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The 13th edition of Music is Art might be the most challenging yet for the organizers. Their biggest problem could be to figure out where all of the people will go. That’s because for only the second time in MiA’s history, the Goo Goo Dolls, lead by Music is Art’s president Robby Takac, will perform at the free festival alongside hundreds of local artists this Saturday, September 12 at Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park. This week we sat down with Takac to talk Music is Art past and present.

How does it feel to be performing at your own festival again?
It feels like I’m going to be exhausted. Usually I can’t even speak at the end of the festival—12 hours of introducing bands—but over the past few years we’ve been able to find some really great MCs who have become part of the family so I think they’re going to be doing a lot more—helping me out so I can save my voice. I was literally holding up signs one year because I couldn’t speak anymore. It should be awesome and John [Rzeznik] was awesome enough to agree to do it in the first place.

Why this year?
We’re always trying to outdo the year before. It felt like it was time to do it again. It’s really changed the face of how we need to do this whole thing now. Thank god I have some amazing people working with me. We announced it before we really thought it out. We were like, “Oh, this is a great idea, let’s do it.” And I wanted to make sure I got word out there to make it a big event. The game changed when this happened. A regular Music is Art performance could have three or four thousand people standing around. The smaller stages may be a couple hundred, so we never really had to worry about it being a mass gathering. This time it’s viewed as a different thing. The last experience we had with Goo Goo Dolls playing a free show in Buffalo was in front of City Hall and that was a mob scene. I think it’s going to be awesome. We’re closing the whole length of Lincoln Parkway down, so it’s going to be that whole length of the street.

You’re the president of Music is Art. How do you feel about that title—president?
It took me many many years to remember what my title was. When we formalized what this thing was, I remember 10 or 12 years ago, after we did the second festival, that my father, who was in banking just said, “Dude, you’re going to go to jail if you don’t start keeping track of what’s going on here.” So we brought some people in who knew what was going on. We got a grant from the Oishei folks, which helped us get our ducks in a row to be what a not-for-profit really has to be. We have a great board of directors. Lawyers, graphic artists, educators.

What do you think your biggest accomplishment has been through Music is Art?
I think it’s any time you get a teenager to look you in the eye and say, ”This program or this camp really meant a lot to me.” We’ve put about half a million dollars worth of instruments in schools by this time. I’m very proud of that. That seems to be the program that’s been the most consistent over the past decade. It’s a very simple idea: collecting instruments from people who don’t use them and giving them to people who will. I think people can understand that really well.

I don’t think people realize that you’re personally involved in choosing some of the musical acts for the festival. Who are you most excited to see this year?
I love Super Killer Robots. They’ve played the last couple of years. I love that band, I think they put on an amazing show. Willie Nile is playing this year. He’s a local guy who has had national success, so I thought it was pretty amazing to get him on there. Green Jello is coming again. They’re doing a set on Shakespeare Hill this year. A couple of bands from Japan: Pinky Doodle Poodle and Molice. [They] are bands that I work with, so they come here to do records, and then they’re going to play at the festival at the same time. A girl named Quiron, she’s an electronic music producer—she’s going to be doing two sets at the Ivy Bridge Stage, where Keith Harrington will be doing projections all day inside the tunnel. Philip Burke will be painting live too. And fireworks!
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