PREVIEW: Moogmentum

PREVIEW: Moogmentum

It's hard to overstate what Bob Moog did for the synthesizer. He attached a keyboard to it. He made it fit in a room. He made The Beatles a little bit dreamier and he made Parliament a whole lot funkier. And it's equally hard to overstate what Moog Music has done for Asheville, including a new museum dedicated to the life and work of Bob Moog: The Moogseum, which opens this month.

The employee-owned, open-to-the-public Moog factory and showroom in downtown Asheville has long been a mecca for synth lovers. But it can seem a little hardcore, a little intimidating to visitors who don't know their pulse-width modulators from their voltage-controlled filters. That's why the Moog Foundation opened the Moogseum later this month, just a few blocks south of the factory. They call it a "one-of-a-kind immersive, interactive museum where Bob Moog’s pioneering legacy and the science of sound comes alive to inspire people of all ages." At the time of its opening, it will feature eight interactive exhibits, as well as a collection of historically significant synthesizers, a model of Bob Moog’s work bench.

Leading up to the grand opening, the Moog Foundation is putting on a mini-festival they’re calling Moogmentum, Tuesday-to-Thursday, August 13-15. The keynote speaker is Herb Deutsch, with whom Bob designed and built the first Moog synthesizer in 1964. Also present are early synth adopters like Patrick Moraz and Larry Fast, associates of Bob Moog who put the futuristic sounds of modular synthesis on albums by Yes and Peter Gabriel. Younger synth nerds might also recognize Lisa Bella Donna, the prolific multi-instrumentalist who describes herself on Instagram as a “sonic sorceress.” Her knowledge, skill and incorporation of guitar effects pedals have made her a very modern kind of rock star.

Despite its reputation as the synth capital of America, Asheville has only been home to Moog Music for about fifteen years. But the history of Western NC synthesis runs deeper than that. Bob Moog moved to Asheville in 1978, after leaving Moog Music, and lived there until his death in 2005. During that time, he was a Research Professor of Music at UNC Asheville, and manufactured a few synthesizers under the name Big Briar until the Moog brand was returned to him. He died a few years later, but his influence can still be seen all over Asheville, in the annual Moogfest, which got so big it had to move to Durham; in synth-friendly music stores like Heyday Music; and in next-generation synth designers like Make Noise, which was founded by a former Moog employee.

See? The Blue Ridge Mountains aren’t all about fiddle and banjo. Come celebrate the electronic side of North Carolina, even if it’s just to ask the staff how to pronounce Moog.

The events are at various venues throughout the city. Some, including the ribbon-cutting ceremony, are free. A general admission ticket costs $75 and will get you admission to the museum, a commemorative poster, plus tickets to a few key speaking engagements, performances and workshops. A VIP package, as well as tickets to individual events are also available. Check out a full list of events and buy tickets here.

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