Big Ears 2022, returning to downtown Knoxville, TN March 24-27, has announced a second wave of additional artists and performers joining its already stacked, multidimensional line-up.
Topping the list is global rock icon Patti Smith, who will play a pair of shows at the festival: Words & Music, an intimate evening of readings and acoustic performance, as well as a full-on rock show with her band. By all accounts, Smith has returned to live performance with an ecstatic intensity, as evidenced by her triumphant performances at London’s Royal Albert Hall earlier this month, leading the NME to declare, “… it was crystal clear … Patti Smith is the world’s greatest living rock star.”
In addition to their participation in Big Ear’s celebration of the music of John Zorn, John Medeski plays a rare solo piano recital and guitar wizard Julian Lage performs with his crackerjack trio. Ideally matched in their innovation and vision, guitarists Marisa Anderson and William Tyler play music from their new Thrill Jockey release, Lost Futures. Mind-blowing fingerstyle guitarist Yasmin Williams brings her abiding sense of invention to a solo set. Celtic harpist Maeve Gilchrist is entirely redefining the use of her instrument, she plays a solo set highlighting material from her acclaimed recent release, The Harpweaver.
GEORGE—a new collaboration between percussionist John Hollenbeck, saxophonists Aurora Nealand and Anna Webber, and microtonal musician Chiquita Magic—makes its debut live performance. Cornetist Ben LaMar Gay leads a quartet playing music from his highly anticipated new album, Open Arms to Open Us, which is being co-released by Nonesuch Records and International Anthem. Celebrated clarinetist Evan Ziporyn plays a solo program of his own compositions, as well as the world premiere of a newly discovered late-1960s piece by Philip Glass. The duo Mind Maintenance features decades-long collaborators Joshua Abrams and Chad Taylor, performing a focused and enchanting set on the Gnawa guembri and the Zimbabwean mbira.
Sound collagist and composer Claire Rousay plays a set that showcases gorgeously whispered melodies and meticulously assembled found sounds. A pair of Philadelphia-based saxophone titans, the 82-year-old Odean Pope and the 24-year-old Immanuel Wilkins, are joined in a trio at Big Ears by the fine Danish drummer Kresten Osgood. Finally, acclaimed Chicago-based chamber collective Ensemble Dal Niente is joined by path-breaking saxophonist Ken Vandermark for a new piece composed by Roscoe Mitchell, in addition they offer a marathon of free-to-the-public performances throughout the festival weekend at the Knoxville Museum of Art.
Offering well over 100 concerts—along with films, talks, readings, exhibitions, and workshops—in over a dozen venues throughout Knoxville’s historic downtown, Big Ears is returning after a two-year hiatus, stronger than ever. “We’re grateful to the extraordinary community of fans and supporters who have helped make Big Ears the unique, one-of-a-kind experience that it is, “says Founder and Executive Director, Ashley Capps. “We had sold out in advance, for the first time, when the pandemic forced us to cancel the 2020 festival. Many passholders donated their tickets—rather than taking a refund—to help insure our survival. At long last, we’re back and the response has been phenomenal … with Big Ears selling in its first three days what took three months even in 2020. Affirmation like that inspires us to create the most amazing festival experience we can possibly imagine.”