FolkWorld #71 03/2020
© Editorial by Big Ears Festival

Across the Western Ocean

The F Word

Our friend Tom Morris sent us a link to Martin Scorsese’s passionate op-ed about cinema and the nature of art and risk. He also excerpted a couple of key paragraphs, substituting the word “music” for cinema. It’s struck a chord with us – and certainly offers food for thought that we hope will interest you.

Che Apalache

Big Ears Festival, Knoxville, TN

26 - 29 March 2020

[Music] is about revelation — aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation. It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves. It is about confronting the unexpected on the page and in the life it dramatizes and interprets, and enlarging the sense of what is possible in the art form.

In the past 20 years, as we all know, the [music] business has changed on all fronts. But the most ominous change has happened stealthily and under cover of night: the gradual but steady elimination of risk. Many concerts today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption. Many of them are well made by teams of talented individuals. All the same, they lack something essential to music: the unifying vision of an individual artist.

Because, of course, the individual artist is the riskiest factor of all.

Founded in 2009, Big Ears is a singular festival experience that explores connections between musicians and artists, effortlessly crossing the boundaries of musical genres as well as artistic disciplines. Big Ears is a weekend of world-class musical performances that celebrates Knoxville’s historic theaters, nightclubs, churches, museums, and outdoor spaces with concerts, discussions, interactive workshops, installations, film screenings, surprise collaborations and unexpected artistic collisions. It celebrates the never-ending adventure of artistic creation and exploration.

Annually, the festival supports 100+ performances of music, film, and art over four days. Community engagement typically includes 50+ panels, workshops, and performances that are free and open to the public.

Big Ears Festival

This year, Big Ears will introduce three fascinating artists from the expanding Danish contemporary art and music scene. Jacob Kirkegaard, Sonja Labianca, and Astrid Sonne are not yet well-known in the USA, but their distinctive work is certainly perking up the ears of discerning listeners in Europe and beyond. Thanks to support from our partners (Danish Arts Foundation, Edition·S, Denmark in Arts, Alice, Snyk), we’re delighted to introduce these new voices to the Big Ears audience. We hope you’ll take the time to explore their work. We’re sure to hear more from them in the coming years.

LINEUP 2020: Arooj Aftab, Che Apalache, Devendra Banhart, Joe Henry, Joshua Abrams, Kronos Quartet, Marc Ribot, Mdou Moctar, Meredith Monk, Patti Smith, Sokratis Sinopoulos, Xylouris White, and many more.

Photo Credits: (1) Che Apalache, (2) Big Ears Festival (unknown/website).

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