Preview: Moogfest 2014

When the first Moogfest took place (2004) it was a smallish event in New York City, and its namesake – Dr. R.A. Moog – was still alive. The festival focused on the synthesizer technology pioneered by Bob Moog and others, and featured Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Bernie Worrell and other synth luminaries closely associated with Moog technology. In the wake of its initial success, the festival grew and grew, and eventually (2010) relocated to Asheville NC, headquarters of the revitalized Moog Music and the home of Bob Moog, who passed away in 2005.

While the bigger Moogfest was undoubtedly a go-to event for music fans, and although it boasted some impressive lineups, a strong case can be made that its initial purpose, the guiding philosophy, had been lost (or at least diminished). Shortly after the 2012 Moogfest, the contract with its organizing entity (AC Entertainment, the people who put on Bonnaroo, Big Ears and many other fine events) was not renewed, and so it looked as if Moogfest was no more. (AC launched Mountain Oasis in its place, and while the 2013 event seemed successful, plans for a 2014 followup were put on hold).

But in late 2013 it was announced that Moogfest would return. And as information about the nature of the revived festival emerged, the shape it took strongly suggested that the 2014 festival would mark a decided return to the ethos of the original Moogfest. Yes, there would be plenty of must-see musical acts. But those seem to have been chosen as much for their musical affinity with Moog synthesizer and related technology as for any sort of commercial consideration.

More fascinating, even, than the music lineup – which includes some rarely-seen acts such as Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder – is the speaker lineup. A jaw-dropping list of who’s-who in music technology will be giving talks and workshops, and taking part in panel discussions. Pioneers in synthesizer technology slated to appear at Moogfest 2014 include Herb Deutsch (one of Bob Moog’s closest associates, and a major figure in the development of early synthesizers), Roger Linn (of Linn Drum fame), and many, many, many others. And a staggering list of currently-active “technology futurist” types (including techies from Google and the team that created the TV show Futurama) will be in attendance as well; Moogfest 2014 is most assuredly not a backward-looking event in any sense of the word.

So while I’m eagerly anticipating the music at Moogfest 2014, I’m at least as excited at the prospect of attending as many of the scheduled talks as possible. The organizers recently announced the day schedule (and pricing for single-day tickets), and this link will take you there.

I’ll be covering Moogfest in great detail, with another advance feature/interview plus plenty of post-event interview/features, and – if circumstances allow – I might even get into a bit of live-blogging form the event. Moogfest 2014 takes place April 23-27 in Asheville NC.

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