John Paul Jones, Thundercat, Kim Gordon headline first round of Big Ears 2020 artists

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – After a soldout 10th anniversary festival in 2019, Big Ears Festival has announced the first round of performers from their 2020 lineup.

The 11th annual alternative music festival will return to Knoxville during the four-day weekend of March 26-29 in historic downtown Knoxville. Big Ears Festival has garnered critical acclaim since its beginning in 2009 and will again bring over 100 concerts, films, literary events and more to the Marble City.

John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, left, wait for Robert Plant to arrive for the Led Zeppelin Celebration Day at the Hammersmith Apollo in west London, UK, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Legendary Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones will perform as one half of ‘Sons of Chipotle’ alongside renowned Finnish classical cellist Anssi Karttunen in their North American concert debut.

Sonic Youth lead singer Kim Gordon will return to Big Ears in 2020 with Body/Head collaborator Steve Gunn as well as Bill Nace and John Truscinski as Sounds of Andy Warhol’s KISS.

American musician, producer, singer-songwriter Thundercat will also take the Big Ears stage in 2020. Thundercat won a Grammy for Best Rap/ Sung Performance in 2016 for the song ‘These Walls’ on Kendrick Lamar’s critically-acclaimed album, To Pimp a Butterfly. The Los Angeles-native has collaborated with some of the biggest names in R&B and hip-hop, including Erykah Badu, Childish Gambino and Travis Scott.

2020 lineup first-round list:

  • 75 Dollar Bill
  • Andrew Cyrille
  • Annette Peacock
  • Anthony Braxton
  • Areni Agbabian
  • Aurora Nealand & the Royal Roses
  • Bang on a Can All-Stars
  • Caroline Shaw
  • Caterina Barbieri
  • Christian Scott
  • Damo Suzuki Network with the Sound Carriers
  • Dan Weiss Starebaby
  • Daniel Pioro & Valgeir Sigurðsson
  • Devendra Banhart
  • Diamond Curtain Wall Trio
  • Dos Santos
  • Efterklang
  • Electric Appalachia (William Tyler, Mary Lattimore, Eric Dawson of TAMIS)
  • Gyan Riley
  • Harriet Tubman
  • Jaimie Branch’s Fly or Die
  • Jason Moran & the Harlem Hellfighters
  • Jeff Parker and the New Breed
  • Joe Henry’s 115th Dream
  • Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society
  • Kim Myhr
  • Kronos Quartet
  • Marc Ribot
  • Maurice Louca
  • Mdou Moctar
  • Meredith Monk
  • Moonlight Benjamin
  • mssv (Mike Baggetta, Stephen Hodges, Mike Watt)
  • Múm
  • Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret
  • MZM (Miya Masaoka, Zeena Parkins, Myra Melford)
  • Nadah El Shazly
  • Natalie Joachim
  • nief norf
  • Paul Lazar’s Cage Shuffle
  • Peter Brötzmann
  • Sarah Davachi
  • Saul Williams
  • Shabaka & the Ancestors
  • So Percussion
  • Sons of Chipotle (John Paul Jones & Anssi Karttunen)
  • Sound for Andy Warhol’s KISS (Kim Gordon, Bill Nace, Steve Gunn, John Truscinski)
  • Spektral Quartet
  • Steve Coleman and Five Elements
  • Sudan Archives
  • Tamino
  • Terry Riley
  • The Haden Triplets
  • The Necks
  • Thunder Music Ensemble
  • Thundercat
  • Tindersticks
  • Xylouris White

Described as “one of the most quietly earth-shattering, subtly luminous festivals the world over” by the Oxford American, Knoxville-based organizers AC Entertainment bring fans and artists from all over the globe to Knoxville. When the festival returned in 2014 after a brief hiatus, Rolling Stone Magazine’s Christopher Weingarten said ‘Big Ears 2014 is the most ambitious avant-garde festival to emerge in America in more than a decade.” 

“Contained within a walkable radius of historic downtown Knoxville— in a range of ornate landmark theaters, refurbished industrial spaces, art galleries, churches, and clubs— it creates its own atmospheric climate, along with a center of gravity,” describes NPR Music. “From its first iteration in 2009, the festival has been a locus of expedition, defined more by a go-anywhere ethos than by any style or genre allegiance.”

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