ACL presents the 17th Annual Americana Honors & Awards

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 12:  John Prine performs onstage during the 2018 Americana Music Honors and Awards at Ryman Auditorium on September 12, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images for Americana Music Association)

Austin City Limits returns to Nashville for a special broadcast offering performance highlights from the 17th Annual Americana Honors & Awards. The new installment features a stunning revue of unforgettable performances celebrating the finest artists in American roots music. The hour is filled with musical highlights from Americana mainstays and next-generation stars, including many of the night’s award-winners and honorees, among them (in order of appearance): Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Fantastic Negrito, Brandi Carlile, Tyler Childers, Margo Price, I’m With Her featuring Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan, Buddy Guy, Rosanne Cash, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, k.d. lang, Irma Thomas and John Prine. The special will be available to music fans everywhere to stream online beginning Sunday, February 10th @12 ET at pbs.org/austincitylimits and the broadcast premiere will launch February 9th on PBS and vary by market (check local listings for times).

For the eighth consecutive year, the producers of Austin City Limits, in conjunction with producers Martin Fischer, Michelle Aquilato, Edie Hoback and the Americana Music Association, are proud to present a special ACL Presents to close out Season 44. Recorded live at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on September 12, 2018, The Americana Music Association’s 17th Annual Honors & Awards ceremony is a celebration of the diverse sounds of roots music, from folk, bluegrass and alt-country to R&B and the blues.

The show opens with a scorcher: a spirited cover of “Fortunate Son” featuring two of the night’s honorees, Nathaniel Rateliff and Lukas Nelson, joined by blues standout Fantastic Negrito, trading verses on the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic, augmented by the stellar vocals of famed gospel group The McCrary Sisters. Multiple nominee Brandi Carlile hits the stage with her band and a six-piece string section for an epic performance of “The Joke,” nominated for Song of the Year. The year’s Emerging Artist Award-winner Tyler Childers performs a gripping, acoustic “Nose on the Grindstone” detailing the perils of coal country and opioids. Artist of the Year nominee Margo Price thrills the Ryman crowd with a walk into the audience during her performance of “A Little Pain,” a Song of the Year nominee. Group of the Year nominees showcase their bona fides: Nathaniel Rateliff returns with his band The Night Sweats for a rousing “Hey Mama”; Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real deliver a passionate “Forget About Georgia”; and super-trio I’m With Her (featuring folk mavericks Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan) perform acoustic in gorgeous, three-part vocal harmony. One of the genre’s top stars, Jason Isbell, sweeping the night’s top honors for Artist, Album and Group of the Year (with his band the 400 Unit), performs the riveting social gut-punch “White Man’s World” from his award-winning album The Nashville Sound. Songwriting marvel John Prine is honored with Artist of the Year for the second consecutive year, and plays a captivating new gem, “Summer’s End,” from his acclaimed latest release The Tree of Forgiveness.

NASHVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 12: (L-R) Fantastic Negrito, Nathaniel Rateliff and Lukas Nelson perform onstage during the 2018 Americana Music Honors and Awards at Ryman Auditorium on September 12, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association)

The Lifetime Achievement Award honorees take the stage to showcase their talents: Trailblazer honoree k.d. lang performs her phenomenal “Trail of Broken Hearts”; New Orleans soul queen Irma Thomas, the year’s Lifetime Achievement Award honoree for Performance, delivers an electrifying version of her iconic “Time Is On My Side” to a standing ovation; Blues legend Buddy Guy earns a Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist, and rocks a blistering rendition of one of his signature six-string numbers, “Damn Right, I’ve Got The Blues.” Rosanne Cash, the recipient of the Spirit of Americana “Free Speech” Award, whose late father Johnny Cash was the inaugural recipient of the award, takes the stage to perform a heartbreaking new song, “Everyone But Me,” reminiscing about lost loved ones, including her late parents.

A show-closing tribute is paid to a game-changer in American roots music, the late, great Aretha Franklin, as all-stars Brandi Carlile, Irma Thomas, rising Americana stars Courtney Marie Andrews and husband and wife blues/soul duo The War and Treaty, along with gospel great Ann McCrary come together for the finale to sing “Chain Of Fools,” bringing the audience to their feet.

NASHVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 12: (L-R) Brandi Carlile, Irma Thomas, Courtney Marie Andrews, Tanya Blount and Michael Trotter Jr. of The War and Treaty perform onstage during the 2018 Americana Music Honors and Awards at Ryman Auditorium on September 12, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association)

Buddy Miller returns as reigning musical director with an Americana All-Star Band featuring Don Was, Jerry Pentecost, Joe Pisapia, Ian Fitchuk, Lillie Mae, Joshua Grange, Jim Hoke, and The McCrary Sisters backing many of the night’s performers.

Episode setlist:

Nathaniel Rateliff, Fantastic Negrito, Lukas Nelson “Fortunate Son”

Brandi Carlile “The Joke”

Tyler Childers “Nose On The Grindstone”

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats “Hey Mama”

Margo Price “A Little Pain”

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real “Forget About Georgia”

I’m With Her (featuring Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan) “Overland”

Buddy Guy “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues”

Rosanne Cash “Everyone But Me”

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit “White Man’s World”

k.d. lang “Trail Of Broken Hearts”

Irma Thomas “Time Is On My Side”

John Prine “Summer’s End”

Finale featuring Brandi Carlile, Irma Thomas, Courtney Marie Andrews, The War and Treaty, McCrary Sisters “Chain of Fools”

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 an encore episode, starring pop superstar Ed Sheeran.

Buddy Guy and August Greene close out ACL’s season 44 with blues and grooves

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a thrilling hour of blues and hip-hop in a new installment featuring legendary bluesman Buddy Guy and August Greene, the all-star collaboration featuring Grammy-, Emmy- and Oscar-winning Common, and renowned modern jazz greats Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins.

Blues-great Buddy Guy throws down in an entertaining performance of classics and new songs from his Grammy-nominated album The Blues Is Alive and Well. The living legend has played and sang the blues for over half a century, and he proudly flaunts his fretboard expertise and bottomless catalog during his fifth ACL appearance. Guy and his four-piece Damn Right Blues Band take the stage appropriately with the classic “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues.” Working without a set list, Guy pays tribute to fellow Chicago bluesmen on the Junior Wells classic “Hoodoo Man Blues” and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Nine Below Zero” then revisits his Grammy-winning 2015 album Born to Play Guitar for the blistering title track. He thrills the ACL audience with the roof-raising “Slippin’ In,” from his Grammy-winning 1994 album of the same name and takes a string-bending, guitar-solo-ing stroll through the captivated crowd as living proof that the blues is, indeed, alive and well.

The dynamic hip-hop collective known as August Greene take us for a beautiful ride, performing numbers from their acclaimed self-titled debut. This supergroup, featuring veteran rapper Common, four-time Grammy-winning keyboardist/producer Robert Glasper and celebrated jazz drummer/producer Karriem Riggins, lay down a sublime groove overlaid by Common’s socially conscious and empowering narrative. Joined by four backing musicians, the group opens with its hit “Black Kennedy,” a hard look at post-Obama America, deftly adding the chorus of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” to this celebration of black excellence. Backing vocalist Samora Pinderhughes delivers a spellbinding hook, joining Common at center stage for the urgent “Let Go,” as the rapper encourages the crowd to release any negative energy. The group segues directly into the buoyant “Geto Heaven,” from Common’s 2000 breakthrough classic Like Water For Chocolate, honoring many of the fallen from the civil rights era along with the black victims of contemporary gun violence. “I feel like you all let go right there,” smiles a beaming Common as he champions the excellence of all the musicians onstage and the set closes with dazzling solos from Riggins and Glasper.

photo by Scott Newton

“Buddy Guy is the last living blues legend, and he shows no sign of slowing down,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “He’s inspired generations of blues guitarists, and his live shows are always mesmerizing. Austin City Limits has a tradition of pushing the limits to showcase music you’ll probably never see anywhere else on TV. August Greene is an amazing collaboration of jazz, rap and soul that’s pure creative genius.”

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 Americana Music Festival’s seventeenth annual honors and awards program.

Willie Nelson returns to the house he built in ACL Season 44

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits proudly welcomes back a longtime friend, American music icon Willie Nelson, in a career-spanning hour as he performs a mix of his universally-known hits and new classics from his timeless catalog.

