20 Years Later, Music is Art Festival Still Amplifying Buffalo’s Vibrant Art Scene | Music

The inauguration Music is an art festivalheld at the corner of Franklin and Allen streets in 2002, had two stages and a few dozen bands and artists.

When Music is Art celebrates its 20th anniversary on September 10, more than 200 bands and mural artists will perform on 21 stages inside and across the grounds of Buffalo RiverWorks, which has hosted the festival since 2017.

What a long and strange journey it has been.

“There was something really cool about those early festivals, when we were going in tandem with the Allentown Art Festival,” said Goo Goo Dolls bassist and Music is Art founder and president Robby Takac. , in 2012, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the MiA festival.

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“It was really popular and exciting and a little off-limits, and it was really cool. But obviously we grew up. It became something else, but the same vision, the same desire to show what’s great about artistic culture in Buffalo, remains the same.”

Today, Takac’s enthusiasm for the project and his confidence in the depth and courage of Buffalo’s music and arts scene remain intact.

“When we started meeting very early to plan this year’s festival, we asked ourselves, ‘What are the things that have happened in the past 20 years that are the most powerful and memorable?’ ‘” Takac said in a phone interview from Charlotte, North Carolina, a stop on the Goo Goo Dolls’ current tour.

“And it wasn’t necessarily about the headliners we brought in, or when the Goo Goo Dolls performed, or anything. It was about the fact that there has been such a stew of people at the event over the years. And we wanted to amplify this beautiful mess as much as possible.






Robby Takac at his GCR recording studios in 2020.


Harry Scull Jr./File Photo


For Takac, the ability to cross geographic and economic boundaries and offer participants the opportunity to experience something so far outside their wheelhouse is the main motivation behind the Herculean effort required of the MiA team to produce the festival year after year.

“What sticks out in my memory is seeing a 7-year-old sitting on the floor watching a live hip-hop number for the very first time in his life, or kids riding bikes from the First Ward watching an artist create a 16-foot-tall living mural, or watch a group of suburban housewives walk through the Refringement silo and experience the things they never have in their life.

“Out of all these experiences, these are the moments that stand out.”

The very nature of the MiA Festival – more performers than one person can see in a day spread across more stages than can be watched simultaneously – demands that an attendee be adventurous, remain open to descending into rabbit holes and ready to follow his whims. interest in discovery.

Or, as Takac puts it, “Watch the program, choose some things you want to see, and go from there.” And whatever happens happens.







Music is art 2022 sitemap

The sitemap of the Music is Art 2022 festival.


Here are some signage suggestions for your MiA journey.

This stage, located inside Buffalo RiverWorks, offers an extremely diverse program ranging from jazz to jam band, through alternative to folk. You could reasonably stay on this stage all day and find musical fulfillment, but MiA’s tenure suggests that mixing is the key to nirvana. That said, it is strongly advised to attend the late night race which kicks off at 10.15pm and includes, in order, Funktional Flow, Canetis, Marquee Grand and Fernway.

Stop by this stage, located in the RiverWorks parking lot in front of the rinks, at 8 p.m. and watch a series of fantastic rock and alternative bands, starting with Johnny Hart and the Mess and going through sets of Mom Said No, Auqiie and Tortoise Forest.

Located in the back corner of RiverWorks behind the rinks, this stage offers a full roster between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. I would recommend making time for singer/songwriter Sara Elizabeth at 4:15 p.m. and virtuoso Blaise Mercedes at 7:15 p.m.

Located on the wharf along the Buffalo River behind RiverWorks, the floating stage program ends with the mighty 1-2 punch of Buffalo Music Club founder David Cloyd at 9:30 p.m. and the art-rock band Buffalo Rabbit Jaw at 10:15 p.m. But before that, the 5 p.m. debut at Buffalo of Fort Worth, Texas, of indie rocker/power pop songwriter Ryan Hamilton – recently signed to Wicked Cool Records by that label’s boss Little Steven Van Zandt – is one of MiA’s must-have sets.







Music is Art Festival DJ Squid (copy)

DJ Squid at the Music is Art 2021 festival.


Buffalo News file photo


The Blossom Village and Wharf Stage

Across the river at RiverFest Park, the band will resonate with a full lineup of jam, indie rock and soul throughout the day. Highlights include sets from socially conscious soul-rock from Farrow at 4 p.m. and indomitable R&B from David Jonathan & the Inner City Bedlam at 5 p.m. Space Junk wraps up bandshell activities with a set at 9 p.m.

Over the past few MiAs, RiverFest Park activities have evolved into a festival within a festival, and this year that evolution is highlighted. In addition to band jams, you can catch an additional roster of Buffalo indie rock (including a black-rock set from Randle & the Late Night Scandals at 6:15 p.m.) on the Wharf Stage, and get your hip-hop on on the Junglist Coalition and Elements of Hip-Hop stages.







Music is Art Randle and Late Night Scandals (copy)

Randle & the Late Night Scandals performed at the 18th annual Music is Art festival in 2020.


Harry Scull Jr./File Photo


Located along the corridor between the rides and silos, the 716 Sideshow Stage will host wonderfully weird and off-the-beaten-path musical performers throughout the day. If you’re in the mood for heavy rock, you could do worse than virtuoso guitarist and songwriter Ethan Weissman, who takes to the Sideshow stage at 8 p.m.

You might want to stay near the Sideshow stage until 9:45 p.m. Rumor has it that Takac will be “sitting” with the band he calls “my favorite Kiss tribute band,” Buffalo’s Kiss This.

11 a.m. to midnight Sept. 10 at Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.), River Fest Park, and Michigan/Ganson Grain Elevators. Free.

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