This summer may well go down as the season when consistent and mostly behind-the-scenes hard work on the local music scene has paid dividends.
There is a sense of potential becoming reality, of possibility being realized, and a feeling that things are on the upswing. From the end of May on, it was more than a feeling in the air: It was the sound of music filling the summer sky.
If you were a music lover and couldn’t find something worth hearing and seeing on any given night of the week, you just weren’t trying hard enough.
And this weekend, an outdoor summer concert season that offered an embarrassment of musical riches comes to a close with three major festivals, all of which are a result of homegrown efforts.
• Music is Art, founded by Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac, will take over Hoyt Lake at Delaware Park, culminating with a performance by the Goos themselves.
• Edgefest, a celebration of the resurgent alt scene, will be going on at roughly the same time at the Outer Harbor, itself a symbol of the region’s resurgence.
• The Night Lights Festival, a combination campout/music fest featuring 20 diverse acts across two stages, runs Friday and Saturday in the Chautauqua County town of Sherman.
The confluence of three major outdoor music festivals falling on one weekend says a lot about the state of the Buffalo-area music scene.
And the trend has not been missed by the organizers of the events.
“There’s a vibe here in B-Lo that we haven’t felt in a very, very long time,” Takac said. As Takac’s Music is Art Festival celebrates its 13th year this weekend, with its most dynamic lineup to date, Takac said, “We’re just glad to be a small part of (that vibe).”
“It feels like we are steadily nurturing and building the base of dedicated concertgoers as the region – and specifically the city – grows,” said Donny Kutzbach of Fun Time Presents, co-promoter of Edgefest 2015 with Artie Kwitchoff, Chris Ring and James Kurdziel of WEDG 103.3 FM.
Scott Molloy, Lazlo Hollyfeld keyboardist and organizer of Night Lights, said the changes have been fueled by a winning combination of “creative efforts and hard work.”
Whereas in the past, music fans often felt that there was a paucity of the sort of activities befitting a town that takes its music seriously, this summer, choices had to be made, as attractive concerts piled up on the same calendar date.
Would you be going to see Widespread Panic at Artpark or Mike Gordon at the Town Ballroom? Tim McGraw at Darien Lake or My Morning Jacket at Artpark? The Rolling Stones at Ralph Wilson Stadium or Toby Keith at Darien Lake? How many times were you going to make time to get to Canalside for the Thursday concert series? Could you get to Gratwick? Could you clear the day for Kerfuffle?
This is what concert-lovers call a good problem to have.
What will be most telling about the state of our music scene will be what happens in the offseason. Will the flurry of diverse activity continue once the outdoor stages have been torn down and packed away until next year, the leaves have all turned and parted ways with the trees, and the winds start whipping the white stuff around?
We’ll find out soon enough.
Meanwhile, this weekend represents the last hurrah of the summer 2015 outdoor concert season. It’s been a great one. And it’s ending with a bang, not a whimper.