There’s a good reason why a bronze statue of Willie Nelson stands at the entrance to ACL’s studio home on the Austin street that bears his name. The Texas native launched Austin City Limits with the now-historic pilot episode (taped in 1974), ushering in what has become the longest-running television music series ever. Inducted into the inaugural class of the ACL Hall of Fame in 2014, he returns to “the house that Willie built” for a remarkable 18th appearance on the program, marking his first headlining appearance in a decade since he shared the stage with Asleep at the Wheel during Season 35 in 2009. The new performance marks his first appearance with his longtime Family Band since Season 25 in 2000.

In the 45-year history of Austin City Limits, no artist has personified the music series’ eclectic, freewheeling spirit more fully than Willie Nelson. Joined by the five-piece Family band, Willie starts the 16-song set with his perennial opener, “Whiskey River,” the song he launched ACL with almost a half-century ago. The energy is palpable for the mainstays that established him as a songwriting legend: “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Crazy,” and “Night Life” (undertaking such an intense, bluesy shred on his trusty acoustic Trigger that he has to shake out his left hand afterward). He honors departed pals and co-songwriters with shout-outs (“Good Hearted Woman,” “for Waylon!” and “It’s All Going to Pot,” “for Merle!”). Willie calls out often for the crowd to join in, and they reply with joy and respect. “I hear it!”, he answers back with a grin during one of many sing-along moments.

photo by Scott Newton

The set features the pinnacles of his artistry as an interpreter: “Georgia on My Mind” anchored by harmonica master Mickey Raphael’s counter melodies; his version of “Nuages,” Django Reinhardt’s 1940 gypsy jazz instrumental, is lifted by the fascinating interplay with sister Bobbie’s piano; “Always on My Mind” showcases Willie’s inimitable phrasing. In tribute to his own favorite vocalist, Willie dips into his most recent album for a jazzy take on Frank Sinatra’s hit “Fly Me to the Moon.” The outlaw legend performs his new-classic anthem “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” and elicits unerringly faithful crowd-chorus callbacks on “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” and the raucous sing-along “On the Road Again.” All reveal a singular artist who’s still exploring, still playful, still pushing the boundaries of where his music can go. After a rousing, standing-room, hand-clapping “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and his now-standard set-closer “I’ll Fly Away,” Willie smiles as wide as Texas, and with a wave of his hat offers a heartfelt “Thank you, Austin City Limits!”

“There would be no Austin City Limits without Willie Nelson – simple as that,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “He launched ACL into the television universe in 1974, and has helped keep us going for 45 years. It was truly emotional to witness such an outpouring of love from the audience. This show is Willie Nelson, pure and simple.”

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 return of blues legend Buddy Guy and the debut of hip-hop/jazz supergroup August Greene.

Modern rock rules ACL Season 44 this weekend with Arctic Monkeys and Wild Child

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases the best of music from near and far to cure your January blues: UK modern rock icons Arctic Monkeys and Austin favorites Wild Child.

One of today’s biggest live acts, Arctic Monkeys perform highlights from their 2019 Grammy-nominated album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, which topped many critics’ 2018 year-end best lists. The acclaimed Sheffield, UK quartet received a coveted 2019 Brit Award nomination for Best Band and they deliver the goods in their ACL debut with a sultry, stylized, captivating six-song set. The Arctic Monkeys play as their movements are captured not only by the ACL cameras, but allegedly, as well, by the cameras of a faux documentary crew filming their every move. Frontman Alex Turner revels in the persona of a rock ‘ roll superstar, oozing charisma on dramatic set opener “Crying Lightning” from 2009’s Humbug before checking into Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino for a lush three-song opus. Turner then checks out with a stone-cold classic, “R U Mine?” from the band’s 2013 chart-topping, platinum smash AM, thrilling the Austin audience.

A band with Central Texas roots, the Austin-based ensemble Wild Child wow in an irresistible ACL debut filled with their wistful-yet-spiky love songs. The Austin-American Statesman raves, “Four albums in, the Austin indie-folk band-that-could has become increasingly confident without losing the sense of childlike wonder that’s so central to the spirit of their music.” The road-tested septet, anchored by perpetually smiling singer Kelsey Wilson and her soaring vocals, perform songs from their recent Expectations. Wilson and co-writer/vocalist/ukelele player Alexander Beggins intertwine vocals on the playful set-opener “Alex,” before the tempo slows for the lush ballad “Eggshells.” The band is joined by a guest set of horns to augment the pop swell of “1996,” and the lovelorn “Back & Forth.” They strip down to guitars and vocals for the harmony-laden fan favorite “Sinking Ship,” before closing out with a crowd-pleaser, the funky, melodic charmer “Expectations.”

photo by Scott Newton

“Every season we include at least a couple of bands that represent the best of Austin, and Wild Child captures the spirit of Austin indie music better than any other,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and Arctic Monkeys is exactly what you would expect – their hardcore fans won’t be disappointed!”

