ACL’s 43rd season closes out with country rockers Chris Stapleton and Turnpike Troubadours

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits closes out Season 43 with a scorcher: country superstar Chris Stapleton, riding country’s hottest hand with a trio of acclaimed, chart-topping albums and a trio of newly-minted 2018 Grammy Awards, sharing an episode with one of roots music’s most revered acts, red-dirt country-rockers Turnpike Troubadours.

After years penning hits for some of Nashville’s biggest acts, singer, songwriter and guitarist Chris Stapleton took the country world by storm in 2015 with his multi-platinum, double Grammy-winning debut Traveller. Just three years later, Stapleton is the reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, and a five-time Grammy winner, taking a trio of top honors at this year’s ceremony, including Album of the Year for From A Room: Volume 1. The Kentucky native delivers a powerhouse ACL debut with a blistering six-song set fueled by his show-stopping voice, searing guitar and stellar songwriting. Opening with “Hard Livin’,” from his latest, the companion album From A Room: Volume 2, Stapleton follows with an early hit, the crowd-favorite folk-rambler “Traveller.” Joined by wife Morgane on harmony vocals, the couple wrap their voices around each other for the spellbinding gut-punch “Fire Away,” revealing a powerful onstage intimacy, and the pair dazzle on blowtorch stunner “Second One To Know.” Standing solo and acoustic for “Whiskey and You,” the country outlier brings the room to hushed silence pierced only by scattered whoops from the audience between verses. Stapleton closes out the masterful set with the breakout hit from his debut, Southern soul-burner “Tennessee Whiskey,” unleashing the full power of his scorching vocals and earning multiple standing ovations from the can’t-get-enough crowd.

Road-tested country rockers Turnpike Troubadours topped the red-dirt touring circuit this past decade, earning legions of fans the old-fashioned way, through word-of-mouth for their rousing live shows anchored by frontman Evan Felker’s singular songwriting. Their acclaimed new release A Long Way From Your Heart has launched the Oklahoma sextet onto the national stage, and the band opens their ACL debut with the album’s lead song “The Housefire.” The Troubadours perform a six-song, career-spanning set with Felker’s trademark character-driven tunes exploding behind rowdy strings. Throughout their four albums, the band has used a running cast of characters to weave a narrative for their dedicated fans with songs that chronicle the highs, hangovers and heartbreaks of Middle America. “Tell everyone in Austin I love y’all to death” yells Felker during the blazing crowd-pleaser “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead.” Steel guitarist Hank Early switches to a Dobro for an acoustic duet with Felker on “Diamonds and Gasoline.” Felker calls out to bring the band back for set-closer “Something To Hold Onto,” as the ace musicians ignite in a three-way solo blaze of glory with Early, lead guitarist Ryan Engleman and fiddler Kyle Nix.

photo by Scott Newton

“We take pride in bringing the best of the best of every genre to our audience, and Chris Stapleton is at the top of his game right now,” said ACL executive producer, Terry Lickona. “Few bands on the scene, if any, deliver a better live experience than Turnpike Troubadours, and this show makes you feel like you’re right on the front line.”

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 a special encore episode, featuring Ms. Lauryn Hill.

Dan Auerbach and Shinyribs bring unique roots rock to ACL’s 43rd season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a feel-good hour featuring Black Keys superstar Dan Auerbach, performing songs from his acclaimed solo album and joined by a stellar band of legendary Nashville musicians, in a double-bill with Austin’s country-soul juggernaut Shinyribs.

Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach takes a break from his main outfit, the eight-time Grammy-winning Black Keys, and returns to the ACL stage to showcase songs from his radiant solo release Waiting On A Song. Conceived in his adopted hometown of Nashville with an all-star cast of Music Row’s finest musicians, NPR raves “Each track on Waiting On A Song sparkles like a long-lost gem of early-’70s AM radio.” The restless creative and his ace seven-piece backing crew, featuring many of the record’s legendary silver-haired sidemen, perform a blissed-out seven-song ACL set.  Highlights include a pair of timeless tunes co-written with songwriting icon John Prine: the buoyant set-opening title track and an unrecorded gem, “Somewhere Between Eau Claire and East Moline.” In old-school soul revue style, Auerbach introduces his own Easy Eye Sound label signee, 63-year old soul singer Robert Finley, who takes center stage to deliver a dose of his show-stopping “Medicine Woman.” Auerbach closes out the sparkling set with the sunny, melodic delight “Shine On Me” and the crowd is happy to sing-along.

