(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – R&B legend Mavis Staples, dance icon Bill T. Jones, indie-rockers Miracle Legion, and performance artist Okwui Okpokwasili top the list of performers slated for the winter-spring performing arts season at MASS MoCA in 2017. Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival will return on June 23–25; tickets go on sale on Friday, December 9, to Solid Sound and all other events.
In addition, laughter will ring out with the annual High Mud Comedy Festival, hosted by Dave Hill and starring Phoebe Robinson — the sensational co-creator and co-star of “2 Dope Queens” – returns on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1, with Jo Firestone and Club B10 alum Joe Pera setting the stage on Saturday, February 18.
In addition to the freshly reunited Miracle Legion, musical performers will include S? Percussion, Parsonsfield, Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang, Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, former Apollo Sunshine and Yellowbirds frontman Sam Cohen, Nordic female folk duo My Bubba, and Steven Bernstein’s Universal Melody Brass Band, capping off the museum’s annual Free Day celebration on February 4 with music ranging from Duke Ellington to Sly and the Family Stone.
In the galleries, Nick Cave: Until, the artist’s largest exhibition yet, opened October 15, and will continue to occupy the museum’s largest gallery through summer. Forests, clouds, mountains, and a trove of dazzling objects expose America’s ugly underbelly — a provocative environment that challenges every viewer. On Friday, April 28, curator Denise Markonish facilitates a discussion with the artist, the head of Chicago’s Police Board and Task Force on Police Accountability, Lori E. Lightfoot, as well as other contributors to the exhibition catalog. The panel will grapple with America’s most confounding issues, including gun control, gun violence, race relations, and policing.
Tanja Hollander set out to photograph all 626 of her Facebook friends, traveling the world to find out from her connections, “Are you really my friend?” The exhibition opens on Saturday, February 18. Elizabeth King challenges the idea of radical smallness, exhibiting her half-scale sculptures and stop-motion video projections. King will produce an animated video during a two-week artist residency, when she will employ her gallery space as animation studio. Visitors are invited to watch art being made. Her exhibit, Radical Small, opens Saturday, March 4.
Evocative and enigmatic, Steffani Jemison’s “Plant You Now, Dig You Later,” inspired in part by Louis Armstrong lyrics, opens on Saturday, March 18. Jemison’s exhibition features a new sound work, a graphic score, photographs, and paintings inspired by black resistance movements and unconventional methods of communication.
“In the Abstract” uses stacks of bunk beds, lines of hanging clothes, and canvases encrusted with sawdust to examine the systemic abstraction of the world we live in, and its role as a metaphor for social and political reality. The show opens on Saturday, May 6.
Animating the Hunter Center mezzanine, Chris Domenick combines simple industrial printing processes with collage and drawing in “Fifty Days,” beginning Wednesday, January 18.
On Saturday, January 28, Parsonsfield returns to MASS MoCA to reprise their smashing FreshGrass performance scoring “Nanook of the North” with original music. On Saturday, February 11, So Percussion performs its program, “A Gun Show.” Sam Cohen, the former Apollo Sunshine and Yellowbirds frontman, promises “vintage, sunny psychedelia” (Pitchfork) with his feel-good sound on Saturday, February 25.
Staple Singers vocalist and recent Kennedy Center Honoree Mavis Staples makes her near-annual pilgrimage to the Berkshires – she’s been at Solid Sound, the Mahaiwe, and Tanglewood opening for Bob Dylan in recent years – when she returns to MASS MoCA on Saturday, March 25, to perform in the Hunter Center with her full band.
Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang keep the good vibes rolling with traditional Bubu music best described as dance meets reggae meets electronic, on Saturday, March 11. On Friday, March 17, local heroes The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow ring in St. Patrick’s Day with a celebration of brotherhood, spirits, and foot-stomping folk rock. Freshly reunited Miracle Legion plays a special homecoming show on Saturday, April 8, where its jangly guitar rock will transport you back to the glory days of college radio.
