Less then two weeks til the BIG EARS experimental and avant-garde music festival, March 24-26, in Knoxville TN. ROBYN HITCHCOCK! JOHANN JOHANNSSON! CARLA BLEY, JOAN SHELLEY! Lordy!

CARLA BLEY with the KNOXVILLE THIS JUST IN: Our friend and frequent visitor ROBYN HITCHCOCK has just been added to the Big Ears lineup!

A surrealist poet, talented guitarist, cult artist, and musician’s musician, Robyn Hitchcock is one of England’s most enduring contemporary singer-songwriters and live performers. Blending folk and psychedelia with a wry British nihilism, Hitchcock describes his songs as “paintings you can listen to.” With lyrics hailed by Rolling Stone as “some of the most bracing, rainbow-hued pop this side of Revolver,” Hitchcock’s emotional live performance at Big Ears is sure to resonate with concertgoers long after the festival weekend comes to a close.

Every year, the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville offers up some of the most cutting edge performers across all genres of music, and the 2017 edition is no exception The lineup is highlighted by Horizon Records favorites like

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CARLA BLEY

 

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JOHANN JOHANNSSON

 

 

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THE GAVIN BRYARS ENSEMBLE


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JOAN SHELLEY

 

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WILCO

 

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THEATRE OF VOICES

 

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THE MAGNETIC FIELDS

& many more! We’re thrilled to talk about one of the most daring, artistically forward-looking festivals in the country, and Mr. Gene’s even thinking about taking a trip out to Knoxville this year.

Check out the full lineup and a brief word from festival co-founder and artistic director Ashley Capps below, and you can click HERE for ticket and schedule info!

As always, we thank all of you for your amazing support and enthusiasm for our ever-expanding festival. What began as a modest passion project has steadily grown into a remarkable, internationally recognized celebration of music, art and creativity.  Your passion and engagement has made that possible.  Big Ears 2017 is shaping up to be an extraordinary weekend, continuing to build upon and explore the themes and tangents of past festivals; we know you’re going to be as blown away by the offerings as we are.  There’s nothing quite like the Big Ears weekend: this curious gathering of visionary artists and cultural explorers here in the beautiful and historic setting – with more than a small tinge of southern mystery – of downtown Knoxville.

We’re looking forward to seeing you again!

Ashley Capps, Big Ears Founder and Artistic Director


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Our beloved ECM Records has some serious firepower on the Big Ears schedule, and we’ve got CD’s in-stock now by these amazing artists!

 

  • NEW RELEASES 4/28: April is going out large as we get in new stuff from GORILLAZ, ROBERT CRAY, WILLIE NELSON, MARK LANEGAN, RON SEXSMITH, TROMBONE SHORTY & more!
    Robert Cray has been bridging the lines between blues, soul and R&B for the past four decades, with five Grammy wins and over 20 acclaimed albums. For his latest project, Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm, the Blues Hall of Famer traveled to Memphis with his friend, renowned Grammy Award winning producer Steve Jordan, to make a classic soul album with Hi Rhythm, the band that helped create that sound. Set inside an old theatre, the funky Royal Studios looks much as it did when Al Green was cutting those classics for Hi Records. Guitarist Teenie Hodges has passed away, but his brothers Rev. Charles Hodges (organ and piano) and Leroy "Flick" Hodges (bass), along with cousin Archie "Hubbie" Turner (keyboards), were still there.
  • NEW RELEASES, 4/14: YES, we do have the new KENDRICK LAMAR in-stock NOW, but that’s not all. We’ve got new STRING CHEESE INCIDENT, JOHN MAYER, and some jazz-classical love for Mr. Gene!
    Less obviously haunted by the influence of George Clinton than its predecessor, Damn still sounds rooted in early-70s soul. There are nods towards the luscious, harmony-laden mellowness of the Stylistics and the Chi-Lites (opener Blood even features a warped version of the kind of spoken-word monologue found on the latter’s single Have You Seen Her?), to the stentorian bellow that opens Curtis Mayfield’s If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Gonna Go and to the dense sound of psychedelic soul – by way of Outkast – on Pride. If it seems a more straightforward listen than To Pimp a Butterfly, there’s a cheering sense that this doesn’t equate to a lessening of musical ambition. There’s none of that album’s wilfully jarring quality – its sudden, anxious musical lurches and abrupt, short-circuiting leaps between genres – but the tracks on Damn still feel episodic and expansive: XXX alone goes from massed harmony vocals to a downbeat rap over glitching, stuttering samples, to a thrilling moment where it explodes in a mass of sirens, screeching tyres and heaving basslines, to a dramatic drop in tempo and an understated guest vocal from Bono in the space of four minutes. Rather than angsty disruptions, there’s a more subtle sense of disquiet here. The heavy-lidded drift of Yah would sound relaxed were it not for the presence of two grating bass notes that fit with the lyrics’ prickly unease, where images of contented family life rub up against “theories and suspicions”. Meanwhile, on the brilliant Pride, troubled lyrical shifts from modesty and confusion to self-belief – “I can’t fake humble because your ass is insecure” – are mirrored by a rap electronically treated so that its pitch gradually speeds up and slows down amid the woozy atmospherics and falsetto vocals. Elsewhere, there’s brilliant, dexterous storytelling on Duckworth – the saga of how Lamar’s father narrowly avoided being murdered by a criminal called Anthony, complete with an eye-popping, no-spoilers twist – and another demonstration of Lamar’s nonpareil ability to write songs about the pressures of wealth and success that somehow manage to elicit the listener’s sympathy rather than a roll of the eyes.