Pop Conference

A melting pot for fans, musicians, scholars, and journalists.

Welcome from Eric Weisbard, 2014 Pop Conference Organizer

Go! Music and Mobility
2014 Pop Conference
April 24–27, 2014, EMP Museum

We turn to music to put the world in motion. From communication by talking drum to sounds streamed off mobile phones, music has accompanied the movement of people, alleviated work, and pulsated leisure. This year’s EMP Pop Conference, back in Seattle after three years roaming, offers more than 100 presentations exploring the subject of music and mobility.

The conference begins Thursday night, April 24, with a “Musicians on the Road” conversation. A range of panels fill up Friday and Saturday, and conclude Sunday morning with topics like: Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene,” Woody Guthrie’s rambles, and touring in the era of Jim Crow; SoundCloud economies, pop crossover as social mobility, and the journey of Beyoncé; and Mexican border songs and yacht rock. For a full listing of presenters and panels, click on the links below.

As always with the Pop Conference, the range of presenters is as important as the subject matter: critics for the likes of NPR, New York magazine, and Slate in dialogue with leading academics, musicians, and archivists. We’re excited to see the return of “critical karaoke”—conversation about a song, conducted over that song, for exactly its duration. Other special events include a wheelchair and ringtone dance by the Light Motion and Whistlestop Dance Companies, surrealist poetry from Interrupture, and a documentary about Seattle’s Home Alive movement.

Conference attendance is free, but space is limited, so those seeking to attend are strongly encouraged to register in advance. Information about hotels can also be found on this page soon.

Questions? Please email PopConference@EMPmuseum.org.

Conference Opening Keynote
Thursday, April 24, 2014, 7:00pm-8:30pm

You Gotta Move: Artists Talk About Life on the Road and Music in Motion

With Sharon Jones, Mike McCready, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Alynda Lee Segarra
Moderator: Ann Powers

Popular music takes its makers places. Touring life puts them in planes, trains, and automobiles, traversing the world. Onstage artists dance and strut and shimmy, trying to move a crowd. And the very essence of music is motion: musicians bust genres and transform themselves in pursuit of fresh sounds. This conversation, among four musicians from different walks and generations, reveals what it's like to be a musician on the move: on the road, in performance, and in the process of creation.

Panelist Bios

As lead singer of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Jones is spearheading a funk/soul revivalist movement. She has collaborated with David Byrne, They Might Be Giants, Rufus Wainwright, and Lou Reed; been invited by Prince to open for his shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden and in Paris; and joined Michael Bublé on Saturday Night Live to perform a duet “Baby (You Got What it Takes).”

Mike McCready is an American musician and one of the founding members of Pearl Jam. McCready was also a member of the side project bands Temple of the Dog, Mad Season, and The Rockfords. His guitar solos from “Alive” and “Yellow Ledbetter” were featured on Guitar World’s “100 Greatest Guitar Solos” list, 2007.

A fearsome bassist and prolific songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello has earned critical acclaim for albums that demonstrate a vast array of influences that include go-go, hip-hop, rock, R&B, new wave, and punk. Meshell has appeared alongside the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Alanis Morrisette, James Blood Ulmer, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Tony Allen, John Medeski, Billy Preston, and Chaka Khan.

Originally from the Bronx, singer and songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra traveled all over the country before making a home for herself in New Orleans. She’s leaving her stamp on the roots scene as the front woman of Hurray For The Riff Raff, whose music, says NPR, “sweeps across eras and genres with grace and grit.”

Support for the conference is provided by the University of Alabama College of Arts & Sciences, on behalf of the Department of American Studies.

Thank you to:

AlphaGraphicsCourtyard MarriottTalking Rain