Encore: Rodrigo y Gabriela with C.U.B.A.

photo by Scott Newton

For guitar fans, Austin City Limits has been home to legions of blues and country-soaked guitar slingers, from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Eric Johnson to Jerry Reed. This week, however, we feature the dazzling skills of Rodrigo y Gabriela. Joined by Cuban orchestra C.U.B.A., the Mexican duo puts its patented blend of flamenco, jazz and rock through its paces for a thrilling 60 minutes.

Driven by C.U.B.A.’s infectious accompaniment, the pair rockets through “Santa Domingo,” “11:11” and “Tamacun,” with their impressive guitar work riding the lush Cuban motion of their collaborative album Area 52. Gabriela’s traditional flamenco technique, often augmented by a wah-wah pedal, keeps time as much as the drums and percussion, while Rodrigo’s fleet-fingered leads head to the stratosphere – he even pays tribute to his heavy metal roots by strapping on an electric guitar for “Hanuman” and cranks some distortion on “Diablo Rojo.” Longtime fans wanting to hear the duo’s talent unadorned will be thrilled by the middle segment, as C.U.B.A. takes a break to allow Rodrigo y Gabriela to showcase what they are known for: two guitars, chemistry and flying fingers. Each picker takes the spotlight solo as well, in which Rodrigo zooms up and down his fretboard with sizzling leads and Gabriela proves herself as much percussionist as guitarist.

photo by Scott Newton

You can get a sample of Rodrigo y Gabriela and C.U.B.A.’s danceable virtuosity by visiting the episode page, which should be enough to entice to check your local listings for the broadcast time on your PBS station. Don’t forget to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages or sign up for our newsletter for more ACL info. Next week: Tom Waits.

 

Encore: Jason Isbell and Neko Case

photo by Scott Newton

This weekend ACL features two powerful singer-songwriters: Jason Isbell and Neko Case, each possessing a distinctive style and voice.

Hailed as “one of America’s thoroughbred songwriters” by The New York Times, Jason Isbell opens the episode, making his ACL debut. The Nashville-via-Mussel Shoals, Alabama singer/songwriter’s 2013 album Southeastern scored a Top 25 on the Billboard 200, and critical raves, including topping many critic’s year-end best lists. The New York Times Magazine declared, “the record is a breakthrough for Isbell—prickly with loss, forgiveness, newfound sobriety and second chances.” Rolling Stone calls it “one of the year’s best in any genre,” and Pitchfork raves “Southeastern is easily Isbell’s best solo album.” A former member of acclaimed Southern rock band Drive-By Truckers, Isbell launched a solo career in 2007. Backed by his band the 400 Unit, including his wife, fiddler Amanda Shires, and with a rawness and honesty that’s rare in contemporary songwriting, Isbell gives a stunning must-see performance on the ACL stage.

You can see Isbell’s performance in its unedited entirety on the recently-released DVD Jason Isbell: Live at Austin City Limits. You can purchase a copy here.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” said executive producer Terry Lickona, “but when Jason sang ‘Elephant,’ it literally gave me chills. That’s the kind of writer he is, and that’s the kind of performer he is.”

Neko Case makes a thunderous return to ACL (she first appeared in 2003) performing songs from her acclaimed 2013 release The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, her sixth studio album.  Case emerges from a three-year period the artist describes as full of “grief and mourning,” in the wake of the deaths of not just both her parents, but several intimates as well. With her fearless songwriting and musical curiosity, Neko Case captures fans with “one of the most memorable and seductive voices in music” (NPR).  Pitchfork says The Worse Things Get… “is the most potent album of her career,” and Rolling Stone raves that Case is “one of America’s best and most ambitious songwriters.” Case performs a captivating set of songs from the new record, and a few gems from her recent releases.

photo by Scott Newton

“There’s something about that voice, but it’s also about the delivery – which makes this performance that much more special,” said Lickona. “Her television performances are few and far between, so this is one that’s not to be missed!”

Check out the episode page for more details. Don’t forget, you can click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL goodies. Next week: Rodrigo y Gabriela.

 

Encore: Juanes and Jesse & Joy

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents an encore with two of the biggest acts in Latin music today, Juanes and Jesse & Joy. Colombian superstar Juanes headlines with a thrilling, high energy set, while Mexico City’s sibling duo Jesse & Joy sing a selection of their breakthrough hits.

With six solo albums to his credit and multi-platinum sales of over 16 million, Juanes is the world’s leading all-Spanish language rock artist. An electrifying guitarist and gifted songwriter, Juanes made his ACL debut back in 2005, and has since gone on to win multiple Grammy Awards and a record number of Latin Grammys. The Associated Press calls Juanes “the first truly international rock star to emerge from Latin America.” Juanes returns to the ACL stage in a dynamic performance, kicking things off with “Fijate Bien,” the Latin Grammy-winning title track to his debut album.  He pays tribute to one of his inspirations—Bob Marley—with a Latin spin on the reggae classic “Could You Be Loved?”.  By the time he launches into his huge hits, Juanes proves he doesn’t need to sing in English any more than he needs a surname to thoroughly rock the Austin audience.

