Big Ears Festival returns, March 24-27

Jay FitzDowntown, Our Town Arts

After selling out in record time this year, The Big Ears Festival is announcing a series of free concerts and events, including a parade and street fair, open to the public during the festival weekend of March 24-27, 2022.

“Central to our mission as a nonprofit is creating opportunities for everyone who wishes to experience the joys and rewards of some of the world’s greatest and most exciting music,” says Big Ears founder and executive director, Ashley Capps.

Ashley Capps

“After three years of imagining and reimagining what Big Ears could be, we wanted to return with a spirit of fun and celebration open to all and to further explore the tremendous potential that Big Ears offers for our community.”

The first two days of the festival, Thursday and Friday, March 24 and 25, will feature a series of free concerts in the Tennessee Amphitheater at World’s Fair Park.

Thursday kicks off at 4 p.m. with a program that includes contemporary classical music legends Kronos Quartet and Sō Percussion, along with the UT Percussion Ensemble; Chicago’s righteous and soulful Damon Locks’ Black Monument Ensemble; Latin Rock from Dos Santos; with the flamboyant Colombian-Canadian singer Lido Pimienta, who made a showstopping performance on the 2021 Grammys telecast, closing the evening.

Friday starts at 3 p.m. and goes deep into the soulful heart of New Orleans music and the Haitian traditions that fuel it. Traditional jazz from Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses, Mardi Gras Indian Chiefs 79RS Gang, and Sporty’s Brass Band; and Lakou Mizik, the multi-generational Haitian roots band.

The night heats up and concludes with the essential Haitian mizik rasin band RAM and the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Constructed for the 1982 World’s Fair, The Tennessee Amphitheater has been home to a wide range of concerts and performances over the years. Big Ears is proud to carry on this tradition as our city celebrates the World’s Fair’s 40th anniversary. Big Ears’ concerts at the Tennessee Amphitheater are presented by Visit Knoxville and Cherokee Distributing.

On Saturday, kicking off at 1 p.m., Big Ears has teamed with Knoxville’s Cattywampus Puppet Council to host Krewe du Cattywampus, a parade featuring New Orleans second line and Haitian Kanaval music alongside giant puppets made over the past few months by young people in the Knoxville community. Preservation Hall Jazz Band will lead the parade alongside musicians from New Orleans and Haiti, as well as local marching bands. The parade route wraps through the Old City, crosses the Gay Street Viaduct, and concludes with a free street party at Southern Rail Depot featuring food, crafts and more great music. Presented in partnership with the Aslan Foundation, the Downtown Knoxville Alliance, and the Maker City.

There are more free events planned for the Big Ears weekend that will be announced in the days before the festival, along with surprise pop-up concerts and more. More details about these events and others at the Big Ears Festival can be found at

Information provided by Big Ears Festival.

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