[Leading up to our Bob Moog Live CD Release Party on October 10, 2010 at the LAB, we are presenting a series of blogs written by Dan Lewis. You can check out the first post “The History”, here, and the second post, “The Secret Behind the Music” here. Lewis is the only surviving member of the trio of Bob Moog, Mike Abbott and Dan Lewis who rehearsed and performed together for this recording. Dan will be performing and speaking at the release party.]
Needless to say, Mike and I were thrilled and terrified at this totally unforeseen opportunity [to rehearse and perform with Bob], and spent weeks scrambling to come up with something that we could incorporate Bob into, and that we hoped might measure up to our amazing new line-up. The results were far different from whatever we had origin ally planned as a duo, and the rehearsals with Bob at his shop at Big Briar, some 25 miles outside Asheville, were always productive and memorable.
Bob played the most popular Moog synth, the MiniMoog. Mike played a Mini, a MicroMoog, a Wurlitzer electronic piano and an Oberheim OB-8, while I performed on acoustic guitar, a 32-string Ukelin (16 plucked, 16 bowed) a small harp and on one tune, a Moog Sonic Six.
Most of the original material was mine, with two songs by Mike Abbott. Mike and I collaborated by improvisation and experimentation until we had found what we liked and what worked the best, while Bob wanted his parts written out, so I had to invent a graph system quickly so I could write out his parts. It was amazing to me that 99% of my efforts were accurate; once in a while, I’d hear a “clam” when we tried out a new part, and I’d pull out my graph and find that I had misplaced a note and had to fix it. To this day, after 30 years in music and a dozen albums, I don’t read or write down music.
Our usual arrangement was this: I’d play the basic tune, Bob would play either a bass line or a melody, while Mike would provide all the middle part, the “glue” that brought the other parts together. Mike was always a great musical asset who anchored any gig we ever did; when we were on stage together, I could count on Mike to not only play brilliantly, but help cue musicians on the back line who may not have known the music as well.
Bob had a wonderful enthusiasm that was always a pleasure to be around, and even the most casual conversations were treasured by we two young musicians; we became friends, and at the same time, felt awed to be with him. He never gave you any impression that he was famous, nor thought he was. He was totally accessible, real and genuine. We spent many afternoons at Bob’s home in South Turkey Creek, rehearsing in his workshop at Big Briar. Afterwards he always invited us to stay for dinner with his family.
We rehearsed with the huge roll-up doors open, looking out across the valley. Once, Bob’s Minimoog started squalling like an electronic pig. Mike and I were shocked to see the inventor calmly turn it up on it’s side, give it three whacks with his fist, sending horrific electronic thunder cascading across the hillsides. Naturally, the Minimoog responded immediately to the master’s touch, and performed flawlessly the remainder of the evening.
Once the music started to come together, Mike brought his Tascam reel-to-reel recorder and taped the rehearsal, and later had a friend come and monitor the recorder during both concerts to capture our performances. Even then, we knew we were participating in something that felt historic, and Mike was wise enough to record it.
Our first performance at Bele Chere 1980 was a success, and the feeling was good for everyone, so we agreed to repeat the performance in more controlled indoor circumstances. I was able to arrange a concert some months later at the Asheville Art Museum, then located at the Asheville Civic Center. The concert on November 23 was well attended and the audience enthusiastic. From that event came the bulk of the recorded music on the Bob Moog Live CD, the rest from earlier rehearsals.
That was to be the second and last concert of Moog, Abbott & Lewis. As Bob often said, he was first and foremost an electronic musical engineer, and performing music was not his first priority. Mike and I realized that we had been incredibly fortunate to know and perform with Moog; thanks to Mike’s forethought, we also have the recordings.
Flat Rock, North Carolina
The CD Release Party for “Bob Moog Live” happens on October 10, 2010 at the Lexington Avenue Brewery’s Music Venue in Asheville, NC from 3:30- 6:00 p.m.. Doors open at 3 p.m. Tickets are $7, with proceeds benefiting the Bob Moog Foundation. Performers include Dan Lewis, Mary Frances (Emyrael), Jeff Knorr (Funknastics) adn Ben Hovey (Asheville Horns) with other special guests.
Bob Moog Live will be sold exclusively through the Bob Moog Foundation online store (www.moogfoundation.org/shop) beginning October 11.