BIG EARS

Surprise Artist Additions & Films

Big Ears is pleased to announce the addition of several exceptional new artists to the festival lineup.

Mind-blowing beatboxer and breath artist Shodekeh will join Sō Percussion for their set on Thursday to kick-off the festival, and then members of Sō will return the favor and join Shodekeh as special guests for his set on Friday. Virtuoso violist and new music champion Nadia Sirota will perform as part of the live premiere of Ellen Reid’s SOUNDWALK ensemble on Friday and Saturday and then will join organist / pianist James McVinnie for a duo recital on Friday evening.

Congolese-Canadian songwriter and DJ Pierre Kwenders will spin tunes on Saturday as a part of Preservation Hall’s Krewe du Kanaval Ball—he’ll stitch together a mix of sounds from New Orleans, Haiti, and West Africa. Pioneering multimedia artist and electronic music producer—and former member of LCD Sound System—Gavilán Rayna Russom performs a DJ set and takes part in post-screening panel for Tierra Sagrada, Ned Sublette’s documentary of Santeria ceremonies in west-central Cuba. Finally, cellist and composer Tomeka Reid (who last appeared at the festival in 2019 with Art Ensemble of Chicago and Artifacts Trio) returns for a world premiere collaboration with poet Nikky Finney on Thursday and a performance with Craig Taborn’s trio on Friday.

Film at Big Ears

Big Ears will show Moses Sumney’s directorial debut, Blackalachia, a feature-length performance film shot in the North Carolina stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The screening, on Saturday at the festival, will be followed by a conversation between Sumney and journalist Marcus J. Moore. Sumney will, of course, perform with his band at the Tennessee Theatre later that evening.

In addition, the festival has collaborated with The Public Cinema for screenings of four exemplary films about female artists: Peter Glushanok’s 1957 A Dancer’s World documents modern dance pioneer Martha Graham; Chantal Akerman’s documentary One Day Pina Asked … focuses on the wildly inventive German choreographer Pina Bausch; Claire Denis’ documentary Towards Mathilde follows French choreographer Mathilde Monnier into the studio for collaborations with philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy and musician P.J. Harvey; and Amram Nowak and Meredith Monk’s Quarry is the newly restored film version of Monk’s 1976 Obie-winning performance of the same name. Each of these films will show daily at the UT Downtown Gallery (106 S. Gay St.) starting on March 4 and running through the festival.

In addition, during Big Ears 2022, we’ll screen three films with a connection to themes running through the festival. On Thursday and Friday we’ll show a pair of Lily Keber’s New Orleans films: Bayou Maharajah, a documentary about the life and music of New Orleans piano legend James Booker, and Buckjumping, Keber’s documentary about social dance—from second line to Mardi Gras Indians to bounce—in the Crescent City. Finally, on Friday we’ll screen the world premiere of Ned Sublette’s Tierra Sagrada (Sacred Ground) which documents a rarely seen series of bembés and rumbas in west-central Cuba; the film will have a command showing on Saturday.

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