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Goo Goo Dolls up the ante for this year's Music is Art Festival

I remember when Goo Goo Dolls bassist and MiA founder Robby Takac invited my high school band to play the 3rd annual Music is Art festival back in 2004.

The experience was incredible.

“Holy shit,” 17-year-old-me said to my Mom before being told to watch my mouth. “Robby from the Goo Goo Dolls just asked us to play his festival!”

At the time, the festival was hosted on a tiny stage that was tucked away in a Franklin St. parking lot just outside Takac’s Good Charamel Records. It ran simultaneously with the Allentown Art Festival and felt like it was the first time someone in Buffalo gave bands and artists a chance to showcase their work in front of a large local audience.

Over the following years, MiA has grown tremendously. From its modest start in that small parking lot, the festival has now become one of the most anticipated events for musicians and artists all over Western New York.

On Saturday (9/12 @10am-10pm), MiA will be taking place across the back of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and wrapping its way around Hoyt Lake. With over 100 bands performing on six stages, six DJ stages, two dance stages, local vendors and art; the city is planning on this being the biggest MiA event yet.

It’s probably because for the second time in MiA history, the Goo Goo Dolls will be giving a long awaited hometown performance.

“I was out in Los Angeles working with John [Rzeznik], doing some demos and we got to talking and he said, ‘Man, we haven’t done that in a long time,’ and he thought it would be amazing,” Takac said.

The Last time Goo Goo Dolls performed at MiA, it was just an impromptu acoustic performance back when it was in its infancy.

“We were just our third year of MiA in 2004,” says Takac. “It was really just a way for us to get the word out about our 4th of July performance outside City Hall.”

Fast-forward eleven years and Takac and Rzeznik are at it again, this time with the entire band.

It’ll be no surprise to see the street filled with thousands of people as the band takes the stage, which will be set up on the back steps of the Albright-Knox, facing out toward Hoyt Lake.

It’s been over two decades since Takac and Rzeznik formed the Goo Goo Dolls here in Buffalo. Originally known as the Sex Maggots, they quickly changed their name after a club promoter refused to put the old name up on his marquee.

It was probably for the best considering a lot of people would probably be turned off by a “free Sex Maggots show in Delaware Park.”

Since 1985, the band has sold over 9 million records, a large portion coming from the power-pop classic Dizzy Up Girl, which sold over 3 millions copies. The song ‘Iris,’ originally recorded for the City of Angels soundtrack, spent 18 weeks at the top of Billboard’s airplay charts. In 2007, the group set a record for most Top 10 Hits in adult-rock history with their 12th chart-topper, “Let Love In,” the title track of their 2006 album.

Takac isn’t advertising when they’ll hit the stage because he wants people to show up early and get the full experience of the event.

‘When it’s time, at the perfect time, that’s when we’re going to play,” he says.

When you experience Music is Art, you’ll feel a sense of excitement by everything going on around you. The amount of music, art and community is overwhelming.

MiA Executive Director, Tracy Shattuck says that part of what makes the festival so exciting every year is the fact that you get the feeling, that at any time, anything could happen.

“We really encourage people to come and participate,” she says. “Even if they don’t have an ‘official’ slot in the program. Bring your acoustic guitar, walk around and sing some songs. We love it. The hula hoopers you see, the jugglers, many of the musician’s just show up and start doing their thing. And that’s something we feel really good about.”

“You’re going to see a huge cross section of creative thinking here in the Western New York area,” says Takac. “We’ve been happily growing in Delaware Park for the past 7 years now and it’s exciting to watch it grow.”

Founded in 2004 by Takac, the non-for-profit organization is more than just an end-of-the-summer festival. It’s a way of exploring and introducing music and art to our community.

“The festival is really about all the creativity in one place at one time,” Takac says. “We don’t stick with a certain genre of music and we don’t stick with a certain kind of artist. It’s just a true representation of the many creative minds that are from Buffalo.”

For many musicians and artists, the festival is the perfect way for them to share their music, artwork, dancing, or whatever it is they may do, with likeminded people all over the city.

“I performed an acoustic set on the main stage two years ago for Music is Art,” says Martin Jeffries, a local solo artist. “It may have rained for a good portion of the festival, but that didn’t stop people from coming and supporting the arts.

I think Robby has done such a great job of making this a long lasting event. It really shows how supportive and appreciative Buffalo is of the art scene. I hope it continues to grow and makes an impact on other people the same way it’s had an impact on me.”

Takac says that’s exactly what Music is Art stands for. It’s a way to encourage folks to find their creative voices and inspire others to do the same.

That’s exactly what you can expect to see this weekend.

“For the 13th year we’ll be bringing together the lauded as well as the fringe of the Western New York art, dance, performance and music communities expanding our musical canvas to 14 stages of performers,” Takac says. “There are a lot of things to look forward to this year. We’ll have Phillip Burke, who is an extremely talented artist [best known for his vivid caricatures that are currently on display at the Burchfield Penney Art Center] doing a live painting. We have Willie Nile, a local musician who has seen national success, Green Jello, a few bands I’ve worked with from Japan called Pinky Doodle Poodle and Molice, and much more.”

For more information about MiA, visit musicisart.org. You can also download the festival app (#miafest15) for the schedule and complete list of performers, vendors and sponsors.
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