Swamp-pop band Shinyribs keep the party going, delivering a high-energy, full-throttle four-song tour de force in one of the most entertaining performances on the ACL stage. Flamboyant frontman Kevin Russell, aka the “shaman of soul,” is no stranger to legions of music fans as the former leader of beloved Austin band The Gourds (who appeared on ACL in 2007). Russell has ramped up the showmanship in Shinyribs, and the East Texas rockers have become one of Austin’s favorite live acts since forming in 2010. The eight-piece outfit is a party machine, complete with horns, back-up singers and dancers. Performing songs from across their four albums, powerhouse singer Russell is a bigger-than-life force of nature with stage theatrics as lively as the music, delivering delightful repartee, guitar solos, enviable dance moves, call-and-response with back-up singers the Shiny Soul Sisters, all while whipping up a brew of Texas country soul with a side of hip-shaking swamp-funk. The band’s trio of onstage dancers –  dubbed the “Riblets” – drape the frontman in a glittery silver robe tricked-out with colorful flashing lights for the roof-raising set-closer “East Texas Rust” as Russell wails on electric guitar. You in Texas baby.

photo by Scott Newton

“You can’t not watch this show without feeling good afterwards,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Dan Auerbach has five times more creative energy than anyone with half his credits! And ‘seeing is believing’ with Shinyribs. Kevin Russell goes above-and-beyond to ‘Keep Austin Weird’!”

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 brand new episode, featuring the ACL debut of country superstar Chris Stapleton and Americana powerhouse Turnpike Troubadours.


LCD Soundsystem thrills ACL’s 43rd season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases one of today’s most thrilling live acts, LCD Soundsystem, for an electrifying hour. The dance-rock band make their first-ever appearance on the program with a victory lap of beloved hits alongside new classics.

LCD Soundsystem perform songs from American Dream, its first new release after a five-year hiatus and the first #1 album in their decade-long run. Called “a party album for the end of the world or an apocalypse album for the end of the party,” by Rolling Stone, the album earned wide acclaim and landed on many “best of 2017” lists. The New York City band, formed by leader James Murphy in 2002, launches a spectral Austin City Limits set with a pair of songs from their acclaimed comeback: the synth-popping beat of album-opener “Oh Baby” and charging bass and cathartic guitar of dance-floor magnet “Call the Police.” Murphy clutches his signature retro mic and promises the audience a mix of songs old and new as they kick into fan-favorite “I Can Change,” a perfect balance of romantic woe, disco rhythm and pop melody from 2010’s This Is Happening. Murphy’s lyrical wit and soaring vocal is the band’s trademarks and together they dive into the wry melancholy of “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” from 2007’s Sound Of Silver.  LCD’s penchant for mixing rock anthems with dance rhythms is in full force on the rock ‘n’ roll disco opus “Tonite,” the newly-minted 2018 Grammy-winner for Best Dance Recording, the band’s first career Grammy win. The fascinating hour allows viewers an immersive glimpse into LCD’s artistry, with seven band members onstage to recreate the electronic-based parts of their catalog, layering a potent mix of sounds with free-wheeling electro-pulse synth. A staccato piano riff signals “All My Friends,” an endorphin rush ode to slowing down time that closes out the hour as Murphy gets into the spirit, stepping into the crowd to shake hands with all his new best friends in the front row.

“When LCD played their ‘last show’ at Madison Square Garden in 2011, I thought we’d missed our chance,” explained ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Then I was excited to hear James had decided to revive the band, make a new record and hit the road again. They were a must-get for ACL! LCD’s sound has a way of washing over you and carrying you away. They make music like nobody else can!”

