Fall season at Mass MoCA: Dinosaur Jr., diverse slate of art, music, comedy
NORTH ADAMS — The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art will host another diverse set of artists and programming, ranging from Nick Cave to Dinosaur Jr., during a busy fall season announced on Wednesday.
The museum, which is also entering the last stretch of a $55 million renovation project, unveiled a packed slate of art, music and other performances for the fall season that will be anchored by the 6th annual FreshGrass Festival. Other major acts stopping in the steeple city include the Benjamin Clementine, the Magnetic Fields and Dinosaur Jr.
The FreshGrass lineup was no secret, but the museum unveiled a detailed schedule for the festival, which will be held Sept. 16-18. Glen Hansard will headline on Friday night, a busy Saturday will be led by Old Crow Medicine Show, and Sunday's performers will include Alison Brown and Rosanne Cash.
Beyond FreshGrass, the list of musical artists this fall includes the Magnetic Fields, whose leader Stephin Merritt is no stranger to the Mass MoCA confines. The band will be performing 50 songs, with 50 instruments, over two nights on Dec. 18-19.
"They're going to be here for two weeks [prior to the event] in the Hunter Center really pulling together — we get the world premiere," said Sue Killam, managing director of performing arts.
Popular alternative band Dinosaur Jr., which was founded in nearby Amherst in 1984, will rock the Hunter Center on Dec. 10 in support of its album released this month, "Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not."
"They are our regional rock 'n' roll heroes from Western Mass," Killam said. "They helped define alternative rock."
Oct. 5 will mark the opening of artist Nick Cave's massive exhibition "Until" in Building 5, which explores racial inequality, gender, sexuality and other issues, according to curator Denise Markonish.
"It really comes as a response to the political situation we find ourselves in today," Markonish said.
Coinciding with the opening of Cave's exhibition, English artist Benjamin Clementine will perform on Oct. 15. Clementine's 2015 album "At Least For Now" was awarded the Mercury Prize, which is given to the best album from the United Kingdom.
"He's a poet, he's a musician, he's a performer," Killam said.
The fall lineup also includes comedy on Oct. 1 from Jena Friedman, who is known for her time writing and producing for "Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
Up-and-coming Brooklyn band Big Thief will play in Club B-10 on Nov. 5.
Director Joseph Thompson also announced an expansion of the museum's free days for North Adams residents on the 10th of every month from September through November. For the first time, free days will also be offered to all Berkshire County residents, who will receive free access to the galleries any and every day from Dec. 1 through Dec. 21.
The fall season announcement comes as Mass MoCA continues to inch closer to completing a massive expansion project, which will result in some 200,000 square feet of additional gallery space.
Thompson said Building 6, the center of the renovation, has "really shifted from feeling like kind of a chaotic construction site" to feeling like a museum. The museum is set to regain control of the site in October and it is expected to open to the public in late spring 2017.
After a successful summer season, Thompson said the museum "feels like it's firing on full cylinders."
Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.
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