Encore: Fleet Foxes and Joanna Newsom

Folk music has long been a staple of Austin City Limits. That said, to call either Fleet Foxes or Joanna Newsom simply “folk” is to do them a disservice. As you’ll see when these iconoclasts’ joint episode airs this weekend, there’s much more to these artists than just acoustic instruments.

The first half of this weekend’s episode spotlights the strong songcraft and delicate instrumental interplay of Fleet Foxes. The Seattle sextet interweaves lush vocal harmonies and arrangements that feature everything from 12-string guitar to mandolin to bass clarinet. The band emphasizes its latest record Helplessness Blues, with inspired performances of “Sim Sala Bim” and “The Shrine/An Argument.” But the Foxes’ popular first LP represents with “Your Protector” and the fan-favorite “Blue Ridge Mountains.” It’s a tight set that proves Fleet Foxes has earned their acclaim.

The second half showcases the daring experimentalism and uncommon musicality of Joanna Newsom. Wielding her harp like a paintbrush and singing like a delirious angel, Newsom leads her unique ensemble (strings, trombone, tamboura, kaval, banjo) through a set drawn mostly from her latest album Have One On Me, including the title track and the mesmerizing “Good Intentions Paving Company.” While you could throw words like “psychedelic” and “folk” and “classical” around when talking about Joanna Newsom, it’s better to simply experience her special sound and vision for yourself.

photo by Scott Newton

The Fleet Foxes/Joanna Newsom show hits the airwaves this weekend – check your local PBS listings for showtimes. Head over to the episode page for more goodies – pics, setlists, bio info. Don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Twitter regularly, or to sign up for our e-newsletter. Next week: Rosanne Cash and Brandi Carlile.