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 brand new episode, featuring the solo ACL debut of Black Keys singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and the debut of former Gourds member Kevin Russell’s party favorite Shinyribs.


Run The Jewels rocks Austin City Limits’ Season 43

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a groundbreaking hour of hip-hop as powerhouse rap duo Run the Jewels make their first appearance on the ACL stage. The pair perform a 14-track set in a rapid-fire, riveting showcase filled with greatest hits and choice cuts from their acclaimed release Run the Jewels 3.

Two veteran rappers, Killer Mike (from Atlanta) and El-P (from Brooklyn), formed Run the Jewels in 2013 to runaway success and much critical acclaim. XXL Magazine calls the unlikely collaborators “partners in rhyme and reason…perhaps the most consistently enthralling duo in all of hip-hop.” Blasting onto the ACL stage, Killer Mike announces, “We’re gonna light this s**t on fire like Willie Nelson would light a joint,” as they break into a titanic rendition of “Talk To Me” from their latest album Run the Jewels 3. The charismatic duo, joined by bandmate DJ Trackstar on turntables, power through the entire hour at a breakneck pace, unleashing furious rhymes without pausing to breathe, backed by a relentless pulse of menacing beats. Run the Jewels’ back and forth is dazzling, spitting out showstopping verses on racism, inner city reality and scathing sociopolitical commentary cut with gallows humor. “I don’t care about what they say about watching TV – I am definitely smarter because of PBS,” declares Mike as the two MCs drop thrilling lyrical smartbombs inspiring the hooked crowd to chant R-T-J! R-T-J!

“Austin City Limits opened the door to hip hop almost 10 years ago when Mos Def performed, and has continued to present groundbreaking rappers like Kendrick Lamar ever since,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “It arguably represents the most popular and relevant musical culture in the world today. Run the Jewels proves you can have fun, entertain, and deliver a compelling message at the same time.”

photo by Scott Newton

A hallmark of Run the Jewels is visceral, expletive-laden performances and El-P cheerfully apologizes to broadcast censors, with Killer Mike admitting “We curse like goddamn sailors, kids!” The performance is edited for broadcast, but an uncensored version will be available for fans on the ACLTV YouTube Channel January 28, following the program’s initial broadcast premiere.

Viewers will also have a chance to go behind the scenes with Run the Jewels in a new installment of ACL: Backstage premiering January 25 on ACLTV’s YouTube Channel. The new 10-part 360-degree VR documentary series offers fans immersive only-in-VR moments straight from the current season. The series, created by SubVRsive and ACL in partnership with Google and sponsored by Apple Music, gives an up-close look at some of Season 43’s most iconic performances and takes viewers backstage to hear from the artists before they step under the lights at Austin City Limits’ famed studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas and join them onstage with closer-than-front-row seats. ACL: Backstage previously released four episodes featuring Ed Sheeran, Zac Brown Band, Father John Misty, and the Austin City Limits crew in “Unsung Heroes,” and five additional episodes will be released through March. The videos offer a full 360º view that lets fans look up, down, and all around. Completely surrounded by sight and sound, all it takes is the turn of a head, tilt of a phone, or a drag of the mouse to explore the story from every angle. Viewers can watch exclusively on YouTube via web, mobile, or for the best experience, with a Google Daydream View headset via the YouTube VR app. (Note: some language may be NSFW.)

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, click over to YouTube for the related episode of ACL Backstage, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Join us next week for another brand new episode, featuring reunited alt.rock champs LCD Soundsystem.


Herbie Hancock brings jazz mastery to ACL Season 43

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a series highlight: a career-spanning hour with one of the world’s most celebrated artists, jazz legend Herbie Hancock, in his first-ever appearance on the program.  

