Words: Dave Kear Photos: Patrick Jacobi
Two longtime Wilco fans and conscientious hedonists journeyed to Solid Sound 2015. One is a free-lance writer by trade and the other is a regular contributor to ChunkyGlasses. With a shared history of two previous Solid Sound Festivals, countless Wilco shows attended together, and a friendship built around their shared experience of love for the band, Dave and Patrick plan to describe all that is great about Solid Sound in a personal and experiential way. Think Chuck Klosterman at a Kiss festival. They will explore not only what they love about Wilco, but also why the band is important to them as they age, how their perspective has changed over time, and what it all means -- the Festival, the band, and life.
This is how their journey ends...
(MUSIC SELECTION: "CHORINE MY SHEBA QUEEN" BY JAY FARRAR)
PATRICK AND DAVE'S
OFFICIAL SOLID SOUND 2015 MIXTAPE
DAVE: Where shall we break our fast this fine morning, Master Patrick ?
PATRICK: The bass player, John Stirrat tweeted the first day he got here that this place Renee’s serves some mean grub.
DAVE: Fire it up on the GPS, then.
PATRICK: Roger Wilco.
DAVE: I was just kidding about that fine morning part. It’s actually kind of sucky out there.
PATRICK: Day 3 blues.
PATRICK: Are you sure you gotta head back early?
DAVE: Yep, my wife advised that it is in my best interest that I do not miss another bedtime. So realistically, I need to be rolling into Brooklyn by around 8 tonight.
PATRICK: Alright, alright, that’s better than the last two times. We’ve never made it to even part of Day 3 before.
DAVE: Baby steps, man. Baby steps. Next time we might even get to stay through til the end.
PATRICK: Let’s not get carried away.
DAVE: Aw, no, honey!
PATRICK: That was stellar.
DAVE: And here’s Renee’s.
PATRICK: Looks like we aren’t the only ones who saw John’s tweet. I don’t mind waiting in line.
DAVE: Especially if they have the Wilco seal of approval for choice eats whilst on the road. Like did you read that Yo La Tengo bio?
PATRICK: Yeah, they always know where to eat when they’re touring.
DAVE: And where to buy striped tshirts in case Ira’s get stolen.
PATRICK: How many of those do you think he owns?
DAVE: All of them.
PATRICK: Ha. Speaking of which, are you going to order all the eggs, Ron Swanson style?
DAVE: I thought you were talking about that Patton Oswalt story where he’s standing behind the guy who orders all the ham
PATRICK: Ha ha, yes! The future of the world hangs in the balance.
DAVE: Either way, yeah, I’m going to order all of it. I’m starving.
PATRICK: Same here. I’m going to order one of those cast iron skillet platters with all the potatoes.
DAVE: Actually, now that I have a chance to peruse the menu, I think I’m going to have the homemade country hash, with thick chunks of corned beef and diced peppers and potatoes and onions and cheese sprinkled on top with two eggs on top of that and rye toast with butter.
DAVE: You may live longer, my vegan friend, but I will enjoy it more.
Nels Cline and Norton Wisdom’s Stained Radiance
(Music Selection -"Spider Wisdom" by Nels Cline)
DAVE: Thus loaded for bear and full to the gills with breakfast foods, we head over to stand in line for this thing Stained Raidiance. Any idea what we’re getting into?
PATRICK: I don’t know but there’s a big line. That guy C. with the poncho said it’s like Nels plays improv guitar while this artist Norton Wisdom paints pictures and there’s a dance component to it, too.
DAVE: Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit drinking.
PATRICK: Hey man, I can be designated driver.
DAVE: No worries, I just took an allergy pill. It’s fixing to get crazy up in here.
PATRICK: Ground control to Major Tom.
DAVE: Exactly. I’m going to fill up my water bottle at Joe’s Other Hose. Can I get you a Bloody while I’m at it?
PATRICK: Bloodier the better.
DAVE: Cool. Save me a spot…I’m back.
PATRICK: That was fast.
DAVE: Yeah, time has been feeling funny to me ever since we got here. Running fast and running slow. It’s that time out of time kind of aspect to the weekend, I guess. And that kind of skip in the record that comes from taking in live music. Some songs you look up and whole hours have passed.
PATRICK: Have you ever seen Nels play solo?
