Austin City Limits (ACL) rings in the new year with an annual tradition, highlights from the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Inductions & Celebration, hosted by Chris Isaak. This fifth annual all-star celebration features music luminaries and more sharing the stage for one epic night to perform in honor of the newest class of inductees: Ray Charles, Marcia Ball and Los Lobos. The special hour, taped October 25, 2018 at ACL’s studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater, in Austin, Texas, honors the musicians who have played an instrumental role in the evolution of the iconic series.
Master of ceremonies Chris Isaak opens the special noting that Austin City Limits, now in its 44th season, is the longest-running television music program in history, outlasting American Bandstand, Soul Train and—even—Hullabaloo. Isaak introduces honoree Marcia Ball, the Texas-born pioneering blues pianist who debuted on ACL’s first season in 1976, saying “when she sings the blues she makes you dance.” Inducted by her longtime friend and collaborator, New Orleans soul queen Irma Thomas, Ball accepts the honor saying of ACL “I was lucky enough to get here first, stay longer, go farther and have more fun than I ever, ever imagined possible.” An all-female line-up of blues all-stars pays tribute to her 50-year strong career in a sparkling three-song salute with Ball herself on piano, joined by Thomas and powerhouse vocalists Tracy Nelson, Lou Ann Barton, Carolyn Wonderland and Shelley King, celebrating a shared lifetime of friendship and music.
The late Ray Charles made two seminal ACL appearances in the 1980s and is honored following an induction by John Burk, president of Concord Records and producer of the music titan’s final studio album in 2004. Norah Jones salutes the Genius with a sterling rendition of “What Would I Do Without You,” saying “this is one of my favorite Ray Charles songs.” Blues great Ruthie Foster brings the house down with a powerhouse reading of Brother Ray’s signature “Georgia on My Mind” and blues-rock star Gary Clark Jr. puts down his guitar for the occasion and steps up to the mic to pay vocal tribute, delivering a radiant “Nighttime Is the Right Time” while vocalists Ruthie Foster, Shelley King and Carolyn Wonderland do The Raelettes proud with show-stopping backing chorus.
Acclaimed filmmaker Robert Rodriguez inducts his longtime compadres Los Lobos into the ACL Hall of Fame calling the East L.A. band “Endlessly inventive, unbelievably groundbreaking, masterful with all kinds of instruments, peerless musicians, and just truly great people.” Los Lobos’ musical kinship with ACL includes six appearances on the series, and they take the stage to perform a trio of back-to-back classics from their forty year-plus career. Joined by director Rodriguez on guitar, steel guitar ace Robert Randolph, Boz Scaggs and guitarist Adrian Quesada, the brothers in arms dazzle with a jubilant eight guitar heartbeat, and the celebration of music comes to an epic close, ushering in the New Year with a Feliz Año Nuevo! and a buoyant “La Bamba,” the 1987 classic.