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 delightedA?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’ a??A?ProfA?William Straw; ‘a lively, challenging, accessible and eclectic collection’ a?? Prof Chris Gibson; ‘[in]A?this wonderful book, McKay assembles a series of masterful essays’A?a?? Prof Andy Bennett.

In particular essays by Anne (Detroit Jazz Festival) andA?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 perspectivesa??the urban concept city, the role of music and the festivala??s connection with both. I finally offer a reading of the festival with Christopher Smalla??s concept of musickinga??music as a verb rather than an objecta??in mind. That is, a ritual that functions as a??a form of organized behaviour in which humans use the language of gesture a?? 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 anothera??. 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

George McKay

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

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

Chapter 3.A?a??Let there be rock!a?? Myth and ideology in the rock festivals of the transatlantic counterculture
Nicholas Gebhardt

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

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

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

Chapter 7.A?Festival bodies: the corporeality of the contemporary music festival scene in Australia
Joanne Cummings and Jacinta Herborn

Chapter 8.A?The Love Parade: European techno, the EDM festival, and the tragedy in Duisburg
Sean Nye and Ronald Hitzler

Chapter 9.A?Protestival: global days of action and carnivalised politics at the turn of the millennium
Graham St John

Chapter 10.A?Alternative playworlds: psytrance festivals, deep play and creative zones of transcendence
Alice Oa??Grady

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

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

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

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


HERA logoA? A? A? A?A?AHRC logo

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Professor in Residence, EFG London Jazz Festival 2014

Oct 23 2014 Published by under Events, News

lnodon jazz fest 2014 logo[PRESS RELEASE]


Professor George McKay is the first academic ever to be appointed a??Professor in Residencea?? at a jazz festival.

In conjunction with Serious and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Professor McKay will be joining the team of the EFG London Jazz Festival on 1 November 2014.

a??Ia??m delighted to be the first Professor in Residence at the EFG London Jazz Festival. Allow me to introduce myself: Ia??m George McKay, Professor of Media Studies at the University of East Anglia and Ia??m also currently an Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Leadership Fellow for one of its priority areas, the Connected Communities Programme. My books include Radical Gardening (2011), Shakina?? All Over: Popular Music & Disability (2013) and a collection called The Pop Festival (2015). But youa??ll probably be most interested in Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz In Britain (2005), a book about the development of jazz, free improvisation, political campaigns, New Orleans-style marching bands, questions of race and gender in this music of a??liberationa??. Ia??ve followed up recently with some more work on the neglected 1950s Trinidadian pianist Winnie Atwell.

One of my focuses in terms of Connected Communities is the idea of festival a?? how does this density and intensity of cultural activity transform its environment (whether thata??s tents and soundsystems in a field or trumpets in a city street), andA?what is the impact on the local population and audiences. A?

But why should the EFG London Jazz Festival appoint a Professor in Residence right now?A? Therea??s been a real explosion of interest in whata??s being called the New Jazz Studies from UK academics over the past decade. In terms of British jazz, academic books by Catherine Tackley, Hilary Moore, and me, have all explored the contribution of the UK to jazz development and history. Jazz Research Journal, edited by Tackley and Tony Whyton, publishes quality research by international scholars.A? A new Routledge series, Transnational Jazz Studies, is edited by Whyton and Nick Gebhardt.

And there have been notable major research projects, like Rhythm Changes: (EU-funded, led from Salford University) and What Is Black British Jazz? (AHRC; Open University). AHRC currently funds a PhD student, Alison Eales, looking at the 25-year history of Glasgow Jazz Festival, co-supervised between the festival and Glasgow University.A? You can watch a great film made this year about researching jazz festivals on Youtube: Tom Perchard of Goldsmiths was awarded an AHRC Early Career Fellowship for a project entitled Jazz in France, 1934-75. At the moment my university is in the process of appointing a one-year AHRC postdoctoral research assistant working across London and otherA?jazz festivals, looking at their impact and value.A?

So, working with the EFG London Jazz Festival team, we thought it a good idea to try to bring some of this academic energy and insight around jazz to festival-goers. Wea??ve built on some work from last year, when we marked Londona??s 21stA?birthday with a day of talks at the Royal Festival Hall, and curated a programme of discussions around questions of politics, power and history. For a music that talks a lot about freedom, these are key questions to debate, and wea??re bringing together academics, and some critics and musicians, to unpack them and to explore the roles that jazz musicians, activists and cultural workers in Britain have had in making their musical and political mark. Please, do join us.a??

