(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – On Saturday, February 11, 2012, at 8 p.m., MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center will be filled with 1980s outfits and dancers moving to a mix of pop, new wave, and funk at a Synth Funk Dance Party hosted by Gordon Voidwell. The New York native brings his unique dance anthems to North Adams, bringing out the retro sounds of Prince and Tom Tom Club while infusing them with a fresh indie sound. The evening will kick off with dance instruction arranged by Jacob’s Pillow.
Prior to the dance party, attendees are encouraged to take advantage of MASS MoCA’s FREE Day, which features free admission to the galleries with a full schedule of special activities. This pairing offers the perfect opportunity to spend the whole day in North Adams.
Voidwell’s story begins in the Bronx. Raised in a musical family, it was inevitable that he would be involved in music, and in the fifth grade he started touring with the Harlem Boys Choir, travelling heavily until seventh grade. Voidwell credits his birthplace as a general influence, saying, “New York had this overwhelmingly schizophrenic energy. I’d like to think this aesthetic runs throughout everything I do.”
This energy is present in Voidwell’s music, described as “electro-fantastic… hip-hop-esque [and] yacht-rockin’.” Chris Douridas, a music supervisor at Southern California’s leading National Public Radio affiliate KCRW, elaborates on the various influences that come into play for Voidwell’s blend of synth funk: “[He] delivers off your head, funk-fused, unabashed fun… as if Prince took away the remote from TV on the Radio and played monkey in the middle.”
Voided Checks, Voidwell’s first release in mix-tape form, grabbed some immediate attention with its funky carefree sound. The tracks have received praise from several peers, including prolific record producer Mark Ronson and indie hip hop jokers Das Racist.
The success of Voided Checks has brought Voidwell’s live show to some of New York’s most popular clubs including Le Poisson Rogue, Highline Ballroom, and Pianos, to name a few.
Voidwell’s next release, Leap Into The Void, is slated to hit shelves this spring. The release features production and music written and performed solely by Voidwell with the exception of a guitar solo provided by Vernon Reid of Living Colour.
Voidwell’s songs aren’t merely fodder for dancing. The titles alone tell part of the story: “Ivy League Circus” and “White Friends.” Born Will Johnson, Voidwell had a unique upbringing in the Bronx and Manhattan, raised mostly by his mother with very little influence from his musician father, with whom he reconciled as an adult but who he still refers to as his “deadbeat dad.”
Prior to the dance party, the public is invited to the annual FREE Day at MASS MoCA’s galleries from 11 to 8 with tours and activities for all ages. Doors to the dance party will open at 7 p.m. with drinks and food available from Lickety Split. Tickets for the Synth Funk Dance Party with Gordon Voidwell are $15 for adults in advance and $19 day of the show. Student tickets are $10 and children under 12 are free. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 11 to 5.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA is an independent 501c(3) whose operations and programming are funded through admissions and commercial lease revenue, corporate and foundation grants, and individual philanthropy. Except for an initial construction grant from the Commonwealth, and competitive program and operations grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MASS MoCA is privately funded: 90% of annual operating revenues are from earned revenues, membership support, and private gifts and grants.