Encore: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros/tUnE-yArDs

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits is proud to present the encore of an inspired double-bill featuring the experimental sounds of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and tUnE-yArDs.

The psychedelic folk troupe Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros bring their shared spirit to the ACL stage in their debut appearance on the show. Equipped with infectious melodies, catchy sing-a-longs and a free-spirited frontman, the 12-piece ensemble have gained fans all over the world. With two critically-acclaimed albums and a widespread reputation for energetic performances, the down-home outfit create what NPR calls a “gloriously uplifting ruckus.” The Los Angeles-based group draws inspiration from the communal musical communities that peppered Southern California with positive vibrations during the ’60s and early ’70s. The gang of animated musicians perform their bright music and homespun harmonies on ACL complete with spontaneous dancing, bare feet and bared souls.

“This is a band that loves to make music, pure and simple,” says ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “They may look and sound like they came straight out of the 60’s, but there is a joy to their music that is infectious – onstage or off. In fact, frontman Alex Ebert had a hard time staying ON our stage during the show, and to everyone’s delight he plunged into the crowd more than once.”

Next up is the bold, uncompromising music of tUnE-yArDs, performing tracks from the critically-acclaimed opus whokill. The brainchild of indie singer-songwriter Merrill Garbus, tUnE-yArDs have fashioned an expansive sound incorporating layered ukulele, voice, electric bass and drum loops into an eclectic DIY aesthetic. Technology meets primal in the music of Garbus, who The New York Times describes as “somewhere between Aretha Franklin and Yoko Ono.” She showcases her striking sound for her first appearance on the ACL stage. With a bassist and two sax players joining Garbus’ frontline of drums, amplified ukelele and looping technology, tUnE-yArDs put on a show unlike any other.

photo by Scott Newton

“I don’t think we’ve ever had an act quite like Merrill Garbus and tUnE-yArDs on ACL,” says Lickona. “But don’t be fooled…just when her music seems to veer off in a strange direction, Merrill brings it all back home with the raw power of her voice and those loopy rhythms.”

Check out the episode page for more details on this remarkable show. We also hope you’ll visit us on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for our newsletter. Next week: Ed Sheeran and Valerie June.

 

Encore: Tim McGraw

photo by Scott Newton

“This is a special night for us. We’re very excited!” ” proclaims Tim McGraw during his debut ACL performance. So are we to welcome one of contemporary country’s biggest stars.

In a dynamic performance, McGraw takes the ACL stage armed with both his greatest hits and brand new songs. Performing tracks from his 2013 record Two Lanes of Freedom, McGraw blazes through an hour-long set of his distinctive brand of rockin’ country music.

Launching into a set that has the audience on its feet from the first note, the country kingpin has his engines revving and thrills the crowd in a visceral, moving performance. From his hard-driving new single “One of Those Nights” to the feel-good hangover of “Mexicoma,” the energy level is at 11 when McGraw sings his massive career-defining anthem “Live Like You Were Dying.” He brings the show to a close and a smile to every face with the good-natured hillbilly humor of his recent huge hit “Truck Yeah,” a singalong anthem if there ever was one.

“Country Music has plenty of superstars to go around, but Tim has that special ability to make an emotional connection with his audience that is rare in any genre,” says ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “His first ACL appearance meant a lot to him – he told me it made him feel ‘like a real musician – not just sort of smoke and mirrors.’”

photo by Scott Newton

Check out the episode page for more info on this exciting show. Keep up with other ACL goings-on through our Facebook and Twitter pages and our newsletter. Next week: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and tUnE-yArDs.

 

Encore: The Civil Wars and Punch Brothers

photo by Scott Newton

Join us this weekend for a night of intimate and supremely talented performances from The Civil Wars and Punch Brothers. With zero percussion assistance for each performance, one acquires a clear picture of the depth of musicianship and delicately crafted songs that both of these artists brought to our stage. What you’ll find from both artists is nothing short of moving, inspiring, and wildly intriguing.

