You wouldn't necessarily think of Robby Takac as a hippie. A punk rock kid grown up, maybe, or a metalhead who fell hard for Husker Du and the Replacements, perhaps. But a hippie? I'm sure the very thought would be anathema to him.
Still, something about Takac's baby -- the annual Music is Art Festival, which will celebrate its seventh birthday on the grounds of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on Saturday -- smacks of the idealistic, cross-genre, art-is-the-key-to-the-universe ethic behind the festivals of the latter 1960s.
MIA -- if you've attended it in the past, you know this well -- was born free and unfettered, and has spent the better part of the past decade trying to stay that way. If it seems at all chaotic, well, don't be fooled -- the chaos is of the controlled variety, and though happy accidents are welcome, Takac and Co. have had to work hard in order to maintain the sort of atmosphere where those happy accidents might take place.
"The Muse exists, but She has to find you working," is a quote attributed to Pablo Picasso, and it's a relevant one when it comes to Takac in general and the festival in particular. In other words, don't sit on your butt expecting sweet inspiration to fall from the cosmos directly into your lap. Make hay while the sun shines, and the sun will likely shine brighter.
So, if Takac is, maybe unwittingly, following the 1960s model that gave us events like the Human Be-In and the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock, is Buffalo akin to San Francisco, circa '67? Er, no. It is hard to find the thread of unity among the arts, the artists, and the community that patronizes the arts 'round here, and once found, it's even harder to get a good, firm grasp on it.
To wit, Takac launched his festival seven years back in tandem with the yearly Allentown Art Festival on the grounds of his then-home base recording studio on Franklin Street. Though he put up a fight to be proud of, and the festivals that took place at that location are now the stuff of legend, Takac was essentially chased out of Allentown by folks who had the power to do so, yes, but just didn't "get it."
This is Takac's second year running the event at the Albright-Knox, and he counts friend and gallery director Louis Grachos as "the reason we're here, and the reason I think this is the place we should be, our home." Grachos "gets it," Takac says, and his enthusiasm for the cross-pollination of art forms mirrors Takac's own feelings on that subject.
"Every year, at the end of the festival, I get home completely wiped out, and I sit down, and then it all hits me -- we did it!," Takac gushed, as we sat down to lunch on Hertel Avenue last week. "Sometimes it seems like we've taken on too much, you know? Like, how are we actually gonna pull this off? But we keep pulling it off. And at the end, there's a great feeling of satisfaction."
Takac's response to the continuous demands of the growing event? To pack even more into the course of the 12-hour festival, naturally.
So this year, it will boast three music stages hosting more than 30 bands, 40 visual artists and photographers displaying their work, live performance art, live fine art, dancers, DJs, a "projection tent" with accompanying live music, a kids village and a vendor concourse. All of this will take place on the Delaware Park side of the Albright-Knox grounds, an area that, when empty, seems not too particularly vast. If you caught last year's fest, though -- which took place in unforgiving and unrelenting rain -- you know that this area can be transformed into a mini-village. Call it the Buffalo Be-In, if you like. Or not. But be there, if you care about the arts in our town.
The Music is Art Festival takes place 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
Here's a partial list of scheduled bands, artists and performers. Set times and additional information can be found at www.MusicIsArt.org. Oh, and admission is free, all day.
Terrie George's Dance Theatrics, Mone Dance Company, Rock Ed, Bella Dea Tribal Fusion, Drums Along the Waterfront/Zucchini Heads, Gruvology, Music in Action/Leslie Stanwyck of Universal Honey, Steam Donkeys, Those Idiots, Nadia Ibrahim Dance, the Brass Monkeez, Son of the Sun, Family FUNKtion and the Sitar Jams, Ballroom & Beyond, Agent ME, Crooked Letta, Rince na Tiarna, Erin Sydney Welsh, Image Urban Arts, Soul Bodega, Dave Schulz, Euphraxia, Wenzday Atemz, the Incurables, A Hotel Nourishing, Free Henry!
Also: Inlite, Abominable Killer Snowmen, Ilya's Bellydance, Fresh Guac, the Vores, Mother Re, Queen City Swing, Soul Bodega, Here Come the Comets, Innocent Bystanders, Floozie, the Rabies, Shaant (from Cute Is What We Aim For), Blood Thirsty Vegans, Rooftops, Fleuron Rouge & Zuut, Bearhunter.
Also: The North Ridge group will perform a "Star Wars" re-enactment and light saber show; DJ Soma; storytelling with Jeff Criden; Stacy Zawadski Dance; Cowboys of Scotland and more.