Hancock opens the hour with an early gem, “Cantaloupe Island,” from his 1964 album Empyrean Isles.  Originally composed during his time in Miles Davis’ second great quintet of the Sixties, Hancock thrills with a new take on a modern standard, showcasing his remarkable touch on the piano, anchored by the number’s iconic riffs.  Playing with a palpable pure joy, the Grammy-lauded giant is exhilarating to watch, ageless six decades into an extraordinary career.  The bandleader shares the ACL stage with a seasoned jazz combo comprised of bassist James Genus, saxophonist/keyboardist Terrace Martin, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.  Hancock pivots to his Korg Kronos synthesizer for the futuristic, ambient opening of “Overture,” before spotlighting his band of aces as each player answers the call with elastic, playful chemistry. He takes the mic to say, “We like to go a little crazy up here sometimes,” to the crowd’s delight, before launching into “Secret Sauce,” a new composition that begins with him on vocoder and a thrusting synth and bass groove, breaks down to near-silence, then slowly simmers to a boil, with  Hancock masterfully commanding his synth and piano simultaneously. The band closes out the stunning set with the funk classic “Chameleon,” from 1973’s landmark album Head Hunters, as Hancock takes center stage with his white keytar, dazzling with jaw-dropping solos as the crowd responds in rapt appreciation.

photo by Scott Newton

“Jazz doesn’t often find its way onto the ACL stage, so when it does it’s always something special,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “In my humble opinion, this is one of the most historic shows we’ve ever done, so that – among many other reasons – makes it must-see TV!”

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 brand new episode, featuring hip-hop superstars Run the Jewels.

Episode recap: Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents an hour with two extraordinary singer-songwriters, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires. The husband and wife duo unite for a special double-bill as Americana star Isbell returns to the ACL stage to share an episode with his partner and collaborator Shires as she makes her solo ACL debut.

One of the finest American songwriters today, Jason Isbell returns with songs from his sixth studio album The Nashville Sound, which topped critics’ year-end best lists and is nominated for two 2018 Grammy Awards, including Best Americana Album. The Alabama native, already a two-time Grammy honoree, is joined by his band The 400 Unit for a masterful 6-song set that captures the artist at the peak of his creative powers. Kicking things off with the anthemic “Hope the High Road,” a set highlight follows with an exquisite version of the Grammy-nominated track “If We Were Vampires,” a haunting love song inspired by partner Shires, who joins him in close harmony. The ace songsmith displays his storytelling gifts, inhabiting his characters’ interior lives in the social gut-punch “White Man’s World” and detailing the tale of a homesick southerner in “Last of My Kind.” 

A musical marvel from Nashville by way of Texas, Amanda Shires has been a fixture on the circuit since she began her career as a teenaged fiddler with renowned Western swing institution the Texas Playboys and has toured and recorded with outlaw country maverick Billy Joe Shaver, John Prine and most recently as a member of Isbell’s band The 400 Unit. She makes her ACL debut performing cuts from her acclaimed solo release My Piece of Land, showcasing intimate, confessional songs augmented by her powerful playing. Shires commands the spotlight on her own with rousing set-opener “My Love (The Storm)” wielding her fiddle to fiery effect. Isbell joins Shires for a duet on the crowd-pleasing rocker “Wasted and Rollin’,” a song she wrote about the early stages of their relationship, and the pair close out the set in beautiful harmony on the heartfelt duet “Pale Fire.”

photo by Scott Newton

“Jason Isbell is the finest American songwriter today, IMHO,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “He has the uncanny ability to write songs that are at the same time deeply personal and universal. Amanda Shires defies the traditional stereotype of male-dominated Texas songwriters with her own beautifully personal songs. Together they are a unique force in popular music of any genre.”

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 brand new episode, featuring jazz legend Herbie Hancock.

Austin City Limits Hall of Fame 2017 debuts on New Year’s Eve

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits rings in the new year with a special broadcast, hosted by Chris Isaak, featuring one-of-a-kind performances and collaborations from the fourth annual Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Inductions & Celebration. The all-star celebration features music luminaries Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Ry Cooder, Brandi Carlile, Raul Malo, Dr. John, Trombone Shorty and more sharing the stage for one epic night to perform in honor of the newest class of inductees: Roy Orbison, Rosanne Cash and The Neville Brothers. This special hour, taped in Austin, Texas October 25, 2017 at ACL’s studio home ACL Live at The Moody Theater, honors the musicians who have played an instrumental role in helping the 43-year-old series become the longest-running music television program in history.

