The Moog with the funk for your derriere

by Ryan Snyder

Bob Moog. (photo courtesy of Bob Moog Foundation)If you want to synthesize, Jeff Cueller can empathize. As director of marketing and business development for AC Entertainent, he’s one of the minds behind MoogFest, Asheville’s celebration of the legacy of Bob Moog (rhymes with vogue), an event that could potentially be the biggest Halloween party of 2010. After a misfire in 2009, MoogFest will finally make the jump from a niche festival in New York City to a full-blown electronic extravaganza, happening over three nights in Asheville on Halloween weekend. Propelled by artists like Devo, Massive Attack, and MGMT, MoogFest promises to be three (late) nights of incredible costumery, astounding visual spectacles, and mind-bending music, courtesy of Moog’s curious invention.

Y!W: What kind of potential did AC see in a tiny New York festival that already did well as a niche event for several years?

JC: It’s kind of funny. Obviously, Asheville is in our backyard with us being in Knoxville. The Moog Factory is there and it’s a place we also book a lot of shows. When they approached us about doing something, we wanted to make sure it was the right fit and wanted to take Bob Moog’s vision and say, “How can we approach this in a festival?” Some things kind of fell together the way we were hoping to and, uh, MoogFest 2010. Born.

Y!W: Past MoogFests focused on legends like Jan Hammer and Keith Emerson, so what prompted the move to relatively newer acts?

JC: Definitely not shying away from them, you know we have Bernie Worrell. What I think Bob created was all about innovation and pushing the limits. Definitely no disrespect to Keith Emerson and those artists, but we wanted to see what are people doing now. Who are the players doing what Keith did when he first started his musical career, and how can we continue the journey. We didn’t want to be a remembrance; we wanted to be a furthering of the legacy. But we also wanted to pave the way for the future. You’ve got a lot of young artists that are blazing new trails. Of course, we had to get some legends in there. You’ve got Devo. I can honestly say that Thievery and Massive Attack are becoming legends in their own right.

Y!W: What are the plans to keep the festival in Asheville beyond this year?

JC: After this year there definitely is nothing that says we have to stay there, but we are moving forward as if there’s going to be a 2011 in Asheville. I think it’s a natural fit and if you look at the way the festival industry is building these niche festivals — I don’t want to say pocket places, but not New York and not Chicago — are becoming more successful. People are making it a destination, so they’re getting more out of it. Obviously when you do a major city you’re competing with everything in that city. When you take it to a secondary or tertiary market, you have the ability to own it. It’s really a beautiful thing and I couldn’t imagine taking it any place else, being the adopted home of Bob Moog.

Y!W: This year being the 40th anniversary of the Moog Voyager, do you think it’s been the most revolutionary innovation to the touring musician in that time?

JC: I would say yes. Not just the portability of it, the technology inside of it that has allowed new things to happen. If it’s not the number one, it’s definitely top five.

Y!W: What can you tell me about the Moog Abominatron on which Richard Devine is performing? It sounds large.

JC: It’s going to be amazing and I can’t really reveal too many secrets about it, but it will be a performance to see. It’s visually stunning and with what it can do sound wise, it’s going to blow people’s minds. It can take you into the fourth dimension.

Y!W: How easy is it going to be to show hop? There’s a short walk between the venues, but do you suggest people work out a plan and stick to it?

JC: We have done this very carefully in terms of capacities and in where we stopped ticket sales. We’ve planned it to where we want people to show hop. Part of the reason Asheville works so well is that everything is in walking distance. It might take 10 minutes to walk from the ACC to the Orange Peel, but everything is there. I don’t think that just because you want to see Massive Attack, you will need to stay in one spot all day to do it.

Y!W: There’s a nice-looking spot open after Massive Attack on Saturday. I suppose there are still some surprises in store?

JC: That’s the plan. We’re definitely holding a couple secrets out there. It is Halloween and dropping treats is our style.

Y!W: Give me three lesser-known acts you’re excited about seeing. JC: My favorite who I’m really excited to see personally, Bonobo. I think that’s going to be a ridiculous show. Shout Out Out Out Out. Did I say that four times? This is probably not a lesser-known one, but I’m a die-hard Outkast fan and I’m really excited to see Big Boi. What he does out there, he commands the stage. Also, School of Seven Bells. I heard their live show is stupefying. I think that’s more than three, but it’s impossible to narrow it down.

Y!W: I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask, but who’s headlining the next Bonnaroo?

JC: Elvis. We’re bringing him back. Obviously I can’t say anything yet, but we’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves for the 10 th anniversary, but I know it’s going to be epic.

Y!W: Put me in the Iron Maiden, David Bowie and Outkast camp.