With open arms and a bare stage, we welcomed The Civil Wars back in February 2012 as the first taping that year. The Grammy Award-winners proved to be a perfect start to the newest season on so many levels. Their minimalist set with the ever-so perpetual Austin skyline in the background highlighted the voices of Joy Williams and John Paul White as they played hits off their 2011 release Barton Hollow. Included in this performance are two very intense, but true to the original spirit, renditions of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and Smashing Pumpkins’ “Disarm.” At one moment you realize that Williams and White had the entire audience in their hand when Williams remarked about how quiet and attentive the audience was reacting. It’s true – at many points during this episode you become so captivated by Joy’s sashaying and John’s guitar playing that you forget where you are and immediately realize why these two have garnered their much-deserved praise.

“When you start a band, this is all you ever really want to do – play Austin City Limits,” mentioned Chris Thile in the middle of Punch Brothers’ set. Thile, who is no stranger to ACL (this is his third appearance), brings his all-star band that formed back in 2006 to the show. Again there is no percussion, but unlike the simple quietness that we get from The Civil Wars earlier, we get an influx of sound from the mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, and bass. The progressive rock stars of the bluegrass world take us through their 2012 release of Who’s Feeling Young Now? with a few sprinkles of the 2010 album Antifogmatic. This group’s genre-jumping and incredible musicianship will have you tapping your toes and wishing you had taken up banjo back in 10th grade.

photo by Scott Newton

This is something you will not want to miss, but don’t take our word for it – see it for yourself! You can preview the episode and get more information here; check here for local listings and times in your area. Also, be sure to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for all things Austin City Limits, and sign up for our newsletter for further info. Next week: Tim McGraw.

 

Encore: fun. and Dawes

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents multiple Grammy Award-winning band fun. and folk-rockers Dawes making their ACL debuts in a new episode showcasing their distinctive brands of modern rock.

Opening the episode, fun. takes to the ACL stage for the first time to perform their epic hits, including “We Are Young”, “Some Nights” and “Carry On” from the landmark album Some Nights. The breakthrough band was awarded Best New Artist and Song of the Year (for “We Are Young”, their best-selling single and one of the year’s most memorable tracks) at the 2013 Grammy Awards. Despite fun.’s seemingly overnight success, it’s been a slow and steady build of over a decade for frontman Nate Ruess, who joined forces with bandmates Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff to create the melodic anthems that connected with audiences everywhere and propelled the indie rockers to international success. “Something feels really special about tonight,” says Ruess from the ACL stage, engaging the Austin audience in a dynamic, energetic performance complete with sing-alongs. The acclaimed band delivers an uplifting, memorable debut, closing out the set with their modern classic “Some Nights”, with the Austin crowd providing the “whoa-oh-oh’s.”

“As expected, fun. lives up to its name, but their music has a depth that goes beyond their Broadway-like showmanship,” says executive producer Terry Lickona. “Nate is a 21st century rock star.”

The Los Angeles rock quartet known as Dawes share the bill, performing songs that span their three critically-acclaimed albums, including the latest, Stories Don’t End, which hit the Top 5 on Billboard’s independent albums chart. The band made waves with its 2009 debut and gained a reputation for their impressive classic rock-infused songs that evoke the past while embracing the present. The LA Times raves of the new release, “Dawes strums and shuffles its way through a dozen handcrafted folk-rock tunes that sound as if they were nourished on classics such as Jackson Browne’s self-titled debut and the Band’s Music From Big Pink.” Having already toured with the likes of Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Robbie Robertson and Mumford & Sons, and gracing the stages of music’s most prestigious festivals, Dawes’ appeal crosses all age barriers and has no boundaries.  In their ACL debut, Dawes delivers a raw and glorious set, highlighted by rich harmonies, for a crowd-pleasing performance.

photo by Scott Newton

“Despite all the references to their California folk-rock sound, Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith writes songs that sometimes cut to the bone,” Lickona says. “You’ll be replaying these songs in your head for days.”

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 goodies. Next week: The Civil Wars and Punch Brothers.

 

Encore: Norah Jones and Kat Edmonson

photo by Scott Newton

There are so many genres of music in the world, and so many artists who embody them. But it’s nice to hear singers and songwriters who defy categorization, mixing parts from different traditions into their own distinctive blend. We’re proud to feature two of those performers: Norah Jones and Kat Edmonson.