DAVE: Yeah, I saw him open for a Tweedy solo show years ago. It’s alright. Lots of pedals and buttons and noodling. Very abstract. You know, like spontaneous song scapes and stuff.
PATRICK: Might be just the perfect antidote to an early Sunday afternoon.
DAVE: Nels sets up Stage Left and Norton Wisdom moves to Stage Right. Wisdom turns on a light and his canvas is projected on a tall screen in between the two of them. Nels turns up his amp and slaps a tone out of the neck of his guitar and off we go.
PATRICK: Thankfully the painting has a figurative aspect to it, so that helps keep us rooted. But just as an amazing work of art gets established in response to whatever flight of fancy Nels goes off on, the painter comes along and washes and wipes the whole thing away. The paint runs in fat wet streaks. I would pay money to have any of those pictures hanging in my house, and Mr. Wisdom just obliterates them and moves on to the next thing.
DAVE: All things are temporary. Everything passes on to nothing. There’s no reason to get attached. Works of art are a dime a dozen. Let’s not be too precious or too serious. Live in the moment, express and enjoy and interact. Commune. We are all part of something that will never be exactly this way again.
PATRICK: Nels sings into the pickup of his guitar, moaning and chanting. He strums and picks and bangs and twists. Dancers come up the aisles and ooze out onstage like damned Greek figures and willowing sea anemones. Stories emerge and submerge coming and going in their movements the way themes arrive and disperse on the guitar and the painter paints angels and animals and music wielded like a weapon. Then he makes them like they never were.
DAVE: I slip in and out of consciousness and am not totally sure what parts are dreams and/or substitutions of my subconscious, but it doesn’t matter. It is what it is. Modern? Postmodern? Who gives a shit. I let it wash over me then the tide of its ending carries me out into the bright blinking light of Sunday afternoon.
Charles Lloyd Quartet
(Music Selection - "Love Ship" by Charles Lloyd Quartet)
PATRICK: Wanna check out the Charles Lloyd Quartet over in Courtyard A?
DAVE: Sure thing. At this point I could stand and listen to a woman playing the saw for an hour.
PATRICK: Then you have finally found your zen.
DAVE: Absolutely. I am clear to launch back into the atmosphere of real life wherever and whenever that may be. I have finally gotten where I’m going.
PATRICK: Wait, I thought this was supposed to be a quartet.
PATRICK: Then why are there 5 people onstage.
DAVE: Maybe it’s Charles Lloyd playing with a quartet.
PATRICK: No, there’s an extra guy up there. Wait, you know who it is?
PATRICK: Mr. Avocado himself, Bill Frisell. MVP of the festival. And I’ll bet you anything he plays with Tweedy during the final set this evening.
DAVE: Yeah, I’m sorry we’re going to miss that.
PATRICK: Me, too. But no big deal. We’ll get ‘em next time. Baby steps, right?
DAVE: Right. Right now we’re here, and Charles Lloyd is playing with Bill Frisell, so what more can you ask for?
PATRICK: Lloyd is a thin old man, and in this blustery New England weather, he stands at center stage blowing his flute and sax in a knit cap. He takes a solo then motions to either his pianist or Frisell to play the next solo, then whoever hasn’t gone yet gets a turn. Spiraling. The song swirls and dances around the stage.
DAVE: When he isn’t playing, Lloyd wanders around the bandstand like the cool cat jazz grandfather he is, getting close and listening to the individual players and egging them on, encouraging them to do their best and surprise themselves with something they aren’t planning or something they’ve never done before.
PATRICK: Meanwhile the bass and drummer hold it all together with power and precision and you gotta love those smiles and laughter that pass between all the players. This is some good shit.
DAVE: Watching these two geezers, both gray but still playing better than ever, I have come to the conclusion that music will either kill you or make you live forever. I sure feel its power running through me right now.
PATRICK: Frisell starts the next theme all alone. Then the drummer and bass come in. Then Lloyd takes over the solo, then the pianist, then back to Frisell. What is that theme, that majestic melody turning and returning and each instrument taking its turn to play in and around according to each man’s penchant and personality.
DAVE: I look over at my friend, Patrick, and give him a look that says, This. This is why we came back for Day #3. This is the moment that makes the whole day worth it.
PATRICK: There’s still a little bit of rain, but I hardly even feel it or remember it later.
