Foals and Alejandro Escovedo bring ACL Season 42 to a rocking close

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits closes out Season 42 with a big rock finish—a season finale featuring UK alt-rock sensations Foals and Texas legend Alejandro Escovedo. Foals play tunes from their album What Went Down, while Escovedo, joined by an all-star band that includes R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, showcases songs from his acclaimed release Burn Something Beautiful.

One of the UK’s most popular bands, Foals make their debut on the Austin City Limits stage with songs from their acclaimed fourth album What Went Down, awarded Best Album by NME in 2016. Hailed as “fierce, amorphous rock” by The Guardian, the British quintet formed in Oxford in 2005 and have gone on to conquer festival stages including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds in their native UK, and Coachella and the Austin City Limits Festival stateside. Foals perform a blistering five-song set featuring their breakthrough anthem “Mountain At My Gates,” and closing with the seething “What Went Down,” which features a crowd visit from charismatic frontman Yannis Philippakis that thrills the besotted Austin fans.

“Foals has a reputation for their amazing live performances,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and I had more people come up to me after this show than any other to say it was the best one all season. That should give you some idea what to expect!”

Called a “rock and punk godfather” by Rolling Stone, Alejandro Escovedo first appeared on Austin City Limits in 1983, and returns for a fifth, unforgettable performance. The Texas trailblazer performs songs from Burn Something Beautiful, his 11th studio album, joined by alt-rock luminaries including R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and the Minus 5’s Scott McCaughey, who co-produced the new release, rounded out by a team of rock stalwarts: ex-Fastbacks guitarist Kurt Bloch, Decemberists’ drummer John Moen, and singers Kelly Hogan (Neko Case) and Karla Manzur. Escovedo and Buck lock guitars for the shimmering “Suit of Lights” featuring a gorgeous vocal spotlight by Hogan, and the six-string army blazes at full-force on the fiery, infectious punk of album opener “Horizontal.” The luminous set is a celebration of the rock ‘n’ roll life and a testament to the enduring power of a rock ‘n’ roll survivor.

photo by Scott Newton

“In so many ways, Alejandro epitomizes what Austin City Limits is all about,” says Lickona. “His music expanded, deepened and evolved over the years much the same way ACL has. It’s always a special night when he takes our stage.”

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. Tune in next week for a special encore, featuring Album of the Year Grammy nominee Sturgill Simpson and Austin scene vets Asleep at the Wheel.

CeCe Winans and St. Paul & the Broken Bones bring pure soul to ACL Season 42

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a soul-stirring hour of high voltage gospel with the legendary CeCe Winans and soul sensations St. Paul & The Broken Bones.

Gospel superstar CeCe Winans dazzles with a joyful spirit and a powerful voice in her first-ever appearance on the ACL stage. The ten-time Grammy-winning legend takes us to church with a buoyant set backed by her eleven-piece band, performing songs from Let Them Fall in Love, her first album in nearly a decade. Winans opens with the Motown meets southern soul burner “Hey Devil!” – a playful rebuke to temptation, tossing in a chorus of “Hit the Road, Jack” for good measure. A set highlight is new gem “Lowly,” a feel-good raver filled with soaring choruses and delightful interplay between Winans and her backup singers. She delivers a powerhouse take on “Why Me Lord,” the Kris Kristofferson classic, bringing the house down. Closing out her exuberant set with “Dancing in the Spirit,” the gospel giant leads a jubilant sing and dance-along that has the audience on their feet singing her praises.

Named “one of rock’s hottest live acts,” by Rolling Stone, the Birmingham, Alabama soul outfit St. Paul & The Broken Bones fire up the crowd in a thrilling ACL debut, armed with songs from their acclaimed sophomore release Sea of Love. Dynamic frontman Paul Janeway, decked out in a cherry-red suit with checkerboard trim, promises the crowd “we gon’ take you there,” and he delivers. The blistering set offers non-stop scorchers with a show-stopping performance by Janeway, whose voice has earned comparisons to soul greats Al Green and Otis Redding, and whom, NPR says, “channels a fire-and-brimstone energy”. “Let’s take it to the heavens,” says the colorful bandleader for the rousing set-closer “Burning Rome,” as he drops to his knees, preaching his soul-fire gospel and making a believer out of everyone.

photo by Scott Newton

“A CeCe Winans performance is almost a religious experience in itself, but no matter your beliefs, you’ll be inspired to sing, shout and dance by this show,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “St. Paul & The Broken Bones is unlike anything you’ve ever seen or heard. Taken together, this is an unmitigated hour of joy!”

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. Tune in next week for a brand new episode, featuring the ACL debut of British rock sensation Foals and the return of rocking Texas singer/songwriter Alejandro Escovedo.

