Road Trip: Big Ears Music Festival

The Big Ears Music Festival returns to historic downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, for its eighth edition March 21–24, 2019. During the last decade, Big Ears has developed a reputation for presenting preeminent musical pioneers and cutting-edge innovators from a wide swath of genres, earning it praise from The New York Timesas “a music festival with a rare vision” and from Rolling Stone as “a listening experience unlike any other in America.”
This year’s Big Ears lineup is again unlike any other in the country, mixing an audacious slate of special programs, central themes, and world premieres with powerful sets from some of music’s most compelling new voices. With more than 100 concerts, workshops, installations, and interactive experiences, Big Ears is clearly the most adventurous and ambitious festival in the United States. Big Ears 2019 will turn Knoxville into one of the world’s creative epicenters for a remarkable long weekend. Tickets are now on sale at
Big Ears 2019 leads with a network of vital musicians and legendary innovators working across multiple genres, from rock ’n’ roll and free jazz to classical composition and dance music. Spiritualized and Mercury Rev supply their ecclesiastic psychedelic rock, while Nils Frahm, Jlin, Carl Stone, and The Comet is Comingall offer unique visions of what it means to make electronic music right now.
The Nashville Ballet will also do its first performance of Lucy Negro Redux outside of its hometown premiere, a program based around the hypothetical life of Shakespeare’s “Dark Lady,” for whom he penned many of his most famous sonnets. Composed by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and Big Ears veteran Rhiannon Giddens and based on the 2015 book Lucy, Negro Redux by Nashville’s Caroline Randall Williams, who will narrate the work, Lucyis a reflection on love and equality in a world where those states of being are not always easy to find.
Big Ears 2019 Initial Lineup: 
Alvin Lucier
Avishai Cohen Quartet
Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan
Bill Frisell and the Mesmerists featuring Tony Scheer, Kenny Wollesen and the films of Bill Morrison
Brooklyn Rider
Carl Stone
Carla Bley TRIOS with Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow
Carla Kihlstedt
Clarice Jensen + Jonathan Turner: For this from that will be filled
DeJohnette Coltrane Garrison
Derek Gripper
Evan Parker / Matt Wright Trance Map+
Ever Present Orchestra featuring Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi
Harold Budd
International Contemporary Ensemble performing the work of Carla Kihlstedt, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Ellen Reid, Ashley Fure
Irreversible Entanglements
Jerusalem In My Heart
Joan La Barbara:Voice is the Original Instrument 
Joep Beving
Kara-Lis Coverdale
Kayhan Kalhor
Kim Kashkashian
Lonnie Holley
Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl
Mathias Eick Quintet
Matt Wilson’s Honey & Salt
Mercury Rev
Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble Cellular Songs
Nashville Ballet: Lucy Negro Redux
Conceived, directed, and choreographed by Paul Vasterling
with music composed and performed by Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi
and poetry by Caroline Randall Williams
Nik Bärtsch’s RONIN
Nils Frahm
Peter Gregson
Rachel Grimes: The Way Forth
Rafiq Bhatia: Breaking English
Ralph Towner
Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi
Richard Thompson: Killed in Action
Roomful of Teeth
Schlippenbach Trio
Shai Maestro Trio
Sons of Kemet
Sun of Goldfinger (David Torn, Tim Berne, Ches Smith)
The Art Ensemble of Chicago
The Comet is Coming
The Messthetics
Theo Bleckmann: Berlin – Songs of Love and War, Peace and Exile – and – Hello Earth! The Music of Kate Bush
Tim Berne’s Snakeoil
On the Work of Robert Mapplethorpe
Featuring Roomful of Teeth. Composed by Bryce Dessner. Libretto by Korde Arrington Tuttle feat. the work of Patti Smith & Essex Hemphill. Directed by Daniel Fish
Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn
Wadada Leo Smith’s Nda, Performing “Divine Love”With Bobby Naughton and Dwight Andrews
Wadada Leo Smith Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk
Yves Tumor
& many more to come!

About Jerry Holthouse

Music editor for Jerry Holthouse is a content writer, songwriter and a graphic designer. He owns and runs Holthouse Creative, a full service creative agency. He is an avid outdoorsman and a lover of everything music. You can contact him at

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