Anderson East brings heavy soul to his debut ACL taping

Singer/songwriter Anderson East hails from Alabama and resides in Nashville, and he brings serious firepower to every note he sings. Armed with his acclaimed new album Encore (produced by Dave Cobb, who’s helmed records by Zac Brown Band, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, John Prine, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and others who’ve been on the show in the last two years), East gave the audience a strong shot of soul on his debut Austin City Limits taping, which we streamed live around the world.

Taking the stage in a snakeskin jacket, East and his eight-piece band immediately paid tribute to the ACL legacy by opening with Willie Nelson’s “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces,” giving it a funky soul ballad reading. Putting his acoustic guitar aside, East dug into the songbook of the late, great Ted Hawkins for the raucous stomper “Sorry You’re Sick.” That Southern soul energy kept running for “Surrender,” featuring fireworks from East and singers Whitney Coleman and Kristen Rogers. Donning his guitar and welcoming a four-piece string section (led by Nashville’s Kristin Wilkinson, here a couple of months ago with Brandi Carlile), East sang a song “about how I feel tonight” – the mid-tempo charmer “King For a Day.” Guitarist Scotty Murray donned an electric dobro for the lighter-waving ballad “Devil in Me,” while keyboardist Philip Towns powered the gospel groover “Learning” with some seriously funky organ.  

After that tour-de-force, East went back to ballad territory for “If You Keep Leaving Me,” which sounded like a vintage Otis Redding cover. The strings returned for “Without You,” another heartbreaker that filled the room with sound. The musicians revved up again for the swaggering “Girlfriend,” which segued directly into the funky “All On My Mind,” both of which showed off the band as much as East’s prodigious pipes. The singer went back to his Southern soul roots for his hit “Satisfy Me,” which could have been a long-lost gem from the Stax catalog of the sixties and was a clear crowd favorite.

“I’ve been watching this show for a long time, and I never thought I’d be on it,” remarked East, before launching into the set-closing “This Too Shall Last,” a widescreen ballad highlighted by Murray and East trading guitar solos that brought the cheering crowd to its feet. After that reaction, more was required, and East, band and strings returned for “House is a Building” (“then home is a feeling”), which built on Towns’ jazzy piano to East’s powerhouse vocal climaxes. “Thanks for making us feel at home tonight,” East said, and the audience made sure he knew the feeling was mutual. It was a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs as part of our forty-fourth season on PBS.

Wild Child brings upbeat energy to the ACL stage

When Austin City Limits first hit the air in the mid-70s, it was all about showcasing the burgeoning Austin music scene. So it always makes us happy to welcome another rising star from our own backyard. In support of this year’s fourth album Expectations, Wild Child hit our stage with youthful energy and an eclectic, genre-spanning performance, which we streamed live around the world.

Taking the stage to pre-recorded disco, the band went into “Fools,” a midtempo folk popper. Perpetually smiling singer/violinist Kelsey Wilson and cellist Sadie Wolfe brought their instruments forcefully to bear on “The Tale of You & Me,” a more rocking tune. Wilson and co-writer/singer/ukelele player Alexander Beggins brought their voices close on the playful “Alex,” before the tempo dropped and the emotion rose for the lush ballad “Eggshells.” Wilson welcomed a three-piece horn section and her singing younger sister Skylar to the stage for another ballad, the undulating “Rillo Talk.” The sibling harmony continued on the sweetly rolling “Break You Down” and the peppy “1996.” Beggins took the lead vocals for “Stitches,” a tune inspired by too much time away from home.

The band and the horn section quit the stage, leaving Wilson and Beggins by themselves onstage to duet on the sweet ‘n’ sour, asides-filled romance of “The One.” Beggins then moved to the piano for “Break Bones,” the best showcase yet for Wilson’s pretty voice. The rest of the duo’s compadres returned for “My Town” and “Follow Me,” more ballads for Wilson to make her own. “Take It” brought the energy level back up, and the funky “Back & Forth” rode the wave. The energized piano pop of “Crazy Bird” set the stage for the radio hit “Think It Over,” as sweet a tune as the airwaves can receive.  

The band stripped down to guitars and vocals for the harmony-laden, shimmering fan favorite “Sinking Ship.” Beggin switched from uke to guitar for the closing “Expectations,” a funky, melodic charmer that got the crowd roaring. The group quit the stage, but of course, that didn’t mean it was over. Wild Child returned to the stage for “Bad Girl,” a frisky folk/pop number dedicated to Wilson’s niece, who was in the house. It was a nicely upbeat way to end the show, which we can’t wait for you to see when it airs in our 44th season on your local PBS station.

Giveaway: Anderson East 6/22

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Anderson East on 6/22 at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We will be giving away a limited number of space available passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by noon on 6/19.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pickup tickets. Winners will be notified by email. Passes are not transferable and cannot be sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras, computers or recording devices allowed in venue.

Encore: The Head and The Heart and Benjamin Booker

Austin City Limits showcases two standout acts featured on this year’s namesake ACL Festival: The Head and the Heart and Benjamin Booker. Both acts are highlights on the touring circuit, drawing raves for soulful live performances.

