Food vendors, bartenders, tie-dye artists, wind chime craftspeople, mounted police officers, bicyclists, tube top aficionados, suburbanites, overworked political canvassers, tattoo/piercing specialists, and members of the New York State Honky Tonk Authority (NYSHTA) are praising this Saturday’s (6/9, 2-5pm) performance by the Steam Donkeys at Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar (DBGB) as a new era at the venerable Allentown Art Festival.
The Steam Donkeys—a noted original music act and global think-tank—plan on unveiling their vision for a new renaissance in people-watching at the performance.
“Let’s face it. Money’s tight for a lot of Americans. While we all support the arts, it often boils down to one simple question: ‘Do I want to spend all my hard-earned cash on a thirty-pound birdbath I’ll have to carry 17 blocks back to my car?'” asks Buck Quigley, front man for the band. “Or, would it be better to spend that money in a cool joint, listening to good live music created by artists living in my immediate community—while trying not to gawk at all the interesting-looking people in the huge crowd?”
“Nothing that comes out of Quigley’s mouth can be trusted,” said one festival insider, on condition of anonymity. “Look at his quote. He says it boils down to one simple question, and then he asks two or three. Either he doesn’t know how to count, doesn’t like artisans, or doesn’t think birds deserve a beautiful place to bathe. In any case, we don’t recall him filling out an application for the Steam Donkeys to rent a booth in the actual, certified festival. Evidently, he’s not so confident in his ‘art’ that he wants to subject it to the scrutiny of our judges.”
Quigley admits he hasn’t produced a single piece of pottery since 4th grade, but says that’s not the point. For many, the festival serves a social role in the life of the city. “A lot of my friends make and sell art at festivals. I know how talented they are, and I appreciate the way they have to struggle to make a buck in our mail order corporate sort of culture,” he says. “But a lot more of the people I talk to look at the festival as a way to get out of the house and kick off the summer—and a lot of them are just about broke. By all means, go ahead. Buy whatever suits your fancy. But if you don’t amble down to the west end of Allen Street, step in out of the sun or rain and enjoy a cool beverage while the Steam Donkeys are playing—well then, friends and neighbors, you will have missed out on an experience that not only makes us better Buffalonians, but better human beings, over all.”
Not since the Music is Art Festival was hustled out of the Allentown Art Festival years ago by the powers that be has a live music event been met with such genuine anticipation and hope for the future.
But ultimately, the reasons for enjoying the Allentown Art Festival are as diverse as the people who attend.
“Say what you want, but I hope it rains,” said one well-inked and grizzled biker/barfly. “I mean, I hope it’s sunny and hot early on, and then just opens up and pours. When that happens, it turns the whole neighborhood into one giant wet T-shirt contest.”