Dear Moogfest…

This is in response to Moogfest’s damage control spin-zone press release published today. I recommend you read it before continuing on.

Dear Moogfest,

Thanks for the $14 million in economic activity. But, maybe Asheville would be even more thankful if Moog would have planned for the future and created an Asheville-appropriate event that could have been successful year after year. That could have brought in a lot more than $14 million over the years. Maybe Moog could have brought in some profit to be shared with their new employee owners too. That would have been pro-Asheville for sure. Now before I continue, remember that this is what Moog pitched as the raison de vivre of the festival:

“Beyond a traditional music festival, Moogfest aims to be an engine for driving economic development in Western North Carolina … the long-term goal say Moogfest organizers, ‘is to inspire big thinking start-ups, entrepreneurs, and innovators to consider Asheville as a community to relocate their forward thinking businesses, just as Bob Moog did in 1978’…”

“Moog Music President Mike Adams took the risk on financing this speculative venture because of the potential payoff for the community’s future – helping to attract new businesses and create jobs in Western North Carolina.”

(Newsflash: Durham is evidently now in Western North Carolina)

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Ben Lovett’s Black Curtain

Last May I was in part of a music video for Asheville/L.A./Atlanta musician Ben Lovett. I’ve known him for a couple years, and he caught me playing my mobile piano rig in town a couple times and asked me if I would play piano in his music video. Playing music in a video is sort of like playing charades for the blind – there’s not a single microphone at the entire shoot. You sit and listen to the same song, at different speeds, for about 10 hours in a row and you’re covered in makeup applied like peanut butter. It’s miserable and it’s not even musical. What counts though is the results and the people you get to work with. And Ben Lovett consistently produces stuff with more polish than almost anybody in Asheville. He’s a great guy to work with and a great guy to work for.

I’m very happy with how it turned out. I have a very small part in it. Look for me at the piano, duh. Here’s the video.

The still photography on set was done by DornBrothers Photography. You should like them.

My Thoughts on Lexington Avenue

Photo by Derek Olson.
Lexington Ave. and College St. Photo by Derek Olson, via

This is a Letter to the Editor style post in response to two articles in the Mountain Xpress. The first was published in the print edition December 5: No easy answers: Lexington Avenue’s uncertain future by David Forbes. The second was published online December 12: Merchants protest Dec. 5 Lexington Avenue story by Caitlin Byrd.

I used to work in the production department for a daily, independently owned and published newspaper. We frequently heard the kinds of concerns expressed in Ms. Byard’s article and we had to tread carefully. I listened carefully to the in-house editorial discussions about what to do when advertisers expressed concerns about publicity they perceived as negative.

First and foremost, a newspaper has to be honest to its readers, otherwise readers will feel cheated and look elsewhere, which ultimately hurts the newspaper’s bottom line and diminishes the sense of community that a quality newspaper provides. A reader who is less likely to trust the editorial content is also less likely to trust the advertisements in such a newspaper. For an extreme example: Ask yourself how much you trust the advertisements in the tabloids in the checkout line. About as much as their exposé story of ‘Bat Boy‘? A newspaper with integrity is a better place for consumers to make choices about where to spend their dollars. Pulling advertising because of a ‘negative’ story hurts the advertiser and the consumer more than than the newspaper.

Can an article on increased crime lead to less crime in the future? Because of the respect that the XPress has in our community and it’s continued ability to start constructive dialog (such as this one), I think so. A negative story can increase and maintain the integrity of a newspaper, leading to positive change for the entire community. The Xpress has that legitimacy because it doesn’t look the other way when confronted with an uglier face of reality than we would all like to see. I put a high value on that.

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