Capps explains significance of Knoxville’s special Big Ears Festival

Big Ears Festival(EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s another email from Ashley Capps about the significance of the Big Ears Festival that starts tomorrow in Knoxville. For a listing of his top three recommendations for each of the four nights, click here for our post from earlier this week.)


  • Visitors will be coming to Knoxville from all over the country…and from throughout the world…
  • Knoxville’s downtown restaurants and shops will be experiencing record breaking business…Ask Pete or Joey at Pete’s…or Matt Gallagher at Knox Mason and Emilia…or Scott and Mahastie at the Tomato Head…the weekend of the Big Ears Festival is their biggest weekend of the year.
  • Dozens of writers and journalists are coming to cover the Big Ears weekend once again…The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Rolling Stone, the Oxford American, Garden & Gun, London’sThe Wire, WFMT Chicago, WNYC New York, Atlanta’s Creative Loafing, The Tennessean…among others….
  • Knoxville’s downtown hotels will be filled to capacity…with many guests staying for several days…some nearly a week…
  • Many of Knoxville’s leading cultural organizations – and beautiful landmarks – are involved – the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Knoxville Museum of Art, the UT Department of Music, the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, the Historic Tennessee Theatre, the Bijou Theatre Center, St. John’s Cathedral, Church Street United Methodist Church, Boyd’s Jig & Reel, the Mill & Mine, the Standard, the Square Room, the Pilot Light, and more…
  • Free events take place throughout the city – many for the whole family – all weekend long.   From sacred harp singing to Irish jam sessions to improv sessions, special surprise concerts, panels, discussions, and more, Knoxville’s Market Square, Knoxville Museum of Art, Visit Knoxville!, Boyd’s Jig & Reel, and more will be brimming with events all weekend long.
  • From Bach to Bluegrass…from 1930s swing to edgy alternative hiphop…from classical to jazz to rock to folk…. plus films, talks, panels, workshops…. yes, over 100 of the world’s leading composers, musicians, and artists will be in Knoxville for the weekend – including 2 recipients of last year’s MacArthur “Genius” grants and at least 2 Pulitzer Prize winners.

THAT’S RIGHT…THINK ABOUT IT… An event with an international profile – drawing visitors from all over the world – presenting and showcasing the leading practitioners in their fields – with a high level of national media coverage – highlighting our own cultural groups and institutions along with the unique character and experience of our beautiful, historic downtown – and bringing a multi-million dollar impact to our community…


 As cities and counties all across the country are seeing investment in arts and culture transform their communities – encouraging economic development and entrepreneurship while elevating quality of life and community pride – we have an unprecedented opportunity here – and one not easily replicated.

It’s called “lightning in a bottle.” And we’re just scratching the surface of what is possible…  
We’re only a few years young, still growing steadily year after year. The possibilities are extraordinary.

Big Ears is now a 501(c)3 non-profit organization
 – a major step in building and achieving the true potential of what Big Ears will mean for our community and region in the years to come.

I hope that you’ll take at least a moment or two this weekend to experience at least a part of what Big Ears is about – to see why people are traveling from everywhere to Knoxville for this unique, extraordinary weekend.  Stop by the Market Square on Saturday for the “eternal jam” that morphs into the “Fiddler’s Convention” or come to Visit Knoxville for a unique Big Ears spin on the WDVX Blue Plate specials throughout the weekend.  Visit the Knoxville Museum of Art to explore the Great Hall with the sound of Rova Saxophone Quartet or Irish harpist Aine O’Dwyer.  Come by the Jig & Reel all weekend long for all sorts of fun surprises and discover just who IS playing that “secret” show on the schedule.   You can learn more at

Of course, we would love for you to go all in – purchase a festival pass or a pass for just one day and immerse yourself in the full experience.  And we would, of course, welcome your support of the the Big Ears Festival with a donation:

There’s something very special happening here.  Come out and see it for yourself!

I hope to see you out and about this weekend.  We’ll have some fun!



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