BIG EARS 2018 is coming MARCH 22-25; once again, Knoxville blesses the world with a feast of extraordinary and ear opening musical happenings. Check out the lineup!

THIS JUST IN: RHIANNON GIDDENS announced as the Keynote Speaker of the Big Ears Festival!

Saturday, March 24 / 11am-12:30pm / Tennessee Theatre

The legendary ROSCOE MITCHELL has been added to the schedule! His “Trios” show will combine four different three-piece lineups!

If there were ever a mystery as to how Roscoe Mitchell, the pioneering saxophonist and improviser, continues to make vital and interesting music into his late seventies, the liner notes for 2017’s staggering and gigantic ‘Bells for the South Side’ offer important clues. Mitchell writes of a friend who was hosting a solo house concert by the young percussionist and composer Tyshawn Sorey and asked Mitchell to sit in. That was the first time Mitchell met Sorey, and he was so stunned that they’ve since become consistent collaborators. Likewise, when Mitchell was scheduled to play a gig at London’s Café Oto, he not only read an email from Kikanju Baku, another young drummer who wanted to join him for the set, but he listened to him. Mitchell said yes, and they too have continued to work together. Mitchell—a artistic titan, with nothing to prove—remains open to new experiences and ideas, to what fresh perspectives can bring to his work. Or, as he told The New York Times of his enthusiasm for hip-hop, “I calm myself down and tune in to what’s going on.”

“Big Ears is one of the most quietly earth-shattering, subtly luminous festivals the world over,” – Oxford American

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire,” – Gustav Mahler

Declared “one of the country’s most audacious musical experiments” by Vice and “the classiest, most diverse festival in the country” by Rolling Stone, the Knoxville, TN Big Ears Festival is a dynamic, interactive experience that explores connections between musicians and artists, crossing all musical genres while interfacing with film, performance and the visual arts. We’re elated to remind you that the Big Ears lineup is out now, and tickets will be available Friday, November 3 at 10am ET via

And there have been more performances added by Ikue Mori, John Haywood, Jon Balke, Jon Gibson, Ned Rothenberg, Okkyung Lee, Susan Alcorn and Yuka C. Honda!


A letter from Big Ears founder and Artistic Director, Ashley Capps:

Dear Big Ears friends and supporters,

Summer has started to fade away and here we are – a mere 6 months from Big Ears 2018. First of all, we want to thank all of you who attended Big Ears in 2017 and helped to make it such an inspiring and unforgettable occasion. We’re especially appreciative to everyone who has taken time to share your experiences and feedback – and to respond to our annual survey. Your enthusiasm and suggestions are invaluable in helping us to continue to evolve the Big Ears experience. We couldn’t be more excited for 2018! For months now, the Big Ears team – and our growing family of co-conspirators and collaborators – have been shaping and curating a kaleidoscopic array of performances and experiences for the weekend of March 22-25. We can’t wait to tell you what’s in store. While our initial lineup announcement is only a very few weeks away – perhaps sooner – we can’t help but start sharing some of what’s in store – a few tantalizing hints and tidbits of information – between now and then. So…as a Big Ears newsletter subscriber, this is your first tip for 2018 and we hope you’ll continue to pay attention to things as they unfold on Big Ears’ Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  As always, we want to thank you for your enthusiasm, passion, curiosity, and support for Big Ears. It’s your engagement and participation that make it all possible. We’re looking forward to seeing you again in the spring of 2018 as we join together in another border-crossing, boundary-erasing, surprise-filled cultural and social adventure in downtown Knoxville.

Peace – and happy listening, Ashley Capps


Named for someone who is capable of discerning and perceptive listening, who has the ability to use the ears as a creative tool or who hears things many may miss, the Big Ears Festival is a weekend of world-class musical performances in beautiful historic theaters, clubs, galleries, and museums, combined with talks and discussions, interactive workshops, installations, exhibitions, film screenings, surprise collaborations and unexpected connections.  It celebrates the never-ending adventure of artistic creation and exploration. From 100+ spellbinding performances to rare film screenings, artist discussions to explorations of poetry and literature, art exhibitions to secret shows and pop-ups, Big Ears 2017 was filled to the brim with unique experiences. Revisit highlights from the 2017 festival below, and join us in the spring of 2018 for another boundary-erasing cultural adventure in downtown Knoxville.