This year's Pop Conference will center on the theme "Only You and Your Ghost Will Know: Music, Death, and Afterlife" and take place April 11-14 at the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). The Pop Con—now in its 17th year—is an annual highlight for music fanatics, academics, musicians, and journalists who like to delve deeply into topics revolving around music, lyrics, and the personalities responsible for those valuable things. For the 2019 conference, more than 160 presenters will "explore the many ways music reflects and expresses the realities of death and the possibilities of rebirth."
Ann Powers (author, NPR music) will moderate the opening keynote panel on April 11, "Going Up Yonder: How Music Makers and Writers Confront Loss and Grief." Panelists include Ishmael Butler (Shabazz Palaces), Daphne A. Brooks (writer/scholar Yale University), David Toop (musician/writer/scholar, London College of Communication), and Efrim Manuel Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor). Four-day passes go for $50; MoPOP members and students can obtain a Pop Con pass for $40 (purchase here).
Some of the presenters include big names such as Greil Marcus, Vivien Goldman, Robert Christgau, Donna Gaines, Oliver Wang, and Charles R. Cross. Former Stranger freelancers Michaelangelo Matos, Mike McGonigal (Gospels, April 12), Joseph Schafer (Funeral Rites, April 14), and Andrew Hamlin (80s Afterlives, April 13) will also be presenting papers.
Post-punk aficionados may want to attend the Resurrecting Rock Bands panel, which will feature Gang of Four members Hugo Burnham and Jon King. And Prince fans may want to mark 2 pm April 11 on their calendar for the Matos-moderated “There will be no death”: Prince’s Afterlife in Place, Deed, and Image panel at the Sky Church.
In a press release, MoPOP Manager of Public Engagement Robert Rutherford said, "Throughout the history of popular music, songs, recordings and musical traditions have expressed both mourning and celebration, and—in some cases—helped envision the possibilities of a continued existence where 'death is not the end.' Beyond the music itself, a wave of recent prominent musician deaths, from David Bowie to Aretha Franklin, has amplified conversations over music's relationship to mortality and the nature of fan mourning in the digital age."
More info here.