Summer Solstice Party Preview: Q&A with Tom Welsh, Associate Director of Music

By Cindy Fink Director of Marketing and Communications Performance and music are a major part of the museum’s annual Summer Solstice Party, this year happening on Saturday, June 25 from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Exciting, eclectic music never stops once it starts at the party, and it’s no easy feat to organize all. So, we caught up with Tom Welsh, who masterfully envisions and secures the performance lineup, to ask him for a bit of insight into his work on the party. Q. What do you look for in performers when planning the lineup for the party? A. One of the most exciting things about Solstice is that it’s quickly become a summer festival where so many artists rising in the alternative scene make their Cleveland debuts – and by alternative, I mean non-mainstream music that’s at once forward-looking and exciting. Northeast Ohio audiences get to experience artists we’ve been hearing about or reading about for the first time here, at the museum. And I think that’s as it should be – because we’re tapping into the zeitgeist not only via the visual arts but also through the music of right now. Q. Which performers are you most excited about at this year’s party? A. This year, we have Group Doueh, from the Western Sahara, playing at Solstice on their first-ever US tour. It’s always something of a coup to be the first to put a band of real international stature on the stage. I’m also excited about Sofrito Soundsystem (from London), and Dam-Funk & Master Blazter (from LA), and, well – I’m excited about all of the artists. Totally unfair to ask me to pick a favorite – that’s like asking which of your kids do you like the best. Q. How do you get started putting the lineup of performers together each year? A. When thinking about what Solstice might be, I usually have dozens of groups and bands in my mind (in my ears) at the same time and then try to figure out what makes a really interesting and unpredictable mix. Chicha Libre are playing Solstice this year, and actually I’ve been trying to get them here for a couple of years so it’s exciting that it’s finally happening. A very cool band. In the past we’ve also tipped our cap to Cleveland artists, and this year we’re having the young trio called Moon Hooch during the early hours – these guys are making their way in the street music scene in NYC, and the drummer James Muschler is from Cleveland Heights. And by funny coincidence, Dam-Funk mentioned to me that his drummer J-1 is from Cleveland. Solstice, then, can be a bit of a homecoming for these guys. We’re definitely hearing that Solstice is buzzing a little bi! t in the national conversation, so hopefully even Clevelanders who are non-musicians living out there in the world can make the trip back to check out what the museum looks like (and sounds like) these days. Click here for information and to purchase tickets to the Summer Solstice Party.

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