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Soundbites: Robby Takac celebrates Buffalo-Japan synergies at Cherry Blossom fest

It started with a casual commitment to helping secure performances by buskers and acoustic musicians, and has grown over the years into a full-fledged partnership. Robby Takac’s Music is Art is now providing full musical curation for the Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival. And, as anyone who knows Takac will find unsurprising, that will involve a celebration of synergies between Buffalo audiences and Japanese musicians when the sixth annual Cherry Blossom Festival takes place on May 4 and 5 at the Buffalo History Museum and in the Japanese Garden at Delaware Park.

“Music is Art had helped with finding some buskers and acoustic musicians for the first Cherry Blossom Festival,” Takac said, adding they stayed involved with "instrument zoos," which offered hands-on experience with instruments, a sort of petting zoo for the musically curious. “Over the years, we became more and more involved.”

Takac's wife grew up in Japan and he said they travel there often. “Over the years, I’ve become fascinated with the people and culture of Japan.”

That fascination naturally evolved into a musical exchange program.

“For the past 12 years, we’ve been working with Japanese bands in the U.S., releasing their albums on our Buffalo-based Good Charamel Records, and recording many of the releases at our GCR Audio studios. Bands we signed to the label also start and end most of their North American tours here in Buffalo as well. The Molice, a trio from Tokyo, has been based here in Buffalo for the past year, and they’re on the bill for this year’s Cherry Blossom Fest, along with Tokyo’s Pinky Doodle Poodle who are currently based out of Athens, Ga.”

Guitarist Yuzuru Takeda, left, lead singer Rinko, center, and drummer Paro Katsumoto of the Molice, recording at Robby Takac's GCR Studios. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News file photo)

Attendees of the yearly Music is Art Festivals over the years are likely familiar with these bands, as well as Osaka band Shonen Knife, perhaps Takac’s highest-profile signing, and a veteran of many high-energy shows in Mohawk Place. ("Shonen Knife are returning for another Buffalo show,” Takac said. “They’ll be at MIA Fest on Sept. 7 – you should come check it out, I bet you’ll smile.”)

Takac and MIA’s full program of music for this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival will include performances from the Molice, Pinky Doodle Poodle, DJ Sashimi, Heisei Spirit, JGB Shibuki Japanese Drum Group, Naoki Kendama, Odori No Kai, Japanese Group of Buffalo Chorus, Buffalo Nihongo Club Children's Chorus, UB Kendo club, Green Gymnast C.C., and Green Schwinn. There will also be DJs, dancers and live mural artists. A full schedule is available here.

Mark Freeland performs on a second stage prior to a Goo Goo Dolls concert in 2003 . (Harry Scull/The Buffalo News file photo)

Short Spins

Celebrating the spirit of the late, great artist, provocateur and ceaseless source of inspiration Mark Freeland is something we should never stop doing in Buffalo. He is, for so many of us, the father of our town’s creative spirit. At 10 p.m. May 4, Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.) will host “ElectroRespect 12: A Tribute to Mark Freeland,” with Freeland disciples Ed Koban, Industry of Life Divine, Anthony Aversa, Lauren Clifford, the Disobedient Quartet, Scantron, and Mr. Nobody sharing their talents

Warm up for their appearance at the Buffalo Cherry Blossom festival with an intimate club show from Japanese power-pop stalwarts Pinky Doodle Poodle, at Milkie’s on Elmwood (522 Elmwood Ave.) beginning at 8 p.m. Radical Operations and Good Dude open.

Get your classic metal on with the return of Iron Maiden tribute band 2 Minutes to Maiden performs at 10 p.m. May 3 at the Rockin’ Buffalo (1800 Union Road, West Seneca).

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