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Ashley Capps Shares His Vision for The Big Ears Organization


At long last, the Big Ears Festival returns to downtown Knoxville for 2022 and the fans are ready for it. Founder and Executive Director, Ashley Capps, says that VIP passes sold out in just three days. By comparison, it took about three months for VIP passes to sell out for the 2020 festival. As always, the lineup is deliciously eclectic and is sure to introduce even the most rabid music fans to a few new artists. A focus for 2022 seems to be on the music of the Caribbean: Haiti, Cuba, and New Orleans. Taking center stage of that focus will be the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and a Krewe Du Kanaval, curated by Preservation Hall's Ben Jaffe.

Also a focus for 2022 will be the music of John Zorn, multi-instrumentalist and composer, whose avant-garde and experimental approaches to composition envelop influences from jazz, rock, classical, ambient, metal, world music, and beyond. With a career spanning four decades, Zorn appears on an astounding 400-plus recordings as a composer or performer. His music will be performed by some familiar Big Ears alums, including Julian Lage, Bill Frisel, and John Medeski, as well as vocalist, Petra Haden, pianist, Stephen Gosling, and Zorn himself on the pipe organ.

Other artists participating in the 2022 festival include Pulitzer Prize-winning composers, Ellen Reid and Caroline Shaw, the Kronos Quartet, Meredith Monk, Shabaka Hutchings, Sparks, Ban On a Can All-Stars, Terry Allen, and our very own Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, among many others. 

In this interview, Capps shares his thought process behind his decision to step down as CEO of AC Entertainment in 2020. Additionally, he talks about how this decision allowed him to focus more solely on what the Big Ears Festival could become and what he wanted it to be. A big part of his vision includes more local programs throughout the year, with the hope that these events will not only showcase Knoxville's rich cultural community and history, but also help to build community and create a sense of place.

The 2022 Big Ears Festival will take place over four days, from March 24 to 27th. Even more additions to the lineup will be made in weeks to come and single-day tickets will be offered at a later date. General Admission weekend passes are still available online. 

Tickets and information at http://bigearsfestival.org

Melony calls the beautiful mountains of Boone, N.C., home, although she was born near Greensboro, N.C. There’s just something about those Blue Ridge Mountains that got in her blood and never left after she moved there to attend Appalachian State University (ASU). While at ASU, she majored in piano performance and music therapy and began to cultivate a love for accompanying and for collaborating with other musicians. This soon led her to earn a master’s degree in collaborative piano at the University of Tennessee, which she attended from 2006-2008.
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