NORTH ADAMS - If you don't have a ticket to Wilco's Solid Sound Festival this weekend, don't worry - there will still be plenty to do and see outside of the Mass MoCA campus, according to local organizers.
"Sometimes people in the community get lost in the shuffle and think ‘this isn't for us,' but there will be a lot going on this weekend. It's the one weekend a year when local businesses and restaurants are open until 2 a.m.," Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said Monday during a news conference at City Hall. "It's a different experience and a different type of weekend. We want to remind residents that it is Wilco weekend and that 7,000 people will be here, but we want them to come out."
Solid Sound Festival, three-days of music and art curated by the alt-country indie band Wilco, begins Friday with the first show at 6:30 p.m., said Mass MoCA Communications Director Jodi Joseph.
"We expect a hard and fast start and expect the city to be bustling by 5:30 p.m.," she said. "In years past, we had a trickle of people come in on Friday, but we have some great shows on Friday."
Among the weekend's events will be extended business hours and late-night festivities in the downtown on Friday and Saturday nights, along with the return of the Main Street Market, featuring 40 vendors, on Sunday from 9 a.m., to 2 p.m.
"We want local residents to know they should come out. They shouldn't stay home. North Adams is not shut down," Jonathan Secor, director of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, said. "Local residents may want to make their restaurant reservations earlier in the evening, while the shows are still going, but we want them to come out and enjoy everything that will be going on."
Some festival-goers are even expected to show up early on Thursday to attend the kick off of DownStreet Art.
"We're starting DownStreet Art a week early this year. We normally open the last Thursday of the month, but it seemed silly to open a week after Solid Sound," Secor said. "We kick off on Thursday with eight new pop-up galleries, a total of 31 galleries, murals and public art spots. We're going to have great exhibitions, but this year we're elevating the opening with several performances."
The evening will begin with a community-reading of Frederick Douglass' famous Fourth of July address on the Lift Ev'ry Voice stage at the corner of Holden and Main streets, continue with gallery openings and performances and end with a World Music Dance Party featuring Montreal-based, multicultural, multilingual hip-hop band, Nomadic Massive.
The dance party, which will take place on Main Street, will run from 8 to 10 p.m. In addition, Wandering Night House, a mobile art installation, will roam the streets, projecting images and sound on downtown buildings.
"The idea is to really light everything up from the get-go," Secor said.
North Adams Chamber of Commerce President Glenn Maloney said local businesses and restaurants will be opening early and staying open late, to not only serve the Wilco crowd, but also local patrons.
"We've created a restaurant map with Berkshire
Menus.com and we've asked businesses to hold events or activities outside their stores," he said. "We're creating large ‘you are here' posters to help direct people to the downtown venues."
Secor added, "We've learned the ebb and flow of what the Wilco crowd wants. In 2011, we had a big concert downtown, which was fantastic, but 75 percent of the people who attended were local. The Wilco crowd was more interested in going into the stores and restaurants."
There will still be late-night activities on Friday and Saturday, but of a more low-key nature, he said.
"We're going to ‘flip the switch' at 10 p.m. We're going to have some fun LED stuff going on and then we'll have some DJs on the street beginning at 11 p.m.," Secor said. "The drive this year is to be open and to be visible. We know the Wilco crowd wants to explore - the don't want to go back to their hotel room or tent after the concerts get out. We know they're out in the morning too - so everything will be opening at 9 a.m. We want to catch those few hours at the beginning and end of the day."