Big Ears Looks To 2021, Recommends Music By Rhiannon Giddens & Others

Big Ears 2021
– Big Ears 2021

Nearly four months after calling off its 2020 festival because of COVID-19, Big Ears has revealed dates for two Big Ears weekends in 2021 “each with a unique lineup and program of its own” featuring as much programming scheduled for 2020 as possible. That being said, the announcement notes that it will be several weeks, “perhaps until late August or early September,” until the organizers know for sure if the new dates will be feasible. 

The multi-venue, avant-garde-leaning boutique festival produced by AC Entertainment was supposed to take place in Knoxville, Tenn., March 26-29, 2020, featuring more than 100 concerts along with films, panels, workshops and exhibitions. The lineup included Devendra Banhart, Anthony Braxton, Thundercat, Annette Peacock, Marc Ribot and more. 
The 2021 dates are tentatively set for March 18-21 and March 25-28.
“Our primary goal has been to offer TWO Big Ears weekends in 2021 – each with a unique line up and program of its own – combining as much of the programming scheduled for 2020 as possible with many new programs that were already in the works. We’ve discussed this with many of the artists who were scheduled for the 2020 festival – as well as with others who were planning to play Big Ears 2021 – with very positive response. We are hopeful and optimistic,” festival organizers said in a statement that thanked fans for their encouragement and support during this difficult time, including those who showed “extraordinary generosity” in donating to Big Ears. 
As for the new March 2021 dates, the statement says, “The health and safety of everyone who attends Big Ears – and of our community – is our #1 concern. If these dates don’t allow for that, we’ll pivot to weekends later in the year.” 
Organizers added, “In the meantime, we’re exploring new ideas and opportunities to support the work of artists we love and share it with you. We’ll stay in touch as these plans evolve., and we eagerly look forward to the time when we can all come together for another unforgettable Big Ears weekend.” 

Although produced by AC Entertainment, Big Ears became a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in recent years. AC also manages two of Big Ears’ leading venues, the Bijou Theater and Tennessee Theater.

The first edition of Big Ears took place in 2009. 
“When we first launched in 2009, the programming element was so out of the box that I remember getting feedback from people who were a little angry that they would have to travel to Knoxville [to see these acts]. Once they got here, they loved it and totally got why the setting worked so well,” AC Entertainment founder and CEO Ashley Capps previously told Pollstar.

AC Entertainment is the founders and co-producers of Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, along with the founders of High Water Festival, Railbird Festival, and Big Ears Festival; and producers of Forecastle Festival and Moon River Music Festival.
Big Ears’ June 30 post concluded by recommending a “few treats” organizers have enjoying during COVID-19 lockdown: 
Rhiannon Giddens’ video for her take on the Bill Withers classic “Just The Two Of Us” (feat. Sxip Shirey) LINK

Kim Myhr & Tony Buck’s video performance for the Jazz Festival Ljubjana LINK

Matt Wilson Quartet (with saxophonist Jeff Lederer, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, and bassist Chris Lightcap) perform “Hug.” The album of the same name is due out on Palmetto Records Aug. 28. LINK
Nikky Finney reads on Wednesday Night Poetry, a series based in Hot Springs National Park, Ark., now held virtually. LINK
Mimi Goese & Ben Neill offer a “Head in Hands Quarantine Dub Mix” of the tune “E N D U R E.” LINK