Big Ears Countdown: 24 Hours

So yesterday we shared our picks for the first half of the Big Ears Festival. It was pretty hectic with as many as 20 events vying for our attention. The next two days of the festival are less jam-packed for us, but there are some programs like Tim Story’s The Roedelius Cells that will figure again, allowing us to attend the showing that works best for us.


Ian Chang

Mr. Chang has embraced an expansive network of sensors controlling percussive samples beyond his normal kit. The performance is also linked to his lighting rig making this a visual as well as rhythmic experience.

Tim Story – the Roedelius Cells




Mimi Goese + Ben Neill

Vocalist Goese hailed from Hugo Largo; the intriguing NYC art rockers whoo eventually ended up on Eno’s label. Ben Neill developed an electronic trumpet with Bob Moog called the mutantrumpet. Their performance is informed by data from the Hudson River environment that has been interpolated into their music.

Carl Stone




Carla Bley TRIOS With Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow

I first became aware of jazz pianist Carla Bley in 1981 when she wrote the music and performed keyboards [along with Steve Swallow on bass] on the first Nick Mason album “Fictitious Sports.” At 82, Ms. Bley is neck-and-neck with Harold Budd and still proffering her classic jazz piano.

Dragnet Girl with live score by Coupler

This is a live score to the Yasujirō Ozu silent film “Dragnet Girl.” Coupler have steeped themselves in Krautrock so this should be a fascinating experience to encounter. It’s been too many years since I have seen a live score to a silent movie as well.

This Is Not This Heat

I remember reading reviews of This Heat’s “Deceit” in the pages of Trouser Press, in 1981 or so. They are the POst-Punk royalty for this Big Ears and this date will be among their last. Their final show is scheduled for London in May and after that it’s all nostalgia for this boundary-pressing project.

Harold Budd + ACME

ACME is a string ensemble that will be joining Budd for a two hour set at the St. Johns Episcopal Cathedral. I suspect that this will be new music premiered for the festival event. So Saturday night goes out on a wave of Budd’s splendid piano.


Tim Story – The Roedelius Cells




Richard Thompson + Knoxville Symphony Strings: Killed In Action

Hard to believe that I have never heard the guitar of Richard Thompson but he’s not my usual cup of drink. But this is a case of hearing about an artist for the bulk of my life and taking the time to see what the hubbub is all about. Thompson’s program is a fascinating recent show funded in part by the World War I Centenary Art Commission. The songs take their grist from actual communications from the time of the war as reportage and history more than song. This is the second performance of this show.

Nik Bärtsch’s RONIN

Electronic trance-jazz-funk from the Swiss keyboardist Bärtsch. He’s just another of the ECM Records family of artists who are always near the bulls-eye for the programmers of this festival.


International Contemporary Ensemble Plays the Music of Anna Thorvaldsdottír, Ellen Reid, and Ashley Fure

This 35-strong ensemble are playing the works of women composers at Big Ears.


Bill Frisell’s Harmony featuring Petra Hayden, Hank Roberts + Luke Bergman

This time Frisell’s guitar finds a home backing vocalist Petra Hayden along with cellist Roberts and baritone guitarist Bergman in a program of pop-leaning material.

Harold Budd + Friends

For his final performance that closes Big Ears 2019, Budd will be performing a two hour expansion of “As Long As I Can Hold My Breath” from Avalon Sutra with Tim Story on keys + electronics. His son Terrence Budd on guitars and keyboards. With further accompaniment by Sean Connors on percussion) and the piano of Trenton Takaki.

Check this space next week to see reports back on what we actually got to see and word on Budd’s performances. Seeing him in 2012 was a rare experience, and this festival will be a feast of his sound.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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2 Responses to Big Ears Countdown: 24 Hours

  1. What an amazing festival Big Ears (which I interpret as an allusion to an open mind for obscure musics) has become! This is what one should do with profits from popular music fests like Bonnaroo. Much respect to the organizers for embracing many different off-beat (heh) sounds while not simply trying to pretend its a “jazz fest” to lure punters. While I fear its continued presence will make Knoxville’s hipster community even more pretentious, it’s clear that the programming staff have excellent taste and a healthy disregard for the un-genuine when it comes to selecting artists and music that truly enlighten and challenge, seemingly without compromise.

    Tennessee has always been a state that surprised/delighted me and upended my assumptions about it, and it’s great to see that it continues to do so by hosting what must inarguably be America’s Best Avant-Garde Music Festival. If there’s a better one out there, I don’t know of it!


    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – Well, this is the fourth of ten that we’ve attended. The fest has a world-class reputation that gets a lot of coverage in what’s left of the world press. I get the idea that it’s Ashley Capps’ little pet project that he apparently runs very well. The Moog Foundation could probably take some hard lessons from AC Entertainment on how to run a festival in a small market. Of course, AC Entertainment are in the business of running concerts, not building synthesizers!


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