Band of Horses and Parker Millsap bring modern roots rock to ACL Season 42

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases modern roots rock with two American originals: indie favorites Band of Horses and acclaimed singer-songwriter Parker Millsap.

South Carolina indie-folk rockers Band of Horses made their ACL debut in 2010 and return to perform time-honed classics alongside new gems from their fifth studio album Why Are You Ok? The Charleston-based quintet, led by dynamic frontman Ben Bridwell, kick off the upbeat seven-song set with the classic, “Is There A Ghost” from their 2007 album Cease To Begin. The band strips down to an acoustic trio for the early career hit “Part One,” circling a single microphone to capture their lush three-part harmonies. New songs “Throw My Mess,” “Hag” and “In A Drawer,” showcase the band’s melodic range, and lead into the raucous set-closing anthem, fan favorite “The General Specific.”

Oklahoman singer-songwriter Parker Millsap has set the Americana world on fire with his songs, his voice and his impassioned live show. Raised in the Pentecostal church, Millsap is filled with a fire-and-brimstone fervor that fuels his gospel-tinged lyrics and gives way to Buddy Holly-esque rockabilly ravers. The 23-year-old rising star opens his ACL debut with the apocalyptic title track from his sophomore album The Very Last Day. Millsap’s “talent for bringing convincing, complex characters to life” (NPR) is evident in the set’s centerpiece, “Heaven Sent,” which has the singer taking on the role of a gay son searching for his preacher father’s acceptance. Millsap closes out the standout performance with a soaring, fiddle-accompanied take on the blues classic “You Gotta Move,” then concludes with a howling, impassioned performance of his own hard-hitting “Hades Pleads,” which gets the appreciative ACL audience on their feet for a well-deserved ovation.

photo by Scott Newton

“Their songs are at the heart of what makes both Band of Horses and Parker Millsap so special,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Band of Horses are at the top of their game, lyrically and melodically, and Parker Millsap’s songwriting is story-telling at its very best. This is a show you where you should turn off the lights and turn up the volume.”

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. Tune in next week for a brand new episode, featuring the ACL debuts of gospel legend CeCe Winans and Southern soul revivalists St. Paul & the Broken Bones.

Margo Price and Hayes Carll take ACL Season 42 back to the country

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a captivating hour with two of contemporary country music’s brightest: Margo Price in her ACL debut and Hayes Carll making a return appearance.

Rising star Margo Price had a banner 2016 with the release of her acclaimed solo debut Midwest Farmer’s Daughter. Recorded at Memphis’ fabled Sun Studios and released by Jack White’s Third Man Records, the album topped critics’ year-end-best lists with Rolling Stone raving, “It’s the kind of record that hits you in the gut: staggeringly honest, as devastating as it is joyful and whip-smart.” Opening her stellar ACL debut with the honky tonk comeuppance “About To Find Out,” Price puts a fresh spin on classic Nashville with her sharp songwriting, steely vocals and dynamic road-tested live persona. “Hands of Time,” about a heartbreaking run of bad luck, leads into the crowd-pleasing set-closer “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle),” as Price ventures into the audience surrounded by newfound fans.

“A wry Texas troubadour with a knack for crooked grace and a clever turn of phrase” (New York Times), Hayes Carll returns for his first appearance since his ACL debut in 2010. The native Texan recalls his troubadour roots with his first album in five years, the critically acclaimed Lovers and Leavers, after having garnered a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Country Song. Carll dedicates the artful set-opener “Sake of the Song” to a creative influence, the late, great Guy Clark, calling him the “lion of the songwriting world.” His natural gift for storytelling is evident in his startlingly personal six-song set, with its highlight “The Magic Kid,” a song about his son’s determination to be a magician, stealing the show and demonstrating Carll’s own brand of magic. He reaches back to his 2005 breakthrough Little Rock to close out the set, showcasing the fascinating and fearless evolution of a songwriting giant.

photo by Scott Newton

“If you’re not a fan of Nashville’s pop country trends, this show will be a breath of fresh air,” says longtime ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Margo writes and sings with a classic country touch, but what she writes about totally speaks to today. Hayes carries on the proud tradition of Texas songwriters, and this is his best work to date.”

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. Tune in next week for a brand new episode, featuring the return of Band of Horses and the debut of Parker Millsap.

Cyndi Lauper shines in ACL’s 42nd season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents an irresistible hour with the ever-entertaining Cyndi Lauper, as she performs her mega-hits alongside classic country covers from her recently released Detour, her acclaimed eleventh studio album.