ACL fans certainly aren’t strangers to Norah Jones, who’s been on the show twice before. She’s back to demonstrate her continued evolution as a vocalist, writer and musician. Showcasing Little Broken Hearts, her latest album produced by Danger Mouse, Jones and her new band take her previous mix of jazz, pop and torch songs and put it through a funky psychedelic filter, giving the sprightly kiss-off “Say Goodbye” and the nonchalant murder confession “Miriam” a rich, spacey allure. Jones also visits her acclaimed record The Fall, closing the show with the luminous “Stuck” (co-written by Will Sheff, of fellow ACL alumni Okkervil River). Watch and listen as Jones takes the next step in her evolution.

Kat Edmonson makes her ACL debut on the strength of her second album Way Down Low, a record that lifts her away from the jazz traditionalism of her debut. Though still rooted in jazz, Edmonson and her band don’t stick to formalities, letting as much pop melody and singer/songwriter intimacy into her music as improvisation and harmonic complexity. The catchy pop of “I Don’t Know,” the sly jazz of “Lucky” and the beautiful torch balladry of “Nobody Knows That” showcase a stunning young talent that commands the stage with understated grace. Edmonson may have been an unfamiliar face to many ACL fans, but they’ve been searching their local record stores and streaming sites for her music since they’ve seen this episode.

photo by Scott Newton

You can find more information on this episode here, but the best way to experience these singers is to tune in to your local PBS station and watch for yourself. Don’t forget that you can find more info on the comings and goings of ACL on our Facebook page, Twitter feed and news page. Next week: fun. and Dawes.

 

Encore: Gary Clark Jr. and Alabama Shakes

photo by Scott Newton

This weekend, ACL presents two game-changers bringing modern blues and soul to a new generation: Gary Clark Jr. and Alabama Shakes. The power of live performance is front and center as Austin’s own rock ‘n’ soul phenomenon Clark and soulful rockers Alabama Shakes take the ACL stage in separate showcases.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for sixteen years” says a stoked Gary Clark Jr. from the stage. “It feels so good to be here right now.” Long Austin’s favorite son, the twenty-eight year old bluesman exploded onto the international music scene when he delivered an incredible performance at Eric Clapton’s 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival. Born and raised in Austin, Clark began playing guitar at age 12, tearing up hometown stages since he was a teenager. He made a name for himself across the globe with the release of his critically-acclaimed 2012 major label debut Blak and Blu, and kicked off 2013 with a performance for President and Mrs. Obama at The White House. Clark has earned across-the-board raves for his singular talent, with The New York Times hailing Clark as “a guitarist of deep magnetism and tremendous feel.” The guitar virtuoso flaunts his six-string chops in his ACL appearance, thrilling the audience with a bold mix of blues, rock, soul and funk. Clark made his auspicious ACL debut back in Season 33 as part of the Tribute to Bluesman Jimmy Reed, with Jimmie Vaughan and Omar Dykes, and with his own set Clark proves he’s the one to watch.

“He’s already shared the stage with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton, but Gary is the essence of what his hometown Austin’s music is all about,” says executive producer Terry Lickona. “He learned from the best in every genre from the age of 12, and remains true to his heart and his roots. He’s our pride and joy.”

photo by Scott Newton

Raucous newcomers Alabama Shakes combine the old and the new to create gritty, joyous and soulfully raw music. Muscle Shoals-inspired and hailing from Athens, Alabama, the foursome enthusiastically blend rock with soul, country, blues and roots. The rock quartet has attracted widespread praise, including their recent Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.  Alabama Shakes’ style is marked by lead singer Brittany Howard’s powerful vocals—which have been compared to those of Janis Joplin and Otis Redding—and the group’s irresistible energy. Performing tracks from their breakthrough release Boys & Girls, the band open their ACL debut with the breakout hit “Hold On,” and launch into an ecstatic, transcendent, rafter-shaking set.

“There’s a reason Grammy voters nominated them for Best New Artist of the Year, the same reason we taped this show before they had even released their first record,” declares Lickona.  “Raw talent is hard to miss, and a vocal talent like Brittany Howard comes along once in a decade – if that.”

Check out the episode page for more info on this great show. You can keep up with ACL events via our Facebook and Twitter pages and our newsletter. Next week: Norah Jones and Kat Edmonson.

