Encore: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell

photo by Scott Newton

This weekend, music legends Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell return to Austin City Limits and share the stage to celebrate their shared history, their collaborative album Old Yellow Moon and the continuing power of the song.

Friends for forty years, Harris and Crowell have an entwined four-decade history of music-making. ACL veterans, both artists have each appeared on the program seven times, although this episode marks the first time the pair have performed together on the ACL stage. The Americana icons perform favorites and songs from their acclaimed duets album Old Yellow Moon. The collaboration was chosen as album of the year at this year’s Americana Music Awards and the pair was honored as duo of the year. American Songwriter says of the album, “On Old Yellow Moon, Harris and Crowell embrace the entire range of life and music they’ve experienced, from the reckless passions of youth to the reflectiveness of age, from loose-limbed hillbilly boogies to graceful balladry.”

“It’s great to be back at the world’s greatest and longest-running music show,” says Harris as she takes the ACL stage with Crowell. The breathtaking performance includes the two longtime kindred spirits joining their voices on Crowell originals as well as revivals of songs by Roger Miller, Matraca Berg and Kris Kristofferson. Harris opens with some of her earlier Gram Parsons-era hits, and the duo fast-forwards to a more recent era for Harris’ “Red Dirt Girl” and Crowell’s “Rock of My Soul,” their voices wrapping the songs in the kind of harmonies only old friends can generate. Special guest Shawn Colvin joins in the finale for a spirited take on Crowell’s “Stars On the Water.” The episode celebrates a longtime friendship and collaboration, and the pleasure the two music legends take from singing some of their favorite songs is palpable.

photo by Scott Newton

“Emmylou and Rodney are an important part of the history of ACL – going all the way back practically to the beginning,” says executive producer Terry Lickona. “But it goes deeper than that – they reflect the heart and soul of what ACL is all about. And the two of them together is a perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts!”

Hit up the episode page for more info and don’t forget to follow ACL via Facebook, Twitter or our newsletter. Next week: The Head and the Heart and Gomez.

 

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.

 

Encore: Jim James and The Black Angels

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits explores new sonic directions in a double bill with Jim James and Austin’s own Black Angels.  My Morning Jacket leader Jim James plays songs from his acclaimed debut solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God while Texas psych-rockers The Black Angels highlight songs from their latest release Indigo Meadow.

The versatile Jim James commands a spellbinding set in his first-ever solo outing on ACL, marking his sixth appearance on the program—having performed twice with his main outfit My Morning Jacket, in addition to appearances with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Bright Eyes and Monsters of Folk.  Declaring his solo project a “new adventure”, James invites the Austin audience to come on the journey with him, and they are more than happy to oblige.  He reaches into new territory in an intimate and hypnotic performance that combines hints of old school R&B, flickers of hip hop, operatic pop and delicate instrumentation.  James and his four-piece band open with the 70s soul of “State of the Art” and “Know Til Now” and segue into the spiritual love song “A New Life” and the atmospheric “Actress”.  It’s a captivating and completely danceable set, with James himself getting in the groove while holding a bronze panda up and adding his own sliding dance steps.

“Jim James has found many ways to pursue his musical muse, and it’s amazing that this is his very first solo album,” notes ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “What better way to bring it to his legions of fans than ACL?”

photo by Scott Newton

Carrying on the long Texas tradition of psychedelia, Austin’s Black Angels round out the episode, making their long-awaited ACL debut with their unique brand of psychedelic music for the 21st century.  It’s a fitting showcase for ACL, as the psych rock movement has its roots in the Lone Star State thanks to 60s acid-rock heroes the 13th Floor Elevators, who were the first band to apply the term psychedelic to rock & roll.  Named in tribute to the Velvet Underground number “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” The Black Angels found themselves the spearhead of a new psychedelic revival soon after their formation in 2004.  The band’s carefully crafted blend of melody and noise won over fans of both modern indie rock and old school acid rock, and established it as a major force in underground rock & roll, even starting its own festival in 2008, the still-running Austin Psych Fest.  Opening with the heavy duty headbanger “Evil Things”, the Angels create a dark, brooding mood with their trademark vocal reverb and fuzzy, distorted guitars on a stage complete with fun-house optic, psychedelic images swirling on projection screens.  The Black Angels take the Austin crowd into the psychedelic heart of darkness and back out into the light, proving why they have become one of the foremost acts in the psych and garage rock revival.

“Whether you remember 60’s acid-rock first-hand or this is your first ‘psych’ experience, The Black Angels have taken a classic rock form and turned it into their own,” Lickona says. “It’s got an other-worldly vibe but at the same time it’s totally accessible.”

Check out the episode page here and tune in this Saturday to see the show for yourself. Click over to our Facebook and Twitter pages or our newsletter for the latest ACL skinny. Next week: Emeli Sande and Michael Kiwanuka.

