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Big Ears 2018 continues to expand and grow

January 23, 2018

With the 7th edition of the Big Ears Festival only two months away, festival organizers are now starting to reveal the final details and finishing touches for the fully immersive, kaleidoscopic weekend, hailed as “…the most adventurously programmed festival in America” by Rolling Stone.

Big Ears is proud to announce over a dozen new artists and performances, along with the rundown of the daily lineups.  Weekend passes – including premier and VIP options – are on sale now, with daily passes on sale Wednesday, January 24, at 10:00am EST.

Later this month, Big Ears will reveal its acclaimed film festival (produced in association with Public Cinema), along with additional programs – talks, discussions, exhibitions, installations, happenings – and exciting surprise events.  The full Big Ears schedule will be released in early February.

New additions to the Big Ears lineup include:

  • Guitar wizard Marc Ribot returns to Big Ears for his third festival with two very different performances, including a duo with inimitable singer / guitarist David Hidalgo, front man for the American rock band, Los Lobos. They’ll share a unique vision of classic American country and rock tunes, “border music” favorites, and a few classics from the Los Lobos songbook. Ribot’s punk / funk band Ceramic Dog, featuring Shahzad Ismaily and Chas Taylor, will return to the festival ahead of its first new album in four years.
  • Soulful R&B singer, songwriter, bassist and rapper Meshell Ndegeocello will make her Big Ears debut on the heels of her eagerly anticipated new recording, Ventriloquism, which features her always unique approach to classic tunes by Prince, George Clinton, Force MD’s and Sade, among others.
  • Trailblazing virtuoso improvisers Okkyung Lee (cello), Ikue Mori (computer electronics) and Ned Rothenberg (woodwinds) will collaborate with legendary British saxophonist Evan Parker in his Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, as well as presenting their own individual solo performances.
  • Yuka C. Honda will present her solo show, Eucademix, and appear as a special guest on celeste and electronics for Nels Cline’s big band opus, Lovers, performed with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra and others. Drummer Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin & Wood will also present one of his special solo excursions.
  • Saxophonist and flutist Jon Gibson, an original member of Philip Glass’ original ensemble in the early 1970s, will present his fully immersive classic from that time, Visitations, and perform solo works for saxophone and flute during the weekend.
  • Violinist Johnny Gandelsman, a member of the acclaimed string quartet Brooklyn Rider, will present his recently recorded program of J. S. Bach’s complete Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. Brooklyn Rider will be performing their own program, as well as collaborating with Béla Fleck.

Some very special additional performances have been added:

  • For only the second time in his career, composer and saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell will present the four interactive TRIOS that recorded his chart-topping 2017 ECM recording, Bells for the South Side, and will add Trio Five, a separate concert with a fifth interactive trio, joined by Junius Paul and Vincent Davis.
  • In addition to the live world premiere of William Eggleston’s MUSIK, instrumentalist Aine O’Dwyer will offer a second concert of her own compositions.
  • Saxophone powerhouse Mats Gustafsson (of the Thing) will combine forces with Kieran Hebden (Four Tet).
  • Astonishing drummer Paal Nilssen-Love (also of the Thing) will go head-to-head with guitarist Arto Lindsay.

As always, there will be more to come, including more music programming, films, talks, exhibitions.  “Expect the unexpected…and more!” says founder Ashley Capps.

Thursday, March 22
Nels Cline: ‘Lovers’ with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra and Guests
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
David Hidalgo & Marc Ribot
Anna Thorvaldsdottir: ‘In the Light of Air’ Performed by International Contemporary Ensemble
Kid Koala’s ‘Satellite’ Turntable Orchestra
Jaga Jazzist Featuring Ståle Storløkken & Jon Balke
Meshell Ndegeocello
Brooklyn Rider
Jenny Hval
Kid Koala (DJ)
Duet for Theremin & Lap Steel
Susan Alcorn

