Highlights of “The Keith Emerson Experience”

On Saturday, March 9, 2019, EMEAPP held a VIP event commemorating the reunification of Keith Emerson’s iconic stage gear – a major milestone for EMEAPP – and a gathering that brought together a community of people that surrounded Keith Emerson’s life and work.

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The first presentation of the event, as depicted in the video just below, featured EMEAPP’s Associate Director and resident synthesizer programmer Vince Pupillo Jr., who opened the formal festivities by performing a tribute on Keith’s Moog Modular, expertly demonstrating each of the famous presets with short quotations of famous Emerson keyboard lines:

In keeping with the legacy of Keith Emerson’s work, the guests entering the Performance Hall Atrium were greeted by . . .

This event also served as a fitting send-off for some of Keith’s Gear that will soon be on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC for a sixth month long show called “PLAY IT LOUD INSTRUMENTS OF ROCK & ROLL,” which opens April 8th, 2019. Be sure to attend this exhibit if you would like to see this gear in person, along with many other fantastic rock ‘n roll exhibits!

The Gear

The EMEAPP gear presented included:

  • Keith’s iconic Moog Modular Synthesizer, arguably the most famous and musically influential synthesizer in the world, now a deeply treasured part of the EMEAPP Collection.
  • Keith’s Hammond Goff C-3 organ – the organ known as the “Tarkus Organ”.
  • Keith’s Twin Goff Custom Leslie Cabinets.
  • One of the L-100 Hammond organs Keith used in his famous onstage antics, complete with knife stabs wounds to the keyboard, as used for example at the “ELP Live at Montreux 1997 Concert”, among others. Displayed along with this organ were two of Keith’s ELP-Logo enscribed knives, which he used on the Black Moon Tour.
  • Keith’s Bag End Stage Monitoring System and his Stage Mixer Rack filled with synths and effects.
  • Keith’s Korg Triton Extreme (serial #1!) sampling keyboard workstation.
  • An Alesis QS8.1 Sampling Synthesizer, with samples of Keith’s original instruments, including samples from his Yamaha GX-1, his Moog Modular, and his Hammond C-3.
  • Keith’s GEM ProMega 3, a board that utilizes both samples and physical modeling to produce highly realistic sounds.
  • Our rare Yamaha GX-1 synthesizer, one of the first analog polyphonic synthesizers ever produced, of the same production series used by Keith Emerson.
  • A collection of Keith’s Stage wardrobe and his wardrobe flight case.
  • Also utilized at the event was a Hammond B-3 from the EMEAPP Collection, used during the cocktail hour by various guests. This Hammond B-3 was the last one ever shipped by the Hammond organ company in 1975!
  • Vintage amps used: Leslie 147, Fender silver-faced Twin Reverb & Ampeg B-18N.
  • Vintage Slingerland 80N Jazz Kit
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Also displayed at the event were:

  • A photo gallery of rarely and never before seen photos by Keith Emerson photographer Mary Ann Burns.
  • A slideshow of photos documenting Keith Emerson’s entire career.
  • A video image slideshow that was to be utilized by Keith for the LCD display on his restored Moog Modular.
  • A mounted wall gallery of Keith’s discography.
  • The Moog Showcase: A comprehensive exhibit of the Moog Synthesizers in the EMEAPP Collection, including a full array of historically important Minimoog prototypes & early production models; prototypes of the Micromoog, Equalizer (Liberation), and SL-8 synthesizers; several Moog Modular systems; various Moog effects; and virtually all of the other synthesizers produced by Moog Music Inc, including the Micromoog, Multimoog, Polymoog, Prodigy, Satellite, etc.
  • A sampling of EMEAPP’s vast collection, including keyboards, effects, guitar pedals and amplifiers, including gear utilized by Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Steve Howe, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, and many others.
  • The Emerson Hammond L-100 Organ, Photos of the L-100 in use, and the Welcoming Banner

Attendees experiencing the Gear:

  • Brian Kehew and Gene Stopp reuniting with the Moog Modular.