Jesse & Joy have become one of the most celebrated pop-rock acts to emerge in the Latin music scene since they formed in Mexico City in 2005. The musical siblings boast five Latin Grammy Awards, including four for their triple platinum 2012 album ¿Con Quién Se Queda El Perro? (“Who Gets the Dog?”) and their first Grammy Nomination this year for Best Latin Pop Album.  The Los Angeles Times raves, “Their rootsy, soft-rock sincerity evokes ’80s country-pop, and Joy’s dulcet-but-earthy voice has been compared to those of Norah Jones, Alanis Morissette and, almost inevitably, Kelly Clarkson.” With Jesse Huerta on guitar, piano, drums, and background vocals and Joy Huerta on vocals and guitar, these siblings in sound deliver a breakout performance. A highlight is the duo’s emotional performance of their smash hit “Corre”— with the audience singing along to every word, waving their hands in the air, it’s a moment that reflects the truly universal language of music.

photo by Scott Newton

“Juanes is the first Latin artist since Ricky Martin to break out and transcend musical and cultural barriers,” says ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “Audiences connect with him on many levels, and his charisma on stage is magnetic! As brother and sister, Jesse & Joy’s music is very genuine and emotional, and it’s just fun to watch them interact with each other and their fans.”

Check out the episode page here for setlists and more. Keep up with ACL happenings via our Facebook and Twitter pages or our newsletter. Next week: Jason Isbell and Neko Case.

Nine Inch Nails continues ACL Season 40

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a rare hour of television with legendary industrial rock titan Nine Inch Nails in a special encore broadcast  that originally previewed in April as a prelude to our 40th anniversary season. Recently nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NIN give an arena-worthy performance in their ACL debut.

“We’ve waited a long time to do anything like this,” says Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor from the ACL stage. The episode offers a fascinating look at the influential act’s artistry in a flawless performance of unparalleled intensity. NIN’s Reznor and the seven-piece band—Alessandro Cortini, Josh Eustis, Robin Finck, Lisa Fischer, Sharlotte Gibson, Pino Palladino and Ilan Rubin—deliver an electrifying hour-long set that is a masterpiece of tension and release. Opening with the sultry “All Time Low” from the critically-acclaimed Hesitation Marks—their first album in five years—the band performs tracks from its recent offering alongside earlier works, including 1999′s The Fragile. NIN segue into a revamped version of “Sanctified” from the 1989 debut Pretty Hate Machine, with the vocal duo of Fischer and Gibson adding depth and texture to the pummeling rhythms throughout the song as well as the entire riveting set. The cathartic performance comes to a close with a redemptive take on the NIN classic “Hurt”, as Reznor grips the microphone and howls the confessional lyrics while the Austin audience begs for more.

photo by Scott Newton

“We never thought we’d see the day when Nine Inch Nails would set foot on the ACL stage,” says Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “I mean, they never did television for 25 years. I came away from this show having the greatest respect for Trent Reznor. He’s one of the most focused, intense and creative artists I’ve ever worked with.”

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 goodies. Next week: Tweedy.

 

Encore: Coldplay

photo by Scott Newton

This weekend we are excited to present a special episode featuring Coldplay.  Recorded in September 2012, the performance features the band debuting several new songs off their most recent release Mylo Xyloto, including “Paradise,” “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” and “Hurts Like Heaven,” as well as old favorites like  “Viva La Vida.” Originally presented as a New Year’s Eve special to ring in 2012, this show has become a new favorite. The band gave us an extra-special performance, and we’re thrilled to bring it back to the airwaves.

photo by Scott Newton

You can see for yourself this Saturday – check the listings for your local  PBS station. You can also go here for biographical info, pictures and the setlist. Don’t forget to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages or sign up for our newsletter for more ACL goodies. Next week: our 40th season premiere, featuring Beck!

 

Encore: Steve Miller Band and Preservation Hall Jazz Band

photo by Scott Newton

We love to present new music and show off current artists hitting their prime. But we’re happy to honor the veterans and the lifers – the folks whose work has stood the test of time. In that light, we present Steve Miller Band and Preservation Hall Jazz Band on the ACL stage this weekend.

