iBerkshires caught up with Mass MoCA Executive Director Joseph Thompson on Sunday afternoon while he was watching Jeff Tweedy's solo performance at Joe's Field:
What were the final attendance totals?
We were just north of 5,000 for the peak [on Saturday], and there's about 3,500 here today [Sunday]. We had some strong crowds.
Did the festival meet your expectations?
It was a beautiful event, and it flowed. The music was lovely, and people moved with great ease through the museum, the galleries, the various outdoor venues. My sense overwhelmingly was that people had a great time. At least I did.
Were you at all surprised by the ages of audience members?
It's a great audience. This is a 30s to 50s crowd, and there were a lots of kids here. There were more strollers in the galleries this weekend than we've had in a long, long time.
Did you find time to enjoy the festival yourself?
I had a great time. I heard most of the music. Much of it was new to me, and I loved it. There were beautiful melodies, close harmonies, walls of sound. ...Great, great dynamic and range, which is what's at the very heart of Wilco.
Anything stand out as your favorite act(s) of the weekend?
I had never heard Mountain Man, and I thought they were lovely. The Books continue to just get more and more precise and beautiful. I had this great moment going from The Autumn Defense, which is kind of alt-country, roots type of music -- out to the Nels Cline Singers, who had these amazing, warped waves and waves of intensity, and just the way it sounded washing over those brick walls. To realize that those guys can somehow play in the same band is just startling and beautiful.
Although diverse in sound, what did the musical acts have in common?
You look for artists who share your mission, your dreams and fears.
Will Wilco and the Solid Sound Festival return next year?
Jeff [Tweedy] and I talked this morning, and we had a hard time coming up with any reasons not to do it.
What would you change or add, if anything, to next year's event?
The beauty of this is Mass MoCA is a great platform, and having a very strong point of view -- in this case, Wilco's point of view -- it's a hard formula to beat. It will be really fun to put together a program and what can go in the galleries.
You know, it's a valuable, expandable idea which is what I think is quite beautiful about it. I love its focus. I'm not a festival-goer because they sometimes they feel to me like a lot of work, just a barrage. They're kind of like variety shows, and I've never been one for variety shows. What I like about this one is that concordant hum that somehow flows through it. That comes from having very smart people and a passionate audience, and Wilco having their hand on the throttle. I'd be loath to mess around with that.
What did the festival bring to North Adams outside the confines of Mass MoCA?
I heard the stories that people were hanging out [Saturday] night. I heard that there was a full spectrum of activity, from The Mohawk to the Holiday Inn Bar, to the bands on the street at 1:30 in the morning. It was kind of a hum [throughout the city], and these things build over time.
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What a spectacular event. MassMoCA were nothing less than gracious hosts with their staff and volunteers being kind and competent. Everything was so well done, right down to the ease of parking and shuttle busses.
The variety of performers was just great, a wonderful crowd, happy kids everywhere....
My family is VERY impressed and cannot wait for next year already. Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen and thank you to Mass MoCA for being so brave.
Great job to all involved. From the MOCA campus to a festive downtown. At last we locals have had an opportunity to show off our pride in our city and be appriciated for it. So many positive comments from complete strangers were heard over the weekend. What a great feeling! Keep up the momentum. As they say, "we have only just begun"!
I am from Berkshire County and enjoyed the festival so much with some friends from out of town. Everything was so relaxed and the staff at MassMoca did a terrific job. I would love to see the festival again next year.
Thanks to North Adams for hosting this great event - The wife and child and I will be back this fall for a drive on the Mohawk and another visit to MASS MoCA and hope to be back next summer for Solid Sound 2011!
Thank you North Adams, Mass MoCA and Wilco! We're rabid Wilco fans and came all the way from Minnesota to take part. It was the most well-behaved festival crowd I've ever seen - I think that everyone had a lot of respect for what was going on at Solid Sound and what it meant for the town. I hope Wilco and Mass MoCA makes this an annual event - we will definitely be coming back and bringing the kids with next time! Again, thank you so much!!!
Please, sir, may we have some more? Beautifully conceived, realized and produced (and I have a Tony to prove I'm not blowing air). Kudos all around. MassMoCA is always a wonderful destination and this was hugely enjoyed by me and my family.
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.