LIVE: Solid Sound @ MASS MoCA, 6/28/15 (Day Three)

Jeff Tweedy
Jeff Tweedy

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Rudy Lu

After sprawling headlining sets on Friday and Saturday nights with his band Wilco – all acoustic on Friday; all electric and rockin’ on Saturday – you might think that bandleader Jeff Tweedy would want to take it a little easy on the Sunday (and final) night of the Wilco-curated music festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams. But if that’s what you’re thinking, you’ve never been to Solid Sound.

Tweedy took the main stage at 4:30pm on Sunday with his other band Tweedy (which also features his teenage son Spencer Tweedy on drums) and warned the audience, “We’re going to play until, well, until we can’t. Buckle up.” And he was onstage for the next two and a half hours, first with Tweedy (the band), then solo, then with a parade of special guest musicians from the fest. Tweedy (the band) shifted gears effortlessly from funk-rock (“World Away”) to waltz-time (“Wait for Me”) to pure pop (“Low Key”), but they hit their high-water mark with a pair of tunes that Tweedy wrote for soul great Mavis Staples – “You Are Not Alone” and “Only the Lord Knows.”

And the cavalcade of guests was an absolute hoot. Australian folk duo Luluc offered a lovely version of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” while the Felice Brothers (toned down a bit from their delightfully raucous performance earlier in the afternoon) joined in with a cover of John Prine’s “Grandpa Was a Carpenter.” The most fun (and unexpected) was Tweedy (the man) with Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and Cibo Matto for a hilarious mash-up of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and Madonna’s “Into the Groove.” The best performance of the evening, however, was Tweedy’s (the band and the man) howling rendition of John Lennon’s “God,” with guest guitarist Bill Frisell.

The most majestic performance of the day (and maybe the whole fest) was the rain-dampened, but certainly not spiritually diluted, 80-minute roar of the Charles Lloyd Quartet, with guest guitarist Bill Frisell (yes, he was everywhere) sitting in. The magnificent 77-year-old tenor sax titan Lloyd and his band – pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Joe Sanders and drummer extraordinaire Kendrick Scott – took no prisoners in their six-song set that veered seamlessly from joyous bop to relentless swing, from Latin spice to languid blues, from “Dreamweaver” to “Island Blues.” No disrespect to Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, which was going on at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center at the same time, but I doubt there was a better jazz performance anywhere in Greater Nippertown that weekend.

Nate Chinen’s review at The New York Times
Maeri Ferguson’s review and Emilie Holland’s photographs at Glide Magazine
Jimmy Chambers’ review at NYS Music

LIVE: Solid Sound @ MASS MoCA, 6/27/15 (Day Two)
LIVE: Solid Sound @ MASS MoCA, 6/26/15 (Day One)

Fake Fur Coat
Diamond Light Pt. 1
World Away
New Moon
Summer Noon
Honey Combed
Desert Bell
High As Hello
Wait For Love
Love Like a Wire (Diane Izzo)
Low Key
Nobody Dies Anymore
Remember the Mountain Bed (Billy Bragg & Wilco)
Please Tell My Brother (Golden Smog)
Summer Teeth (Wilco)
Pecan Pie (Golden Smog)
The Ruling Class (Loose Fur)
Chinese Apple (Loose Fur)
Too Far Apart (Wilco)
Into the Groove (Madonna)
Grandpa Was a Carpenter (John Prine)
Harvest Moon (Neil Young)
Be Not So Fearful (Bill Fay)
I’m the Man Who Loves You (Wilco)
You Are Not Alone (Mavis Staples)
Only the Lord Knows (Mavis Staples)
God (John Lennon)
The Losing End (Neil Young & Crazy Horse)
Give Back the Key to My Heart (Doug Sahm)
California Stars (Billy Bragg & Wilco)

The Felice Brothers
The Felice Brothers
Gerald Clayton and Charles Lloyd
Gerald Clayton and Charles Lloyd
Jim Elkington of Tweedy
Jim Elkington of Tweedy
Nels Cline
Nels Cline
Stained Radiance
Stained Radiance
Tweedy's Darin Gray
Tweedy’s Darin Gray
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
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