Prof George McKay

Full talks programme listings

All talks are free

Saturday 15 NovemberA?

South Africa 20 years on and the legacy of the Blue Notes:A?Southbank Centre / Front Room 12.45 & 3.30pm

Knife in the Water a?? discussion about the music of the filma??s charismatic composer, Krzysztof Komeda:A?Barbican Cinema, 3pm

Way in to the Way Out: Arun Ghosh and Zoe Rahman (Part 1):A?Southbank Centre / Front Room 4.30pm

Sunday 16 November

Jazz Record Requests with Alyn Shipton:A?Barbican FreeStage 2pm

Way in to the Way Out: Arun Ghosh and Zoe Rahman (Part 2):A?Southbank Centre / Front Room 4.30pm

Tuesday 18 November

The Art and the Value of Commissioning New Music a?? with Trish Clowes and Guy Barker:A?Southbank Centre / Queen Elizabeth Hall 6pm

Wednesday 19 NovemberA?

Jazz Rants: The Jazz Industry and The Creative Economy:A?Club InA?gales 7pm

Thursday 20 November

Hear Me Talkina?? To Ya a?? Stefano Bollani:A?Barbican 6.30pm

Friday 21 November

Hear Me Talkina?? To Ya – Kenny Barron & Dave Holland:A?Southbank Centre / Queen Elizabeth Hall 6.30pm

Saturday 22 November

Improvisation and action a?? the legacy of John Stevens:A?Southbank Centre / Front Room 2pm

a??the space is the placea?? :A?the art of programming:A?Barbican 5.30pm

Blue Note at 75 – Don Was meets Richard Havers:A?Southbank Centre / Level 5 Function Room 6pm

Sunday 23 November

Jazz and Gender:A?Southbank Centre / Front Room 12.45pm

For full details visitA?



Please contact Sally ReevesA? 44 (0)1223 864710 | 44 (0)7790 518756 |A?A?

Issued by Piers Mason at SeriousA? 44 (0)20 7324 1880 |A?
For information on all EFG London Jazz Festival shows please go toA?

The EFG London Jazz Festival is produced byA?Serious, one of the UKa??s leading producers and curators of live jazz, international and new music. Serious produces events that range from major concerts, festivals and national and international tours through to learning and participation programmes, conferences and specially commissioned bespoke events. Alongside its core role as a live music events producer, it works in artist and rights management. Alongside this exists the registered charity, Serious Trust, which has beenA?established to support the next generation of artists and audiences through our artist development, learning and participation and commissioning programmes

TheA?London Jazz FestivalA?was created in 1992 by live international music producers, Serious. The Festival emerged from the long-standing Camden Jazz Week which was created in 1970; with the active support of the London Arts Board (now Arts Council England, London). Serious a?? who had for some years produced the Camden Jazz Week, engineered a transition that saw the evolution of the Festival.A? Taking a mix of international and British artists and a commitment to education activity, the London Jazz Festival began to spread its wings. The aims of the Festival still remain the same today; celebrating the place of jazz in a city which is at ease with its rich cultural diversity, and drawing in a multitude of venues across London who present the music, week in, week out, throughout the year.

EFG InternationalA?is a global private banking group offering private banking and asset management services, headquartered in Zurich. EFG International”s group of private banking businesses operates in around 30 locations worldwide, with circa 2,000 employees. EFG International”s registered shares (EFGN) are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange. It is represented in the UK by EFG Private Bank, which offers a range of wealth management services in the UK (with offices in London and the Midlands) and Channel Islands.
Practitioners of the craft of private banking:A?

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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 chaptersA?for the entireA?collection at theA?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 USAa??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’sA?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 stara??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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Carnivalising Pop: Music Festival Cultures symposium programme, Salford UK, 13 June 2014

Jun 06 2014 Published by under Events

salford_logoHere is the finalised programme for the symposium, which includes jazz festivals and several contributions from the Rhythm Changes team. Further information, including directions and registration information, isA?here.

Friday 13 June 2014,A?TheA?Old Fire Station, University of Salford

9:30 a?? 9:50A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Arrival and Coffee

9:50 a?? 10:00A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Welcome and introduction a?? Professor George McKay, University of Salford

10:00 a?? 10:45 A?A?A?A? Keynote 1 A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Dr Gina Arnold, Stanford University
Race, space, and representation at American rock festivals

10:45 a?? 12:15A?A?A?A?A? Session 1A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Aspects of and developments in festival culture

Dr Nicholas Gebhardt, Birmingham City University
Rock festivals of the transatlantic counterculture

Dr Anne Dvinge, University of Copenhagen
Musicking in Motor City: reconfiguring urban space at the Detroit Jazz Festival

Dr Roxanne Yeganegy, Leeds Metropolitan University
No Spectators! Burning Man, boutique festivals and the art of participation

12:15 a?? 1:00A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Lunch A?A?