Preparations

The Keith Emerson Experience took many months of planning – and not just the usual event planning sort of arrangements (invitations, travel & lodging, etc) – but much meticulous equipment restoration work and testing, musical practice and rehearsals, etc. The following images show some of this preparatory work:

  • Painting the Performance Hall

The People

Invited guests at the Keith Emerson Experience numbered well over one hundred – far too many to list here. Many signed the Event Door:

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Some of the attendees most closely related to Keith’s life and work included Keith Emerson’s son, Aaron, and his spouse Jo and sons Ethan and Zach; Keith’s fiancé Mari Kawaguchi; Moog Foundation President Michelle Moog-Koussa and other representatives of the Foundation; Keith Emerson Photographer Mary Ann Burns; Keith’s former organ tech, Al Goff; One of Keith’s synthesis coaches at Moog Music, Dr. Tom Rhea; and the restorationists of Keith’s Moog Modular, Brian Kehew and Gene Stopp.

Special images of some of the guests:

  • The Emerson Family and Mari Kawaguchi

The Presentations

As seen in the video posted above, EMEAPP’s Associate Director and resident synthesizer programmer Vince Pupillo Jr. opened the formal festivities by performing a tribute on Keith’s Moog Modular, expertly demonstrating each of the famous presets with short quotations of famous Emerson keyboard lines.

EMEAPP’s Founder and President Vince Pupillo Sr. then introduced and honored the Emerson Family. Vince presented the EMEAPP Legends Award to Keith’s son and keyboardist Aaron Emerson, a posthumous award recognizing the achievements of his father, which Aaron received with visible emotion.

Vince Sr. then introduced Keith Emerson’s fiance Mari Kawaguchi, and then Moog Foundation President Michelle Moog-Koussa. Mari both spoke movingly about Keith’s life and work, and Michelle spoke passionately about the amazing and intertwined legacy of Keith’s and her father’s work.

Vince Sr. then also presented Brian Kehew with the EMEAPP’s Preservation Award for his decades-long efforts at saving the hardware of electronic music, work that has played an important role in the development of the EMEAPP Collection. Brian Kehew and Gene Stopp then also received the EMEAPP Restoration Award from Vince for their extensive joint work a decade ago restoring the Emerson Moog Modular – work that Keith Emerson himself greatly appreciated.

Vince Sr. then introduced Tom Lamb, former Marketing Director of Moog Music Inc., who described Keith Emerson’s early interactions with the Moog Company, interactions that included instruction on synthesis techniques by Dr. Tom Rhea, who was in attendance at the event, as was Jim Scott, who had prepared the original shipment of Keith’s Moog to him from R.A. Moog Inc.

EMEAPP’s Research Director and Webmaster Ben Luce then gave a presentation describing EMEAPP’s nonprofit structure and mission, and emphatically invited attendees to become ambassadors for EMEAPP, to assist the organization’s ability to sustain itself and fulfill its mission over the long term.

Emerson Hammond Organ Technician Al Goff then wrapped up the presentations by regaling the audience with stories about his and his father’s first encounter with Keith’s L-100 organ antics – which to the delight of the audience he revealed had initially caught them quite off guard after they had delivered an L-100 to Keith for the first time for his use one evening!

Images of the presentations:

  • Vince Pupillo Jr. demonstrates the Moog Modular in a tribute to Keith

The Performers

Throughout the evening a number of performers wowed the audience with demonstrations of Keith’s instruments and other instruments at EMEAPP. These performers included:

  • During the opening reception organist Joe Patano entertained the crowd with his expert Hammond organ stylings on the Hammond B-3. Joe was then joined by keyboardist George Mandrin on Korg Triton Extreme (piano voicing), and the two furiously traded jazz licks to the delight of the audience.
  • This was followed by Ben Luce playing ELP compositions “Trilogy”, “Jeremy Bender”, “Benny the Bouncer”, and “The Sheriff” using Keith’s GEM ProMega 3 (for piano sounds) and Alesis QS8.1 (for synthesizer voices).
  • Wally DeBacker then performed the beginning of ELP’s “Karn Evil 9” with Rachel, and sang “Lucky Man,” backed by the “EMEAPP Band,” consisting of EMEAPPer’s Mike Pasella on guitar, Doug Salvas on guitar, Ben Luce on the Moog Modular and backing vocals, Tim Warneck on backing vocals, Vince Pupillo Jr. on drums, and Drew Raison on bass.
  • Keyboardist Rachel Flowers, among her other performances at the event rocked the crowd with an amazing solo rendition of “Tarkus”on the Emerson C-3 and the Moog Modular, with Vince Pupillo Jr. assisting Rachel with programming changes. Rachel also played excerpts of “Pirates” on the GX-1 and played many of the other keyboards at EMEAPP throughout the event, wowing the attendees till the wee hours of the morning. Keith Emerson’s son Aaron Emerson and EMEAPPer Ben Luce performed ELP’s version of “Fanfare for a Common Man,” with Aaron on the Yamaha GX-1 and Ben on the Alesis QS8.1, and Wally DeBacker accompanying on drums.
  • Keith Emerson’s grandson Ethan Emerson then played two of his grandfather’s piano pieces – “Close to Home” and “Ballad for a Common Man” – on Keith’s GEM ProMega 3, demonstrating uniquivocally that he is following steadily along in his grandfather’s footsteps.
  • The after party saw bartender Eric Sirianni mount the drums, and along with (Quiet Riot) bass player Chuck Wright laid down the rhythm while keyboardists Joe Patano, George Mandrin, Mike Pasella, Ben Luce, and Eddie Jobson (a recent Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductee!) all joined in the jam.

