We are delighted to announce the publication this summer of The Pop Festival: History, Music, Media, Culture (Bloomsbury), edited by George McKay, which features contributions from other Rhythm Changes scholars too: Anne Dvinge, Andrew Dubber, Nick Gebhardt. Altogether there are 14 essays from UK, USA, Europe, Australia (see table of contents below). The book is well-illustrated with archive and contemporary images of festival posters, ephemera, and includes a photo-essay on the British counterculture. Here’s what scholars in the field have been saying about it already: ‘nothing less than an alternate history of popular music since the Second World War’ — Prof William Straw; ‘a lively, challenging, accessible and eclectic collection’ — Prof Chris Gibson; ‘[in] this wonderful book, McKay assembles a series of masterful essays’ — Prof Andy Bennett.
In particular essays by Anne (Detroit Jazz Festival) and George (feat. Beaulieu Jazz Festival, 1956-61) deal with the jazz festival. Here’s a short extract from Anne’s excellent study of Detroit, ‘Musicking in Motor City: reconfiguring urban space at the Detroit Jazz Festival’, which draws on her ethnographic and observational research there.
… the festival is intimately tied to the cultural and economic history and geography of Detroit. It functions as a marker of identity as well as a creator of radical space. Issues of production and economic gain, of tourism economy and commercial interests are central, but so are issues of participation and community that transcends the boundaries of the festival and its locale whilst being rooted in both place and tradition. I outline this history and development through three perspectives—the urban concept city, the role of music and the festival’s connection with both. I finally offer a reading of the festival with Christopher Small’s concept of musicking—music as a verb rather than an object—in mind. That is, a ritual that functions as ‘a form of organized behaviour in which humans use the language of gesture … to affirm, to explore, and to celebrate their ideas of how the relationships of the cosmos operate, and thus, how they themselves should relate to it and to one another’. Thus, the jazz festival performs a complex vernacular play and ritual that ultimately celebrates and connects Detroit with its past, present and future. Any city festival may achieve a temporary transformation of the urban; here I show how joy takes root annually in Detroit, and I also discus the specific contribution of the musical practice that is jazz to making a particular kind of festival and transformation.
The Pop Festival contents
Chapter 1. ‘The pose … is a stance’: popular music and the cultural politics of festival in 1950s Britain
Chapter 2. Out of sight: the mediation of the music festival
Chapter 3. ‘Let there be rock!’ Myth and ideology in the rock festivals of the transatlantic counterculture
Chapter 4. ‘As real as real can get’: race, representation, and rhetoric at Wattstax, 1972
Chapter 5. The artist at the music festival: art, performance and hybridity
Chapter 6. Photo-essay: Free festivals, new travellers, and the free party scene in Britain, 1981-1992
Chapter 7. Festival bodies: the corporeality of the contemporary music festival scene in Australia
Joanne Cummings and Jacinta Herborn
Chapter 8. The Love Parade: European techno, the EDM festival, and the tragedy in Duisburg
Sean Nye and Ronald Hitzler
Chapter 9. Protestival: global days of action and carnivalised politics at the turn of the millennium
Graham St John
Chapter 10. Alternative playworlds: psytrance festivals, deep play and creative zones of transcendence
Chapter 11. No Spectators! The art of participation, from Burning Man to boutique festivals in Britain
Chapter 12. Musicking in Motor City: reconfiguring urban space at the Detroit Jazz Festival
Chapter 13. Branding, sponsorship, and the music festival
Chapter 14. Everybody talk about pop music: Un-Convention as alternative to festival, from DIY music to social change