The special kicks off with a three-song musical salute to pioneering rocker Roy Orbison. Master of ceremonies Chris Isaak honors the Texas native, who made a memorable ACL appearance in 1983, calling him “an angel” and singling out his unique baritone-to-tenor range, while sharing personal stories of his own friendship with the late rock ‘n’ roll legend before launching into a show-stopping “Only the Lonely.” Guest performers Brandi Carlile and Raul Malo each pay vocal tribute to the music giant before joining Isaak in unison for a joyous rendition of Orbison’s signature “Oh, Pretty Woman”.

photo by Scott Newton

Elvis Costello inducts his longtime friend, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, who made the first of her seven ACL appearances in 1983, and performs a powerful “April 5th,” a song originally co-written and performed with Cash and Kris Kristofferson. Neko Case salutes Cash with a radiant “What We Really Want,” before the honoree herself takes the stage, joined by guitar great Ry Cooder and her husband and collaborator John Leventhal for a stirring version of her acclaimed two-time 2015 Grammy-winning song “A Feather’s Not a Bird.” Case and Costello return to join forces with Cash on stage, trading verses on her early chart-topping anthem “Seven Year Ache”.

photo by Scott Newton

New Orleans sensation Trombone Shorty signals the induction of The Neville Brothers, the “first family of funk” who made the first of three unforgettable ACL appearances starting in 1979. Piano legend Dr. John performs alongside Shorty and members of the Nevilles Band (featuring many of the mothership’s offspring), for a scorching NOLA-style tribute to the influential funk ‘n’ soul collective. Elvis Costello joins in for the soaring grand finale “Down By the Riverside” and the live music beacon’s celebration of music comes in for an epic landing complete with fireworks, as the all-star cast returns to ring in the new year with the inspirational “Amen”.

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve Setlist:
Chris Isaak “Only the Lonely”
Brandi Carlile “It’s Over”
Chris Isaak, Brandi Carlile and Raul Malo “Oh, Pretty Woman”
Elvis Costello: “April 5th”
Neko Case: “What We Really Want Is Love”
Rosanne Cash, Ry Cooder and John Leventhal: “A Feather’s Not A Bird”
Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello and Neko Case: “Seven Year Ache”
The Nevilles Band “Meet De Boys On the Battlefront”
All-Star Finale “Down By the Riverside”/”Amen”

In what has become an ACL holiday tradition, the program will encore Tom Waits legendary December 1978 performance, one of the most requested episodes in ACL’s 40+ year archive. Tune-in on December 23rd to see this classic Christmas episode.

ACL’s Season 43 returns in January with many recent Grammy-nominees, all new to the ACL stage, including indie-rock provocateur Father John Misty, powerhouse rap duo Run the Jewels, dance-rock band LCD Soundsystem and country phenom Chris Stapleton. Husband and wife team Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires unite for a special double-bill as Americana star Isbell returns to the ACL stage to share an episode with his partner and creative collaborator Amanda Shires. A season highlight is the first-ever appearance of jazz trailblazer Herbie Hancock in a thrilling hour of classics and new songs. Black Keys superstar and ACL veteran Dan Auerbach makes his solo debut showcasing new music from his first solo release in 8 years. The extended line-up features breakout red-dirt country band Turnpike Troubadours and Austin favorites Shinyribs in first-time ACL appearances, as well as the return of a standout, acclaimed Austin psych-rockers The Black Angels.

