Big Ears 2022 Welcomes All to the Celebration: Flagpole‘s Guide to Free Shows

Lido Pimienta. Credit: Daniella Murillo

While Big Ears 2022—possibly the most adventurous, immersive music festival in America—is sold out, there’s still ample opportunity to be part of the unique experience this weekend. In the past, founder and Knoxville, TN native Ashely Capps has made efforts to involve the community. This year, free concerts at the Tennessee Amphitheater (also known as the World’s Fair Park Amphitheater) take that to a new level, providing almost an entire festival within a festival, gratis.  

There is a distinct air of festivity in many of the musical offerings this year—celebration after the hiatus from social events that many of us experienced over the last few years. The outdoor amphitheater feels like the perfect spot for folks looking to finally get together and congregate.
Thursday, Mar. 24 features a potpourri of flavors including the world-renown Kronos Quartet at 4 p.m., Chicago-based purveyors of Latinx psychedelica Dos Santos and Damon Locks’ Black Monument Ensemble, followed by the Colombian electropop of vocalist Lido Pimienta.

On Friday, Mar. 25, New Orleans exports the party with Aurora Nealand & Royal Roses at 3:30 p.m., Mardi Gras hip-hop squad 79rs Gang, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The Big Easy party culminates with the Krewe du Cattywampus Parade & Street Party at noon on Saturday.

Saturday also features free daytime performances from Chicago new music collective Ensemble Dal Niente and saxophonist Ken Vandermark. And finally, Atlanta’s Duet for Theremin & Pedal Steel performs Saturday night with a live glass blowing session at the Pretentious Glass Co.

It should be a lovely weekend in Knoxville, so don’t get left out.

Big Ears Music Festival takes place at various venues March 24-27, 2022. Visit for the full lineup.