 

ACL Hall of Fame Special features Willie Nelson, Double Trouble and more

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits celebrates 40 years on television with a grand finale featuring musical highlights and inductions from the first-ever Austin City Limits Hall of Fame presentation. Hosted by Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, this never-before-broadcast special showcases outstanding performances and collaborations from the ACL Hall of Fame ceremony held April 26, 2014, including Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph and more. The program also honors the inaugural class of Hall of Fame inductees, featuring legendary music acts Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and a pair of individuals who played an invaluable role in the genesis of the series: show creator Bill Arhos and Texas Longhorns football head coach and ACL supporter Darrell Royal.

For this extraordinary occasion ACL returns to its original Studio 6A, where the series taped its first episode in 1974—featuring Willie Nelson—to honor the artists and individuals who have inspired the iconic television series throughout its four decade run. The intimate performances include inductee Willie Nelson, joined by Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris for stunning readings of Nelson-penned classics including “Funny How Time Slips Away”, “Crazy” and “On the Road Again.” Matthew McConaughey inducts his friend and fellow Texan, saying “There would be no Austin City Limits without Willie Nelson.”

photo by Scott Newton

Austin blues-rock giants Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble are honored with a stirring tribute and their signature songs are performed by special guests backed by Double Trouble’s Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon and Reese Wynans. Guitar ace Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Grammy-winning singer Mike Farris perform a scorching rendition of “The House Is Rockin’,” a song Vaughan made iconic. Blues titan and ACL veteran Buddy Guy says, “I wasn’t here when Willie started, but I came soon after,” then demonstrates his incredible guitar prowess with an electrifying take on “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” Steel guitar dynamo Robert Randolph performs a fiery version of “Give Me Back My Wig” joined by Doyle Bramhall II. The special comes to an epic close with an all-star reading of a Lone Star classic as a stellar lineup of guitar slingers blaze through the Stevie Ray Vaughan standard “Texas Flood.”

photo by Scott Newton

Tune in this weekend for this stellar special, 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. Next week: Gary Clark Jr. and Alabama Shakes.

ACL Season 40 crashes to a close with Foo Fighters

photo by Scott Newton

Get your lighters out for one of the most riotous, epic, joyous episodes in the four-decade history of Austin City Limits as the Foo Fighters return for the head-banging blowout of ACL’s milestone anniversary season. In an installment destined to be a future classic, this superstar-caliber performance serves as a colossal closeout to the program’s celebratory Season 40. Dave Grohl & company bring the rock in a non-stop, incredible hour of music that will have viewers on their feet and pledging allegiance to the Foo.

2015 marks the Foo Fighters’ 20th Anniversary, and while the 25-million-record-selling, eleven-time GRAMMY-winning band play sold-out arenas and stadiums across the globe, the modern rock superstars return to ACL’s humble stage on this special occasion. The Foos first appeared during Season 34 in 2008 and recently immortalized Austin and ACL’s executive producer Terry Lickona in an installment of their HBO series Sonic Highways, even recording a song in ACL’s historic, original Studio 6A for the companion audio release.

“Here’s what I think we should do,” says Foo leader Dave Grohl at the outset. “We should play some old songs, we should play some new songs, we should have some guests.” The band stays true to their word, launching into a blistering nine-song attack, performing fan favorites and standout tracks from their acclaimed new release Sonic Highways. The crowd goes wild when Austin guitar great Gary Clark Jr. joins the band for “What Did I Do?/God As My Witness,” the song originally recorded in the Austin episode of the HBO series. Hometown hero and blues guitar legend Jimmie Vaughan joins Clark Jr. and the band onstage for “Tuff Enuff,” the signature song of Vaughan’s Fabulous Thunderbirds, with Grohl on vocals and Vaughan adding his distinctive guitar riffs. The audience is on their feet for the entire hour, pumping their fists in the air and singing along as Foo Fighters make a believer out of everyone, in one of the most entertaining hours of music in ACL history. On the closing anthem “Best of You” Grohl sings, “I’ve got another confession to make/I’m your fool.” So is the Austin audience in a performance that is the ultimate highlight of ACL’s 40th season.

photo by Scott Newton

ACL executive producer Terry Lickona says, “We love us some Foo Fighters!! They are one of the biggest rock bands on the planet right now, and Dave Grohl is a renaissance rock and roll man. He showed us their love on the HBO Sonic Highways series, and this ACL episode is the first major TV showcase for their new music. Ours is a unique relationship, to say the least!”