The Buffalo Original Music Blast (B.O.M.B.) was held Friday and Saturday nights in three downtown clubs: the Tralf, Big Shotz and the Atomic. Nearly 70 bands performed at the annual music festival.
Whether your taste in music ran to the raw, sweaty, working-class Buffalo sound of the Dollywatchers or the techno, electronic tracks of Elevation of Depression, this weekend was jampacked with the energy of more than 60 local and regional bands playing, listening and learning.
For Mudtown Rudy's Jeff Jackson, one of the chief organizers of the Buffalo Original Music Blast, one of the most valuable aspects of the local two-day music fest, affectionately known as B.O.M.B., was the exposure and learning from other bands.
"Next to performing on stage, my biggest thrill at last year's B.O.M.B. came out of meeting and networking with regional bands from places like Cleveland, Toronto and Texas," Jackson said.
Trying to take notes and keep up with Jackson as he power-walked between the stages at the Tralfamadore, Big Shotz and the Atomic was both an aerobic workout and a tribute to his dedication to expose local music under the best conditions.
This year's B.O.M.B. was better-organized than in the past. Plastic Soul, a retro '60s-sounding band, opened the festival right on time at 7 p.m. Friday. It was the addition of a second stage at the Tralf that kept the music flowing -- one band performed while another set up.
Lulls were kept to a minimum. Bands delivered their 30-minute sets in a more timely and professional manner than last year.
By 8:30, I was winding my way down Chippewa to Big Shotz to catch Brian Rudy, already having heard Riley and part of Alfonso Mara Bax's sets. So much music, so little time!
Last year, the presenting venues were centered around the Main Street Theater District. This year, more thought was given to targeting the Chippewa area, with its burgeoning bar scene.
"We purposely looked to Chippewa," said Jackson, "to expose more people to live music. By making the music affordable ($5 a night, $8 for both nights), we hoped to attract more people to the different kinds of original music in Western New York."
The big dream for local and regional bands is making it big like Ani DiFranco, Billy Sheehan or the Goo Goo Dolls. That is the carrot that is dangled in front of local performers. Although no musician says it out loud, the question hangs heavy in the air: "If they can make it, and they're from Buffalo, why can't I?"
For established bands like Animal Planet, the Need, 53 Days, JunKulture and a host more, a final push, a little more polish and a lucky break is all they need -- luck being a big part of the show biz lottery.
A late-night conversation with Van Taylor of Taylor Made Jazz, who has been booking bands for international USO and State Department tours for more than 20 years, summed it up best: "You never know when that one person is going to hear your band."
-- Jim Santella