Seattle folk-rock band The Head and the Heart make their second ACL appearance with a luminous performance featuring songs from their newest release Signs of Light. The indie favorites are one of live music’s biggest draws, with high-profile 2017 festival appearances including Coachella, Bonnaroo, Newport Folk in addition to Austin’s own ACL Festival. The sextet deliver an uplifting, singalong set filled with new musical touchstones including “All We Ever Knew” and “City of Angels.” A moving cover of “Hunger Strike” honoring late Seattle icon Chris Cornell is a set highlight, rich with three-part harmonies. The band bring the passionate set to a glorious close with the soaring “River and Roads” from their 2011 self-titled debut, a fan favorite.

Florida-raised, New Orleans-based guitarist and singer-songwriter Benjamin Booker delivers a raw, impassioned ACL debut packed with songs from his acclaimed 2017 album Witness and his 2014 self-titled breakout debut. Opening with his rocking radio hit “Violent Shiver,” the twenty-eight year old phenom draws on soul, blues and gospel, showcasing stirring soul-rockers “Carry,” “The Slow Drag Under” and “Believe” backed by a gospel choir. A powerful performance of his Civil Rights anthem “Witness” combines Booker’s husky, soulful voice with a profound message on racism in America. 

“The Head and the Heart and Benjamin Booker are prime examples of artists who just keep getting better,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Rather than finding a groove and just staying with it, they are constantly searching for new ways to express their voices, and new sounds to go along with them. The end result can be surprising but always inspiring.”

photo by Scott Newton

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Join us next week for another encore episode, featuring jazz singer Cassandra Wilson performing a tribute to Billie Holiday.

 

ACL announces live streams for Wild Child and Anderson East

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Austin City Limits is excited to announce that we will be live streaming our upcoming tapings with two captivating acts: rising young Austin indie rockers Wild Child on June 21 here and Nashville blue-eyed soul singer/songwriter Anderson East on June 22 here.

Austin’s Wild Child make their ACL debut in support of Expectations, the band’s most creative, colorful and intellectually engaging album to date.  The Austin-American Statesman raves, “Four albums in, the Austin indie-folk band-that-could has become increasingly confident without losing the sense of childlike wonder that’s so central to the spirit of their music.”  The septet’s new release rose out of a desire to take a multispectral approach to writing and recording that went beyond simply trying to engineer success. The band made a list of their favorite musicians who were also producers, choosing ones they thought would shine a new light on specific compositions, and then set about chasing their album from studio to studio all over the world. That route took them to Chris Walla’s (Death Cab For Cutie) studio in Tromsø, Norway, to a home-built warehouse studio in Philadelphia with Dr. Dog’s Scott McMicken, and back to Wimberley, Texas, as Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit) set up a makeshift studio in Wild Child lead singer and violinist Kelsey Wilson’s childhood home. The group also tapped the talents of frequent tour mate Chris Boosahda (Shakey Graves), Atlantic Records recording artist Max Frost, and Grammy-winning producer Adrian Quesada (Black Pumas, Brownout). The result is a theater of possibilities, with arrangements that reflect the range of tastes of the producers, from scruffy lo-fi tape hiss to smoothed out precision-cut electronic pop sounds. “Without sacrificing Wild Child’s signature pop swell, Expectations emerges soulful and serious,” says the Austin Chronicle.

Called “an exciting singer-songwriter effortlessly able to blend elements of rock, blues, country and soul” by Associated Press, Anderson East steps on our stage for the first time with his latest album Encore, produced by longtime collaborator Dave Cobb.  The album’s title is derived from East’s steadfast belief: that every song on his new album must be worthy of closing out one of his notoriously epic live shows. The Athens, Alabama native broke onto the music scene with “Satisfy Me” from his 2015 major label debut Delilah, followed by a breakout series of years that included appearances on Cobb’s Southern Family compilation, Brandi Carlile’s Cover Stories benefit LP and the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack, as well as spending much of 2017 on the road with Chris and Morgane Stapleton as part of their All-American Road Show.  The New York Times calls Encore “an often lustrous revisiting of raucous Southern soul, rousingly delivered and pinpoint precise,” with NPR Music claiming that it “draw[s] inspiration from the sophistication of Donny Hathaway’s compositions and arrangements, the grandness of Van Morrison’s Caledonia Soul Orchestra and the dashing song interpretation of Joe Cocker.” American Songwriter says, “This remains a sharp, soul-drenched, organically based set that solidifies the R&B roots at the heart of East’s talents,” adding that it’s “poised to push the talented singer-songwriter over the top and into the mainstream.”

Join us on June 21 for Wild Child’s full-set live stream here and June 22 for Anderson East’s set here on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The broadcast versions will air on PBS as part of our upcoming Season 44.

Giveaway: Wild Child 6/21

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Wild Child on 6/21 at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We will be giving away a limited number of space available passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by noon on 6/18.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pickup tickets. Winners will be notified by email. Passes are not transferable and cannot be sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras computers or recording devices allowed in venue.