Includes screening of short film,A?Carnivalising the Creative Economy: AHRC-funded Research on and with British Jazz FestivalsA?(dir. Gemma Thorpe, 2014)

1:00 a?? 2:30A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Session 2A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Mediating, Performing and Technologising the Festival

Dr Mark Goodall, University of Bradford

Out of Sight: the mediation of the music festival
Dr Rebekka Kill, Leeds Metropolitan University
The artist at the music festival: visual art, performance and hybridityA?

Dr Andrew Dubber, Birmingham City University
Music Technologism: innovation, collaboration and participation at the festival of music ideas

2:30 a?? 3:15A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Keynote 2 A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Alan Lodge, veteran festivals photographer and travellers activist

Discussion and showing of some key photographs of festivals, New Travellers and alternative culture in Britain since the late 1970s

3:15 a?? 3:30A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Coffee Break

3:30 a?? 4:15 A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Session 3 A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? How to Make a Popular Music Festival

Ben Robinson, director, Kendal Calling festival

Danny Hagan, co-founder, Green Man festival

4:15 a?? 5:45A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? Session 4A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A?A? From Festivals to Arenas

Professor Robert Kronenburg, University of Liverpool
From Shed to Venue: The Architecture of Popular Music Performance

Dr Emma Webster, Oxford Brookes University
The role of promoters at arena shows: a case study of Stereophonics at Glasgowa??s SECC arena

Dr Ben Halligan, University of Salford
Skanky Shamanism: Sensual Audience Participation and the Miley Cyrus a??Bangerza?? Arena Tour

5:45 a?? 6:00pmA?A?A? Close

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Cheltenham Jazz Festival AHRC talks

Apr 30 2014 Published by under Events

Cheltenham JF 2014 strapTheA?Arts & Humanities Research CouncilA?(AHRC) is currently a partner of theA?Cheltenham Festivals, and organises a set of public lectures and panel talks by AHRC-funded researchers A?at each of the four festivals (jazz, music, literature, science) through the year.

Professor George McKay has worked with Cheltenham Jazz Festival and the AHRC to curate the series of talks at this year”s festival. There are three talks (information taken from festival website):

  • “Denys Baptiste: Struggle and Liberation.” Saturday 3 May, 6-7 pm.A?The history of jazz is inseparable from the struggle for racial equality andA?Denys Baptistea??s suiteA?Now is the Timea??Let Freedom RingA?captures this in music. He talks to leading British jazz academicA?Professor Tony WhytonA?about how he drew from Dr. Martin Luther Kinga??s powerful speech.
  • “What makes a jazz legend?” Sunday 4 May, 6.45-7.45 pm.A?What does it take for a jazz musician to become iconic? ProfessorsA?McKayA?(AHRCA?Leadership Fellow) andA?Tony WhytonA?(Project Director, Rhythm Changes: Jazz Cultures and European Identities) discuss how musicians made jazz history a?? or got written out a?? from Winifred Atwell to John Coltrane.
  • “The story of British jazz festivals”. Monday 5 May, 5-6 pm.A?Professor McKayA?(AHRCA?Leadership Fellow) leads a panel of festival organisers and researchers, including the Festivala??s Programme AdvisorA?Tony Dudley-Evans, as they trace the memories and significance of Britaina??s jazz festivals, from their riotous origins at Beaulieu Jazz Festival in 1956 to todaya??s diverse festival scene. Also features Alison Eales, AHRC-funded PhD student, who holds a Collaborative Doctoral Award between the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Jazz Festival.

Here, again, since we”re on the subject, is the film we made recently about AHRC-funded collaborations between jazz festivals and academic researchers…

Cheltenham Festivals landscape

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Carnivalising the Creative Economy

Mar 14 2014 Published by under Media, News

This 15-minute film, entitled Carnivalising the Creative Economy, was funded by the AHRC and launched at the AHRC Creative Economy Showcase on 12 March 2014 at King”s Place, London.

Led by Professor George McKay, the film brings together academics and festivals directors from 5 recent / current AHRC-funded projects (including Rhythm Changes), who discuss the benefits and findings of such collaboration.

