Solstice 2020


Dawn at the Tank

Dawn at the Tank is at 5:13am, first light on the Solstice on Sunday June 21, the start of the year’s longest day in the northern hemisphere.  The sunrise itself is at 5:46am. For dawn, we have a selection of beautiful awakening sounds. Scroll down for descriptions of each track.

Tanksounds · 2020 Solstice Playlist (Dawn)

Ron Miles: Cornet Tanksong 1

Among the most talented improvisers and composers of his generation, cornetist Ron Miles brought his artistry to 2018 Solstice Festival at the Tank. Ron has a long history with the Tank. As a Colorado musician, he first came to Rangely more than twenty years ago, and in this concert shows his amazing sensitivity to the resonance of the Tank. If you love this music as much as we do, you’ll want to check out Ron’s deep and noble 2017 album,

Ron Miles Photo by Thomas J. Krebs

Roomful of Teeth: Just Constellations by Michael Harrison

After Bach, musicians adopted the compromise system of equal temperament, in which all intervals are mildly dissonant, but compatible across keys.  Michael Harrison is one of the leading composers in America who uses just intonation, an earlier tuning system that preserves the pure harmonies of perfect intervals.  The Tank’s reverberations are perfect for those earlier, purer harmonies. Harrison’s work Just Constellations was the centerpiece of the 2017 Solstice performance by the astonishing and GRAMMY-winning vocal ensemble “Roomful of Teeth.” Brad Wells conducts Cameron Beauchamp, Dashon Burton, Martha Cluver, Eric Dudley, Estelí Gomez, Avery Griffin, Caroline Shaw, and Virginia Warnken Kelsey.

Roomful of Teeth, showing their actual teeth

Elaine diFalco: Green Boat

The playing of accordionist and vocalist Elaine diFalco has been a notable feature of avant-prog collaborations from the Pacific Northwest to Europe, as she has worked with Caveman Shoestore, 3 Mice, Combat Astronomy and Thinking Plague, among other groups. Elaine helped the Tank’s early days in every way possible, from digging the trenches for conduit between the control room and the Tank to running Deep Listening workshops for Rangely residents.  Inspired by the work of Pauline Oliveros, this piece is some of the special music Elaine composed for Solstice in the Tank, which became the principal part of the thesis for her Masters in Music at the University of North Texas.  For “Green Boat,” she takes off on a vocal and accordion improvisation, and towards the end, gives a nod to Bruce Odland, who joins in.  

Elaine DiFalco Photo by Jeremiah Moore

Greg Heimbecker: Saxophone Tanksong

Greg Heimbecker is the Chief Recording Engineer in the School of Music at the University of Northern Colorado. Greg is also a Tank aficionado, having engineered sessions by many Tank artists, and having played and performed in the Tank himself. Included in this playlist is his 2016 piece for saxophone in the Tank.

Sunrise on the Tank

Colorado Children’s Chorale: All This Joy by John Denver

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Emily Crile and Executive Director Meg Steitz, the Colorado Children’s Chorale trains 400 members each year, children between the ages of 7 and 14 from all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds and from more than 180 schools in the Denver metro area and beyond. Since its founding in 1974, the Chorale has brought its artistry and charm to audiences throughout the world, singing a diverse repertoire ranging from fully-staged opera and musical theater to standard choral compositions in classical, folk and popular traditions. The Colorado Children’s Chorale came to the Tank in April, 2018, to record and to perform a concert at Rangely High School. Get out your hankies, dears, this is a tearjerker.

Some members of the Colorado Children’s Choral in the Tank


The Tank in the Landscape near Rangely

The Titanium Bell

At solar noon, 1:17pm in Rangely, the sun reaches its zenith for the year, and we ring the Titanium Bell. The bell produces a deep roar, resonating for three minutes.  In the Tank’s powerful reverb, the sound vibrates your bones.

Author Temple Grandin rings the Titanium Bell, as Heather Zadra records the moment

The bell began its life as an oxygen fuel cylinder for a booster rocket in the Apollo Space Program.  It had a small defect, though, so its maker, Robert Ulichny, drilled some holes in it and took it home to use as a barbecue grill.  Next it became a planter in his daughter Shelley’s yard, where the sound artist Bruce Odland discovered it as a bell with some very special sonic properties.  The photo below shows Robert, third from left, at Ladish Industries in Milwaukee, where the bell was forged. 

Ron Miles: Cornet Tanksong 2

Clarinetist Ben Goldberg called Ron Miles one of the greatest melodists of his time.  Ron Miles was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1963 and moved to Denver with his family in 1974.  Ron has recorded as a leader for the Prolific, Capri, Gramavision, and Sterling Circle labels.  This track is also from the concert Ron played for the 2018 Solstice Festival at the Tank.

Poster for Ron Miles Design by Laurie Murphy

Paul Klite: The Soaring Bird

Paul Klite was a sculptor, activist, environmentalist, radio producer and gypsy fiddler, all this after a successful career as a physician.  He came to the Tank in 1991 with his violin and immediately dialed in to the space in his own special way.  This early battery-powered recording, from the time when the Tank had no door, no studio, and no lights, embodies some of the Tank’s mystery and power in those early, totally illegal, magical days. Paul died in 2000, leaving a trail of inspiration for those who knew him, as well as this wonderful cut:  “The Soaring Bird.”