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 return of American music legend and ACL pilot star Willie Nelson.

Residente showcase his own kind of world music in ACL’s 44th season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents an extraordinary hour with Puerto Rican rap superstar Residente. The record-breaking Grammy Award-winning artist makes his ACL debut in a vibrant eight-song set showcasing his whipsmart rap and powerful message of social justice.

Rene Pérez Joglar, aka Residente, has earned a staggering 28 Grammy Awards (more than any other Latin artist) as a solo artist and co-founder of the trailblazing alternative rap duo Calle 13. The superstar also received the prestigious Nobel Peace Summit Award in 2015 for his efforts to promote social awareness and peace. In an impassioned, thought-provoking debut, Residente takes the ACL audience on a journey around the world, exploring his globe-spanning roots through music, and sharing the stories behind many of his songs. The rapper showcases highlights from his 2018 Grammy Award-winning, DNA-test inspired, self-titled solo debut. Finding he had roots all over the world, Residente traveled to many of the places that formed parts of his genetic makeup, from Serbia to Africa.

Backed by a commanding seven-piece band of global musicians hailing from Columbia to Morocco, the charismatic rapper opens with the explosive “Somos Anormales.” Residente preaches a message of unity, vowing “We include people, we don’t exclude people,” and speaking bilingual English and Spanish throughout. This inclusiveness translates to his musical vision as he dazzles on “Dagombas en Tamale,” a song based around the vocal and percussion styles of the Dagombas tribes of the African nation of Ghana. The politically-charged rapper shouts out for resistance, relaying a call to peace through the rapid-fire “Guerra.” Residente drives his message of love home with the gorgeous “Latinoamérica,” telling the roaring crowd, “America is the whole continent. This is for everyone.”

photo by Scott Newton

“At a time when Latin music is exploding worldwide, Residente stands out among his contemporaries,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “His raps are powerful and soul-searching, his music always inspiring, always true to his Puerto Rican roots.”

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 British rockers Arctic Monkeys and Austin favorites Wild Child.

Trombone Shorty and Cyril Neville bring New Orleans funk to Season 44

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases Trombone Shorty & his 10-piece band Orleans Avenue in an electrifying hour with the New Orleans funk shooting stars.

“What’s up, ACL? We meet again!” proclaims Trombone Shorty, aka Troy Andrews, in his second appearance on the ACL stage. The celebrated singer/songwriter/trombone sensation made his ACL debut in 2010 and has become New Orlean’s biggest musical ambassador, channeling his hometown’s rich cultural heritage of soul, funk, jazz, rock and hip-hop to audiences worldwide. The bandleader and his band of aces, including horns, guitar and percussion, show off their bona fides on the instrumental opener “Buckjump,” before easing into the brass-band funk of the Allen Toussaint classic “On Your Way Down.” The non-stop party features selections from Shorty’s catalog, including funky rocker “Where It At?” and the show-stopping “Here Come the Girls” from 2017’s acclaimed Parking Lot Symphony, along with numbers from 2011’s For True and 2010’s Backatown.

In a show full of musical highlights, Shorty takes the mood even higher, announcing “We about to take you to uptown New Orleans right now,” introducing a very special guest, ACL Hall of Famer Cyril Neville, “from the mighty, mighty Neville Brothers.” In an exhilarating performance, the beloved showman reaches back to the Nevilles’ origins, burning through the legendary Meters’ “No More Okey Doke” and “Fiyo On the Bayou,” certified Big Easy classics that have the Austin crowd on their feet for a glorious finale.

photo by Scott Newton

“The music of New Orleans has been a part of Austin City Limits’ legacy since the beginning,” according to executive producer Terry Lickona. “The two cities are kindred spirits in so many ways. Virtually every major artist from The Big Easy has played ACL over the years, and Trombone Shorty is the music of New Orleans today.”

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 Latin superstar Residente.

