Since its inception in 2009, Big Ears’ profile has grown from a local and national presence to yearly international coverage. Below is a small summary of notable articles that have been written about Big Ears, highlighting what The Wall Street Journal calls “a festival where all genres are welcome.”

“A music festival with a rare vision.”

–The New York Times

“This is my favorite festival in the world. There’s nothing like it.”

–Bryce Dessner, guitarist for The National and internationally renowned composer

The New Yorker

Embrace Everything
April 25, 2016

“At Big Ears, the sounds are the stars, free of the tyranny of categories,” writes renowned American music critic and longtime contributor to The New Yorker Alex Ross. Citing Ben Ratliff’s Every Song Ever as his timely Big Ears jumping-off point, his review captures the heart and soul of not only this year’s festival, but of the event itself.


Get to Know Big Ears, America’s Most Distinct and Defiant Music Festival
April 14, 2016

Returning critic Grayson Currin dives deep once again not only into Big Ears but into Knoxville itself, “again turned into America’s most carefully, lovingly program experimental music hub, at least for a perfect long weekend.” Currin also ponders the expansive, unexpected appeal of Sunn O))), music ownership and collaboration, and much more that gets at the unmistakable heart of the festival.

The New York Times

Big Ears Festival Resists Commercial and Genre Constraints
April 3, 2016

Writer Ben Ratliff, who’s been to every iteration of the festival since 2009, explores the “series of concentric circles” of music at Big Ears, informed by the classical tradition at the center.

“America’s most carefully, lovingly programmed experimental music hub.”


Brooklyn Magazine

Knoxville’s Big Ears Festival, the Avant-Garde SXSW, Adds a Film Program
April 11, 2016

Film critic Jordan Cronk profiled the inaugural Big Ears Film program, noting, “Big Ears has reached its boldest, most ambitious heights yet, nurturing a cross-section of artists whose unique methodologies highlight not only a spiritual kinship between the musical and cinematic mediums, but expertly navigate the fertile ground between the two.”

Oxford American

Big Ears, A Reanimation
May 7, 2015

Holly Haworth of the South’s premier culture publication Oxford American presents her fabulous, creative exploration of ‪Big Ears, managing to capture the poetry, magic, and mystery that inspires our festival, deeming it “Knoxville’s monster … one of the most quietly earth-shattering, subtly luminous festivals the world over.”


Live Report: Big Ears Festival
April 11, 2014

Hailing from London, author James Richards concluded after his Knoxville immersion, “[Big Ears] is unique among the American festivals in that it enlists musicians, not by genre, but their enthusiasm for provocation and their boldness to delve into the fringes of sound.”

“There’s no doubt that Knoxville has become the role model now for a music festival of the 21st century.”

–Reiner Michalke, artistic director of Moers Festival and of Cologne venue, Stadtgarten

PBS Newshour

Big Ears Festival Breaks Barriers for Open-Minded Music Lovers
April 10, 2015

Ashley Capps, artistic director and founder of the Big Ears Festival, chats with PBS’ Jeffrey Brown on the ways the small, personal and eclectic music festival aims to showcase how diverse genres can stretch and influence one another.

Nashville Cream

Big Ears Festival Breaks Barriers for Open-Minded Music Lovers
March 31, 2014

Focusing in on their time with visiting Jonny Greenwood, Nashville Cream‘s interview with the Radiohead guitarist features this memorable quote: “It’s nice how it’s in every venue in the city. I was in the art gallery watching Wordless Orchestra play ‘Shaker Loops,’ and it’s great bouncing around from venue to bar to restaurant. It’s a nice mix of music and fun.”

The Bitter Southerner

Don’t Knock Knoxville
September 27, 2017

Rob Rushin explains the fascinating history of Big Ears founder Ashley Capps’ creative ventures including festival venues such as the historic Tennessee Theatre and Bijou Theatre, as well as The Mill & Mine, Bonnaroo, and — of course — Big Ears. It’s a gem of a story and an important reminder of the power of art.

Fandor's Keyframe

This Must Be The Place
March 29, 2017

In his recap of the 2018 film programming, Adam Cook remarked, “In an age of Vimeo links, discreetly exchanged screeners, streaming, and illegal torrents, Big Ears creates a singular sense of active moviegoing that simply cannot be recreated elsewhere.”

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