Leon Rausch R.I.P.

photo by Scott Newton

We here at Austin City Limits are saddened to learn of the death of Western swing legend Leon Rausch.  The Texas Playboys singer passed on May 14 in Fort Worth. He was 91.

Born in Billings, Missouri in 1927, Rausch grew up in the Show-Me State, singing with the family trio. After serving in the armed forces during the Korean War, he and his wife Vonda moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, with Rausch finding work in a glass factory and singing on the weekends with Johnnie Lee Wills, the younger brother of Western swing titan Bob Wills. The elder Wills recruited Rausch to the Texas Playboys in 1958 for a partnership that lasted until 1963, when Rausch left to form his own band.

The singer reunited with Wills for the latter’s final album, 1973’s For the Last Time. After Wills passed in 1975, leadership of the Playboys passed on to Rausch and steel guitarist Leon McAuliffe. Rausch continued to be the voice of Western swing, with and without the Playboys, until his death. He will be greatly missed.

“Leon was not only the voice of The Texas Playboys in their final days, he pretty much personified what made their music so much fun to listen – and dance – to,” remarked ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Western Swing has lost a real champion.”

Rausch appeared on Austin City Limits four times, including the debut episode of ACL’s first season, and most recently with Asleep At the Wheel in Season 41. Below are a pair of clips from those appearances: “San Antonio Rose,” the first song from the Playboys’ first appearance on the show in 1976, and “Milk Cow Blues,” in collaboration with the Wheel in 2015.  

Austin City Limits #101: Texas Playboys – San Antonio Rose from Austin City Limits on Vimeo.

Austin City Limits #4102: Asleep at the Wheel With Leon Rausch – Milk Cow Blues from Austin City Limits on Vimeo.

ACL Fest 2019 announces spectacular lineup

ACL Fest 2019 lineup announce

We’re jazzed to share the 2019 lineup of our namesake mega-festival, Austin City Limits Music Festival, produced by our friends at C3 Presents. The zeitgeist meets the classics, as contemporary hitmakers Childish Gambino, Cardi B, Robyn and Billie Eilish share the stages with The Cure, The Raconteurs, Tame Impala, Mumford & Sons and the mighty Guns N’ Roses in their first-ever ACL Fest appearance. Also on tap: Kacey Musgraves, Gary Clark Jr., 21 Savage, Thom Yorke Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, Lizzo, Lil Uzi Vert, Rosalía, Tyler Childers, Jenny Lewis, Natalia Lafourcade, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, and Third Eye Blind. That’s just the tip of the talent iceberg.

The eighteenth annual ACL Fest returns to Austin’s Zilker Park for two consecutive weekends, October 4-6 and October 11-13.  You can check out the full lineup and get ticket info on three-day passes, VIP and more here. Tickets tend to sell out quickly, so you know what to do.

ACL to live stream Rainbow Kitten Surprise taping on 5/6

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Austin City Limit is happy to announce that we will be live streaming our upcoming Season 45 taping with eclectic North Carolina rock band Rainbow Kitten Surprise on May 6. The performance will stream via the ACL YouTube channel here.  With a devoted and ever-growing fanbase, the band makes their ACL debut in the middle of a North American headline tour which has recently been extended to include a fall leg.

Nearly every song from ACL first-timers Rainbow Kitten Surprise unfolds in a dizzying rush of feverish yet finespun lyrics that feel both intimate and mythic. Throughout their third album How To: Friend, Love, Freefall, the Boone, North Carolina five-piece sets those lyrics to a thrillingly unpredictable sound that transcends all genre convention, endlessly changing form to accommodate shifts in mood and spirit. But while Rainbow Kitten Surprise push into some complex emotional terrain, the band’s joyful vitality ultimately makes for an album that’s deeply cathartic and undeniably life-affirming. Produced by Grammy Award-winner Jay Joyce and recorded in Nashville, How To: Friend, Love, Freefall marks Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s debut release for Elektra Records. In creating the album, the band immersed themselves in a deliberate sonic exploration, infusing their music with the kinetic energy of discovery. In sculpting the inventive arrangements and textures, Rainbow Kitten Surprise embedded each track with indelible melody and chilling harmonies with a long-lingering power. The quintet moves gracefully through infinite sounds and tones: the energetic R&B of “Fever Pitch,” the haunting a cappella harmonies of “Pacific Love,” the full-throttle frenzy of “Matchbox,” the tender psychedelia of “Moody Orange,” the tumbling folk of “Painkillers.” In working through such a kaleidoscopic sonic palette, Rainbow Kitten Surprise show the sharp musicianship and powerful camaraderie they’ve developed since forming at Appalachian State University in 2013. It wasn’t long before they’d gained a devoted following – amassing over a million streams on each song from their self-released catalog – and word spread about their unforgettable live show: a blissed-out free-for-all that typically finds frontman Sam Melo jumping right into the audience, building an unbreakable connection with the crowd, as delivered during stand-out sets at major festivals like Bonnaroo, Firefly, Sasquatch, and Austin City Limits.