Season 43 | 2018 Broadcast Schedule

January 6 Father John Misty | The Black Angels
January 13 Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit | Amanda Shires
January 20 Herbie Hancock
January 27 Run the Jewels
February 3 LCD Soundsystem
February 10 Dan Auerbach | Shinyribs
February 17 Chris Stapleton | Turnpike Troubadours

Episode recap: ACL Presents Americana Music Festival 2017

ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2017 | Van Morrison | Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Americana Music

Austin City Limits returns to Nashville for a special broadcast offering performance highlights from this year’s Americana Honors & Awards. ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2017 premieres November 18 on PBS and features a stunning revue of unforgettable performances celebrating the finest artists in American roots music. The spirited hour is filled with standout performances from Americana legends and next generation stars, alongside many of the night’s award-winners and honorees, including: Old Crow Medicine Show, John Prine, Iris Dement, Rhiannon Giddens, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Amanda Shires, The Lumineers, Drive-By Truckers, Graham Nash & The Milk Carton Kids, Margo Price, Jason Isbell, Van Morrison and Robert Cray and Hi Rhythm.

Recorded live at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on September 13, 2017, The Americana Music Association’s 16th Annual Honors & Awards ceremony is a celebration of music that is authentic, diverse and original from many genres (including alternative country, folk, bluegrass, blues and R&B), both traditional and contemporary.

“Each year this show blows my mind.  If there was an infra-red device tracking creativity, Nashville would be the brightest light on the planet,” says Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association.  “I’m so grateful and truly humbled by the incredible artists and musicians who grace our stage.”

Iris DeMent and John Prine. Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Acclaimed string band Old Crow Medicine Show welcome the audience to “the mother church of country music,” Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, leading a marching drumline down the center aisle to kick off the broadcast with a riotous rendition of the Dylan classic “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.”  Artist of the Year John Prine, recently hailed “the Mark Twain of American songwriting” by Rolling Stone, is joined by this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award honoree for Trailblazer, country-folk pioneer Iris DeMent, for a sparkling version of their legendary duet “In Spite of Ourselves.”  Album of the Year nominees give stellar performances including Rhiannon Giddens, who receives a standing ovation for her riveting “Julie,” a powerful meditation on slavery from her Freedom Highway.  Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers also sing for social justice, showcasing their protest anthem “What It Means,” a politically-charged statement named one of the Top 10 songs of the year by NPR, from their acclaimed album American Band.

The night’s Emerging Artist of the Year honoree Amanda Shires stuns in a solo debut and returns for the slowburning duet “If We Were Vampires” with her partner and creative collaborator, singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, one of the genre’s top stars.  The spectrum of Americana’s range  is in full view as chart-toppers The Lumineers light up the stage with the title track from their recent album Cleopatra and longtime country icon Marty Stuart and his band the Fabulous Superlatives, awarded Group of the Year, deliver a dose of blazing,  road-tested honky-tonk with crowd-pleasing new gem “Time Don’t Wait.”

Graham Nash & the Milk Carton Kids. Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images.

In true Americana style, the broadcast is packed with musical moments and one-of-a-kind collaborations from a diverse, multi-generational slate of roots luminaries: rock legend Graham Nash joins acoustic duo The Milk Carton Kids in sweet three-part harmony on The Everly Brothers classic “So Sad”.  Last year’s Emerging Artist winner Margo Price returns with a show-stopping new number, “Do Right By Me,” backed by the soaring vocals of gospel greats The McCrary Sisters.  The night’s Lifetime Achievement Honoree for Songwriting, rock icon Van Morrison, performs a soulful new song “Transformation” joined by his daughter Shana Morrison.  Famed bluesman Robert Cray and legendary Memphis soul sidemen Hi Rhythm, both Lifetime Achievement honorees, deliver a supercharged performance with a blistering blues/soul cut, “You Must Believe in Yourself,” from their acclaimed 2017 collaborative album.

The hourlong broadcast is hosted by esteemed songwriter and Americana wagonmaster Jim Lauderdale.  Multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell leads the ace house band and joins the host on vocals to salute late country giant Don Williams with a stirring rendition of his timeless hit “Tulsa Time” as the all-star cast returns for the singalong finale, bringing the hour to a moving close.

Americana Music Festival 2017 finale. Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images.

Americana Music Festival 2017 finale. Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images.

The show was co-produced by Two Talented Cats Entertainment’s Martin Fischer and Edie Hoback, Michelle Aquilato and ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona.

Tune in this weekend for this special, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the show 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 an encore episode, featuring the electrifying ACL debut of R&B superstar Ms. Lauryn Hill.