New book, The Pop Festival, from Rhythm Changes, with jazz festival research

May 15 2015 Published by under News, Publication

McKay The Pop Festival lo-res coverWe 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

Introduction
George McKay

Chapter 1. ‘The pose … is a stance’: popular music and the cultural politics of festival in 1950s Britain
George McKay

Chapter 2. Out of sight: the mediation of the music festival
Mark Goodall

Chapter 3. ‘Let there be rock!’ Myth and ideology in the rock festivals of the transatlantic counterculture
Nicholas Gebhardt

Chapter 4. ‘As real as real can get’: race, representation, and rhetoric at Wattstax, 1972
Gina Arnold

Chapter 5. The artist at the music festival: art, performance and hybridity
Rebekka Kill

Chapter 6. Photo-essay: Free festivals, new travellers, and the free party scene in Britain, 1981-1992
Alan Lodge

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
Alice O’Grady

Chapter 11. No Spectators! The art of participation, from Burning Man to boutique festivals in Britain
Roxanne Robinson

Chapter 12. Musicking in Motor City: reconfiguring urban space at the Detroit Jazz Festival
Anne Dvinge

Chapter 13. Branding, sponsorship, and the music festival
Chris Anderton

Chapter 14. Everybody talk about pop music: Un-Convention as alternative to festival, from DIY music to social change
Andrew Dubber

Index

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New study on Black British Jazz

Oct 07 2014 Published by under News, Publication

BBJ cover imageGeorge McKay writes: I’m very pleased to be part of a notable new book, Black British Jazz: Routes, Ownership and Performance, edited by Jason Toynbee, Catherine Tackley (co-organiser of our wonderful RC2014 conference in Amsterdam) and Mark Doffman, in which I go back to look again at the 1950s pianist, chart-topper, and television presenter, Winifred Atwell. My chapter is called ‘Winifred Atwell and her “other piano”: 16 hit singles and “a blanket of silence”, sounding the limits of jazz’. You can find information about all the chapters for the entire collection at the Black British Jazz contents page, while below is the book’s blurb:

Black British musicians have been making jazz since around 1920 when the genre first arrived in Britain. This groundbreaking book reveals their hidden history and major contribution to the development of jazz in the UK. More than this, though, the chapters show the importance of black British jazz in terms of musical hybridity and the cultural significance of race. Decades before Steel Pulse, Soul II Soul, or Dizzee Rascal pushed their way into the mainstream, black British musicians were playing jazz in venues up and down the country from dance halls to tiny clubs. In an important sense, then, black British jazz demonstrates the crucial importance of musical migration in the musical history of the nation, and the links between popular and avant-garde forms. But the volume also provides a case study in how music of the African diaspora reverberates around the world, beyond the shores of the USA—the engine-house of global black music. As such it will engage scholars of music and cultural studies not only in Britain, but across the world.

And here is a link to the Google Book version of the collection (but do buy it / order it for your library):

[Extract from introduction to George’s chapter] … From Tunapuna, Trinidad, Winifred Atwell (c. 1914-1983) was a classically trained ragtime and boogie-woogie style pianist who gained quite remarkable popularity in Britain, and later also Australia, in the 1950s, in live and recorded music, as well as in the developing television industry. In this chapter I outline her extraordinary international musical biography as a chart-topping pop and television star—innovative achievements for a black migrant female musician which are arguably thrown into more dramatic light by virtue of the fact that Atwell has been Wiinifred Atwell and her 'other piano' with rhythm accompaniment (no. 1, 1954)and remains a neglected figure in media and popular music (let alone jazz) history. I pay particular attention to her performative tactics and repertoire, developing material I introduced first in Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz in Britain. But our interest in Atwell should stem not only from her position as a significant figure neglected by history, for she speaks also to definitional issues of jazz. The chapter progresses into a discussion of the extent to which Atwell is a limit case of jazz in the developing pop world of the 1950s on….

Atwell topped the British singles charts twice, with 14 other top-30 singles during the 1950s, and she was also the first black million-selling singles artist in British pop history. Most of these achievements were the result of her playing jazz-derived instrumental music (solo or with a trio or quartet: piano-guitar-bass-drums). (Here you can read an interview I did with her drummer from the period, Colin Bailey.) Hers was a striking early example of a multiplatform media and music success: prestigious live performances and international tours, hit records, pop-jazz and classical repertoires, radio broadcasts, sheet music and piano instruction book sales, television presenter fronting her own series (on both main British channels and in Australia), and film appearances on screen and in the soundtrack….

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