Museum of Pop Culture – Pop Conference, April 20th-23rd, 2017

Wishing that I had the money and time to travel to Seattle, Washington this year for the Museum of Pop Culture, Pop Conference. My favorite music museum coupled with the premier music journalists conference! Voila 😉

Pop Conference 2017 kicks off with Artist Interview: A Conversation with David Byrne. This year’s conference theme is “Sign O’ the Times: Music and Politics” and Byrne will discuss his critically acclaimed musical Here Lies Love, which traces the non-violent restoration of democracy in the Philippines in 1986 and follows the meteoric rise and dramatic fall of the controversial First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos.

I’m never quite sure what the event accomplishes, especially with this year’s theme, exclusive of the fact it is one of the largest music journalism conclaves where opinions abound from writers profound.

I identify with this event as an amateur music journalist. I keep hoping when I get to retirement I can join this nucleus and have authored a music book. I have the Pop Conference speaker objective, esoteric as that may be, on my bucket list.



Red Bull Music Academy 2013 – New York City

I receive The Red Bulletin, “A Beyond The Ordinary Magazine” every month. The April 2013 US issue finally achieved that “objective” for me. 😉

Red Bulletin April 2013

Pictured on the cover is “The Guru” Questlove who I find factoring more and more into my music equation. He is a college professor at NYU Tisch School of Music. My family got to see him live last year at a Late Night with Jimmy Fallon TV taping as The Roots are the house band.

I recently wrote about the public discussion that took place with Questlove and David Byrne at NYU (see Related Articles below). I enjoy and respect seeing Questlove’s logical ascension in musicology circles.

Questlove is a Mentor for the Red Bull Music Academy 2013 that will be taking place all around New York City from April 28-May 31. This month-long plus annual international music event is where up and coming producers, singers, arrangers, DJs and musicians get the opportunity to learn from top industry professionals. Who better to school ya than Questlove and others I am thinking?

I hope to attend one of their events. Stay tuned to which ones I get tickets for 😉

Five Easy Pieces – EMP Pop Conference 2013

The Experience Music Project (EMP) Pop Conference in 2013 will be a five city live streaming event. The five easy pieces for Pop Conference 2013 will take place in Seattle (Central site), New York (the site of the 2012 Pop Conference that we attended), Los Angeles, New Orleans and Cleveland.  Please refer to the EMP Pop Conference page for more specifics, as the event is just unfolding.

Five different gatherings, in the East, West, South, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest, will take place on the same weekend, with a goal of live streaming the content for those unable to travel and preserving it for posterity. At each location, there will be one panel at a given time, rather than concurrent sessions, to foster regional community.

Local organizers, all veteran conference participants, will steer the program for each Pop Conference city: Oliver Wang of Cal-State Long Beach in Los Angeles (working with the USC Dornsife Center for Feminist Research, directed by Karen Tongson); Tavia Nyong’o of NYU in New York (working with the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music); Joel Dinerstein of Tulane in New Orleans (working with the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South); Lauren Onkey of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland; and Jasen Emmons of EMP Museum in Seattle.

My aim as an EMP/SFM Member(since 2009) is to increase my Pop Conference involvement in 2013 from the attendee level in 2012. I’m glad the NYU event is open-ended. I have contacted Tavia Nyong’o of NYU to learn more about where I can hopefully take part.

I learned that the Pop Conference 2012 event was published as a collection of papers by the Duke University Press soon after the event. Eric Weisbard served as Editor for Pop When the World Falls Apart, Music In The Shadow of Doubt. Eric is the EMP Pop Conference Organizer and is also Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University. This is the third collection of Pop Conference papers

I have a better idea now why Robert Christgau calls the Pop Conference,  “the best thing that’s ever happened to serious consideration of pop music.” I attended the session where he spoke last year (Refer to my blog post about Pop Conference 2012 here)

I look forward to the EMP Pop Conference 2013. I plan to update readers about this event moving forward. When I’m informed you will be informed, so stay tuned 🙂

Deep Hang at Pop Conference 2012 in NYC

on the "Music in the '00s" panel, 20...
on the "Music in the '00s" panel, 2010 Pop Conference, EMPSFM, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday proved a day of validation for me as a professional music blogger. We attended the Experience Music Project (emp) Pop Conference at the NYU Kimmel Center on 60 Washington Square South. I am an emp museum member(since 2009) who has eyeballed the Pop Conference sessions held in Seattle, WA with distance envy. We were enthralled that the Pop Conference had come east. It turned out to be a shrewd move as this year’s theme was “Sounds of the City”. The event being next to Washington Square Park and set against the Greenwich Village skyline added the symbolic note for this four-day event.

I got the feeling I was about to go into a deep hang of music journalism and community. I had no idea how profound that sentiment would become until later in the day. I walked away from this conference with a lot of knowledge, many more musical influences than I began the day with and a greater insight into music’s direction in the next decade.


1) Roundtable: Where is the City?, Where is the Scene?

Panelists: Consisted of several music authors, musician Paula Carino from Brooklyn, Will Hermes, whose book, (Love Goes to Building on Fire my son had given me as a Christmas present) and Mark Richardson, Editor-In-Chief, Pitchfork, the definitive music webzine of indie rock.

The gist of this session dealt with trying to define the scene in terms of music communities. The real-time dilemma of digital music evolving on the Web poses existing music distribution models such as the record store, releasing a CD versus a digital download recording, and hard copy music publishing substantive issues. I heard the phrase mentioned several times, “Music is the biggest city in the world.”

