See-I at VinoFest (Photo by Sung J. Shin)
VinoLovers, a new personalized wine subscription service based in DC, presented its inaugural VinoFest at Union Market Saturday, offering a happy gathering of wine appreciators selections from a dozen different wines and a musical lineup that included nine different acts, including Eric Hilton of the Thievery Corporation and Jesse Boykins III.
The weather was perfect for the gathering, which served as a perfect summer escape via parking lot. VinoFest was held in the loading dock and adjoining lot behind Union Market, and it became a perfectly comfortable location as more and more people filled the space throughout the afternoon, contributing to the feeling that you were attending a fancy block party in a secluded cul de sac in the city.
After taking some time to check out the wine selection, I caught the performance by Brooklyn-based quartet Body Language, who played some very catchy electronic R&B. Musicians Grant Wheeler, Matt Young and Ian Chang took to synthesizers and other instuments while vocalist and Angelica Bess smoothly sang some smooth but funky tunes, sometimes in harmony with the men. Her soaring yet sweet voice was a lovely compliment to the synths of the band — and the effect was not unlike watching some of the better moments of a live Moby stage show when the DJ teams with a soul singer for some of his better songs.
Giorgio Moroder speaks at a panel (Photo courtesy Moogfest)
Although Moogfest ran for five days, I only truly availed myself of three of them. Sunday’s program, it should be noted, did not run late into the night as did the other days.
On Friday, April 25, the big draw to the show as legendary producer Giorgo Moroder. The 74-year-old Italian synthgod is still working hard, and he was scheduled to make three appearances at Moogfest on Friday–on two panels and one performance.
Unfortunately for me, he didn’t make the panel I caught. It actually was a film and accompanying discussion. Moogfest has within in a small “film festival” as well, screening various Moog-related films around town, and Friday afternoon the Orange Peel screened Scarface. All of the songs sung by Debbie Harry or Elizabeth Daily or others in Scarface were written and produced by Moroder, and he was one of the musical arrangers as well. So the idea was to watch Scarface and then discuss the importance of the soundtrack and score to the film. We received a report, however, that Moroder wasn’t feeling well and skipped the panel in to keep up his strength for his DJ gig that night. So we’ll get back to him in a bit.
Other than Giorgio Moroder, the big draw for Friday was two performances by Kraftwerk. The German quartet put up two shows back to back at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, and they both went very well. I caught the first show, which was very good indeed. Doing so compensated somewhat for the fact that I had to miss them at the 9:30 Club two weeks earlier.
Janelle Monae speaks (Photo courtesy Moogfest)
Generally speaking, I’m a night owl, and when I travel I revel in my rare opportunities to own the night–even if owlishly.
That said, my capacity for enjoying the day programming offered by Moogfest was admittedly limited. Out of intense curiosity, however, I was able to rise early enough on Thursday, April 24, to catch some of a presentation by Janelle Monae and her collaborators Chuck Lightning and Nate Rocket Wonder.
The session, titled after Monae’s work “The Electric Lady,” took me to the Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville’s Pack Place for the first time. The 500-capacity theatre is a great place to catch a chat or a performance of any sort, and I found myself comfortably listening to Monae recount her experiences on tour, creating a series of paintings on stage during performance depicting the self-titled “Electric Lady” in question.
Monae related some of her experiences around the art (music and painting), her feelings about it and her longing for some sort of perfection. She and her cohorts were humbled to report performing at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama a total of five times so far. It gave Monae perspective and inspiration to hear that the First Lady often listened to her music during workouts; she and the others agreed that it gave them an added depth of responsibility to consider the messages behind their music when they knew such influential people were listening to it.