weary, we’ve got some of North America’s best coffee from the Intelligentsia Coffee bar/lab., plenty of local food/drink vendors and a bar.

2. Mavis Staples performance at Lollapalooza last weekend (inc. a guest appearance by “Tweedy”, as Mavis refers to him) was, according to all reports, one of the highlights of the festival. Just sayin’….

1. And, lucky you, it’s not too late. Tickets are still available and will be at the box office all weekend. Be there.

Posted August 12, 2010 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Music, North Adams, Wilco Solid Sound Festival
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