If you've heard the rumor mill
, then you might know that the strangely-named organization called Moogfest
is reportedly considering a move from Asheville to Durham for its biennial electronic music and technology festival.
The event would happen in the spring of 2016 and, if it's anything like Asheville's version, would take over downtown Durham venues for presentations by brainiacs from the likes of MIT and IBM, talks by futurists from the world's top institutes, live demonstrations of electronic musical instruments, virtual reality devices and other next-generation technologies. More than 100 concerts would go on way into the night, attracting visitors from around the Southeast and some, from around the world.
If you're into music or tech, you're probably thinking it'd be pretty freaking sweet.
But despite hosting four festivals in Asheville over the last five years, Moog hasn't found a business model that works—it lost $1.5 million last year even while growing pass sales from 5,000 in 2012 (the last year it was held) to 7,000. If Durham gets the event, city and business leaders must be confident they can help turn it around. (ExitEvent parent Capitol Broadcasting Corp. is reportedly supporting the effort.)
Regardless, it's helpful to have a bit of background in case Moogfest is a yes and Durham has a new event to boast about.
So, why Moog?
Moog is pronounced Mogue (like vogue). I learned this after incorrectly pronouncing it "Mooog" in front of some fanboys last year. It's the last name of the godfather of electronic music movement, a New York man named Robert Moog
who designed and manufactured electronic instruments in the 1950s and the first synthesizer (called the Moog) in 1963. He eventually left the company and moved to Asheville, where he continued to design instruments for other companies.
In 2002, he regained rights to the name Moog Music and grew the business in the mountain town until his death in 2005. It lives on today in a building you'd recognize just north of downtown Asheville—a large Moog synthesizer is painted on the exterior. The company makes and sells a variety of synthesizers, theremins, guitars, controllers and other gear, and is still recognized as a leader in the electronic music industry. It also gives free factory tours.
Moogfest last year held a viewing of a 2008 Moog Documentary with all sorts of fun details about his life. Here's the trailer:
The festival began in New York in 2004 to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Moog Music. It became a tribute to the man after his death in 2005 until 2008. A music promoter then helped move the festival to Asheville in October 2010 (there was no 2009 festival) and held two subsequent events before ending its contract in 2012.
Moog Music planned and hosted the festival itself in 2014, introducing a much larger focus on technology and innovation during daytime sessions. One venue even showcased technologies and music innovators from across North Carolina (though it wasn't well promoted or attended, in my opinion). It's unclear what role Moog Music would play in a Durham event. But presumably, the region's tech and academic communities would be involved.
We're told there's no news to share at this point. But stay tuned to see if the rumor mill is right or if you'll have to make the trek to Asheville to experience Moogfest's awesomeness in 2016.