Alchemy and Imagination

Not merely a brilliant guitarist, Marc Ribot is a musical alchemist, bringing imaginative new dimensions and adventure, sometimes an element of danger, to a remarkable range of musical situations and collaborations. A not-so-secret ingredient to classic performances by Tom Waits, Allison Krauss and Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, John Zorn, Diana Krall, Marianne Faithfull and countless others, Ribot has also led his own trailblazing adventures with the Rootless Cosmopolitans, Los Cubanos Postizos, the Young Philadelphians, and, of course, the scintillating trio Ceramic Dog. As Lounge Lizard John Lurie put it, “Marc is a musical genius. So many ideas are coming out of that guy that it is actually often a problem.”

We’ve resolved to help solve the problem by inviting Marc back to Big Ears year after year, and we’re happy that he’s taken us up on the offer more than half the time.

This year is especially special. He returns with the fiery and prolific Ceramic Dog, on the heels of yet another new recording, and his improvisational imagination will be unleashed in a new super trio with John Medeski and Joe Russo. In addition, we have two rare and exquisite projects that highlight Ribot’s remarkable collaborative spirit: Marc Anthony Thompson’s Chocolate Genius, Inc. and the faux tango music of ex-Lounge Lizard Evan Lurie’s “bandoneon”quintet.

P.S. 2024 is also Marc’s 70th birthday year, but he’s asked us to keep that under wraps so…let’s keep that just between us, ok?

Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog

With the accompaniment of bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Ches Smith, the unparalleled Ribot deftly employs his trio as a divine vessel for his inimitable stream-of-consciousness songwriting. With their fifth studio release, Connection, the band expertly navigates their long-brewing tension between conventional pop songcraft and avant-garde improvisational music to the very brink of its limits.

Medeski, Russo, & Ribot

The coming together of John Medeski, Joe Russo, and Marc Ribot is nothing short of a breathtaking spectacle. These three masterful musicians, each exalted in their own individual right, join hands to create an unparalleled auditory delight. The trio performed for the first time in September 2023 at a pair of shows benefiting the Music Workers Alliance, and Big Ears is honored to host the trio for a second appearance at the 2024 festival.

Chocolate Genius, Inc.

Chocolate Genius is the project of Marc Anthony Thompson, a versatile singer-songwriter spanning R&B, jazz, folk, and rock. Initially conceived as a joke—the alias of a fictional, self-important recluse— it evolved into a full-fledged recording project with a loose, free-floating collective of instrumentalists who supported him, including Marc Ribot.

Evan Lurie

Composer and pianist Evan Lurie was a founding member of New York’s iconic avant-jazz ensemble The Lounge Lizards. The pieces to be performed at Big Ears Festival were composed in the 1980’s and resulted in his two releases: Pieces for Bandoneon (1989) and Selling Water by the Side of the River (1990). Both featured Ribot.

Knoxville, TN · USA



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