Machines + Forests. Wires + Waters. Moogfest Meets Asheville's Wilds.

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Machines + Forests. Wires + Waters. Moogfest Meets Asheville's Wilds.

  • Ben Colvin

    Benjamin Colvin is a nerd for the wilds, roaming the woods of Alabama as a child, Montana later in life, and now the mountains of North Carolina—a North AlabaMontanan, if you will...

Yeah, let's have a little fun...
Spring has sprung, the earth is warming and it's time to get outside, you lazy bones! Here in Asheville, we are surrounded by a million and a half acres of National Forest, wild waterfalls and streams, furry, feathery, scaly and slimy wildlife- including homo sapiens - and some of the greatest places and people you'll ever see. So I've decided to look at life for a while like a little staycation here at home in the mountains. I like to be in the woods, but sometimes Asheville offers too much in this great city to leave it's urban center. This past week, Moogfest returned to Asheville with a whole new vision - and I dig it. Sure, let's bring amazing electric musicians, artists, innovators and speakers, and let's celebrate the great Bob Moog and his electronic legacy (and Asheville beer too)...but there ain't no way to separate Asheville's own legacy and celebrity as THE place to get outside - the gateway to wild places.
Bob Moog is remembered as an innovator of machines - but he also loved the woods, the outdoors and wilderness, which draw us and keep us here in Asheville. His synthesizers are used by artists to make sounds not found in the natural world, but are great at mimicking what is found in nature. The theremin is great at imitating sounds from forests, waters and animals -machines making nature's sounds and musicians taking inspiration from nature. This year, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy protected 105 acres of Bob Moog's property in Buncombe County. His home and workshop on this property served as a sanctuary and a muse and this emotional connection to place- to woods and to Asheville - are evident in Moogfest as well. Multiple headlining acts at Moogfest 2014 are linked to the natural world through their intentional uses of sounds from nature and through personal environmental activism.

  • Bernie Worrell spoke on stage during his Asheville set about taking care of the planet for our future generations and curbing global climate change.
  • DJ Lance Rock (Yo Gabba Gabba) was about the nicest guy to meet and gushed about how beautiful he found Asheville. He met our Wild South conservation intern from 2013 and was thanked her for her work, and then talked about trying to find ways back to town soon.
  • Keith Emmerson is an AVID environmental activist, with a loving passion for the environmental protection in Asia.
  • And most of the design presenters engage people by getting them to interact with their environment, thus focusing on environmental connection - not separation from the environment like design and machine might suggest.

What I saw at Moogfest last week? Thousands of really excited, curious, creative and energetic people flooding our mountain town - yes for the electronic music, but many I spoke with talked about our gorgeous mountains and forests. They tipped, supported and respected Wild South staff and volunteers at the Moog Outdoor Stage working to fundraise for protection of wild places and wild things. They engaged in experience and discussion of machines, but also of the natural world and how we interact with our world. We have become such a walkable city, that festival go-ers had pedometers and bikes. I saw Asheville as part of Moogfest rather than Moogfest taking over Asheville. In short, there is no way to take the wild out of Asheville and Western NC. We have to remember to get outside and to resist spending every free minute in the vortex of downtown and the urban fun -- but even then, there is no escaping the recognition that our surrounding natural world and our urban center are intimately intertwined. What a damn great place to live.
For the Wild -