Knoxville’s Avant-Music Fest Big Ears Returns For 2014

Big Ears 2014 logo

Check the lineup: Steve Reich / John Cale / Jonny Greenwood/ John Cale / Marc Ribot /Julia Holter / Tim Hecker / Oneohtrix Point Never / Colin Stetson / Glenn Kotche / Dean & Britta / Laraaji / many more

  The acclaimed Big Ears Festival is finally going to resume operations next year, following a couple of years’ hiatus, for another weekend of visionary music, exploratory art, and southern hospitality March 28, 29 and 30 in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Go here to read our 2010 report.) Hailed by composer Philip Glass as a “tremendous experience,” it will bring together musicians and artists who span generations and transcend genres for dozens of concerts along with installations, exhibitions, film screenings, interactive workshops, informative talks, surprise collaborations, and unexpected connections.  (Weekend passes are already on sale at bigearsfestival.com.)

 For 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steve Reich, proclaimed “our greatest living composer” by The New York Times, will be in attendance.  The Ensemble Signal will perform his 1976 work Music for 18 Musicians, along with his new Radio Rewrite, inspired by two songs from the rock band Radiohead.  Radiohead’s guitarist Jonny Greenwood will perform Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, and So Percussion will perform his 1971 leftfield gem Drumming during the weekend as well.

 Rock icon John Cale will be presenting new work as well as old classics at the festival.  And the recently reformed Television will appear, making the circle complete. Guitarist Marc Ribot, celebrating his 60th birthday in 2014, will present three projects during the Big Ears weekend.  He’ll perform solo (including his music for Charlie Chaplin’s classic film, The Kid, which will be screened during the performance) along with his punk/free jazz/rock band Ceramic Dog and his Cuban group, Los Cubanos Postizos. Nazoranai – the collaboration between Keiji Haino, Stephen O’Malley, and Oren Ambarchi – will make a rare US appearance at Big Ears. Dean & Britta will present their multi-media show, 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests (which was profiled previously at BLURT). And the enigmatic Laraaji, discovered by Brian Eno in the late 1970s and the subject of a new reissue program of Warp Records, will make a rare festival appearance as well.

 In addition, a virtual “who’s who” of groundbreaking musicians and performers from the worlds of electronica, avant-rock, jazz and beyond will be performing, including Tim Hecker, Julia Holter, Oneohtrix Point Never, Colin Stetson, Vatican Shadow, Nils Frahm, Mark McGuire, Bill Orcutt, Dean Wareham, Glenn Kotche, Susanna, Dawn of Midi and Son Lux. New additions to the line up, as well as information and details about performances, workshops, talks and installations will be revealed in the coming months at bigearsfestival.com.

 As always, Big Ears concerts and events will take place in different venues, all within an easy walk of one another, in Knoxville’s historic downtown.  The heart and soul of the festival will be at Knoxville’s two remarkable historic theatres, the Tennessee and the Bijou.  Other venues include the Knoxville Museum of Art and other theaters, clubs, galleries, and warehouses.

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