Jeff Tweedy Presents Wilco’s 2022 Solid Sound Festival
When Wilco prepares the programming for their semester Solid Sound Festival, they only have one rule: if they like it, it’s in. , the attic. “This time it turned out we had a lot of all-timers to anchor it all.”
The artists he’s talking about — acclaimed Texas singer-songwriter Terry Allen and his Mystery Panhandle Band, cosmic jazz legend Marshall Allen and Sun Ra Arkestra — may not be headliners at a festival more commercial music, but they are heroes for Tweedy and Co. And when Solid Sound returns to North Adams, Massachusetts, after three years on the weekend of May 27, they will be headlining, with multiple performances of Wilco and other member projects. “We’ve tried to do that in the past, but this time feels different in a way,” adds Tweedy. “There’s a real feeling of this river flowing from older artists to younger artists.”
These younger bands are an impressive band in their own right, including next-gen guitar hero Meg Duffy, aka Hand Habits; spiritual jazz freethinker Angel Bat Dawid; NYC Rap Vanguard Wiki; experimental sound collagist Claire Rousay; multifaceted pop innovator Nnamdï; electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso; and more.
One of the main draws at Solid Sound this year is Japanese Breakfast, which took a victory lap after a remarkable run that saw bandleader Michelle Zauner make bestseller lists with her crushing memoirs. Crying in H Mart and be nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy at this spring’s awards. “Michelle has had an amazing year or two,” Tweedy says. ” She did ‘Jesus, etc.’ in Lollapalooza a few years ago. It was really flattering and exciting, and we became friendly. She’s pretty much the opposite of me, style-wise. But I have a warm feeling about our friendship.
An intriguing name on the lineup is Bonnie “Prince” Billy, who shares similar origins to Wilco in the mid-’90s indie-folk and alt-country scenes, but rarely made it onto the US festival circuit. “He’s been on our dream list for a long time,” says Tweedy. “He goes out of his way to present himself in a unique way that is outside the normal scope of touring. I respect that. But it’s also made it a little harder to pin him down over the years. I’m glad he said yes and is here.
One of the factors that makes Solid Sound unique is its location on the grounds of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, whose collection includes conceptual wall drawings by Sol LeWitt, fantastical sculptures by Louise Bourgeois, provocative leaflets by Jenny Holzer and a wide range of more recent works. “It’s an incredible privilege to be able to use this space and interact with these visual artists and contemporary artists who exhibit their work here,” says Tweedy. “We are always inspired by playing music alongside these massive and beautiful works of art. I just can’t believe how lucky we are to be able to spend a week hanging out in this environment.
He mentions a recent visit to the Mass MoCA after the exhibition of light artist James Turrell In the light was installed. “We were able to sit in the new James Turrell when it was raining lightly,” Tweedy recalled. “He comes in through the skylight as the sky turns crazy yellows and greens and purples, and adds color that you think the sky shouldn’t be. It was a very, very beautiful experience.”
Wilco has been working on new music since shortly before the pandemic hit, and while Tweedy isn’t ready to offer an update, he seems safe to imagine fans have a lot to look forward to. “It’s going well,” he said with a smile.
In the fall of 2020, Tweedy said RS a bit more about the sessions as they were held then. “There’s a lot of motivation, and I feel very inspired to do something that will be worthy of the catharsis that will come with playing music in front of people again,” he said then. “I want to do something loud and joyful, and a sonic event that will be glorious enough for the type of moment I imagine.”
As the pandemic has dragged on — delaying Solid Sound from its regularly scheduled 2021 comeback, but giving way enough at times to allow Wilco to play a few dozen shows — its perspective has changed. “I think it was wishful thinking to feel like that,” he says. “What I didn’t anticipate was the level of trauma everyone went through. He created these levels of risk assessment for individuals. On any given night on tour, we’d have 40% of the people who didn’t show up – even for a sold-out show – deciding that day or night that they couldn’t make it. This is quite understandable.
For now, he hopes Solid Sound can help give Wilco fans something they’ve been missing. “There have been times when you can just remind people, ‘Hey, we’re here. This is what we’re doing,'” he continues. they’re letting themselves go, and being a little carefree. That’s the big step. … I think there are and there can be those moments. And every year we’ll probably get a little closer to that.”