Moogfest’s Dial-Tones Series

By: Patrick Phelps-McKeown

This Saturday, Durham plays host to the inaugural night of Moogfest’s Dial-Tones, an international event series slated to hit Los Angeles, Portland, New York City and London in the next few months.  Since the announcement that the much-lauded electronic music festival with a somewhat nomadic past would be making its roost in Durham, there has been much speculation about what this would mean for the local scene and the festival alike.  With the Durham debut of this new community-engaged event series, Moogfest is poised to solidify its presence and involvement in Durham’s local culture.

Kidznotes, a Durham organization that provides music instruction to underserved youth, will host an early afternoon workshop to introduce children to electronic musical instruments.  An evening session for adults follows at 7 PM, with twenty lucky participants building Moog’s Werkstatt-01 analog synthesizer kit.  Several of these hand-built synths will then be played by a guest artist in an improvised drone performance.

Dial-Tones’ Durham incaration will be joined by guest artist Nick Sanborn of Made Of Oak and Sylvan Esso, fresh off a the release of a groundbreaking, cameo-filled music video and a sold-out EP release party at The Pinhook.  How Sanborn’s usual pallete of stripped-down grooves, warm analog bass tones and shifting folk-like harmonies will translate to an minimalist ensemble of simple synthesizers is an intriguing question.

Durham mainstays Runaway and Party Illegal will be on hand providing the afterparty vibes, rumored to include a mystery lineup of local artists.  The workshop, performance and afterparty are taking place at The Shed, a venue in Golden Belt that traditionally caters to a jazzier clientele.  Whether this cross-pollination of musical scenes will usher in a new era of inter-genre collaboration in Durham remains to be seen, but this correspondant is optimistic.

As an attendee of Moogfest 2014 in Asheville, I was blown away by the abundance of engaging programming and quality performances, and I know I’m not the only one curious to see how the Moogfest vision will play out in Durham.  It is both encouraging and inspiring to see the festival’s clear eagerness to work with the existing creative community.  If the droning tones coming from The Shed are telling us something, it’s that Durham has lots more to look forward to in the run-up to Moogfest 2016.

Durty Durham is an evershifting group of artists and musicians that are near the white hot of core of so much Durham culture. Memberships ebb and flow with the river of life, but the art on the walls and the names associated with previous events reveal what old masters like Victor Hugo knew long ago, what is revered in so-called low culture becomes high culture. #PARTYILLEGAL

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