Gusto, Buffalo News Jan 22, 2014

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Could the growing number of locally run music events grow into
national festivals?
Gusto, Buffalo News Jan 22, 2014
The arrival of Philadelphia-based company Global Spectrum as the
new managers of Canalside – and therefore, of the summer concerts
that happen there – has some area concertgoers concerned. There is
the worry that we’ve given away something precious – local control of
a local event that reflects the diverse tastes of our community.
What will happen at Canalside over the next few summers? Any
predictions at this point are mere conjecture. But if retaining some
sense of community-based concert activity is important to you, there
are plenty of grass-roots activities planned for 2014 that are worthy of
your consideration and support.
I’m asked often by readers why our area doesn’t have a major music
festival, one that might rival huge music fests held in areas that seem
far less geographically suited to such events than we are, considering
our snug proximity to Toronto. The immensely popular Bonaroo
Festival, for example, is held in Manchester, Tenn., a minuscule city
with a population of roughly 10,000 people. That population swells to
in excess of 100,000 people every year during Bonaroo. Something
like this might be cool in our own downtown, no? These readers
suggest that a major festival in our area should be considered a nobrainer.
It is not easy to argue with them.
In truth, what we’re seeing happen is incredibly encouraging. Festivals
are being built from the ground up, by local people, who are focused
almost exclusively on local talent, and are hiring a local workforce.
This is the way these things are meant to happen – as a result of grassroots
activity, not as a result of a national corporation swooping in to
grab a slice of the pie by applying strategies that have proven
profitable in other markets to ours, in a “one size fits all” manner.
By the fall, there will be at least five major homegrown music festivals
in the Western New York region. None of them is taking place
downtown – that’s something we need to work on. But they are
happening, nonetheless, and getting to and from them is not a heavy
lift, travel-wise.
The Spring Revival Music Festival (
springrevival) debuted in 2013, and is back this year stronger for the
success of its maiden voyage. Spring Revival takes place May 9-11 in
Macedon, a small town east of Rochester, a roughly 90-minute drive
from downtown Buffalo. The camping-friendly event just announced
the first round of bookings that reflect a firm commitment to Western
New York talent. Universe Shark, Ocupanther, Upward Groove, Lap
Giraffe and the New Daze are among the confirmed bookings.
The Buffalove Music Festival ( is gearing
up for its second year, June 19-21 at the Willow Creek Winery in Silver
Creek. Buffalove will present sets from somewhere in the area of 30
bands. Roughly half of the lineup already has been announced, with
regional favorites like Aqueous, Funktional Flow, Lazlo Hollyfeld,
Smackdab, Whiskey Reverb, Roots Collider, Little Mountain Band and
Slip Madigan already confirmed. Like Spring Revival, Buffalove is a
camping-based event.
The granddaddy of our regional music festivals is the Great Blue
Heron Fest ( which will celebrate its 23rd
year July 4 weekend, on the festival grounds located in Sherman. Blue
Heron, the most established of these regional festivals, has the
formula down cold. This is a kid-friendly camping event that balances
its commitment to regional musicians and bands against its desire to
welcome bigger-name national acts to the party. Donna the Buffalo,
the Horse Flies, Big Leg Emma, Jimkata, Smackdab, the Ragbirds and
dozens more already have been confirmed for the festival, with a slew
of new acts to be announced in the coming weeks.
The Night Lights Fall Music Festival ( is
poised to take the sting out of summer’s fading with a return
engagement at the Blue Heron festival site in Sherman, in September.
The full lineup has not yet been confirmed, but event creator Lazlo
Hollyfeld has assembled admirable rosters of local and regional talent
in the past, and the outdoor lighting festival combines with the music
to make a unique camping experience.
Similarly, the Purple Pig Music Festival (
in Naples, has not announced its lineup yet, but has taken place near
the end of September in years past. (Last year, the likes of Giant Panda
Guerilla Dub Squad and the Campbell Brothers joined area acts on the
Purple Pig’s ambitious bill.)
These festivals are joined by one common philosophical tenet – they
are committed to celebrating the region’s talent and they employ local
people to help them do so. Who knows? Maybe one of them will grow
into a “Bonaroo for Buffalo.”

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