Bruce Odland on Planet Tank

Roomful of Teeth: Ring Out, Wild Bells by Jessica Meyer

Composer and violist Jessica Meyer came to the Tank for Solstice in 2017 to perform and to premiere this work with Roomful of Teeth. Her playing has been called “fierce and lyrical,” her compositions “other-worldly” and “evocative.”  As a solo performer, Ms. Meyer uses a single simple loop pedal to create an orchestral experience, drawing from Bach, Brahms, Delta blues, Flamenco, Indian Raga, and Appalachian fiddling.  A composer-in-Residence at Spoleto USA, Jessica has written work for Vox Clamantis, the American Brass Quintet, cellist Amanda Gookin for her Forward Music Project, Sybarite 5, PUBLIQuartet, NOVUS NY of Trinity Wall Street, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Photo by Joan Perlman

Rinde Eckert: Dry Land

Bruce Odland describes a visit to the Tank by the writer, composer and performer Rinde Eckert: “Rinde showed up at the Tank with a van full of instruments on a tour of house concerts across the country. The moment someone pops into that environment is a powerful experience, hard to grasp, and harder to capture.  But I had hung the mics in anticipation of that moment, and so what you hear in this recording is truly Rinde’s first contact on planet Tank.” This song, Dry Land, is from that visit.

Rinde Eckert in the Tank


For sunset, at 8:48pm in the high desert of Colorado, we’re playing excerpts of concerts from prior Solstices in the Tank, including “When The TANK Swallows the Sun,” Joshua Hill’s contemplative soundbath with ambient drones and electro-acoustic violin, and the unique sonic experience of the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, singing in a thunderstorm on Solstice, 2017. Plus other delights.

Tanksounds · 2020 Solstice Playlist (Evening)

All the Bells that Can Ring

Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in

                                              –Leonard Cohen

Bruce Odland explains, “Well, for the Solstice that year [2017], we visited WC Streigel’s epic scrapyard in Rangely, where grand steel objects were rusting in the boneyard of the giant pipeline industry that serves the energy needs of America.   In the hot sun we lifted everything we could lift, striking with steel and collecting all the ringing tones that pleased us. We filled the bed of our rented pickup. Later that night, after the Solstice concert, the audience chose their sounding steel objects, and took them into the Tank to play an improvised gamelan concert, guided by a sense of togetherness, listening, and a planetary connection to the solar events of the day.” This track is the result.

Sunset on the Rio Blanco near the Tank

Ron Miles: Cornet Tanksong 3

In addition to leading his own bands, Ron Miles has performed in the ensembles of Joshua Redman, Bill Frisell, Mercer Ellington, Don Byron, Myra Melford, Joe Henry, Madeleine Peyroux, Jason Moran, Matt Wilson, the Bad Plus, Harriet Tubman, Ginger Baker, and Ben Goldberg. This track is also from the concert Ron played for the 2018 Solstice Festival at the Tank.

Ron Miles in the Tank

Roomful of Teeth: my heart comes undone by Judah Adashi

The music critic Alex Ross attended the 2017 Solstice at the Tank and later, writing in the New Yorker, described the moment you’ll hear in this track. “Roomful of Teeth began to sing ‘my heart comes undone,’ by the Baltimore-based composer Judah Adashi–a rapt meditation that draws elements from Björk’s song “Unravel.” A moment later, the storm broke. Gusts buffeting the exterior created an apocalyptic bass rumble; lashes of rain sounded like a hundred snare drums. The voices bobbed on the welter of noise, sometimes disappearing into it and sometimes riding above. As Adashi’s music subsided, the storm subsided in turn. In my experience, music has never seemed closer to nature.”

There is a Fire

Samantha Wade has spent more time singing in the Tank than anyone. Her grandmother Barbara Wade was the Keeper of the Tank Key for many years after its sonic qualities were discovered in 1976, so Samantha sang in the Tank often as a child, and is now known as the Voice of the Tank.  She is the Tank’s Resident Engineer and its longest serving employee. She knows how sound travels in the Tank, how the microphones pick up the sound inside, and how her voice activates the sonic geometry like no one else’s.  She recorded this song as a Featured Artist of the Detour 360 tour of Colorado in 2019. The song came spontaneously out of the ethers, fully formed in one take, poetry and all.  

The Tank at Night Photo by Conrado Quezada Escandón

Joshua Hill: When The TANK Swallows The Sun

An hour before sunset on the summer solstice of 2019, Joshua Hill performed as The Mystic Cowboy, playing on his Magic Fiddle on this track, called “When The TANK Swallows The Sun.” It’s meant as a contemplative sound bath, to nurture the oncoming darkness.  Finishing his set as the sun set on the horizon, The Mystic Cowboy left the Tank and hiked up the ridge towards the pastel hue of the sky, still playing his violin. Over the ridge he was greeted by the poofy seeds of a dandelion flower promising rebirth, as the earth slowly faded into night. 

The Mystic Cowboy and his Magic Fiddle

Bruce Odland: Glory Wheel

In 1976, on a Chautauqua Tour of small towns in Colorado, Bruce Odland accidentally discovered the magnificent sonic environment of a seven-story water tank in Rangely. He’s been coming back ever since. In 1985 Bruce started working on a long format concept album called “Leaving Eden.”  He used early digital portable gear to record written pieces and improvisations in a series of location recordings at the Tank, exploring the theme of looking back on the memory of our lost beautiful blue green planet Earth.  This piece, Glory Wheel, is a moment of intense celebration, with Tanksters chanting, Mark Fuller playing Tabla, and the addition of the Colorado Children’s Chorale.  

Starry Sky above the Tank Photo: Jeremiah Moore

To hear all this Solstice Festival music in one playlist, click here.

Next year, we may again be able to gather
in person at the Tank on the Solstice.
We hope you’ll join us then.

The 2020 Solstice Festival from the Tank
is wholly sponsored by
Colorado Creative Industries.