The following is an interview with Robby Takac, bassist for Buffalo’s beloved Goo Goo Dolls.
Where would you have held Music is Art (MiA), if it were not for COVID?
We were talking about RiverWorks again, when all of this happened.
When did you first realize that it was going virtual?
We started seeing things come apart early on. By September, we still didn’t know. We knew that we had to come up with a model that could operate under any conditions, to bring people together, to celebrate Music is Art.
Who was your first phone call to?
Tracy (Fletcher) Shattuck. The Executive Director of MiA. She talked me off the ledge. But it was a council of people that put this thing together. We then talked to the Board of Directors – everyone’s comfort level is so different. We had to dig deep and figure out what we were comfortable doing. Maybe a drive-in? Maybe multiple venues? But the idea of online performances took hold. People started to get excited.
Once the idea gelled, what did you get excited about?
The beauty is that the stage performances will be on YouTube Live. Then, they will get fully uploaded once the shows are finished. So people can watch them even after the performances are over. That’s 19 channels – all but two are broadcasted live. The other two are pre-recorded from a broadcast location. This will give everyone a chance to watch the live shows, and then catch up on other ones. There will be the main stage that will be live for six hours, and then other stages will be staggered. I’ll be emceeing the main stage, just like past festivals.
Can you tell us about some of the stages and channels?
There are two kids’ channels, and Friends of MiA – friends who are in our camp through Bruce Moser who passed away this year. There’s hip-hop in the warehouse, The Grateful Channel, the Elmwood Village Channel, and the Heritage Channel with Tod Kniazuk 0f The Big Easy in Buffalo and Anita West of 97 Rock (including Kickstart Rumble, Miller and the Other Sinners, Organ Fairchild, and Ten Cent Howl. There’s the Songwriter’s Channel, Kreepie’s Korner, four Deejay Channels, two Art Channels… it’s an awful lot of stuff, with varying degrees of tech, from five-camera shoots to laptops with stereo mics. There are even 360 degree cameras with Curt Rotterdam (Refringe).
Since these acts will all be playing live at the site, with fans watching from their computer and phone screens, what are the COVID issues that you have to deal with?
We’ve been meeting with the folks that handle COVID compliance, and working with the County. All of the stages are well apart from one another, they are outside, and performers are practicing social distancing.
Tell us what you love most about MiA.
I love driving around in the golf cart and checking out all of the acts. It makes me realize how much talent there is in Buffalo. This is just a tiny part of the talent, at the festival, but it’s so big! That’s the feel – there’s so much here to be proud of and to appreciate.
During The Blizzard of ’77, Mayor Griffin once told residents to grab a 6-pack of beer and relax. What is your word of advice to virtual festival-goers during this pandemic crisis?
Every year people come to discover something new – it’s the reason it happens. This is a good chance to see what’s going on in Buffalo. Sit back and grab a beer… or a tea.
What are you most excited to see this year? What are your thoughts on the line-up?
Well, Mark Madden will not be around this year because he’s officiating a wedding. So his antics will be missed. But then there’s Kreepie, who has put together a cool scene with punk, rock, heavy metal, industrial… vampires, zombies. The Grateful Channel is exciting – I loved what Terrapin Station put together last year. And the Magic Carpet Ride is so cool, with Jacky the Green Gymnast.
Then there’s the MiA Channel with Mike Peters of The Alarm, Cherie Currie of The Runaways, Wreckless Eric, Missing Persons, Beach Slang, Wang Chung, Willie Nile, members of The Gin Blossoms and Smithereens… Bubbles from The Trailer Park Boys, all assembled as a salute to Bruce Moser! Now you’ve got me started… just wait until the line-up comes out. You will see.
Any last thoughts or comments?
This is a new format. But our team has become so elastic over the years, with venue changes, rain… and now this. I feel that we have been preparing for whatever comes our way. I just hope that everyone tunes in…!
We’re hoping that you’re planning a viewing party at this time. In 2020, MiA will be streaming live (around the world) on musicisart.org from 6pm to midnight. Buffalo Rising will have another update as the September 12th festival date draws near, with a full schedule line-up of acts, stages, and some special surprises.