Robby Takac laughs and shakes his head as he ponders the first 10 years of his Music Is Art Festival.
"There was something really cool about those early festivals, when we were happening in tandem with the Allentown Art Festival," says the Goo Goo Dolls bassist, seated in the main room of his GCR Recording Studios in downtown Buffalo. "It felt really grass-roots and exciting and a little bit forbidden, and it was really cool. But obviously, we've grown. It's become something else, but the same vision, the same desire to showcase what is great about the arts culture in Buffalo, stays the same."
When the Music Is Art 2012 edition kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday in Delaware Park, Takac's festival will include performances from more than 100 bands on seven stages; some 100 artists displaying wares and creating artworks in real time; three live DJ stages; a revamped Kids Village; the debut of a spoken word/poetry slam stage; and "live" art installations. All of this activity will spread from the area of Lincoln Parkway between the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Delaware Park, to the grounds surrounding the Marcy Casino, Hoyt Lake (where sailboats will be docked with projections flitting across their sails throughout the day), the Rose Garden and beyond.
By point of reference, the initial Music is Art Festival, held at the corner of Franklin and Allen streets, boasted only two stages and somewhere in the area of a dozen bands and a similar number of "live" artists. Takac credits this rapid growth rate to many factors. Principal among them is the team he's assembled - folks who often have to run the show while Takac is otherwise engaged.
"There have been years when I was hardly able to be here at all," says Takac, who is currently splitting his time between Buffalo and his "home away from home" in Los Angeles, where he and Goos co-founder John Rzeznik are hard at work on the next Goo Goo Dolls album. ("Probably early next year," Takac says when queried regarding that new album's release date.)
Takac is also quick to credit the time during which MIA teamed with Louis Grachos and the Albright-Knox to present the festival on the art museum's grounds. "Those were great years, and we really grew during that time," he says. (The MIA fest moved across the street to Delaware Park last year.)
Primarily, though, Takac credits area talent for the festival's continued success. "We get so many submissions [to perform at the festival] now, and the thing is, they're pretty much all worthy submissions," he says. "Whittling it down to a manageable roster is the hardest part."
Takac and team opted to cover a wide array of styles and genres in assembling this year's lineup, and worked hard to fit the performers into slots that favored their stylistic tendencies - as in, the Steam Donkeys and Flatbed playing on the Americana stage, with more pop-leaning outfits like the Albrights on the main stage.
There are also a preponderance of younger artists making their MIA fest debut this year, among them this year's MIA "Battle of the Bands" winner Victory for Poland, as well as combos representing various music schools and academic-related music programs.
The goal, Takac says, was to have "something awesome to look at, to watch, and to listen to, wheverever you wander and wherever you look."
To help navigate the ongoing flood of music and art, MIA is debuting its own festival app, for smartphone or computer, with the schedule for the day, maps and legends for the site, and a "make your own schedule" feature. Visit www.musicisart.org for the app. As it marks its 10th anniversary, Music Is Art has become the Lollapalooza of Buffalo.