The pink-haired Lauper charms one and all in a sparkling hour featuring some of her best-known songs and the story behind her current country-flavored Detour. “I know a lot of you are thinking: what does Queens, New York have to do with anything country?” says the native East Coaster as she explores her love of vintage country & western, putting her unique spin on Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love,” Skeeter Davis’ “The End of the World,” Patsy Montana’s “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” and Bob Montgomery’s “Misty Blue”.  Lauper knocks out numbers from her own back catalog including a fevered version of “Money Changes Everything,” from her 1983 breakthrough She’s So Unusual, with the energetic hitmaker bopping across the stage, fueled by the enthusiastic Austin crowd. She delivers a gorgeous take on the 1984 ballad “Time After Time,” her first No. 1 hit.  Her signature anthem, the buoyant “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” turns into a riotous audience sing-a-long as the dancing Lauper proclaims from the stage, “We’re all entitled to a joyful life!”  The colorful star closes out the masterful set with a breathtaking a cappella version of her enduring—and timely—anthem, “True Colors,” extolling the virtues of diversity, with Lauper imploring the crowd to “be brave and kind—we need each other.”

photo by Scott Newton

“With Cyndi Lauper, what you see is what you get,” said longtime ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “And what you get is a totally unabashed, uninhibited, full-throated performance by one of the most unique artists in show business. Who knew she had such a perfect voice for such great country music classics? My only regret is there wasn’t time to include more of her side-splitting sense of humor.”

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. Tune in next week for a brand new episode featuring the ACL debut of rising star Margo Price and the return of Texas favorite Hayes Carll.

Encore: Ms Lauryn Hill

Ms. Lauryn Hill ©KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a fan-favorite encore broadcast of one of the most acclaimed episodes in ACL history.  A rare hour with hip-hop/R&B icon Ms. Lauryn Hill, which premiered in August 2016 as a preview of the PBS music series’ Season 42, will be rebroadcast this weekend (check local listings).  Music fans everywhere will have the opportunity to revisit this instant classic, a must-see Season 42 standout. The performance was Ms. Hill’s debut appearance on the series, and the episode premiered to rave reviews:

“Phenomenal…probably one of the best performances to have graced the ACL studios”

i-D Magazine

“Showstopping…Hill and her stacked band deliver an electrifying take” Rolling Stone

“One of the best in the show’s history” Hot New Hip-Hop

“Her performance makes clear why she’s one of the all-time greats…Hill and her band are on-a-dime perfect” Crave

“A masterful performance…electrifying” Stereogum

“Stunning” Vibe

“The songstress (and MC) displays her strongest gifts in one of her best performances in years” Ambrosia For Heads

“Fantastic” Slate

“Dazzling set” Consequence of Sound

“The year’s best hour of televised music” Indianapolis Star  

In a performance for the ages, the trailblazing Ms. Lauryn Hill dazzles the Austin crowd with a career-spanning  set culled from her landmark release The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and her pioneering work with the Fugees, one of the best-selling hip-hop acts in history. Opening the emotional set with her solo hit “Ex-Factor,” the multiple Grammy-winning singer and songwriter performs stunning versions of her biggest hits and fan favorites. One of the greatest MCs of all time, Hill has the crowd on their feet with the opening notes of “Fu-Gee-La” for an explosive take on the Fugees classic, weaving “Austin, I love you like no other before” into the lyric. Hill commands the stage, backed by a 12-piece band and performs a gorgeous cover of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” before closing out her unforgettable performance with the crowd-pleaser “Doo Wop (That Thing),” proving she’s still one of the most powerful artists in music today.  

photo by Scott Newton

“Every Lauryn Hill performance is special,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and an hour of Ms. Hill on the ACL stage is nothing less than historic. She pours her heart and soul and every ounce of energy into every minute, and it shows. There’s nobody else quite her!”

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. Tune in next week for a brand new episode featuring the ACL debut of the one and only Cyndi Lauper.

ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2016

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 21: William Bell and Bonnie Raitt perform onstage at the Americana Honors & Awards 2016 at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music)

Austin City Limits returns to Nashville for a special broadcast featuring performance highlights from this year’s Americana Honors & Awards. ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2016 premieres November 19th on PBS and delivers dazzling performances that represent the genre’s diversity and excellence. The music-filled hour features many of the night’s award-winners and honorees, including buzzed about newcomers and icons who helped define the genre; among them: George Strait, Margo Price, Jason Isbell, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Weir, Alison Krauss, Steve Earle, Parker Millsap, Dwight Yoakam, William Bell and Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell.

Recorded live at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on September 21st, The Americana Music Association’s 15th Annual Honors & Awards ceremony is a celebration of music that is authentic, diverse and original from many genres, both traditional and contemporary. “If you can taste the dirt through your ears, that is Americana,” says Americana Music Association Executive Director Jed Hilly. “It is music that is derived or inspired by American roots traditions.”