Friday, March 23
Medeski Martin & Wood
Bang on a Can All Stars: Field Recordings
GAS (Wolfgang Voigt)
Milford Graves
Jason Moran presents ‘Fats Waller Dance Party’
Béla Fleck & Brooklyn Rider
Jon Gibson’s ‘Visitations’
Susanna feat. Giovanni Pessi, Frode Haltli & Cheyenne Mize
Trio Five feat. Roscoe Mitchell, Junius Paul, & Vincent Davis
International Contemporary Ensemble
nief norf & Wordless Music: ‘Brimstone & Glory’ Live Score
Arto Lindsay
Rocket Science (Evan Parker, Peter Evans, Craig Taborn, Sam Pluta)
Kid Koala’s ‘Satellite’ Turntable Orchestra
Cyro Baptista Presents ‘Vira Loucos’
Evan Parker
Rova: The ‘Sound in Space’ Project
The Thing
Tal National
Steve Gunn
Jenny Scheinman ‘Mischief & Mayhem’ with Nels Cline and Scott Amendola
Aine O’Dwyer
Jaga Jazzist
Innov Gnawa
The Black Twig Pickers
Okkyung Lee
Ned Rothenberg
Yuka C. Honda ‘Eucademix’
Ikue Mori
Laurel Halo (DJ set)
Jon Balke

Saturday, March 24
Anoushka Shankar ‘Land of Gold’
Roscoe Mitchell Trios
Bang on a Can All-Stars: Julia Wolfe’s ‘Anthracite Fields’
Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda: The Ashram Experience
Diamanda Galás
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Rova Channeling Coltrane: ‘Electric Ascension’
Four Tet
Jon Gibson
Aine O’Dwyer Performs William Eggleston’s ‘Musik’
Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog
Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble
Laurel Halo Live with Eli Keszler
The Jerry Douglas Band
Jason Moran & Milford Graves
Cyro Baptista and Banquet of the Spirits
Jenny Scheinman Presents ‘Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait’
Kid Koala’s ‘Satellite’ Turntable Orchestra
Arto Lindsay & Paal Nilssen-Love
Steve Gunn & the Black Twig Pickers
Kelly Lee Owens
John Medeski
Wu Fei & Friends: Improv Game
Peter Evans
Billy Martin
Cleek Schrey & David Behrman
Johnny Gandelsman plays Bach
Anna & Elizabeth

Sunday, March 25
Bang on a Can All Stars Celebrate Their 30th Anniversary Performing Works by David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe
Bangs (Jason Moran, Mary Halvorson, and Ron Miles)
Craig Taborn Quartet
Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda: The Ashram Experience
Lightning Bolt
Knoxville Symphony Strings Performs ‘Were You There’ with Baritone Davóne Tines
Abigail Washburn & Wu Fei
Tyshawn Sorey Trio
Peter Evans Ensemble
Mats Gustafsson & Kieran Hebden
Julie Byrne
Cleek Schrey
St. John’s Passion: A Meditation on Suffering

Follow along as new details for Big Ears 2018 unfold at, as well as on Big Ears Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Big Ears is made possible by the generous support of The Aslan Foundation, ArtWorks/NEA, Visit Knoxville, TN Tourism, The Royal Norwegian Consulate General, Regal Entertainment Group, the Jig and Reel, Pilot/Flying J and The Clayton Foundation.

Additional Information
Described as “one of the most quietly earth-shattering, subtly luminous festivals the world over” by the Oxford American, Big Ears Festival has established itself as one of the most exciting and imaginative cultural gatherings in the world, bringing together a virtual who’s who of established and acclaimed iconoclasts, innovators and influencers with younger artists who are synthesizing their own experiences into fresh, new creative work.  Located in the heart of downtown Knoxville – and taking place in its world-class historic theaters, excellent clubs, and unique alternative performance spaces – all within easy walking distance of one another and intermingled with superb restaurants, bars, and shops – Big Ears offers an unparalleled experience for adventurous artists and audiences alike.  While primarily focused on music, Big Ears is also developing a strong independent / experimental film component while also presenting installations, exhibitions and interactive experiences.

Carla Parisi
Kid Logic
[email protected]