Kane Brown and Colter Wall: two sides of country music on ACL’s 45 season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits spotlights next-generation country representing the genre’s expansive range in a new installment featuring chart-topping sensation Kane Brown sharing the hour with breakout Country-and-Western artist Colter Wall

One of country music’s brightest new stars, boundary-pushing artist Kane Brown is having a banner year, dominating the charts with his low, soulful voice and earning multiple nominations for Country Artist of the Year. The 26-year-old hitmaker makes his ACL debut performing highlights from Experiment, his chart-topping sophomore album which debuted at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200. Born and raised near the rural North Georgia-Tennessee border, the singer makes country music for a modern audience, blending elements of pop, rock, rap and R&B into a traditional country formula. Brown showcases his bona fides as the future of the genre, opening his seven-song set with his breakthrough “What Ifs,” the 4X Platinum love song from his self-titled 2016 debut. He details his personal challenges growing up biracial on “Learning” and tackles the topic of school shootings in the dark, powerful standout “American Bad Dream.” Brown closes out the crowd-pleasing set with a victory lap, performing the No. 1, platinum-selling come-hither smash “Lose It.”

Western Canadian folksinger Colter Wall draws on the stories of his native Saskatchewan for his ACL debut. The talented, 24-year-old artist possesses a rich, resonant baritone that belies his age. Accompanied by his four-piece band, Wall performs the modern-day Western numbers from his acclaimed sophomore release Songs of the Plains, produced by Nashville ace Dave Cobb. A set highlight is a pair of new, unrecorded numbers, “Happy Reunion” and the solo acoustic “Hoolihans at the Holiday Inn,” a 21st-century cowboy’s lament about roping practice in hotel parking lots. Wall delivers traditional classics that fit right into his wheelhouse: an inspired rendition of Marty Robbins’ gunfighter-ballad “Big Iron” and the ‘50’s yodel-spiked “Cowpoke,” before reaching back to his 2017 self-titled debut for the fan-favorite set-closer “Motorcycle.”

photo by Scott Newton

“Kane Brown is on the front line bringing country music into the 21st century,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “His personal story and the subjects he sings about set him apart from the mainstream, yet he’s very much a part of the tradition of country mavericks who aren’t afraid to break the mold.

“Colter Wall is the first artist in a generation to put the ‘western’ back in country-and-western music. His songs about wide-open spaces and the loneliness and isolation resonate with fans feeling the pressure of the modern world.”

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 program, as ACL Presents: Americana 18th annual Awards and Honors, featuring Brandi Carlile, John Prine, Our Native Daughters, I’m With Her and more. 

Vampire Weekend triumphantly returns in ACL’s 45th season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits spotlights Vampire Weekend in a must-see hour featuring the indie-rock band’s epic return showcasing their long-awaited new album Father of the Bride alongside classic gems from their catalog.  

Vampire Weekend performs a suite of songs off the celebrated, chart-topping Father of the Bride, their fourth album and first in six years. The seven-piece, led by frontman Ezra Koenig, unpack new gems: “Sympathy,” “Bambina,”“2021,” “My Mistake,” and “This Life,” showcasing their irresistible knack for melody and lyrics that capture the complexities of 21st-century life. The group perform select favorites from their catalog, including the breakthrough “A-Punk” from their 2008 debut and the rhythmic, Afrobeat “White Sky” from 2010’s landmark Contra. Koenig’s 2014 collaboration with EDM producer SBTRKT, “New Dorp. New York,” is here transformed into a Vampire Weekend funk-rock epic. A set highlight is an extended version of new classic “Harmony Hall,” a masterful, melodic wonder that opens with an iconic guitar riff and accelerates into a joyful piano sprint. The perfectly-paced set comes to a powerful close with Koenig’s stunning vocal on the hymnal, cathartic anthem “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin.” 

“There’s never been a better time to appreciate Vampire Weekend, given the world we live in today,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “I’ve always been a fan of Ezra Koenig’s voice and his new songs are more personal and inward-looking than ever. Vampire Weekend has remained tried-and-true – popular without ever becoming pop!”

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 two sides of modern country music with Kane Brown and Colter Wall.

Patty Griffin and The Revivalists sing from their souls in ACL’s Season 45

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases American roots music with Texas singer-songwriter Patty Griffin and New Orleans rockers The Revivalists in a new installment as part of ACL’s milestone Season 45. Griffin performs an intimate, stripped-down set highlighting songs from her recent self-titled release and The Revivalists play crowd-pleasing anthems from their latest Take Good Care.

