Moogfest is an annual celebration of music, art, technology, and culture. Its name derives from that of the legendary Robert “Bob” Moog, creator of the Moog synthesizer and pioneer of electronic music. Born May 23, 1934, in New York City, Moog later relocated to Asheville, North Carolina. in 1978.
One doesn’t hear much talk of synthesizers here in western North Carolina…From this vantage point, it’s easy to get a good perspective on the electronic musical instrument scene
– Bob Moog
Beginning when he eas 16, Bob Moog built and sold theremins. With the profits from these sales, Moog financed his university and graduate studies in engineering physics and electrical engineering. However, Moog proceeded to earn degrees from Cornell University, Berklee College of Music, and Columbia University. After the move to N.C., Moog is quoted as saying “One doesn’t hear much talk of synthesizers here in western North Carolina…From this vantage point, it’s easy to get a good perspective on the electronic musical instrument scene.”
Thus spawned Moog Music. The electronic music hardware company which continues to bear the name of its founder remains in downtown Asheville. In 2004, Moogfest first hit the scene. From 2004-2008, Moogfest featured its New York Years. Manny’s Music store hosted Manny’s Music Presents MoogFest!: A Free Moog Clinic Featuring Keith Emerson and Bob Moog. The first-ever Moogfest was held at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square and featured the likes of Suzanne Clani, Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and Bob Moog. 2005 saw a return to B.B. King Blues Bar, and a setlist including Edgar Winter, Wil Calhoun, and Adam Holzman.
Moofgest Moves to NC
But in 2008 change swept over Moogfest. The fifth annual Moogfest migrated to Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan Center. 2009 lacked a Moogfest altogether. Then for 2010, Moogfest relocated to Asheville, NC. Moreover, 2010 also expanded Moogfest into a three-day, multiple venue festival.
Notably, 2010 ushered in not only a change of venue and structure, but theme. This was the introduction of panels, workshops, films, and discussions. Therefore, Moogfest transformed geographically as well as in focus. Instead of its concentration on just music, Moogfest honed in on culture and arts, with music as a unifying thread.
2016 further altered the Moogfest dynamic. This iteration swooped into Durham, NC. In the wake of the horrific, discriminatory House Bill 2, it was refreshing to see Moogfest actively promoting a theme of love and inclusion. Banners and stickers proclaimed “I’ll go [to the bathroom] with you” in response to the so-called “bathroom bill.” “Synthesize love” was another slogan of Moogfest 2016. Additionally, many venues including Motorco and The Carolina Theatre of Durham put up signs encouraging festival-goers (and everyone else for that matter) to use whichever bathroom they preferred.
For 2017, Moogfest returns to Durham. The lineup features the likes of Animal Collective, Talib Kweli, Omar Souleyman, S U R V I V E, Lafawnduh, DJ Premier, and Zola Jesus.
Check out the full 2017 schedule here, and snag your tickets! Moogfest 2017 hits Durham NC May 18-21.