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Jason Isbell, who took top honors for Album of the Year and Song of the Year, gives a captivating performance of his “If It Takes A Lifetime,” accompanied by his wife, fiddler Amanda Shires, and band The 400 Unit. Roots giants who died in 2016, Merle Haggard, Guy Clark and Ralph Stanley are honored with one-of-a-kind performances: the show opens with the night’s Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree for Performance, Grateful Dead founder Bob Weir, in tribute to Merle Haggard, performing a rendition of the country outlaw’s iconic “Mama Tried.”  Steve Earle delivers Guy Clark’s classic “Desperados Waiting For A Train,” calling out “See you when I get there, Maestro,” at the song’s close. Roots titan Alison Krauss performs a stunning a cappella version of bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley’s “Gloryland,” joined by stalwarts Buddy Miller, Melonie Cannon and Stuart Duncan.

NASHVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 21: Stuart Duncan, Melonie Cannon, Alison Krauss, and Buddy Miller perform onstage at the Americana Honors & Awards 2016 at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music)

In true Americana style, the broadcast is loaded with musical moments and collaborations. Legendary duet partners Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, awarded Duo/Group of the year, perform a stirring “Bring It On Home.” Bonnie Raitt, a 2015 Lifetime Achievement honoree, offers a new track, “Gypsy in Me,” backed by gospel greats The McCrary Sisters. She returns to join Stax soul legend William Bell, the night’s Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree for Songwriting, on the slow-burn “The Three of Me,” accompanied by producer John Leventhal on guitar. Honky-tonk maverick Dwight Yoakam delivers a blistering gem from his acclaimed new release Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars… alongside Stuart Duncan on fiddle.

The genre’s breakout newcomers give show-stopping performances, including the Emerging Artist Award-winner, Nashville rebel Margo Price with her “Tennessee Song.” Americana sensation Parker Millsap performs a powerful “Heaven Sent” from his critically-acclaimed Album of the Year-nominated release, joined by standouts Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan on backing vocals.  Chart-toppers The Lumineers light up the stage with a new song, “Angela.” Emerging Artist nominees Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats perform “Wasting Time,” showing the full range of the Americana spectrum.  

King of country music George Strait, performs his signature, “King of Broken Hearts,” alongside the songwriter, Jim Lauderdale, for a thrilling close. The hourlong broadcast is hosted by Americana kingpin Lauderdale, and performers are backed by a first class house band led by Nashville mainstay Buddy Miller and featuring it-producer Dave Cobb, with Stuart Duncan, Fred Eltringham, Steve Fishell, Matt Rollings, Chris Wood and The McCrary Sisters.

The show was co-produced by High Five Entertainment and its President Martin Fischer and ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona.

My Morning Jacket and Ben Harper bring big rock to ACL’s Season 42

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases two of modern rock’s best live acts: My Morning Jacket and Ben Harper.  The longtime fan favorites make return appearances armed with new material in a must-see installment as part of ACL’s Season 42.

My Morning Jacket return for the first time in nearly a decade for their third Austin City Limits appearance, highlighting songs from their last two studio albums, The Waterfall and Circuital.  The Kentucky indie-rockers, five-time Grammy Award-winners, kick off a blissed-out 4-song set with the title track to 2011’s Circuital.  Charismatic leader Jim James dazzles in a colorful kimono and big sunglasses as the band builds their signature soundscapes, including a tune from The Waterfall, a 2016 Grammy nominee for Best Alternative Album.  Their psychedelic textures expand into a glorious wall of sound for the set-closer “Victory Dance,” as the shape-shifting James prowls the stage with a towel on his head and an electronic sampler around his neck for an epic close.

Ben Harper reunites with his longtime backing band the Innocent Criminals after a seven-year hiatus for his first ACL appearance since Season 35.  Harper and crew deliver a powerful, six-song set featuring classics and new songs from 2016’s acclaimed Call It What It Is.  Opening with the ever-catchy “Steal My Kisses,” the frontman gets the crowd on its feet, then segues into soulful new gems, showcasing his trademark lap steel guitar bona fides.  The socially-charged title track from his latest release has Harper reciting the names of gone-too-soon young black men.  Harper’s show-stopping performance of the take-us-to-church gospel burner “Where Could I Go” leaves both singer and audience overcome from the power of the moment, exposing the painfully honest and self-reflective lyrics that have made Harper a fan-favorite for 20-plus years.

photo by Scott Newton

“Jim James has appeared on the ACL stage in many musical guises, as befits his wildly eclectic virtuosity,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “But My Morning Jacket brings him back to ground zero where he is most at home. He’s one of the best at engaging a live audience, and it shows.  Ben Harper is another perennial favorite, always in tune with the times, his fans and his musical muse.  It’s very much like a homecoming for both of them, but more akin to two old friends coming home from long musical journeys to show us what they’ve learned.”

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. Tune in next week for an ACL Presents special, featuring the Americana Music Festival 2016.