By Seamus Gallivan
Tents, tents, and more tents – this was a recurring theme in my chat with Goo Goo Dolls and Music is Art founding force Robby Takac about the 11th annual MiA Festival set for today in Delaware Park. The fun-for-all free feast for the senses, as colorful as any event known to Buffalo, will be largely under the cover of tents this year to escape steady rainfall – but have no fear, funsanity will reign.
The signature event for the music advocacy organization that sprung from it brilliantly channels Takac’s civic pride into his wild visions of all things artistic and on the edge of harmless. The result is a feel-good, family-friendly event that displays a vast array of art in the cozy and otherwise serene setting of Delaware Park, the jewel of our historic Olmsted Parks System.
With 100 bands on eight stages, 100 artists, three DJ stages, dancers, fashion displays, live painting, performance art, projections and a vast kids village, it’s near impossible to see it all – full schedule for mobile download here. Here are 10 things attendees should be sure to see, some of which might otherwise be easily missed:
– Main Stage Music – There are actually three main stages, which will not be covered by tents. “The diversity on those stages is pretty incredible,” said Takac.
– Helium Comedy Club Tent – A new addition to the festival from the new club in the Cobblestone District that’s been bringing bigtime talent to Buffalo while nurturing local talent. “Comedy’s taking off now, no joke,” said Takac.
– Kids Stuff – Although the Steam Donkeys were unavailable this year to revive their all-time MiA Fest classic set of G-rated honky-tonk ribaldry, even those who don’t have kids can appreciate how much MiA Fest caters to families – we are in Delaware Park, after all, where most Buffalonians have fond memories of frolicking around in younger days. “We got the kids’ tent with the stage, and eight organizations with activities spread throughout the kids’ village, which uses the playground area and that nice patch of grass near the rose garden,” said Takac. “There’ll be parades, crafts, all sorts of cool stuff.”
– Nonprofits – The scene offers a great opportunity to learn about local folks working for the greater good – for example, my mom thinks she’s tight with Buffalo Sabres hitman Patrick Kaleta after meeting him at his Hit Foundation tent last year. “We always open it up to organizations that could make use of a big crowd of people,” said Takac.
– Miyoko Takac Goin’ Bald for Bucks to Benefit Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Main Stage 1, 5pm, Tent All Day – Says Miyoko on the event schedule: “I will be shaving my head in support of ALL cancer victims, and in memory of Grandma Dietzel (aka Grandma Goo), Aunt Yasuko (my mom’s sister) and Uncle Masaru (my mom’s brother).” Robby added, “Both of our families have had experiences with people having cancer – we feel strongly about it. And I think she’s gonna look pretty cute.”
– “Mercy Chair” with escape artist Jonathan Bryce, Main Stage 1, 7:45-8:00pm – Minneapolis resident Bryce returns to MiA Fest with a stunt in which he will escape a live electric chair. “He’s become like an honorary Buffalonian,” said Takac. “We’re treating it like a performance art piece – Richie English has written an arrangement, and he’ll play piano with a group including the Fisher sisters and Katie Weissman on strings.”
– Video by Jeff Garbaz, Main Stage 1, Rose Garden & Sky Mound, 7-8pm – Projections on a willow tree? “Garbaz and I have been talking about doing something like this for a long time, but he’s a busy guy, he does so many festivals,” said Takac. “Luckily, this year he’s free, and he made the outrageously generous offer of doing three stages, including projections on the willow tree by the sky mound, which is gonna be crazy.”
– The Setting – It’s good to stop at some point and do a 360 to take in the size and scope of it all. “The park is just beautiful, and there are so many directions to go, from Hoyt Lake and Marcy Casino to the woods, from the steps of Albright-Knox to the street, which has sort of turned into a street fair atmosphere with the food trucks,” he said.
– Pops Takac – Robert Takac, Sr., is nowhere near as boisterous as his son Robby, but he’ll be there and often is with anything Music is Art, and his presence is felt by all who know. “I was laughing the other day,” said Robby. “I ran into a girl who grew up three blocks away, we didn’t cross paths much and weren’t really friends, but she said, ‘I went to Music is Art last year and saw your dad, and remembered when we were kids and you guys used to have backyard carnivals, and I always remembered your dad watching over us, making sure nobody got hurt.’ And I thought, oh my god, that’s the same thing he does now!”
– Robby himself – Not ogling for attention or an autograph; if only for a moment, catch a glimpse of Takac in action and realize that he doesn’t do any of this for a living – in fact, for years the festival was made possible out of his own pocket. He does it for fun and for the benefit of the arts in Buffalo. “It’s a blast, but as it’s happening it’s just nuts,” he said. “We’re pulling the show together every minute all over the place. It’s intense.”