Big Ears Triumphantly Returns

After an unfortunate two-year pandemic hiatus, Big Ears, one of the most adventurous music festivals on the planet, will finally return in March of 2022. Festival organizers recently announced the initial lineup for the Knoxville, TN-based festival, and there are, as usual, some incredible acts featured. Legendary popera new wave duo Sparks will make a rare appearance, as will genre-wrecking NYC saxophonist John Zorn. In Zorn’s case, Big Ears will be presenting a whopping eight (!) programs of the composer’s music, including the longstanding Masada Quartet, Chaos Magick—featuring John Medeski of Mediski, Martin, and Wood—and a guitar trio with Bill Frisell, Gyan Riley and Julian Lage. In addition, fans will get an opportunity to witness a performance of Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ on the 32 foot pipe organ at St. John’s Cathedral.

Also included in the first round of lineup announcements are guitar virtuoso Marc Ribot (in several musical configurations), contemporary string innovators Kronos Quartet, Low, Sons of Kemet, Fennesz, Kim Gordon (formerly of Sonic Youth), as well as Big Ears’ first ever Krewe Du Kanaval street party, curated by New Orleans’ own Preservation Hall Jazz Band. 

For festival veterans, the preliminary Big Ears lineup announcement is a special occasion in itself, as those excited souls begin strategizing about how many amazing shows they see in a day’s time. Since Knoxville is founder Ashley Capps’ home, the city pulls out all the stops, with most every venue and museum in town participating at some level, creating an immersive experience like no other.

Big Ears Festival takes place in Knoxville, Tenn. at various venues from March 24-27, 2022. Tickets are on sale now. Look forward to festival coverage at

Big Ears