Big Ears Festival
|Location(s)||Knoxville, Tennessee, United States|
|Years active||2009–2010, 2014-present|
|Genre||Indie rock, Classical music, Alternative rock, Minimalist music, Jazz, Metal, Electronica|
The festival was founded in 2009 by Ashley Capps, founder of AC Entertainment. The festival was originally organized by Ashley Capps in partnership with Jason Boardman of Knoxville's Pilot Light and Chris Molinski of the Knoxville Museum of Art.
The 2009 edition, which took place February 6–8, featured Antony And The Johnsons, Burning Star Core, Nicolas Collins, David Daniell, Dan Deacon, Fence Kitchen, Fennesz, Fennesz/linkous/minor, Michael Gira, Philip Glass, Larkin Grimm, Neil Hamburger, Jon Hassell, Matmos, The Necks, Negativland, Pauline Oliveros, Wendy Sutter, Shaking Ray Levis, and Ned Rothenberg.
In 2010, famed composer Terry Riley was named as the first "Artist in Residence" of the Big Ears Festival. The festival celebrated his 75th birthday year with three days of concerts by Terry Riley and a host of collaborators. In addition to Riley as "Artist in Residence", musician Bryce Dessner of the band The National was a guest curator of the festival.
The 2010 edition, which took place March 26–28, featured Abe Vigoda, Ahleuchatistas, Sam Amidon, Andrew W.K., Argentinum Astrum, Bang On A Can All-Stars, William Basinski, Adrian Belew, Iva Bittova, The Books, Buke & Gass, Calder Quartet, Clogs, Damaged Patients, Bryce Dessner, Destroyed By Magnets, Dirty Projectors, Doveman, The 802 Tour, The Ex, Forest Magic, Ben Frost, Gang Gang Dance, Jens Hannemann, Tim Hecker, Shelley Hirsch, Javelin, jj, Konk Pack, Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, Liturgy, Andy Moor, Nico Muhly, My Brightest Diamond, The National, New Brutalism, Joanna Newsom, Nosaj Thing, Gyan Riley, Terry Riley, DJ/rupture, Shaking Ray Levis, Shortwave Society, Tracy Silverman, Nadia Sirota, Ches Smith, Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, Vampire Weekend, Videohippos, Villages, Warband, and The xx.
In addition to the musical performances in 2010, Jessica Dessner, sister of Bryce Dessner, organized the first Big Ears film festival at the Knoxville Museum of Art which featured an exhibition of The BQE by Sufjan Stevens.
Big Ears 2011, originally planned for the first half of the year, was eventually postponed due to scheduling conflicts, and then quietly canceled altogether.
In the summer of 2013, AC Entertainment began to tease a revival of the event on its official Facebook page, pledging news "in the coming weeks". Big Ears' return was announced on October 23, 2013 and will take place March 28-30, 2014. It will feature Steve Reich, John Cale, Julia Holter and Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood among others.
Ben Ratliff, writing for the New York Times in 2009: "You could say that Big Ears was for people who like hearing nuanced music in excellent theaters, in a small town with no hassle: a place where you can walk down the main drag on Saturday night and see 10 yards of empty space between you and the next pair of feet. You could also say that Big Ears was for people with long attention spans, good concentration and an appetite for letting repetitive non-dance music wash over them. And at least in its first edition — Mr. Capps intends to repeat Big Ears in Knoxville, and also export the idea to other cities — Big Ears was for concertgoers who appreciate not hearing a lot of introductions and context and sponsor announcements before the music even starts. In other words, at times it was heaven."
- Everett, Matthew. "BIG EARS 09: Adventures in Modern Music." Metro Pulse. February 4, 2009
- Big Ears Festival, 2009 Lineup
- Big Ears Fest Announcement, Brooklyn Vegan, 2010
- An interview with Bryce Dessner (Big Ears co-curator and guitarist in Clogs/The National, Brooklyn Vegan, 2010
- Big Ears Festival, 2010 Lineup
- Big Ears Festival, 2010 Film Festival Co-op at the Knoxville Museum of Art
- Sufjan Stevens, Destroy All Those Irritating Memories world premiere at the Big Ears Festival 2010
- Hendrickson, Matt. "Vampire Weekend, The National Rock Eclectic Big Ears Festival." Rolling Stone. March 29, 2010
- Everett, Matthew. "BIG EARS 2011 on Hold" Metro Pulse. December 22, 2010
- Big Ears Festival. July 1, 2013
- Ratliff, Ben. "Slow Down, Music Fans, for Singular Visionaries." New York Times. February 9, 2009: C1
-  Eclecticism is music to Big Ears, Los Angeles Times, 2010
-  Report: Big Ears Festival Pitchfork, 2010
-  9 Best Moments of the Big Ears Festival Spin, 2010
-  CoS at Big Ears Festival 2010, Consequence of Sound, 2010
-  Report: Big Ears Festival Pitchfork, 2009
-  Official Big Ears Festival Website