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March 18, 2018 | Tom Ballard

Ashley Capps lists top three concerts each day of this week’s Big Ears Festival

Big Ears Festival

If you read all or part of our recent five-part series on Knoxville’s Ashley Capps, particularly this article, you know how much pride he feels with the success of the city’s annual Big Ears Festival.

“It started from my passion to bring people together . . . seeing downtown Knoxville transform because we bring people together,” Capps told us a year ago. “I love to imagine the 16-year old who wakes-up to the news that Radio Head is coming to his town. It is transformational for the town. Big Ears is part of that. It’s a world of exploration, mystery and excitement. Europeans tell me they have venue envy. It was a happy accident that was created and a real privilege to do it in your own hometown.”

The 2018 edition runs starts this Thursday and features more than 100 concerts across the city over four days. It is truly one of the gems that attracts people from all over the globe to Knoxville, and it is an important part of what makes this city attractive to the creatives.

Capps has distilled the list of more than 100 concerts down to three “must sees” each day that he sent in a series of emails to an unknown number of people. The recommended events are as follows:


  • Aanna Thorvaldsdottir: In the Light of Air Performed by ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) starting at 6:30 p.m. at The Mill & Mine.
  • Nels Cline “Lovers” with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra + special guests at 7:30 p.m. at the Tennessee Theatre.
  • David Hidalgo and Marc Ribot, also at the Tennessee Theatre at 10:15 p.m.


  • Bela Fleck with Brooklyn Rider at 7 p.m. at Church Street United Methodist Church.
  • Susanna with Giovanna Pessi, Frode Haltli, Cheyenne Mize and special guest Bonnie “Prince” Billy: “Go Dig My Grave” at 10 p.m. at the Bijou Theatre.
  • Jason Moran presents the Fats Waller Dance Party starting at 12 midnight at the Mill & Mine.


  • Julia Wolfe: Anthracite Fields performed by the Bang On A Can All-Stars, joined by the choir, Sonus at 3:30 p.m. at The Mill & Mine.
  • The Jerry Douglas Band at 6 p.m., also at The Mill & Mine.
  • Anoushka Shankar: “Land of Gold” at 8 p.m. at the Tennessee Theatre.


  • Davone Tines with the Knoxville Symphony Strings at 1 p.m. at the Bijou Theatre.
  • Abigail Washburn & Wu Fei at 3 p.m., also at the Bijou Theatre.
  • Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda: The Ashram Experience at 6 p.m. at The Mill & Mine.

Just listing the concerts is not enough. You need to read the description of each in Capps’ own words. Here they are by date.

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