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Interview with Music is Art founder and Goo Goo Dolls bassist, Robby Takac

Music is Art enters its 15th year and in addition to hitting the milestone billed as a multi-sensory event; part concert, part bazaar, street fair and art gallery, Music is Art will make its debut at Buffalo RiverWorks this Saturday. Founder and Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac still talks about the event with the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store and manages to bring everything together even as he is in the midst of an extensive summer tour with the Goo Goo Dolls.

This week Robby called from Dallas to discuss this year’s event and how he manages to make all the pieces come together.

Robby Takac, source wikimedia commons

Thom:  So how do you pull Music is Art together?  It just seems like a mammoth project and this year you added another element in moving it to RiverWorks.

Robby: It generally starts every year with a quiet walk around and soul searching. Moving the venue really gave us a chance to re-think and re-imagine it in a way, so I was lucky enough to spend a couple months at home before our summer tour. I was pretty much down there every day with all the other parties that are responsible for making this happen. Since the tour started on 
July 2nd, I have only been there a couple times so a lot of the planning starts early.  It was really exciting to bring folks that have been with us for 15 years now through the new venue and start to come up with some new ideas. It is a very exciting space, there are a lot of different aspects to the space and I think we are going to wake some people up.

T: Part of it obviously was the fact you could get most of it under a roof.

R: Yeah that’s a buzz kill when it rains, I start to feel after the festival like my dog died and your friends are like, sorry, and I didn’t want to have that kind of feeling associated with it. The soul of this event is the opposite and to me, although I loved having it in Delaware Park because it could not have grown into what it is without that venue but at the same time, after about 5 or 6 years, of knowing where everything was going to happen, make a tweak here and there. It really was fun just to jump into a new place and figure out how this going to happen. An unbelievable amount of incredibly dedicated people, meeting me down there at all hours to pull this whole thing together.  It feels like it is going to be special.

T: Obviously this is your baby, it has got to be exciting, a milestone anniversary, 15 years and the new venue. , Do you every look at yourself at some point in the process and think, man why do I put myself through this or is it just the love of the festival and the area?

R: Every year for about 3 weeks I say that to myself, leading up to it. Oddly enough it has been pretty quiet leading up to it, I’m waiting, I am expecting some sort of craziness to happen.  I started really early this time so we have had a lot of time to think about it and plan. Mark Madden and the guys from his crew have been instrumental in pulling some of the more unique aspects together. Keith Harrington has been doing a lot of projection and of course, our Music is Art Board, they’re unbelievably dedicated in getting this done each year and the festival committee, I’ve lost track of how many are on it anymore, it is just new people coming on every day. Really exciting things coming this year, we got Willie Nile coming back to perform this year, EDM artist from Arcado Japan, Korea, she is coming back again to do a set, DJ Collette will be here, Green Jelly is coming back, a bunch of continental jumpers, The Good, Intention and the Enemies are all performing. A lot of them got an Americana stage with all sorts of great stuff. Anita West is programming a few hours, Jazz leaning stage this year, with 2 main stages, one indoors and one outdoors, three silent discos. We are doing a movie this year, like a film festival with five cinemas showing various film programs, 48 hour film festival, Buffalo Niagara film festival and we are also going to have sort of a Buffalo music odds and ends film festival showing a bunch of Goo Goo Dolls stuff, Lance Diamond movie, Elmer Plotz’s Buffalo Punk features and then two horror movie marathons, one by John Renna and one by Creepy the Zombie. A lot of stuff going on, I haven’t even touched on half of it. It is really all coming down all at once and we are in a new venue so it is going to be exciting to watch it come down. We have over 100 exhibiting artists and 15-20 artists doing various kinds of performance art.

T: To kind of wrap it up, are you able to sit back and absorb some of this stuff and just take it in and enjoy it, or are you still kind of caught up in the details that you don’t get a chance.

R: In my life, I have had to be very careful to do that, in every aspect of my life, if you don’t take two seconds to go ‘wow man, look at this’ and just enjoy it for a couple minutes, I have been very careful to do that, I get to see a lot of great  stuff. When our staff gets involved in this stuff, half the day is putting out fires and half is hugging people and having a great time. Hopefully the weather Gods will cooperate but like you said, we have a ton of cover this year.  I should also mention that we setup 
on Friday night and we tear down on Sunday morning, we have a stage operating all night Friday starting at 5:00 p.m with kind of a vendor village going on, same thing for Sunday morning. That venue is really unique and is allowing us to do some unique things. I am looking forward to seeing Music is Art growing into that venue like they did at Delaware Park.

T: Any worry about competing with Roger Waters 

R: I was worried about losing bands because of them wanting to go see Roger Waters because he is someone that musicians go see, but I didn’t have one cancellation. As much as it has re-energized us to re-imagine it, I think it has made people very intrigued to see what we are going to do and how we are going to pull it off.

T: And as many acts as you bring in I mean it is one of the most coveted festivals to play in the area. My son is in 4 bands and he would be super excited to have any one of them playing there.

R: We had so many submissions this year that it was crazy. I want to say that we had over 400 submissions just from bands. I think the good thing is that I only feel like it is going to grow, people are interested, with more bands being interested, with the restriction of a city park and on the city streets being gone, who know where things are going to go and that is how this works, keeping everyone’s hearts in the same place.

Special thanks to Tracy Shattuck for making this interview happen on a moment’s notice. After Robby finished the interview he prepared for a benefit concert in Texas with the Goo Goo Dolls for Hurricane victims.

Music is Art

Saturday, September 9, 2017
Buffalo RiverWorks
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.

Now in it’s 15th year, the MiA Festival has grown into a multifaceted celebration of the boundless talent and creativity of our region. Come see us on Sept. 9th and experience over 100 bands of varying genres, 8 live DJ stages, exhibiting artists, instillation art, live art & projection, performance art, spoken word, dance, fireworks, zombies, kids activities and more. There is something for everyone! AND IT’S FREE!!

Written by Thom Jennings

Thom Jennings

Born and raised in Rochester, NY and currently residing in Albion NY, Thom spent seventeen years as a mobile disc jockey, playing classic rock at local bars and also performing at weddings. Thom's first concert was Styx in 1979, and shortly afterward he landed a volunteer position taking surveys at all the local rock concerts from 1981-1985 during which he saw almost every major arena rock concert. Thom is an avid Todd Rundgren fan, and has traveled all over the east coast to see Todd. Since 1983 he has only missed one of Todd's east coast tours, he is approaching 150 Todd Rundgren shows. Thom lives with his wife Tracy and their six dogs and three cats.

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