I have tried several times to write a blog post about why Brooklyn is the music capital of the world, only to abandon the idea after attempting to research this phenomenon. Paula Carino epitomized why this is so indicative of Brooklyn. She stated Brooklyn is organic. Many musicians have come there to be discovered in the Williamsburg scene. However that ship has sailed and the Williamsburg scene is analagous to the mass exodus of people who moved to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco to experience the hippie scene and flower power. Many did not realize the scene had peaked and was moving on by the time they arrived there. I also learned that Pitchfork had moved its editorial offices from Chicago to Brooklyn to be closer to the epicenter of the indie scene.

Open on Sunday album cover

Highlights: Paula Carino surprised me with a copy of her CD, Open On Sunday on me, I listened to it today and I really like what I heard. Look for a review of her CD this week on this blog ;). I got to say hello to Will Hermes after the panel discussion and asked him if he would sign my copy of Love Goes to Building on Fire. He graciously did so. I was pleasantly surprised to learn he had read my blog post about his book. 😉

New Inputs: Wedding Present, DJ Rupture, Chillwave, Beirut, Open on Sunday, Paula Carino

2)  Sound of the City, a tribute to the genius of Charlie Gillett

Panelists: Robert Christgau, David Laing, Charlie McGovern

One of my principal objectives of the Pop Conference was to catch the session with Robert Christgau. I have been reading Christgau’s music reviews since 1969 in the Village Voice. He has long been an inspiration to me as a music writer. His paper, “The Original Sound of the City, How Charlie Gillett Named This Conference”, was an energetic rambling of tight construction. Robert Christgau proved once more why he is the dean of rock critics as he crystallized Gillett’s role for the theme of the Pop Conference and his influence on many in their mutual love of music. I was enchanted with Christgau’s punctuating style that kept me fascinated, smiling and educated throughout. I love Christgau’s stream of consciousness. He never fails to stir up my sentiment as well as give me new music inputs to research and listen to with active interest.

Dave Laing from England was next on the agenda. He read his paper, “Charlie Gillett, Sound Citizen of London”. Dave solidified Charlie’s role as a disk jockey on the Honky Tonk program on the BBC. It was insightful to get the British point of view about Charlie Gillette. Dave Laing is an eloquent writer who uses words like idiosyncratic path, antipathy, and contrasting/dissonant music scenes as distinct verse. His presentation was a breath of fresh air which exuded through his writing.

Charlie McGovern was the third speaker and his presentation used audio clips to accent his writings. His paper, “Up to the Streets of Harlem: Black Vocal Groups and Postwar Urban Life” dealt with post war, post modern cities. He took us through urban modernity. He discussed how Clay Cole share cropped the black artist. He played music clips that underscored his paper and produced a skillful, multimedia effect.

New Inputs: Bees Make Honey, Kilburn and the High Roads, a new copy of Charley Gillett’s Sound of the City 😉

3) Jazz Alleys

Moderator: Paul Bresnick, Presenters: David Adler, Nate Chinen, Phil Freeman and Alex W. Rodriguez

The jazz panel presentation and discussion were the most thought-provoking event of the day. The quartet of jazz music journalists represent some of the finest jazz music writing featured in the country today. They created the hang for us yesterday.

The first presenter David Adler has written some great jazz music pieces that I have enjoyed. His presentation was enthusiastic and pinpointed the music of Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra. I was struck by how David juxtaposed the 1920 and 30;s sounds of  the hot house stomp with how the Ghost Train Orchestra is building on that foundation of sound for the future. David contrasted the sounds of John Nesbitt, Charlie Johnson, and Tiny Parham with Brian Carpenter’s updated interpretations. Carpenter’s band is true to the sound and sentiment of the original purveyors of hot house yet take it to its next logical dimension. David Adler served as conductor and arranger as his hand punctuated the air as the sounds played. He was very elucidating. I must get this recording for my collection.

Nate Chinen followed David Adler’s presentation with a talk about jazz artist discrination that took place reagrding New York club cabaret cards were in issue and enforced. I am very inspired by Nate Chinen’s writing. I aspire to write as well as he does one day 😉 What I admire most about how Nate Chinen writes is that he takes a central idea, as he did with his presentation, the cabaret card, focuses his energies on making that a catalyst to further explain and define the next layers of the epicenter. He positioned the cabaret card in a revolving radius fashion as he built out his rationale from there. Nate was quick to point out that there were socio-political hurdles, discriminatory practices taking place against seminal jazz artists such as Billie Holiday and Thelonious Monk who found creative outlets to overcome such censorship tactics.

Nate Chinen was also my major reason for attending this conference as I had read his past Jazz Times [the]Gig column about his Seattle 2011 Pop Conference experience. I had made a note after reading his column that I would attend the next Pop Conference I could.

Alex W. Rodriguez introduced us to the hang. His paper was entitled, “Deconstructing the Hang: Urban Spaces as Cross-Cultural Contexts for Jazz Improvisation.” You can read a preview of that provocative paper here. Alex really got me actively thinking in the area I am focusing more and more upon, music and technology, about how to create a collaborative space, a social network hang. I think I will make a first level attempt with Google Hangout until Apple introduces to its next level of social collaboration with its Mountain Lion cloud solution this fall 😉

The last presentation was an invigorating piece by Phil Freeman, From the Corner to Carnegie Hall and Beyond: The Urbanization of Miles Davis, 1972-1991” that will appear tomorrow on his blog, Phil Freeman drew interesting parallels to Miles Davis’s On the Corner and the Sounds of the City. He also raised lots of insight as it relates to Miles Davis’s later years. In order to do Phil Freeman’s talk justice I defer to his publishing on his blog tomorrow the paper he read and commented upon yesterday. If you are into Miles Davis, social activism and the culture of change you won’t want to miss it.