Who presents and supports the articulation of ambitious thinking about American vernacular music? The Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum (Seattle’s answer to NYC’s American Museum of Natural History?) holds its seventh annual Pop Conference April 10 – 13, with dozens of scholars, journalists and musicians giving 20-minute run-throughs of their specialities on panels regarding the overall theme “Shake, Rattle: Music, Conflict and Change.” I’m among the presenters, offering “Jazz Beyond Jazz: Breakthroughs and Coalitions” in a discussion moderated by Nate Chinen, music reviewer for the New York Times, columnist for Jazz Times. The panel is unfortunately (in my view) titled “Freedom Then.” What about now?
I’m eager to see colleagues such as Larry Blumenfeld, Robert Christgau, Banning Eyre, Richard Gehr, Holly George-Warren, Allan Lowe, David Ritz, Ned Sublette, Greg Tate and Paul de Barros, besides hearing out a lot of new, interesting-seeming people. And we should note, that as a rare instance of the contemporary, even commercial, American vernacular being taken seriously by anybody beyond some crit-biz types, the conference is sponsored by
“the Seattle Partnership for American Popular Music (Experience Music Project, the University of Washington School of Music and KEXP 90.3 FM), through a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. For the second year, free admission to the Pop Conference is made possible by Rhapsody. Opening night reception sponsored by Zune.”
Allen of course is one of the co-founders of Microsoft, the man behind EMP/SFM and also Seattle’s new baseball stadiium. Rhapsody and Microsoft’s own Zune both have laid stakes in the evolving online dissemination of music, so some conference discourse may actually matter to them, which is not so obviously the case among general circulation publications, if the recent arts critics’ firings and buyouts at New York Newsday, the Village Voice and Newsweek are any indication.
ir genuine pleasures.