Patty Griffin delivers a powerful performance with songs from her new self-titled release, her tenth studio album — the first after a four-year hiatus. The Austin favorite first appeared on ACL in a songwriters’ special in 2000, and she returns for her sixth appearance on our stage, adding another extraordinary chapter to her storied two-decade career. Accompanied by guitarist David Pulkingham and percussionist/multi-instrumentalist Conrad Choucroun, Griffin performs highlights from her latest, including the new single “The Wheel”, along with “Luminous Places” and “Hourglass”. The Austin-based musician introduces “Boys From Tralee,” a Celtic-folk stunner that tells the story of her Irish ancestors’ emigration to the United States. Griffin dips back to 2004’s Impossible Dream for the bluesy gut-punch “Standing”, showcasing her rich vocals and love of gospel. 

“We take great pride in claiming Patty as one of our own here in Austin,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “ but the truth is that her songs have captured the hearts and souls of millions of fans the world over.”

Chart-topping New Orleans brass-rockers The Revivalists perform an irresistible set filled with get-up-and-dance gems from their acclaimed 2018 album Take Good Care. The road-tested band, who’ve perfected their energetic live show with over a decade of non-stop touring, take the crowd on an emotional rollercoaster with infectious slow-build numbers that escalate to anthems. The eight-piece outfit open with their platinum-selling 2015 breakthrough, “Wish I Knew You,” the nostalgic funk jam that became a Number One Billboard smash. Lead singer David Shaw strikes a chord with his signature soulful howl and the group showcase their love for old-school soul on set-closer “Got Love.”

photo by Scott Newton

“The Revivalists won me over the day I saw them play at New Orleans’ Jazzfest,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “They may not have that typical New Orleans sound that comes to mind, but they have the grit, the funk, and the spice to create their own special kind of musical gumbo.”

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, a special hour featuring the return of indie rock favorites Vampire Weekend

H.E.R. sparkles on debut ACL episode

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits spotlights R&B sensation H.E.R. in a powerhouse debut. The 2019 double Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist dazzles in a new hour. 

A rare talent, 22-year-old H.E.R. delivers a stunning performance in her ACL debut. Opening with the acoustic guitar-driven “Carried Away,” H.E.R. calls out “Austin — you want to lose your mind a little bit?” She commands the hour running through a medley of her hits while showcasing her musician skills, seamlessly switching between keyboards, drum pads, bass, acoustic and electric guitars throughout. With a remarkable demonstration of range, she folds her Grammy Award-winning double-platinum hit “Best Part” from her 2017 breakout debut H.E.R. between covers of Deniece Williams’ “Free” and Lauryn Hill’s “Nothing Really Matters”. She brings a rock ‘n’ roll bravado to her love crisis banger “Hard Place” enlisting the enthralled crowd to raise their voices “a little louder” for the soaring anthem. H.E.R. earns an extended standing ovation for her showstopping rendition of “Make It Rain”, adding her own stamp with a bluesy guitar solo and soulful vocals. She showcases her platinum smash “Focus” and gives nods to her inspirations along the way, leading the crowd in a full-throated singalong of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor”, and closing with a fiery guitar solo coda of Prince’s “Purple Rain” in a performance for the ages. 

“H.E.R. is a modern Renaissance Woman whose musical skills know no bounds,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “It’s inspiring and jaw-dropping to watch her morph and meld one style or genre on top of another. Her Grammy performance was a stand-out and her ACL performance really gives her the room to stretch out.”

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 veteran singer/songwriter Patty Griffin and New Orleans rockers The Revivalists.

Steve Earle and friends bring Guy Clark tribute to ACL Season 45

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a Season 45 highlight: Steve Earle & The Dukes spotlighting the songwriting legacy of the legendary Guy Clark. Americana stalwart Earle makes his fifth appearance on the ACL stage paying tribute to his mentor, the late Texas singer-songwriter and ACL Hall of Fame legend Guy Clark, in a heartwarming hour filled with choice classics and personal anecdotes.  Performing a collection of gems from his acclaimed Clark tribute album Guy, Earle is accompanied by his five-piece band The Dukes, and special guests including Rodney Crowell, Joe Ely, Terry Allen and Jo Harvey Allen. The episode is capped with vintage clips from Clark’s own ACL appearances, including his 1977 debut.  

Steve Earle kicks off the hour appropriately singing “I wish I was in Austin…,” the infamous opening of Guy Clark’s “Dublin Blues.”  In his signature bandana, the Americana maverick Earle showcases a true Texas icon in this moving hour, filled with entertaining stories and personal tales from Earle’s longtime relationship with one of his main songwriting influences.  Earle explains how he, at 19, first met Guy after hitchhiking from Texas to Tennessee, eventually playing bass in Clark’s band “until Guy needed a better bass player.” Earle shares the stage with special guests: Texas legend Joe Ely joins Earle for the beloved Clark signature “Desperados Waiting For A Train”; and Rodney Crowell collaborates on a rousing duet of “Heartbroke”, an early nugget Crowell first recorded in 1980.  Earle performs a stunning solo acoustic reading of “Randall Knife,” adding his own powerful take on a Clark classic.  “I guess I should play a couple of songs of mine so y’all won’t think Guy didn’t teach me anything,” quips Earle before launching into gorgeous renditions of a pair of his own: “Guitar Town,” the 1986 track that introduced Earle’s talents to the world, and “Copperhead Road”. “That’s what I learned from Guy Clark,” asserts Earle before bringing Ely and Crowell back, joined by Lubbock legends Terry Allen and Jo Harvey Allen, saying “Everyone here loved Guy Clark.” The Texas natives close out the hour together with a poignant rendition of the Clark gem, “Old Friends,” as each artist takes a turn at the mic: “...Old friends they shine like diamonds.”  Earle leads the audience in a final round of the chorus, before calling out directly to his songwriting hero at the close: “Guy Charles Clark—see you when I get there, maestro.” 