The film was made by Gemma Thorpe.

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HERA The Time and the Place festival and conference, London, 30 May – 1 June

May 23 2013 Published by under Events, News

Time & Place flyer

What is the connection between Bronze Age artefacts, European jazz, medieval manuscripts and photography which captures Europea??s complex colonial past? And how do artists as diverse as gipsy violinist Roby Farkas and his colleagues in the extrovert multi-national band Budapest BA?r, or saxophonist/MC/rapper Soweto Kinch, or the hauntingly beautiful Sami voice of Mari Boine fit into the picture? These seemingly disparate subjects form part of The Time and the Place: Culture and Identity in Todaya??s Europe, a series of concerts and creative interventions from a Europe-wide choice of artists whose music acts as a counterpoint to the themes of a wide-ranging and fascinating group of research projects that reach their conclusion this year.

Members of the Rhythm Changes team are heavily involved in this quite outstanding set of events in London at the end of May, to mark the end of the current round of HERA projects. In fact our Project Leader, Prof Tony Whyton, has worked with HERA and Serious music promoters as lead organiser of much of the activities. There is a conference, panels, debate, presentations, posters and videos about the 19 HERA projects, with speakers from across Europe and worldwide. Also there is a wonderful series of music concerts, focused on national identity, international dialogue and transnational cultural exchange.

From Rhythm Changes, apart from Tony, Prof Walter van de Leur will be speaking about European culture, Prof Andrew Dubber about digital creativity, Prof George McKay about the public value of humanities (and jazz) research. Other team members will be in attendance and contributing in their characteristically lively and engaged manner! Tony and George will also be introducing the live evening concerts. Some of the events are free to the public, some are ticketed. It should be a terrific send-off for HERA 1, as well as a launch for HERA 2 projects. Events include:

Thursday 30 May

British Library, 9 am-5 pm
Final conference on the HERA joint research programme projects

King”s Place evening concert, 8 pm
Budapest Bar

Friday 31 May

King”s College, London, 1-3.30 pm
Cultural Dynamics and Creativity in Digital Europe seminar

King”s Place panel discussion, 6.15-7.30 pm
Does Research Matter? The Public Value of the Humanities

King”s Place evening concerts (two, choose one) 8 pm
Poul Hoxbro and Fraser Fifield
Soweto Kinch and Andreas Schaerer

Saturday 1 June

King”s Place HERA open day, from 10.30 am
feat. four public panels through the day, ideas, discussion, culture, just turn up

King”s Place evening concerts (two, choose one) 8 pm
Mari Boine
Gianluigi Trovesi and Gianni Coscea

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Rethinking Jazz Cultures hashtag. And AHRC announces the conference

Apr 10 2013 Published by under Events, News

AHRC announces Rethinking Jazz Cultures

And the Twitter hashtag conference is #salfordjazz13. Join the conversation!

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Social Spaces of Music AHRC conference, Manchester February 13-14 2013

Nov 27 2012 Published by under Events

Social Spaces of Music AHRC conference, Manchester February 13-14 2013.

Music researchers have increasingly explored music as a social practice in which participants have varying degrees of engagement, seeking to analyse the ‘social spaces’ within which music is produced and consumed.  There are a number of competing conceptions of this ‘space’, including music ‘worlds’, ‘fields’, ‘scenes’ and ‘networks’.

This conference brings into dialogue different approaches to researching music, to consider how different conceptual and methodological approaches help us to explore the social spaces of music; and exploring a diverse range of musical genres/arenas including: folk, post-punk; hip-hop, electronica and post-rock; R&B and calypso; Riot Grrrl and Ladyfest; classical; and Italian opera.

Speakers include: Ruth Finnegan, Omar Lizardo, Andy Bennett, Karim Hammou, Marco Santoro, Sara Cohen, Nick Crossley, Nick Prior, Roberta Comunian, Laurence Brown, Keith Gildart, Tim Edensor, Martin Everett, Siobhan McAndrew, Susan O’Shea, Paul Hepburn, Paul Widdop, Isabelle Darmon, Fay Hield, Wendy Bottero

The conference is generously supported by CRESC and the AHRC ‘Music Communities’ pilot demonstrator project under the Connected Communities programme, AH/J006807/1.


Professor George  McKay  

AHRC Leadership Fellow | Connected Communities Programme

MediaCityUK, University of Salford, Manchester M50 2HE, UK

t: +44 (0) 161 295 2694  |  m: +44 (0)779 1077 074 | CCM Research Centre |


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