Nordic duo My Bubba closes out the Club B10 season on Saturday, May 6, with its mesmerizing, soft vocals. No Depression coins them “their generation’s Simon and Garfunkel.”
Renowned choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones performs a new work, developed in response and performed amid Nick Cave’s Until on Saturday, March 4. Okwui Okpokwasili, a politically charged performance artist and Bessie Award-winning dancer, will take the gallery space as stage on Tuesday, April 4, in a solo program. Richard Move will be in residence to develop XXYY, a new collaboration with theater artist Alba Clemente and visual artist Paolo Canevari. The poetic, multi-sensorial piece ends its MASS MoCA story with a work-in-progress performance on Friday, January 20.
Free Day, an annual event in which MASS MoCA throws opens its doors and waives admission to all visitors, falls on Saturday, February 4 from 11am–7pm, with activities for families all throughout the day. The Universal Melody Brass Band performs that night to top the celebration. Feminist acrobatic dance troupe LAVA takes to the Hunter Center stage on Saturday, April 15, to present a new piece, developed at MASS MoCA, in their afternoon show designed for families and children.
The first film of a new documentary series, “Portraits of Empowerment: Women Making an Impact,” screens on Thursday, February 2, with “A Revolution in 4 Seasons.” A different film will be screened each Thursday of February. On the docket: “Seven Songs for a Long Life,” an exploration of our changing relationship with death; “Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray,” a tribute to the dynamic artist Elizabeth Murray, an intrinsic figure in New York’s contemporary art landscape from the 1970s until the early 2000s; and “Ovarian Psycos,” about a Latina bicycle brigade in Los Angeles.
Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival returns June 23–25, featuring Wilco, band members’ solo projects, and a lineup curated specially by the group. Tickets go on sale December 9. FreshGrass Festival returns on September 15–17. Advance tickets available at 2015 prices are on sale now.
Buy Now, Save Money
MASS MoCA discounts tickets 25% off all spring 2017 Club B10 shows, work-in-progress performances, The Universal Melody Brass Band, S? Percussion, and LAVA, if tickets are purchased by January 2, 2017. Discounts do not combine, and discounted tickets are non-refundable and non-transferrable.
Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA box office located on Marshall Street in North Adams. The box office is open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 x1 during box office hours or purchased online at MASS MoCA. All events are held rain or shine.
Season at a Glance:
Date Time Event Type
January 20 8pm Richard Move Dance
January 28 8pm Parsonsfield: Nanook of the North Film with Live Music
February 2 7:30pm A Revolution in 4 Seasons Documentary Film Series
February 4 11am-7pm Free Day Free admission for all
February 4 8pm The Universal Melody Brass Band Live Music
February 9 7:30pm Ovarian Psycos Documentary Film Series
February 11 8pm S? Percussion: A Gun Show Live Music
February 16 7:30pm Seven Songs for a Long Life Documentary Film Series
February 18 8pm Jo Firestone Comedy
February 23 7:30pm Everybody Knows…Elizabeth Murray Documentary Film Series
February 25 8pm Sam Cohen Live Music
March 4 8pm Bill T. Jones Dance in the galleries
March 11 8pm Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang Live Music
March 17 8pm The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow Live Music
March 18 5:30pm Members’ Opening reception: Elizabeth King: Radical Small; Tanja Hollander: Are You Really My Friend?; Steffani Jemison: Plant You Now, Dig You Later Exhibition Openings
March 25 8pm Mavis Staples Live Music
March 31-April 1 TBD The High Mud Comedy Festival Comedy Festival
April 7 8pm Okwui Okpokwasili Dance in the galleries
April 8 8pm Miracle Legion Live Music
April 15 3pm LAVA: A Goddessy For Kids
April 28 6pm Nick Cave Book Talk Book Talk
May 6 8pm My Bubba Live Music
May 6 5:30pm Members’ Opening Reception: In the Abstract; The Half-Life of Love Exhibition Openings
June 23–25 All day Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival Music Festival
September 15–17 All day FreshGrass Festival Music Festival