Images of the performances:

  • Joe Patano warms up the room with his Hammond organ stylings

The Festivities

Throughout the event the attendees enjoyed a cocktail party atmosphere with Gourmet Butler style hors d’oeuvre with Eric and Jill Siriani tending the bar filled with cheer.

A look at some of the fun:

Response From Emerson Family

Feedback

“Hi Vince,
First let me thank you for the amazing week-end at EMEAPP.  Seeing the collection you have saved to date is truly mind blowing.  Seeing friends …whom I haven’t seen in over 40 years, all together in one place was truly special. I am pleased to know you, Vince Jr., Drew, and the rest of the EMEAPP team as the champions carrying forward vital work to preserve the history of EM.  I will be honored to be an “Ambassador” for EMEAPP.”

-Greg Hockman

“Dear Vince,
Wow just wow. Thank you very much for such an amazing event.  It was perfect. I am so honored to have been included as a guest. There are not enough superlatives to say how wonderful and well presented the event was.  The museum was amazing and nostalgic. I hope to visit again.”


-George Mandrin

“Dear Vince,
I just wanted to convey my heartfelt appreciation to the three of you and your staff, not only for your gracious hospitality, but also for conceiving and bringing EMEAPP and the Keith Emerson Experience to fruition. It was sheer joy to see so many historically significant instruments and so much gear all under one roof. The music was extraordinary, the camaraderie was outstanding, and the food and drink were superb, but your generosity was most remarkable of all. I can’t thank you enough for what was absolutely one the most enjoyable gatherings I’ve ever been part of.”

-Geary Yelton


“Hello Vince,
Wow another one of your many unbelievable accomplishments!! It is so rewarding when the dream, becomes a goal and then reality!! Hats off to the master chef, Vince Jr. and all the sous chefs at EMEAPP!!”

-God bless, Roger Rumble


“Dear Vince,
You really did yourself proud this weekend.  Pam and I had a great time, and from an attendee point of view, everything was perfect.  (I know how hard it is to plan and execute this kind of event. You’re probably exhausted, but you all ought to take a deep bow.)

It was great to finally meet all of you and see your breathtaking collection. Rachel was incredible.  (Great idea to have her there!) But what made the greatest impression on me was the sincere appreciation and gratitude you earned from the Emerson family and the Moog folks.  In a very short period of time, you’ve transformed your collection into a significant historical and educational asset for the music community.” 
-Alan Lenhoff


“Dear Vince,
Thank you for your incredible hospitality at EMEAPP this weekend. I would like to help out in any way I can, bringing my skills and years of experience as an editor, writer, and content creator to the table.”

-Stephen Fortner

“Dear Vince,
Thank you for inviting Juliana and me to this fun and special night.  I know that building inside and out, but last night gave me a new appreciation for it and how really great it will be as we work our way through the upcoming phases.  I talked to some folks who were truly blown away by the facility as it exists…all I could think of is how they’ll react as it continues to transition into your total vision.  Another thing that impressed me last night…you and I work on building projects together, I appreciate your enthusiasm for what we’re doing…but last night I saw it in a much bigger way.  This thing that is your interest and passion is the passion for a large group of people, and for some it is their entire life.  The experience I had last night really energizes my understanding of what we’re creating…and that makes what I’m doing so much more significant and enjoyable.  Now I fully understand your enthusiasm for the facility and for EMEAPP.  Thanks again for the invitation, it was a very special event to be a part of.”

-Rich Kapusta (EMEAPP Architect)