Encore: Phoenix

photo by Scott Newton

French band Phoenix celebrates their ACL debut with an epic, career-spanning full-hour episode that showcases their impeccably crafted rock. “We are Phoenix from Paris, France,” announces frontman Thomas Mars as they open a stellar performance, although no introduction is necessary for the rapturous Austin crowd.  French alternative rockers whose music resonates around the world, Phoenix kick off with a blistering rendition of “Entertainment” from their latest release Bankrupt! The band segue into the massive hit “Lisztomania” off their 2009 breakthrough Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album. Called “one of the most influential post-millennial acts” by the NY Times, Phoenix earned headlining spots at 2013′s Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals. As the group connects the dots of its decade-plus career in their ACL outing, they pair older tunes with newer material: “Too Young” from their 2000 debut is woven into a seamless melody with the more recent “Girlfriend.” The opening synth notes of the intro to their smash “1901” draws raves from the audience as Phoenix cap a glorious set, with Mars calling the ACL appearance “a pinnacle moment” for the band.

“Phoenix has been on my hit list since they won their Best Alternative Album Grammy three years ago, but it’s been well worth the wait,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Their new music shows remarkable growth, and their live shows are always electrifying. Their songs transcend geographical and musical borders.”

photo by Scott Newton

Check out the episode details here and tune in this Saturday to see the show for yourself. Click over to our Facebook and Twitter pages or our newsletter for the latest ACL skinny. Next week: Jim James and The Black Angels.

photo by Scott Newton

Encore: Sarah Jarosz and The Milk Carton Kids

photo by Scott Newton

Join us this weekend as we present Americana music originals Sarah Jarosz and The Milk Carton Kids in a brand new episode. Both artists showcase their bona fides in an all acoustic hour with roots/folk singer-songwriter Jarosz making a return appearance on the ACL stage and newcomers The Milk Carton Kids in their ACL debut. The episode showcases the young folk acts who were both nominated for Best Folk Album at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

Pushing the limits of Americana with her own distinctive style, multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz takes the ACL stage for her second appearance performing highlights from her album Build Me Up From Bones. The incredibly talented Jarosz has already released three albums at the age of 22. With her two-piece band featuring a fiddle player and cello, Jarosz begins a stellar set with the Grammy-nominated title track in an acoustic performance that showcases her musicianship and songwriting. Switching between mandolin and banjo, Jarosz also dips into the songbooks of others, treating the audience to an accessible take on Joanna Newsom’s “The Book of Right On” and a solo rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Kathy’s Song”. She invites The Milk Carton Kids out to join her and the band for “Annabelle Lee” (based on an Edgar Allen Poe poem), displaying their complementary visions of contemporary folk music.

“We are so proud of Sarah, we feel like she’s part of the family,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “The last time she graced our stage she was on her way to college, now she’s graduated with honors and her remarkable talent has grown exponentially. We couldn’t resist having her back!”

photo by Scott Newton

The Milk Carton Kids, the L.A. acoustic folk duo consisting of Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan, make their ACL debut playing songs from their critically-acclaimed  album The Ash & Clay. The besuited pair “play a sweetly dazzling variation on close-harmony vocals, part Simon and Garfunkel and part Everly Brothers” (LA Times) for a sound NPR calls “gorgeous contemporary folk.” With flat-picking, harmonies and a touch of twisted humor, the duo play purely acoustically on the ACL stage—no guitar amplification and one vocal mic—to beautiful effect. In a skillful performance infused with their signature wit, the Kids charm the Austin crowd with their playful, deadpan banter, exquisite guitar work, rich harmonies and timeless folk.

“I first saw Kenneth and Joey perform on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium last September, and it was obvious that they are world-class entertainers beyond their years,” says Lickona. “They are traditionalists with a modern spin and a mischievous sense of humor.”

photo by Scott Newton

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 goodness. Next week: Phoenix.

 

Encore: Randy Newman

photo by Scott Newton

It’s no secret that Austin City Limits makes a habit of showcasing musical legends. Merle Haggard, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Loretta Lynn, Bonnie Raitt – the archives are packed with the best of the best. This Saturday, we encore an episode featuring another musician’s musician: the great Randy Newman.

Both a tender balladeer and a master satirist, Newman’s songs have spanned the length and breadth of popular music for the past five decades. Three Dog Night took “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” into the top 10 in 1970, Newman scored his own #2 hit with the infamous “Short People” and hooked another, younger generation as the composer of Pixar film music, like Toy Story’s beloved “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” In between chart milestones he’s scattered brilliant tunes like “Sail Away,” “Feels Like Home,” “Harps and Angels,” “Political Science,” “You Can Leave Your Hat On” and “Louisiana 1927” across the pop culture landscape like a farmer planting seeds in the field. And you get all of these and more in this show.

ACL producer Terry Lickona chased the Oscar-winning Newman for nearly three decades, and this episode proves it was worth the wait. Is it too early to call it a classic? Nope – we’re callin’ it.

Click here for more info on this episode, and don’t forget to tune in Saturday night to watch it yourself. As always, check out our Facebook and Twitter pages or subscribe to our newsletter for more ACL magic. Next week: Sarah Jarosz and The Milk Carton Kids.