Records and Merch
(Music Selection - "StinkFoot" by Frank Zappa)
DAVE: Man, that was so cool. I’ve never heard Charles Lloyd before.
PATRICK: What can I say, my theory holds true. Bill Frisell really does make everything better.
DAVE: Alright, now I’ve got to buy 4 tshirts for the folks playing along at home. Then I say we hit the Euclid Records popup and then get on the road. Work for you?
PATRICK: Look who’s got his Panama now.
DAVE: Madam, I am Adam.
PATRICK: How cool is it that they have this festival at an art museum, and in the middle of everything is a record shop.
DAVE: Yeah, my son and I just started collecting vinyl this year. I bought him the first Bowie album and a little portable Crosley. We’ve been sharing music and making recommendations to each other on Spotify for a couple of years, but all that stuff’s up in the cloud. An LP is something actual, a substantial document of our mutual love for this thing. Who knows, maybe someday when I’m dead and gone, he can play these records and remember his old man.
PATRICK: Look at these Dylan boots. Jesus Christ, get me out of here. Doc and Merle Watson. And they’ve got a ton of Japanese Import editions of Zeppelin.
DAVE: The boy has been on a Zappa kick lately, so I’ll get him Apostrophe. And they’ve got Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on 180 gram vinyl, that’ll be my side of the musical conversation.
PATRICK: Don’t forget this.
DAVE: What’s this?
PATRICK: This is the Record Store Day Reissue of Springsteen’s Nebraska.
DAVE: Holy crap.
PATRICK: That’s my contribution to the collection.
DAVE: Are you serious?
PATRICK: So serious. Your boy needs that album, or else his musical education will be incomplete. Everything comes full circle. You turned me on to this album back in the day, and now I am bringing it back to you.
DAVE: Well, hell, man, I think I’m going to cry a little. I’m misting up over here. Wow. Thank you. This really means something.
DAVE: Now when you die from your vegan lifestyle, I can take out this album and it will remind me of you.
PATRICK: No way. Rusty Bear says I’m going to live forever.
DAVE: Hold up. Do you see what I see? There in the drizzly distance like some kind of mirage. It is. It is.
PATRICK: Samosa Man!
DAVE: Samosa Man!
PATRICK: 1 veg and 1 apple samosa later, and now we can leave.
Return and End Credits
(Music Selection - “Heaven" by The Talking Heads)
DAVE: What else is there to say?
PATRICK: I don’t know. I think we’ve pretty much said everything.
DAVE: Maybe let’s just listen to the radio on the way home.
PATRICK: I’ll DJ.
DAVE: The drive back to Brooklyn is fairly uneventful, reeling in the tether that has been lying slack this whole weekend, but always there. Family, work, the passage of time. Another Solid Sound come and gone for another 2 years. I’ll probably get down to DC to catch a show with Patrick or he’ll get up to Brooklyn before the next one. But it goes. It’ll be 2017 before you know it. 2019. Maybe my son will join us sometime, and we always have friends every time who swear they’re going to go the next time. But whether they do or not, we’re the core, just us two friends. And that’s more than plenty enough for me. That’s a damn party.
PATRICK: I start out curating a mellow return to Real Life. We get some of the festival players like Jessica Pratt and Richard Thompson and shock of shocks, Bill Frisell (seriously, check out that version of Pipeline if you don’t believe my MVP claim.) Then when the fatigue sets in and all the long weekend comes weighing down and trying to shut my eyes on the passenger side I put on Scharpling and Wurster’s Rock, Rot and Rule routine, and finally by the time we reach the Bronx we’ve dug into Blur and Courtney Barnett and Kendrick Lamar to carry us the rest of the way back into the County of Kings.
DAVE: Patrick is crashing with a mutual friend of ours for the night before heading back to DC in the morning, so I drop him off there, and then I spin the dial back to the SSF 2015 mix for the last leg of my journey. The Talking Heads come on singing about a place called Heaven. All the way across Brooklyn and catching mostly green lights. Reeling that tether. Right on up to a parking place in front of our building where I turn the key.
For the first time in 3 days, the music stops.
This concludes Patrick and Dave's journey.
Thanks for the good time Wilco. We'll see you again in a few years.
Check out the full gallery of Patrick's shots from 2015 Solid Sound Fest below.