photo by Scott Newton

“There’s nobody better suited personally, musically, or emotionally to bring new life to the songs of Guy Clark than Steve Earle,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Guy’s songs are timeless, but Steve makes sure that nobody will forget why he will always be considered the Dean of Texas songwriters.” 

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 rising  R&B star H.E.R.

Maggie Rogers brings her effervescent pop to ACL Season 45

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases acclaimed artist Maggie Rogers in a sparkling hour premiering as part of ACL’s milestone Season 45.

Maggie Rogers makes her ACL debut in an irresistible hour showcasing songs from her Capitol Records debut album Heard It In A Past Life.  Raised in rural Easton, Maryland, the 25-year-old phenom delivers a captivating rendition of “Alaska,” the breakout song that became a viral sensation and introduced her talents as a songwriter and producer to the world.  Heard It In  Past Life entered Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart at No. 1 and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 Chart.  The album sold over 200,000 album adjusted units, amassed over 500 million combined streams and received widespread critical praise from NPR, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, TIME Magazine, Billboard and many more. 

Her buoyant 11-song set is filled with open-hearted anthems about love and relationships, including chart-topping fan-favorites “Light On” and “Fallingwater.”  Rogers dances ecstatically across the stage, glowing as she moves with her music’s creative beats. With barefaced honesty, she inspires a genuine connection with her audience, and the admiring Austin crowd sings along passionately on the choruses. The magnetic artist closes out the standout hour alone on the stage for a gorgeous a cappella performance of “Color Song,” signaling an enduring new talent has arrived.

“Maggie’s music is 100% emotion,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and her live performances are exuberant and unfettered in a way you seldom see on a stage. Her music celebrates life, and Maggie Rogers is a gift to us all.”

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 veteran singer/songwriter Steve Earle’s tribute to his mentor Guy Clark.

Gary Clark Jr. kicks off Austin City Limits Season 45

Gary Clark Jr. on Austin City Limits © KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits launches a new broadcast season of spectacular performances with a must-see hour taking a deep-dive with a boundary-pushing artist, Grammy® Award-winning Gary Clark Jr.  

“Feels good up here,” proclaims Gary Clark Jr. during his third headline appearance on the ACL stage. The Austin native opens the hour with a blistering performance of the hit that launched his meteoric rise, “Bright Lights” from his 2012 debut Blak and Blu. The song’s refrain “...you gonna know my name,” couldn’t be more apt for the Texan who has had a whirlwind ascent from the Austin club scene to show-stopping performances on festival stages around the world.  Clark showcases songs from his latest, the critically-acclaimed This Land, his third major label release, which features some of his most powerful songwriting to date, with profound lyrics about life, love, restlessness and racism.  Clark moves in and out of blues, soul, gospel, reggae and punk easily in the nine-song set, dazzling on the reggae-rock swagger of “Feelin’ Like A Million,” and shifting to the falsetto-laden “Feed the Babies.” 

Bringing the crowd to their feet with a scorching rendition of his early classic “When My Train Pulls In,” Clark’s guitar solo is a masterclass in creative improvisation, wandering between different registers, exploring various motifs and bringing it down low to build it back into strobed-out fury.  “I grew up watching ACL,” says the hometown hero who has stated he learned to play guitar watching his own heros, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, on old episodes of the series.  Clark brings it all back to love, a frequent theme, with “Pearl Cadillac,” a gorgeous R&B/pop crooner dedicated to his mother and channeling another guitar hero, Prince.  He closes out the explosive set with a fierce version of “This Land,” the socially-charged anthem and a personal battle cry. “Sometimes people don’t know how to act right, so I got something for them,” says Clark. 

photo by Scott Newton

“It has been amazing and inspiring to see Gary grow as an artist since that first time he set foot on the ACL stage,” says longtime executive producer Terry Lickona. “From the first time I saw him play when he was 16, his talents were undeniable, and he has truly become the consummate artist – all the best that Austin represents.”

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 fast-rising singer, songwriter and producer Maggie Rogers

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.