Steve Miller Band need no introduction – lauded rock guitarist Steve Miller and his various partners-in-crime have been knocking around since the late 60s, leaving a string of indelible hits in their wake. Remember “Abracadabra?” “Fly Like An Eagle?” “Space Cowboy?” Of course you do, and you’ll hear them all on Saturday in front of an enthusiastic crowd in what was the very first taping of ACL at the Moody Theater.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been around even longer than Miller – the group’s genesis coincides with the founding of the Hall itself back in 1961, and the style of New Orleans jazz the band plays goes back even further than that. History lives on in PHJB’s performances. But don’t think that means that the group is preserved in amber. Joining the band onstage are Jim James from My Morning Jacket, James Petralli from White Denim and the ever-elegant Del McCoury Band to add their inimitable contemporary mojo. Once you hear “St. James Infirmary” sung by a high-voiced indie rock front dude, you’ll realize it’s what you’ve always wanted.

photo by Scott Newton

Tune in this Saturday for your classic rock ‘n’ jazz fix – as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Toggle over to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL goodies. Next week: Coldplay.

 

Encore: The Head and the Heart/Gomez

photo by Scott Newton

The wide (wild?) world of indie rock has so many disparate roads to travel it’s dizzying. But the best indie rock artists, like the best musicians in any genre, have one thing in common: good songs. And on this weekend’s encore you can see two of the best song-centric indie rock bands on Austin City Limits: The Head and the Heart and Gomez.

Seattle sextet The Head and the Heart exploded out of the Pacific Northwest with an eponymous debut that sold 10,000 copies as a self-released disk before being picked up by indie label giant Sub Pop. The group’s upbeat, harmony-rich folk pop has garnered a large, deeply dedicated fan base in a surprisingly short amount of time. Come hear why as the band plays fan favorites “Down in the Valley” and “Lost in My Mind,” among others.

U.K. quintet Gomez have fifteen years of experience behind them and show no signs of slowing down. The band’s eclectic mix of roots rock, pop, psychedelia, electronica and whatever else crosses the members’ radar has gained them a loyal worldwide audience of discerning music fans. Gomez’ seventh LP Whatever’s On Your Mind received the near-universal acclaim all their records earn, and the band shows why with performances of “I Will Take You There” and “Just As Lost As You,” as well as old favorites “Get Miles” and “In Our Gun.”

photo by Scott Newton

Want more details? Head over to the episode page for photos, setlists and biographical info. Don’t forget to visit – and visit often – our Facebook and Twitter pages for tidbits on ACL, or to sign up for our e-newsletter. Next week on Austin City Limits: The Steve Miller Band and Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

 

Encore: Kacey Musgraves and Dale Watson

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a spectacular hour of country music, Texas-style, featuring the ACL debuts of Grammy Award-winning Texas native Kacey Musgraves and Austin’s own country icon Dale Watson.

Breakout country artist Kacey Musgraves walked away with two trophies for Best Country Album and Best Country Song at this year’s Grammy Awards for her critically-acclaimed major label debut Same Trailer Different Park. The release produced the hit singles “Follow Your Arrow” and the Grammy-winning “Merry Go ‘Round” and topped many critics’ 2013 year-end best lists including Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Country Weekly, Spin and The New York Times, with Rolling Stone calling her “the gen aught Loretta Lynn…ballsy, unsentimental, thoroughly pop and yet totally in the (country) tradition.” Viewers will want to pull up a chair for a front row seat to one of the most arresting ACL debuts of the season. “Welcome to our little trailer park,” says the twenty-five year old singer-songwriter, kicking off her radiant performance surrounded by a white picket fence and porch lights. Musgrave’s honest, effortless vocals shine on songs that demonstrate her witty knack for storytelling in a bold, irresistible ACL set.

“If you didn’t know much about Kacey Musgraves before her triumph at the Grammys, you’ll really know what the buzz is all about after seeing her ACL performance,” says executive producer Terry Lickona. “She’s a remarkable songwriter and all-around talent who is blazing new trails for women in country music.”

photo by Scott Newton

Next up is Austin’s king of country music: Dale Watson. Called “the silver pompadoured, baritone beltin’, Lone Star beer drinkin’, honky-tonk hellraiser” by The Austin Chronicle, the hometown hero has flown the flag for classic honky-tonk for over two decades and twenty albums. His latest album, El Rancho Azul, continues his work as one of the world’s finest C&W singers and songwriters, and ACL is thrilled to present Austin’s favorite son in his first feature performance. For Watson’s set, the ACL studio is transformed into a substitute for his regular Austin haunt Ginny’s Little Longhorn, with a room full of dancers two-stepping in the time-honored manner and he gets the ATX audience fired up with “Honkiest, Tonkiest Beer Joint,” his paean to the legendary saloon. Watson turns on the Texas charm as he performs a career-spanning, crowd-pleasing set, turning ACL into a full-on honky-tonk complete with Texas shuffles, closing out the season in good fun on a glorious high note.

“Dale is the real deal. Nobody else is making country music like this today,” Lickona says. “It’s time for the rest of the world to discover why he’s so special to us in Austin.”

Check out the episode page for more details. Be sure and visit our Facebook and Twitter pages or sign up for our newsletter for more ACL news and happenings. Next week: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell.