Literary Additions

Big Ears is pleased to welcome award-winning poet, essayist, and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib back to the festival ahead of his newest release, There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension. His previous book, A Little Devil in America won the Andrew Carnegie Medal and the Gordon Burn Prize, and in 2021, Abdurraqib was named a MacArthur Fellow.

He joins the Big Ears Festival for a featured reading and for a rare interview with Chocolate Genius, Inc.’s Marc Anthony Thompson.

Read: “The Expansive Sounds of an Unsung Album Called Black Music”

Ross Gay is the New York Times-bestselling author of the essay collections The Book of Delights and Inciting Joy as well as four books of poetry. He joins fellow writer and documentarian Sam Stephenson (Gene Smith’s Sink) at the Big Ears Festival for a wide-ranging discussion titled “Lyric Research: A Conversation on Writing and Documentary Work. Gay and Stephenson will explore their work involving a variety of topics, including writing, reading, documentary work, gardening, listening to music, playing basketball, and more.

Listen: Ross Gay on Inciting Joy While Dining With Sorrow

Artist Additions

“The greatest unknown songwriter in the country.” – Lucinda Williams

Lots of songwriters call themselves poets, but R.B. Morris is the real deal. Crowned Knoxville’s first poet laureate in 2016, his eloquent poetry melds with rich American folk traditions to place him in a lineage that reaches back to Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams and on to Bob Dylan, John Prine, and Lucinda Williams. He fronted a number of bands though the 70s and 80s, and in the mid 90s began performing in Nashville wehre he becamse a key figure in the revival of the Lower Broadway scene that helped create the America genre of music. In the years after, Morris signed a record deal with beloved singer-songwriter John Prine’s Oh Boy Records. His Music has been covered by the likes of Prine and Marianne Faithful.

The Big Ears Festival welcomes R.B. Morris’ New Band with Cecilia Blair Wright, Greg Horne, and Hunter Deacon.

Listen: “That’s How Every Empire Falls” – John Prine (Written by RB Morris)

Senryu is 24 years and 23 records into a quietly tremendous career as an underground art rock fixture, known for creatively sprawling recordings and hearts-on-fire live shows. Central to Senryu’s magic is the creative union of songwriter William Wright (LiL iFFy, Hulu’s This World Alone), who has performed at several Big Ears Festivals, and drummer Steven Rodgers, whose fearless experimentation with pop styles has fueled a prolific quarter-century for this noisy Knoxville quintet.  

Listen: “The Book of Ruth” – Senryu

Keep an Eye on Your Inbox!

A festival pass must be secured by today —Wednesday, February 28—at noon ET to qualify for the initial on-sale for our special programs, André 3000: NEW BLUE SUN LIVE and La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela: Just Charles & Cello in the Romantic Chord in a Setting of Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals in Dream Light, Performed by Charles Curtis, Cello. Passholders will receive an email from Big Ears at the address associated with your purchase Wednesday evening containing detailed instructions to secure passes to these special events. Buy your pass today!

Knoxville, TN · USA



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