Join us on May 6 for this full set live stream of Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s debut taping here. The broadcast version will air on PBS later this year as part of our upcoming Season 45.

New tapings: Maggie Rogers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus

photo by Olivia Bee

ACL is thrilled to welcome three remarkable artists under the age of 25-years-old: acclaimed producer/songwriter/performer Maggie Rogers makes her ACL debut on June 21 and lauded indie singer/songwriter phenoms Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus join us for the first time on July 30 for a taping highlight—a one-of-a-kind co-headline evening with these two accomplished solo artists.

Rogers hits our stage in the middle of a sold-out tour in support of her debut album, Heard It In A Past Life (Capitol Records), which entered Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart at No. 1 and charted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The breakout debut has sold nearly 200,000 album adjusted units to date with cumulative streams across all tracks exceeding 400 million.  Her current single, “Light On,” topped Billboard’s Adult Alternative Songs chart for three consecutive weeks.  Tickets for Rogers’ upcoming October 19thand 20th ACL Live shows sold out immediately at on sale.   

Raised in rural Easton, Maryland, Rogers released her critically acclaimed debut EP, Now That The Light Is Fading in 2017 upon graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.   The 24-year-old released her recent debut LP Heard It In A Past Life to critical raves, with The New Yorker declaring, “Maggie Rogers is an artist of her time.”  The New York Times notes, “‘Heard It in a Past Life’ is a collection of buoyant electronic pop songs, but the lyrics are unmistakably the work of an introvert struggling to recalibrate.” Rolling Stone awarded the album four stars and hailed it as “a laser-focused statement with nary a wasted lyric or synth line.” NPR Music agrees, ’Heard It In A Past Life’ (is) smart sparkling pop.”  TIME notes, “The album confirms Rogers as a tender but powerful musical force, putting her in the company of a group of solo female artists claiming space outside of the typical machines of pop, country or R&B.”

2018 was a milestone year for Richmond, VA’s Lucy Dacus.  Her widely celebrated sophomore record, Historian, was met by a cavalcade of critical elation, with NPR, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NBC News, Slate, The Atlantic, Billboard, Paste, Stereogum, and more choosing it as one of the year’s best albums. Dacus’ remarkable sense of melody and composition are the driving force throughout, giving Historian the immersive feel of an album made by an artist in full command of her powers. “This is the album I needed to make,” says Dacus, who views Historian as her definitive statement as a songwriter and musician. “Everything after this is a bonus.” She played revelatory sold-out shows at clubs and festivals alike, along with multiple high profile television appearances.  A glance at her worldwide touring schedule in 2019 shows little sign that Dacus is slowing down, and in fact, she will release a series of songs titled 2019 to celebrate.  Recorded in here-and-there studio spurts over the last two years, 2019 will be released later this year as a physical EP on Matador Records, and will be made up of originals and cover songs tied to specific holidays, each of which will drop around their respective date: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day (and Taurus season!), Independence Day, Springsteen’s Birthday, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Memphis native Julien Baker’s chilling solo debut, Sprained Ankle, was one of the most widely acclaimed works of 2015. The album, recorded by a then 18-year-old and her friend in only a few days, was a bleak yet hopeful, intimate document of staggering experiences and grace, centered entirely around Baker’s voice, guitar, and unblinking honesty. Sprained Ankle appeared on year-end lists everywhere from NPR Music to The AV Club to New York Magazine’s Vulture. With 2017’s Turn Out The Lights, Baker claimed a much bigger stage, but with the same core of breathtaking vulnerability and resilience. From its opening moments — when her chiming, evocative melody is accompanied by swells of strings — Turn Out The Lights throws open the doors to the world without sacrificing the intimacy that has become a hallmark of her songs. The album explores how people live and come to terms with their internal conflict, and the alternately shattering and redemptive ways these struggles play out in relationships. “Turn Out The Lights is beautifully crafted throughout,” noted Spin, “full of the kinds of songs that linger long after they’ve ended.” Under the Radar declared, “Baker is writing faultless songs that will always have a home in our hearts because finding comfort in even the saddest moments means we’re still feeling. And if we’re feeling, there’s hope for us yet.”  

