Big Ears Festival announces 2023 lineup

Big Ears Festival will once again invade the downtown area of Knoxville, TN from March 30-April 2, 2023. And in honor is its 10th installment (though not exactly its 10th anniversary), they’ve gathered a jaw-dropping collection of musicians, artists, and filmmakers. Over the years, Big Ears has become known as a haven for musicians whose work exists outside of traditional genre conventions, drawing in people like John Zorn, Patti Smith, Moses Sumney, Avey Tare, Carla Bley, Yves Tumor, and Jenny Hval, just to name a few. You can check out our coverage of this year’s festival here

For 2023, the people behind the festival have brought together artists like Andrew Bird, Kevin Morby, Grouper, Ichiko Aoba, Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul, The Mountain Goats, and The Weather Station. Check out the full lineup below.

Presenting a kaleidoscopic overview of countless genres — and sounds unbound by any such labels — the festival highlights jazz legends like saxophonist Charles Lloyd, bassist Christian McBride, and double bassist William Parker as they perform alongside banjo contortionist Bela Fleck. Ricki Lee Jones will perform songs showcasing a career that has lasted for five decades. 

Bassist Pino Palladino (The Who, Nine Inch Nails, D’Angelo) will collaborate with Blake Mills and saxophonist Sam Gendel while Arooj Aftab will perform Love in Exile with Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily. These joint musical endeavors have become a part of the Big Ears experience, allowing musicians the room to explore and redefine their own works in a nurturing creative environment.

John Zorn will return after performing a nine-show marathon earlier this year, celebrating his 70th birthday with eight new pieces, including an appearance by Painkiller (his trio with bassist-producer Bill Laswell and ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo) and ending with an all-star imagining of his 1987 avant-garde opus Cobra.

As you can see from the roster above, these are only a few of the wonders Big Ears is set to unleash upon Knoxville next year. Stay tuned as festival organizers have said that there are more announcements coming. Passes will go on sale this Wednesday, September 14. You can check out the different tiers and passes here.