NORTH ADAMS -- Pulling together the third installment of Solid Sound, the three-day music and arts festival at Mass MoCA, isn't something that happens overnight -- or even over the course of a few months.
"The conversations and planning with our co-producers, Tony Margherita Management and Higher Ground [of Burlington, Vt.] began two years ago," Larry Smallwood, deputy director of Mass MoCA said Tuesday during a ‘behind the scenes' tour of the 13-acre museum campus, which is hosting Solid Sound through Sunday night.
As acts were lined up, planning became more intense.
"We began having meetings about the stage set-up six months ago," Eric Enderle, MoCA's production manager said Tuesday. "The main stage arrived at 9:30 a.m., and we started setting it up at 10:30 a.m. We have eight guys on that stage and another eight working on one of the courtyard stages. We have more coming. We'll log about 1,000 man hours this week."
Smallwood said the festival's success is the result of many groups of people coming together.
"It takes our entire staff, the staff of our co-producers and a massive amount of support from the city, local businesses and volunteers," he said. "We have a lot of support from the city's Department of Public Safety. Our vendors are constantly involved, too. Beck's Printing is very busy with our printing needs. Limelight Productions from South County is taking care of production and lighting in some areas.
Readying the museum for an influx of 7,000 fans from 48 states and four countries over three days also involves more than setting up staging and lighting.
"We just installed new work by Mark Remec out on Joe's Field," Smallwood said. "We've also installed a piece by [Wilco frontman] Jeff Tweedy, and [Wilco drummer] Glenn Kotche has a piece in the Sol LeWitt galleries."
While crews were busy putting up the stages, Wilco's lighting and visual productions department was creating "string clouds" for the stage in a room off one of the courtyards.
In their early forms, the string clouds were nothing more than twine dipped in a plaster-like solution and tied around large balloons.
"I think we bought all of the Elmer's glue in North Adams for the mixture," Jeremy Roth, Wilco's lighting and visual production designer said. "When they're dry, we'll pop the balloons and wire them up with incandescent lights. These will only be used here for Solid Sound. The rest of the stage, which will debut here this weekend, will be used when the band goes on tour with Bob Dylan in two weeks."
Inside the museum, IT Director John McAlister was overseeing the museum's last minute technological needs and preparing for an influx of smartphones.
"This is going to be smartphone city and I will be the mayor," he said. "We're bringing in wireless that will run at 100 megabytes per second and have 20 access points. It's going to cover all 13 acres. We expect there to be a lot more smartphones than there were two years ago."
Communications Director Jodi Joseph said fans would be encouraged to use their phones all weekend.
"We want them to tweet, Facebook, tag us in posts and share everything on social media," she said. "We brought in Summit Tech of Burlington, Vt., to help with the setup, as our IT department has a staff of two and they've also been setting up accounts for our 22 interns this week."
In addition, McAlister said he had to find a company that could bring in an integrated services digital network (ISDN) line for a live broadcast of Saturday's shows by Fordham University.
"It's an older technology, so we had to find a Verizon provider that could bring that in," he said.
And while it was all-hands-on-deck for the Solid Sound preparations, the regular work of the museum didn't come to a grinding halt.
"We're still doing our regular jobs on top of everything else," Joseph said.
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