Big Ears Festival “Will Return” 2012

After celebrated gatherings
in 2009 and 2010, the adventurous, eclectic Knoxville-based event took 2011


By Steven Rosen


Even as AC Entertainment head Ashley Capps prepares for his
company’s biggest event of the year, the massive Bonnaroo Music & Arts
Festival in Manchester, Tenn., on June 9th-12th,
he’s announced that the smaller, artier and cutting-edge Big Ears Festival will
return next year.


That will be the third edition of the festival, which mixes
adventurous rock with New Music, jazz and various experimental strains of pop.
It skipped 2011, after occurring in late March of 2010. It is held in Knoxville, AC’s headquarters and a city it is trying to
help make a Tennessee music-tourism
destination like Nashville and Memphis. It uses numerous downtown sites,
including two historic, restored theaters – a 1920s-era movie palace called the
Tennessee and
the smaller, jewel-like 101-year-old Bijou.


The three-day 2010 event featured Terry Riley, a pioneer of
Minimalist classical music, as its spotlight artist-in-residence and had such
guests as the National, Joanna Newsom (pictured
Vampire Weekend, the Books, Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Clogs,
Nico Muhly, Dirty Projectors and the XX. Bryce Dessner, member of the National
and the Clogs, served as its guest curator.


Capps made his commitment to the return of Big Ears during
an interview with this writer (for
about the similar – but much smaller – festival that Dessner curated this month
in Cincinnati,


“I’m really interested in the concept of boutique
festivals,” Capps said.  


He said it was too hard to put Big Ears together for 2011,
since he had also started another indoor festival called Moogfest in Asheville,
N.C., that pays tribute to the late synthesizer pioneer (and Asheville
resident) Robert Moog and also features an unusual mix of acts. (BLURT was a
cosponsor of the event.) It was held over Halloween weekend last October and
was a big success, Capps said.


“That’s coming back this year with a vengeance,” he said of






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