As has been the case in recent years, the Big Ears Festival (March 21-24, 2024) announced an initial round of artists last month and is now announcing a second wave of artists. The first announcement contained far more than enough to get festival goers excited. Fourteen Grammy Award winner Herbie Hancock, former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, Pulitzer Prize Winner Rhiannon Giddens and Big Ears alums Laurie Anderson (Grammy Award winner), Marc Ribot, Sam Amidon and two of my jazz favorites, Christian McBride and Jason Moran.
Oh, and throw in Hip Hop legends Digable Planets for good measure, along with a list of additional Grammy winners. How could it get any better? Well, the next round of artists answers that question.
The new announcement starts with Jon Batiste, a member of the legendary New Orleans Batiste family, who promises to blow the roof off the festival. He boasts five Grammy awards with eleven nominations (Will a Grammy or Pulitzer eventually be required for a spot on the bill?). One of his Grammy awards came in the prestigious Album of the Year category for “We Are.” He also scored the film “Soul” (See it if you haven’t!), for which he won an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Also announced, Marc Ribot will join keyboardist John Medeski and drummer Joe Russo for a rare trio performance.
In addition to Batiste, I’m thrilled to see the inclusion of “the soulful and introspective storytelling of Bonnie “Prince” Billy.” Joseph Will Oldham began performing under the name “Bonnie Prince Billy” in 1998 and has experienced his greatest success since. The prolific artist with a blend of punk attitude and introspective folk sounds is also an actor with a long line of roles. His most recent album, his twenty-sixth, “Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You,” was released earlier this year.
Other artists announced include Leyla McCalla, Jana Horn, and Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses). Evan Lurie (co-founder of the Lounge Lizards) with his quintet and “they will present a rare performance of the contemporary chamber music masterpiece Selling Water by the Side of the River.”
Also included in this announcement:
The Chinese American pipa master Min Xiao-Fen collaborates with River Guerguerian for a program of original live scores to Chinese silent film classics Romance of the Fruit Peddler and Romance of the Western Chamber.
Grammy award-winning multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi presents a program of solo piano.
Paul Lazar performs the critically acclaimed spoken-word and movement solo Cage Shuffle based on texts from composer John Cage with choreography by Annie-B Parson.
The duo of prolific new age artist Laraaji and world-renowned tabla player Suphala perform a program of ambient and world music blending celestial sounds and
rhythmic beats as part of the King Britt-curated Blacktronika program.
Slauson Malone 1 (the musical project and performance piece of Jasper Marsalis) explores the intersections of pop music and performance art.
Ka Baird weaves together experimental electronic and folk elements into a captivating sonic tapestry.
Big Ears Festival passes are on sale here. VIP and Premier tickets are sold out, but passes remain for the four-day general admission (Early Bird for $350), as well as single-day passes (currently $115 to $130).