Loading…

“The Truth about MASS MoCA and Jeff Tweedy’s Biannual Solid Sound Festival”

And now once again braced within this horrible climate atrocity (not making a political statement here), I saw fit to write about a different atrocity altogether. It started, actually, brilliantly enough.
Also, for anybody who doesn’t know the backstory of Jeff Tweedy, Wilco frontman formerly anchoring the heavily folky Uncle Tupelo of St. Louis, I thoroughly recommend Wilco: Learning How to Die by Greg Kot. The story of how that former band dissolved and how his ensuing, grandly successful campaign with Wilco sprouted as a sort of rose in the cement is inspirational, illustrating the blurred lines between man and art, particularly regarding a man’s very ability to galvanize the music community and others around him as a genuinely positive force.
2002 masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is typically named as one of the 20 or so best albums of the 2000s, boasting a compelling birth tale (Warner Bros.’ Reprise Records rejecting it only to find it pumped out by Warner compadre, Nonesuch eight months later). And in general, when I think of my overall Wilco listening habits, it’s understandable as to why some people consider them the American version of Radiohead, because they can really alter moods in a room: I remember in particular my activist campaign co-manager raving about the mellow perfection of “Kamera” as it emanated from the computer one sunny Denver summer morning.
Wilco never really went away, known for a great live show with pithy stage banter, and as of 2013 they even curate a festival in North Adams, Massachusetts, every other year (there’s a beautiful documentary called Every Other Summer on the topic) called Solid Sound. At least, I THINK it started in 2013. That’s the year Foxygen put on an infuriatingly androgynous set, at least (ever offend someone without even trying?… they have).
The thing is, though, there’s no Wikipedia page on Solid Sound Festival, despite that it’s made a big enough splash as to warrant that documentary. Originally built in support of the beleaguered industrial town of North Adams, and funded in part by MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), it’s been a unifying force to the extent that one lady even made the quip that “These people have their self-esteem back,” tears streaming from her face. Without a doubt, Every Other Summer is a touching display of the igniting power of music.
So why not get the word out on Wikipedia? Well, when I attempted to contact the museum in order to ask them a question or two (I’d fully planned on citing them as a source), they not only weren’t courteous enough to reply, but they put me on their da**ed mailing list, and now I get all these e-mails asking me to buy sh**. It’s a very disheartening experience the whole thing, but then so is seeing Jeff Tweedy tiptoe through some half-a**ed acoustic crap [1], a look in his eye not of inspiration and focus but of self-conscious umbrage. It makes me wonder what other kind of deceit is going on there at MASS MoCA, social or capitalistic, sort of like the shelling of artistic respect, in form of human malady.
.
[1] By the way, boy is there ever an epidemic in rock music today of “acoustic,” bespeaking perhaps a certain egoism on the part of the songwriter, and an underestimation of the power and meaning of sound itself.

Leave a Reply