In addition to their successful solo careers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus (along with Phoebe Bridgers), comprise the indie rock supergroup boygenius, whose 2018 EP landed on the year-end best-of lists of Newsweek, The New Yorker, Esquire, The New York Times and more, with Pitchfork raving “(boygenius) sing like hell together in lung-shattering harmony.”

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast episodes will air on PBS later this year as part of ACL’s upcoming milestone Season 45.

Robert Earl Keen to host ACL Hall of Fame 2019 – tickets on sale April 12

photo by Nick Doll Photography

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce the host of the 2019 ACL Hall of Fame: legendary Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen. This year’s celebration, to be held October 24th, honors the newest class of inductees: Lyle Lovett, Buddy Guy and Shawn Colvin. Save the date for one of the cultural highlights of 2019, a star-studded night filled with performances and collaborations from music’s finest. Tickets for this one-of-a-kind celebration will go on sale Friday, April 12 at 10 a.m at acltv.com/hall-of-fame. The event is held at ACL’s studio home, Austin’s ACL Live at The Moody Theater. More information about performances, presenters and additional guest stars will be announced prior.

“The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame is my Academy Awards,” says Robert Earl Keen. “I don’t think there is a higher honor than to be asked to host the ACL Hall of Fame and as a bonus, I don’t have to wear a tux!” The Lone Star troubadour and renowned party-starter takes the reins for the first time as host of the celebrated event. Houston-raised Keen is one of the most beloved songwriters and performers in Texas. His signature anthem “The Road Goes on Forever” recaps his remarkable music journey: over three-decades strong, with thousands of live shows under his belt, nineteen records to his name, and no end in sight to the road ahead. You can complete his anthem and sum up his storied career with its next five words—the ones routinely shouted back at Keen by legions of fans at every show— “and the party never ends!”

Keen debuted on Austin City Limits during 1989’s Season 14 as part of a Texas Showcase and has made four acclaimed headlining appearances in addition to appearing as a guest of Lyle Lovett in 2000 and returning for ACL’s milestone 40th Anniversary special in 2014. His songs have been recorded by Nanci Griffith, Joe Ely, George Strait, Gillian Welch, The Highwaymen and more. Keen has received many, many accolades along the way, including his recent 2019 induction into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, where he was presented with the Rick Smith “Spirit of Texas Award”. He became the first recipient of BMI’s Troubadour Award in 2015 for songwriting. In 2012 he was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame (alongside his longtime friend and Texas A&M classmate Lyle Lovett) and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Texas A&M University in 2018.

We hope you’ll join us as Robert Earl Keen saddles up and anchors our tributes to Buddy Guy, Shawn Colvin and Lyle Lovett when tickets go on sale this Friday, April 12 at 10 a.m at acltv.com/hall-of-fame.

Raymond D. “Son Geezinslaw” Smith 1942-2019

Son Geezinslaw, right; photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits was disheartened to learn of the death this weekend of Raymond D. Smith, AKA Son Geezinslaw of ACL three-timers the Geezinslaw Brothers, nearly a year after the passing of his partner-in-crime Sammy Allred. He was 77.

The Geezinslaws were one of Austin’s first breakout acts, with a career going back to the fifties and stints on the Louisiana Hayride with Elvis Presley. The pair released twelve albums over the course of forty-plus years, starting in 1963 with The Kooky World of the Geezinslaw Brothers and concluding with 2005’s Eclectic Horseman. The duo scored with cuts like “Five Dollar Fine,” “I Wish I Had a Job to Shove,” “Help I’m White and I Can’t Get Down” and unique takes on classic tunes like the Eagles’ “Take It to the Limit” and Judy Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Besides ACL, the band appeared on The Tonight Show, The Smothers Brothers Show and The Roger Miller Show. “As a boy. Son would walk down the streets of old south Austin to guitar lessons,” noted his obituary in the Austin-American Statesman. “As a man, he played before presidents, across the screens of America’s televisions, and with some of the greatest legends of Country and Western Music.”

Unlike Allred, whose radio career continued apace after the final Geezinslaws record, Smith stayed out of the spotlight once the band had run its course. “Son was easily characterized by his thorny exterior,” says the Statesman. “Perhaps we would call him the perpetual diamond in the rough, but after being preceded in death by his wife and daughter, those that really knew him could see that bashful self that had been singing us truths for the past sixty some odd years.”

