Big Ears Festival Ropes in Monk [and Wife] With Harold Budd Residency

Big Ears 2019 was a must-see festival due to Harold Budd

We have attended three of the last five Big Ears Festivals since they have an eye for the sort of artists that we will definitely capitulate for. A-list non-rock artists like Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, and Harold Budd. The festival has been going for ten years now and it’s Ashley Capp’s little petri dish of a festival where commercial concerns are not really paramount. The same promoter puts on Bonnaroo every year for that. So Big Ears is more likely to have artists from the left-field of music, and not really popular music at that. Rock and pop are marginalized here. There’s a smattering, but it is more than matched by the type of sounds that are more challenging to the audience. It’s far more likely to host avant-garde, jazz, folk, and classical luminaries than your typical festival bands.

Harold Budd

We have enjoyed Big Ears but passed on the last two years. One of the first time’s we attended was specifically to see a Harold Budd performance at the Knoxville Museum Of Art. We were waiting for the show and saw Bing + Ruth setting up where we were expecting Budd, only to find that the artist had fallen and broken a rib days before the convert and had to cancel. As Budd was in his late 70s at the time, this was nothing to sneeze at! Fortunately, Bing + Ruth made equally beautiful music and were working in a similar zone to Budd’s area of piano ambience.

Last year, we were gearing up for Simple Minds in Atlanta with our friends the Ware’s and Echorich when we saw on Harold Budd’s website that he was appearing in Toledo Ohio the week prior at the Toledo Museum of Art. We could not attend, but we asked Terrence Budd [Harold’s son who mans the email] if there were any chance he would ever perform at Big Ears. Terrence hinted that they were trying to swing a make-up for that lost concert and when the festival lineup was announced last fall, we saw that he was not blowing smoke. Budd would be performing throughout the entire festival. This resulted in a massive buy-in from us, who for the first time, bought full weekend passes to the festival. In the past we focused on the main event we were interested in and only bought a day pass.

At 82 years of age, Budd carefully picks and chooses his concert schedule. Usually racking up no more than one or two concerts every few years or so out of his native California desert environs. This will be a feast of Budd with new works debuted at the festival as well as solo and collaborative endeavors. But there are many more musical and artistic events scheduled to fill out our days in Knoxville starting next week.

Next: …What Else Is On Our Schedule?

 

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16 Responses to Big Ears Festival Ropes in Monk [and Wife] With Harold Budd Residency

  1. Tim says:

    I never heard music like his in the small town that I grew up in, and I dug thru pretty much all of the bins at the record stores of choice before moving to a much larger city. In the early 90’s I was turned off by a lot of popular/rock/alternative music and started listening to more classical, jazz and ambient music. I think it was really enjoying his collaborations with Eno that made me try to find music by him and it was one of my rare coups buying used music where I live. I was able to snag everything he had out in cd circa 1992 – 1993 for about $3-4 each. Someone had sold them to a used store and it was right person at the right place at the right time.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – I’ll say! Even today we only have about 40% of his canon, but he gets a lot of play at home. Chasinvictoria bought “Ambient II: The Plateaux Of Mirror” due to the Eno connection and it was the first time either of us had heard his ambient track. That was a moment of adjustment there since we were snot-nosed high school punks when it came out. But that was all it took. I bought the occasional Budd album [they never seem to be easy to find in stores…] in the 80s and 90s but it was my wife who really took a shine to him when spelunking in the Record Cell.

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      • Tim says:

        It was the White Arcades for me, then The Pearl if my memory is right, then I read up in my pre-internet Trouser Press Guide I think it was and found some titles and then I hit the mother lode at the used store. Pavillion of Dreams, Serpent in Quicksilver, all that stuff.
        Sad confession, some of the super early stuff doesn’t do much for me.
        But I persevered,
        And holy hell I love the two albums he did with Andy Partridge.
        Especially Through the Hill.

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  2. Jeremy says:

    Lucky you! I’ve always wanted to go to that festival. If you’re on Facebook, let’s connect so I can introduce you to a friend of mine, a fine music journalist, who will be there, too. Cheers.

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  3. Yes indeed, it was Plateaux of Mirror that really blew my mind and (ironically) made me appreciate ambient music. I have managed to pick up a few Budd albums since then, but other than The Pearl I think the prize in my small-but-significant Budd collection is Nighthawks and Drift Music, both with John Foxx (who does a pretty great line in Budd-like ambient himself!).

    By the Dawn’s Early Light was not on my radar, but now it is! And I also haven’t heard Through the Hill so thanks Tim!

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    • Tim says:

      Pleased to be able to point them out to you! I hope that you enjoy them.
      I just looked them up on Amazon and am amazed at what folks are asking for Through the Hill, which is apparently out of print now.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – “Through The Hill” was in “Budd Box” a few years back but that’s three figures [even the re-pressing in black!] now too! An amazing album not really like anything else Partridge has ever done. There are plenty of affordable copies on Discogs. And iTunes does not have that one as a discrete DL but the Budd Box is affordable on iTunes and gathers up a slew of Budd’s Opal releases in one sprawling package. We listen to our copy all of the time.

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  4. Jordan says:

    Wow. Super rare to see Budd. His sound is so unique. Discovered him in 1980 and worked backwards. Of course going forward it was his solo work along with Eno, Cocteau Twins and Foxx. Many others too.

    Though I am not a fan of his string work and more recent modern sounds. He sort of went the Sylvian/Walker route. Of which I suspect you may be hearing Monk as the poster includes the string quartet.
    I would check out Mercury Rev (recent album are covers of Bobbie Gentry ) and if it is the same Carl Stone who worked with Sylvian and Eno I think.
    Too bad. I was in Knoxville two months ago for a few days. Should be very interesting.

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  5. jordan henrion says:

    I should mention Coupler as well. Their latest 4 song album is a mix of smoky jazz with fender Rhodes and Berlin sequencer. On Band camp.

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  6. zoo says:

    Some really interesting artists in that lineup. I used to be a big fan of Bill Frisell. Kinda lost track of his music few years back because it started sounding too samey, but if his spot was open on my festival schedule, I’d definitely check him out.

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