Khalid and Mac DeMarco showcase original visions in ACL’s 44th season

Khalid on Austin City Limits ©️KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases two originals: breakout R&B/pop star Khalid and indie rocker Mac DeMarco make their ACL debuts in a new installment premiering this weekend. Khalid performs songs from his Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum debut American Teen. Mac DeMarco delivers soft jams from his acclaimed This Old Dog.

A highlight of 2018’s namesake ACL Festival, Khalid’s meteoric rise to fame launched when he released his first single right before his high school graduation. The El Paso native took the years he spent in high school in the Texan border town as inspiration for a series of hits and his double-platinum debut LP American Teen. The 20-year old has struck a chord with his legions of fans with insightful songs that resonate about modern youth culture—Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum-selling songs about smartphones and being young that audiences relate to. Flashing a wide smile throughout his soaring ACL debut, Khalid showcases songs from his smash American Teen in a soulful, seven-song set as the stoked crowd sings along to every word of his lyrics. Set highlights include the anthem “American Teen,” multi-platinum smash “Young Dumb & Broke” and the four-times platinum single that started it all, “Location.”

The New York Times calls Mac DeMarco “a trendsetting merrymaker” with a “surprising career built on seeming like an affable deadbeat.” The irreverent prankster is known to share wine and cake with fans during his live shows. The Edmonton native promises to keep it smooth at the top of his ACL debut, and he makes good on the pledge in a five-song interactive set of his distinctive laid-back rock. The singer-songwriter-guitarist and his four-piece band spotlight songs from his fourth and best-selling LP This Old Dog, taking a stage set as an unconventional version of an Italian restaurant: checkered tablecloths, fake fruit, plenty of red wine and dollhead masks. Launching into the smoothly flowing set-opener “On the Level,” the creamy sound of an electric grand piano signals the drift into “For the First Time,” an ‘80s-sounding soft rocker with a melody that thrills the ACL audience. The gap-toothed rocker shows off his guitar skills on songs from his 2014 breakthrough, the lo-fi gem Salad Days, including the mellow pop of “Brother” and “Chamber of Reflection.” DeMarco throws a slice of pound cake to the willing audience and closes out the set directing the crowd in a little clapping “classic rock-style” before ditching the guitar for a glass of red wine (“It’s Cab-Sav. It’s French.”) to toast the crowd.

Mac DeMarco on Austin City Limits ©️KLRU photo by Scott Newton

“Khalid and Mac DeMarco are very different, but what they have in common are millions of passionate young music fans who adore them,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Their songs resonate with twentysomethings (and younger) because they relate to their everyday lives in ways that are insightful and friendly, and even a little bit comical.”

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 classic encore episode from 1979, featuring the legendary Tom Waits.

Janelle Monáe delivers a show-stopping Season 44 episode

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents one of today’s most celebrated artists, Janelle Monáe, in a thrilling new hour of euphoric funk.  The award-winning singer, songwriter, performer, producer, activist and actor showcases songs from her widely acclaimed Dirty Computer in a must-see episode.

Monáe stole the show at this year’s namesake ACL Festival; now the visionary funk songstress delivers a show-stopping master class for her Austin City Limits debut, featuring songs from her third solo album, Dirty Computer, one of 2018’s most lauded releases.  Performing with a predominantly female ensemble, including a four-woman dance team, the Kansas City native slays in a breathtaking, eight-song set packed with exuberant choreography and elaborate costumes.  “I come in peace, but I mean business,” the powerhouse proclaims to the Austin audience. She performs Dirty Computer gems, singing the funky “Django Jane” refrain “Black girl magic, y’all can’t stand it,” atop a golden throne; the sizzling “Pynk,” a cleverly costumed celebration of female empowerment, and the sensual “Make Me Feel,” opening in silhouette to showcase her Michael Jackson and James Brown-inspired dance moves.  Saying “We love you, Prince,” Monáe pays tribute to her late mentor and collaborator with “Primetime,” from 2013’s The Electric Lady, as her guitarist evokes the unmistakable coda of the icon’s “Purple Rain.” She dazzles with back-to-back highlights from her Grammy-nominated 2010 debut The ArchAndroid, including her smash “Tightrope,” then wraps up her stunning ACL debut with a climactic “Come Alive.”

“The artistry of Janelle Monáe is stunning,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “She can do it all. There’s nobody else out there like her. I’ve never seen anybody like her on Austin City Limits – in over three decades, and that says a lot!”

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 an encore episode featuring singer/songwriters James Bay and Rhiannon Giddens.