NORTH ADAMS -- With hotels in the area fast approaching capacity for this year’s Solid Sound festival at MASS MoCA, Joe Thompson, director of the museum, is encouraging northern Berkshire residents to list their spare rooms, houses or apartments on the online lodging service Airbnb.
"We’re expecting a good crowd," Thompson said. "The initial reaction to the lineup that was announced a couple of weeks ago has been extraordinary. The blogs are lit up, social media is firing, and people seem excited."
The Solid Sound festivals began in 2010 under the direction of the the Chicago-based rock band Wilco, which was seeking to create a more intimate type of music festival that bands and visitors could enjoy equally and that were more conducive to families.
This year’s lineup includes Lucius, which performed in the Billville House Concert Series in Williamstown last month; Medeski, Martin and Wood; WNYC’s Radiolab; The Blisters and many others. As always, the weekend will include much more than just music.
"The festival itself is growing nicely from its first iteration in 2010, when I think we had something like 4,000 people in all," said Thompson. "It grew to 5,500 or so in 2011 and it will be all of that plus in this coming June 2013."
Anticipating the increasing demand for lodging on June 21, 22 and 23, the museum consulted with Wilco’s festival organizers and determined that Airbnb would be a convenient way for festivalgoers to access a range of lodging
Extensive lodging and rental options are also available on the Solid Sound website and on Berkshire.org.
Airbnb.com is among a number of social bed-and-breakfast networks, including 9flats.com and couchsurfing.org, which allow users to connect with people around the world who have spare rooms, apartments, houses, or other forms of lodging.
One of the benefits of the service, Thompson said, is that it has an easy system for sharing photos of rental spaces and allows users to learn about their potential renter before making contact. "So it provides interesting filters and screens in both directions [which] a direct classified ad can’t do."
In 2011 North Adams mayor Richard Alcombright responded to the area’s lodging constraints by teaming up with local volunteer groups and opening a downtown tenting field called Solid Ground. Between 800 and 1,000 people camped out there for the festival weekend, Thompson said.
"We’re expecting to do that again this year," he added. "The city is working on the final approvals as we speak. And even with that, though, local lodging - and by local I mean within 30 or 40 miles - is to be very scarce."
Church groups, sporting clubs and civic organizations that have available space are encouraged to add their listings to Airbnb.com and take advantage of some additional income for the weekend.
The museum will continue to offer bus service between MASS MoCA and a number of designated parking locations in the area, and bus routes are expected to be the same as last year, with the possible addition of another line going as far south as Pittsfield and Lenox.
Thompson encourages people travelling locally to bike to the festival, in order to conserve parking space in North Adams and along the bus routes. Bike racks will be located within 100 feet of the museum.
In addition to the three-day passes that went on sale in November, single-day tickets became available on Feb. 27 - much earlier than in previous years - and are likely to increase festival turnout, Thompson said.
"In the past couple of years, we waited much, much longer. But we decided that there might be people who are living in the 100-mile or 120-mile range who might want to pick up a day ticket - just drive up and back - so that will certainly affect our numbers, I’m sure."
Adding to the festival’s local flavor this year will be a series of talks and demonstrations organized in collaboration with Storey Publishing, which is located on the MASS MoCA campus. The events will take place throughout the museum, with topics ranging from beekeeping to sweater making.
"They’re meant to be fast, informative, witty, and very, very focused on locally sourced products and gardening and things that are kind of Berkshire-specific," Thompson said. "We thought that [would] be a really interesting program for the 5,000 people coming from outside Berkshire county."
There will also be events that spotlight local cooks, locally produced food and heritage crops, he said.
"For a rock and roll festival, there’s a really wide range of things to hear and see and do," Thompson said. "It’s very indicative, though, of the band. Their musical interests are broad; they’re fascinated by a lot of things. I think you’ll get some feeling for that at this festival."