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Robby Takac revs up the dream machine for Music Is Art

Robby Takac arrived at Buffalo RiverWorks looking like the world’s coolest dad. He’s got his daughter, Hana, with him, and his hair looks totally rock ‘n’ roll, sticking up in all the right spots in a way that would make Tommy Stinson proud.

“I’m a little wiped out today,” Takac laughed. “Not much in the way of sleep,” a reference to the Music Is Art Festival warm-up show featuring one of Takac’s passions, Japanese power-pop/punk outfit Shonen Knife, which had packed ‘em in the previous evening at Asbury Hall @ Babeville.

Takac, as is his wont, was there all evening, spreading enthusiasm for this year’s MIA Fest, on Sept. 8 at RiverWorks.  Being a father of a young daughter ensured he’d be up early.

This will be the 16th year Takac and his team have revved up the dream machine to produce the immensely ambitious MIA Fest, and the second year since the fest moved its homebase to RiverWorks, the sprawling sports and entertainment complex encompassing the grain silos adjacent to the Buffalo River.

After years of battling the whims of frequently inclement weather at various locales – notably, the Marcy Casino region of Delaware Park, where the festival spent the bulk of its 15 years – the move to RiverWorks hinged at least partly on the venue’s ability to offer many performance spaces shielded from the elements.

Year one at RiverWorks was a success. In Takac’s world, this simply meant that it was time to be even more ambitious. This year, MIA will cross the river to River Fest Park, where the team has installed two band stages and a DJ stage, with their own beer garden. Tiki boat shuttles will bring attendees back and forth across the river throughout the day.

I think it's awesome and Takac laughed and agreed.

That MIA manages to take place each year might be viewed as a minor miracle, given that Takac has been consistently busy during the summers from the time of the festival's birth, his commitments to Goo Goo Dolls tours taking him around the country, dropping him back in Buffalo a bit bleary eyed a mere few days prior to MIA.

[Read more: Profile on The Molice, signed to Takac's label | Feature on Takac from '16]

This summer was no exception. The band is back from some major European touring, mixing major festival appearances with headlining gigs in more intimate venues.

“It was the perfect kind of mix,” Takac said. “We’d be playing a nice, intimate theater or club, and then the next day, be headlining some festival in Eastern Europe with 15,000 people or more.”

The Goos – perhaps mercifully, for Takac – have a little bit of time off before commencing a 20th anniversary tour for its watershed “Dizzy Up the Girl” album, which will include stops Oct. 19 and 20 in Shea's Buffalo Theatre.

Takac holds his daughter’s hand while gesturing enthusiastically toward sites on the RiverWorks grounds where full stages will be given over to musicians in multiple genres, live painters will be creating in real-time, and dancers will be twirling around beneath the once-abandoned grain elevators.

I'm reminded of taking a similar tour of the very first MIA Fest site with him, as he waxed hopeful about what his dream might become in the future. And I'm struck at once by the realization that, yes, sometimes the good guys actually do win, after all.

Robby Takac works the crowd at the Music Is Art Festival behind the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in 2008. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News file photo)


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