“Son had the voice, Sammy brought the schtick,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “But seriously, Son was a great country singer, and combined with Sammy’s offbeat comedy, there’s been nobody quite like them ever since. In their own way, they were ‘keeping Austin weird’ even before there was such a thing.”

The Geezinslaws performed on ACL in 1982, 1986 and 1989. Below is a clip of the duo putting their own spin on My Fair Lady’s “On the Street Where You Live,” preceded by Allred paying tribute to his poker-faced compadre in his own unique way.

ACL to live stream Revivalists taping on April 9

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Austin City Limit is excited to announce that we will be live streaming our Season 45 taping with New Orleans rock band The Revivalists on April 9. The performance will stream via the ACL YouTube channel here.  

On their fourth studio album Take Good Care (Loma Vista Recordings), the rising stars deliver a bevy of anthems marked by moments of sonic complexity, celebration, and catharsis, chronicling an unbelievable ride that unassumingly commenced in 2008 with hundreds of underground shows annually. Ten years of tireless hard work would be unexpectedly revved up by the success of the platinum-selling number one smash “Wish I Knew You,” and like any enduring band worth its salt, the octet buckled down and turned up with an album chock full of tunes worthy of even greater success, such as the #1 Triple A and Top 5 Alternative single “All My Friends” and new #1 Triple A hit single “Change.” The Revivalists – David Shaw [lead vocals, guitar], Zack Feinberg [guitar], Andrew Campanelli [drums], George Gekas [bass], Ed Williams [pedal steel guitar], Rob Ingraham [saxophone], Michael Girardot [keyboard, trumpet], and PJ Howard [drums, percussion]— have garnered more than 300 million total streams, have drawn praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, Billboard, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, Alternative Press, Uproxx, Flaunt, Nylon, and more, and have performed on The Late Show with StephenColbert, Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, Ellen, TODAY and Conan. They were nominated for a Billboard Music Award and two iHeartRadio Music Awards, were named Billboard’s Top New Rock Artist of 2017 and have three years of back-to-back sold out headline tours in their biggest venues to date. In the end, The Revivalists welcome listeners on this journey with them as they set out with a newfound depth and ambition. “We’re in this together,” says Shaw. “We love to take people on an emotional rollercoaster with us. That’s what this record is. It’s who we are. There’s some real magic in that.”

Join us on April 9 for this full set live stream of The Revivalists’ debut taping here. The broadcast version will air on PBS as part of our upcoming Season 45.

New taping: Mitski

photo by Bao Ngo

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce the debut taping of acclaimed indie songwriter and performer Mitski, who will join us on June 4, 2019.

Mitski Miyawaki, “one of the most interesting songwriters of her generation” (Paste Magazine), achieved breakout success with 2016’s critically-acclaimed Puberty 2, and soon after circled the globe as a headliner and as an opener for both The Pixies and Lorde. She was hailed as the new vanguard of indie rock, the one who would save the genre from the white dudes who’ve historically dominated it.  Her carefully crafted songs have often been portrayed as emotionally raw, overflowing confessionals from a fevered chosen girl, but on her stunning fifth album, Be The Cowboy, Mitski introduced a persona who had been teased but never so fully present until now—a woman in control.  Recorded with her long-time producer Patrick Hyland, the album is not a departure so much as an evolution from previous albums. The title “is a kind of joke,” Mitski says. “There was this artist I really loved who used to have such a cowboy swagger. They were so electric live. With a lot of the romantic infatuations I’ve had, when I look back, I wonder, Did I want them or did I want to be them? Did I love them or did I want to absorb whatever power they had? I decided I could just be my own cowboy.” There is plenty of buoyant swagger to the album, but just as much interrogation into self-mythology.  

Be the Cowboy has earned widespread acclaim, topping critics 2018 year-end best lists. It was named the #1 album of 2018 by the likes of Pitchfork, New York Magazine, ESQUIRE, Consequence of Sound, and more, and  #2 by NPR Music, The New York Times (Jon Pareles),  and SPIN. Pitchfork proclaimed it “Mitski’s most triumphant record to date, a refining of her many strengths, splashed across the largest canvas her arms can carry.”  The New York Times raved: “[Mitski] has grown ever bolder musically, moving well beyond the confines of indie rock and chamber pop to try synthesizers, disco beats, country and more, while savoring the sweep of her voice…On this album, even more than she has before, Mitski makes the music her partner.”  “An album defined by impeccable construction and open defiance of the confessional mode,” noted NPR.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast episode will air on PBS later this year as part of ACL’s upcoming milestone Season 45.