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2020 MusicNow Festival Lineup Includes Feist, Bryce Dessner, Moses Sumney, Helado Negro

The National's Bryce Dessner announced the lineup for the 14th edition of the MusicNOW Festival on Tuesday (Feb. 4), which will feature sets from Feist, Eighth Blackbird, Moses Sumney and Helado…

The lineup for the 14th edition of the MusicNOW festival was released on Tuesday (Feb. 4) and once again it brings together a vast range of musical and performing artists setting up in unique spaces all over downtown Cincinnati. The long-running event will coincide with the second edition of The National‘s Homecoming Festival, with programming taking place in a variety of intimate venues from May 8-10.    

The event, founded by National guitarist Bryce Dessner, will include shows at Washington Park, the Transept, First Lutheran Church, Music Hall Ballroom and Memorial Hall by Dessner and twin brother guitarist Aaron Dessner’s Big 37d03d Machine, Ashley Fure, Leslie Feist, Eighth Blackbird, Moses Sumney, William Brittelle, Helado Negro and members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.   

“Over the last 15 years MusicNOW has always been a celebration of our hometown of Cincinnati and place to bring new music and collaborations to life,” said Bryce Dessner in a statement. “We are so excited to present this year’s lineup in partnership with Homecoming, which features many of our favorite artists taking risks together and premiering new music for the first time. The initial idea we had 15 years ago to create a festival that could be about process and creative residencies, and making room for artists with diverse educations and backgrounds, remains a huge part of why we do this. It’s an honor to do this in the city and in partnership with Homecoming.”   


MusicNOW will host late night events on May 8 and 9 after the full day of Homecoming sets, including a show with Ben Lanz & Kid Millions debuting Million Lands and an improv experiment by Alexi Murdoch. Saturday’s late night show will feature a DJ set from Sylvan Esso; both of those shows are at the Woodward Theater, while Sunday’s gig will have sets from LNZNDRF and Aaron Dessner’s Big 37d03d Machine at Ghost Baby.

This year’s Homecoming Festival — presented by the National and AC Entertainment — will take place in Smale Park and feature the National doing a full Friday night performance of 2010’s High Violet album (and a career-spanning set on May 9) as well as Friday sets from Sylvan Esso, Local Natives, Phosphorescent, Archives and Triiibe and Saturday shows from Patti Smith and Her Band, Of Monsters and Men, Japanese Breakfast, Hamilton Leithauser, Jay Some, Velvet Negroni, and Wussy.

All MusicNOW tickets and Homecoming one-day tickets will go on sale on Friday (Feb. 7) at 10 a.m. EST. MusicNOW’s late night events will be separately ticketed with a limited number of all-inclusive MusicNOW Sunday passes available. Individual tickets will also be available for select MusicNOW Sunday performances as capacity allows. Homecoming two-day Platinum tickets are sold out and according to organizers only a few two-day VIP tickets remain; two-day general admission tickets for Homecoming are available for $159, but will move to a final tier pricing soon.

Check out some of the descriptions of MusicNOW special events and the full listing of shows below:

William Brittelle’s I Will Call You Master is a brand-new project centered around poetry, ignited at November’s 37d03d residency in Eaux Claires HIVER, and cellist Gyda Valtysdottir will work with a local choreographer Taylor Carrasco, who was nominated to participate in the residency by the Cincinnati Ballet. Alexi Murdoch will be debuting new music and Moses Sumney, will perform ahead of his new album Græ (out May 15). The lineup also includes Eve Owen, Helado Negro, Leif Vollebekk, Lilleth Glimcher and Mina Tindle.   

Leslie Feist will perform Odyssey Project with Shahzad Ismaily and Todd Dahlhoff and develop a MusicNOW Chorus on the ground in Cincinnati. The project was born of a series of improvisations made by Feist, Todd Dahlhoff and Shazad Ismaily, during the 37d03d residency in Berlin, August 2018, and developed at Sounds from a Safe Harbour in September 2019 in Cork, Ireland. Based on Emily Wilson’s lucid and remarkable translation of Homer’s Odyssey, the trio experimented with reframing the text as well as manipulating electric, electronic, and acoustic instruments.  


In a rare one-off performance, Eighth Blackbird and members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will perform Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians (Reich is one of Bryce Dessner’s mentors). “We were all grad students in Cincinnati and are thrilled to be able to come back and perform one of our favorite pieces of music with the fantastic Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra,” says Lisa Kaplan of Eighth Blackbird. “Music for 18is one of Reich’s most influential and an utter joy to perform. We are so looking forward to sharing it.” 

2020 MusicNow Festival Lineup: See It

MusicNOW and Homecoming present special late-night events:

Friday, May 8, 11pm EST @ Woodward Theatre, Cincinnati

Ben Lanz & Kid Millions debut Million Lands, 37d03d presents FLUKES, an improv experiment led by Alexi Murdoch

Tickets: $20 + fee, on sale Fri, Feb 7 at 10am EST

Tickets available from Woodward Theatre

Saturday, May 9, 11pm EST @ Woodward Theatre, Cincinnati 

Sylvan Esso DJ set 

Tickets: $20 + fee, on sale Fri Feb 7 at 10am EST

Tickets available from Woodward Theatre

Sunday, May 10, 11pm EST @ Ghost Baby, Cincinnati

Ashley Fure & Lilleth Glimcher present Hive Rise, LNZNDRF, Aaron Dessner’s Big 37d03d Machine

Tickets: $20 + fee, on sale Fri Feb 7 at 10am EST

Tickets available from Music Hall

MusicNOW presents:

Sunday, May 10 @ venues in and around Washington Park

All events listed below are included in the day ticket package

12:00pm @ Washington Park Bandstand – FREE TO THE PUBLIC

Eve Owen, Mina Tindle, Leif Vollebekk

2:00pm @ Transept 

Included in day ticket only

La Force, Alexi Murdoch

4:00pm @ First Lutheran Church 

Included in day ticket only

I Will Call You Master by William Brittelle with Shahzad Ismaily & Gyda Valtysdottir, Gyda Valtysdottir with Taylor Carrasco

5:00pm @ Transept 

Included in day ticket only

Helado Negro

6:30pm @ Music Hall Ballroom

included in day ticket – also available as a single ticket purchase from Music Hall ($28)

Moses Sumney

8pm @ Memorial Hall

Included in day ticket – also available as a single ticket purchase from Memorial Hall ($25+ fee)

Odyssey by Leslie Feist, Todd Dahlhoff, Shahzad Ismaily, Andrew Barr and the MusicNOW Chorus

10pm @ Music Hall Ballroom 

Included in day ticket – also available as a single ticket purchase from Music Hall ($33)

Members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Eighth Blackbird present Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians