Knoxville, Tennessee’s Big Ears festival is canceling this year’s event due to ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the second year they’ve had to skip, since they were forced to cancel their March 2020 event just a few weeks before it would’ve taken place.
They’ve moved on to planning the 2022 event to make up for the missed years, and have set the date for March 24-27, 2022. Big Ears states, “It will be similar in scale and footprint to the 2017, 2018, and 2019 festivals. We are deeply immersed in the booking process already and I can assure you that we will once again have an extraordinary array of great musicians joining us for a spectacular weekend.”
The lineup will be announced sometime in September/October 2021. Until then, Big Ears are planning some streamed and socially-distanced Knoxville events. The first outdoor concert they have set is “a re-staging” of modern classical composer John Luther Adams’ critically-acclaimed piece ‘Inuksuit,’ which was first performed live at Big Ears in 2016. The re-staging is planned for mid-April.
Another planned event is a Lonnie Holley livestream, for which more details are soon-to-be-announced. Big Ears has been reaching out to other artists to solidify plans for future events.
They began streaming concerts in October 2020 with avant-garde jazz group The Bad Plus playing The Bijou Theater. Prolific Minutemen vocalist Mike Watt’s new group mssv Ijams Nature Center soon after and Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog closed the month at St. Ann’s Warehouse.
The canceled 2020 Big Ears Festival had a unique lineup of largely experimental artists, including Caroline Shaw, Icelandic indietronica group Múm, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon & others soundtracking Andy Warhol’s classic 1963 film KISS, Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones’ Sons of Chipotle, Meredith Monk & Bang On a Can All-Stars, Grouper side-project Nivhek and ambient master Fennesz.