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Next Moogfest might call Durham home

Since first moving to Asheville in 2008, the five-day music festival has become the heartbeat of a massive, often atypical, artistic underground and has hosted such performers as Brian Eno and Devo.

The concert draws as many as 7,500 people a day. In 2014, Billboard Music reported that the concert made $1.2 million in revenue.

According to a recent article by Indy Week, Moogfest is planning to relocate to downtown Durham in early 2016 after almost eight years in Asheville.

Despite Asheville being the home of the festival’s founding company Moog Music Inc. and the loyal following it has developed there, the suspected move to Durham has caused a surge of excitement in the Triangle from artists and music lovers alike.

“We’re not surprised by a possible move to Durham because it seems like a really great fit,” said Sherry DeVries, executive director of the Durham Arts Council. “Durham is all about looking forward and new artistic ideas, so it makes a lot of sense for such innovative work to come here.”

Opening for business in 1953, Moog Music Inc. has helped pioneer the electronic music movement for over 50 years.

The company was created by Robert Moog, who has since become a legend in the industry for his contributions to electronic music. He is best known for his creation of the Moog Synthesizer, which has been used by such groups as The Beastie Boys.

Having worked as a songwriter earlier in her life, DeVries said she got the opportunity to interact with Moog Music electronics when it was first starting out.

“One of my first demo tapes had a moog synthesizer on it that belonged to the studio producer,” she said. “It was relatively new technology then but really looking to the future.”

DeVries said it will be important for the multi-venue festival to collaborate with other artistic institutions to avoid conflicting interests, but that the more creative groups in Durham, the merrier.

“I think any time we can increase the number of larger scale arts activities in the Triangle it’s a win-win for everybody,” said Chapel Hill Public Arts Administrator Jeffery York.

“It’s always good to try new things and test new art forms. Who knows whether there will be an audience for that music here or not, but why not give it an opportunity?”

Despite Indy Week’s report, Moog Music Inc. and the Durham Chamber of Commerce declined to give an official statement.

“I think the Triangle is big enough that it wouldn’t step on any other festival,” York said. “It’s really big enough now that there’s enough people going to these things (music festivals) that they generate their own audiences.

Carrboro hosts its own music festival each fall, but York said there’s enough interest in music in the area that the two won’t compete with one another.

“It seems to be a fairly niche sort of thing, so it will be continuously building an audience for a while,” York said.

Casey Steinbacher, president and CEO of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, said the organization wouldn’t be opposed to welcoming Moogfest to the city with open arms.

“From the Chamber’s perspective, it would of course be a good thing,” she said. “Festivals with the magnitude and dynamic of Moogfest are something we’re always open to at any time.”

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