Encore: Eric Church

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits proudly presents an hour with country sensation Eric Church. Church has blazed his own trail to superstardom and now makes his ACL debut with his signature brand of no-holds-barred country music.

Famous for a game-changing live show, Church performs songs from his critically-acclaimed, chart-topping 2014 album The Outsiders in his ACL debut.  The music rebel’s distinctively hard-rocking spin on country, influenced as much by AC/DC and Metallica as Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings, has earned him a huge audience outside the confines of country radio.  Church appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone this year and was named one of their “50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now.” NPR raves, “Eric Church is working on a level that few other country artists of his generation can touch.”

“This is gonna be fun,” says the North Carolina native, clearly enjoying his first visit to the ACL stage. Church’s appearance is a twelve-song tour-de-force that presents the performer at the top of his game. Delivering a host of hits in his trademark aviators, Church’s crowd-pleasing set is filled with anthems about youth, family and outliers that ignite through songwriting skill, powerful riffs and energetic vocals. Highlights include the rebellious “The Outsiders”, the autobiographical title track “Sinners Like Me” from his 2006 debut and the Grammy-nominated anthem “Springsteen” from his 2011 breakthrough Chief, with the Austin audience providing the “whoa-ohs” of the chorus. Church brings it all home solo, showcasing his softer side with the heartfelt set-closing ballad “A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young.”

photo by Scott Newton

“Eric and his band know how to rock harder than many rock ‘n roll bands,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and his music and the words behind it have a way of reaching fans way beyond the usual borders of country music. He’s a perfect fit for ACL.”

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. Next week: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell.

Encore: Tweedy

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a Season 40 highlight—the return of ACL veteran Jeff Tweedy for a very special hour of music. The Wilco leader showcases his new solo project Tweedy, joined by son Spencer and their special guests, as they perform a mix of new songs and Wilco classics.

As a longtime favorite son of ACL, it’s only fitting that Jeff Tweedy returns to the ACL stage with his own son for the show’s milestone 40th anniversary season. The esteemed singer-songwriter has appeared on ACL four times previously with his main outfit Wilco, starting back in Season 25.  This new installment marks his first-ever solo outing for ACL, accompanied by his 18-year-old son Spencer Tweedy on drums, with lush harmonies from Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe of the band Lucius.

“It took me 18 years to have a solo record because I had to grow a drummer,” jokes Tweedy to the ACL audience, as the father-son team begin the strikingly intimate hour with songs from the critically-acclaimed 2014 release Sukierae. In a recent four-star review, Rolling Stone hails the debut as “another tour de force from a guy who’s made a few.” Closing the five-song band set of new material with the new folk-rocker “Nobody Dies Anymore”, the Grammy-winning frontman treats the Austin crowd to a solo acoustic set of fan favorites from Wilco’s vast catalog including “Via Chicago” and “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”.  Tweedy also performs a spirited version of Austin songwriter Doug Sahm’s classic “Give Back the Key to My Heart”, a song he recorded more than twenty years ago as a member of the legendary Uncle Tupelo. The episode comes to a captivating close with Jeff Tweedy taking the stage solo for a powerful rendition of Wilco’s “Misunderstood”.

photo by Scott Newton

“This show has special meaning for all of us at ACL,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “A few years ago I introduced Wilco from the stage as the band that best sums up everything that Austin City Limits is all about. Jeff Tweedy continues to be one of the most creative voices in modern music, and together with his son they continue to build on two incredible legacies – his and ours!”

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. Next week: Eric Church.

Encore: Los Lobos and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents true American originals—the legendary Los Lobos and folk rock wonders Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. Los Lobos return to the ACL stage for their fifth appearance, while innovator Thao Nguyen and her band The Get Down Stay Down make their ACL debut. Music mavericks with far-reaching influences, both acts exemplify ACL’s outstanding legacy of “Great Music, No Limits.”

More than forty years into their run, Los Lobos are one of America’s great rock ‘n roll bands. The influential and enduring East L.A. band return to the ACL stage celebrating their recent 40th anniversary alongside ACL’s. “Los Lobos are still one of America’s best, bravest, and most satisfying bands, and their skills and their instincts remain razor-sharp,” raves AllMusic. After four decades together the beloved band continue to create music that resonates with audiences around the world, and the three-time GRAMMY winning group will be honored this year with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Latin Recording Academy. Opening their ACL set with the fan favorite “La Pistola y el Corazon”, the group perform highlights from their vast catalog. The crowd-pleasing performance displays their world-class musicianship, as the veteran rockers perform their signature style of “Chicano rock” with an eclectic set of rock ‘n roll, country, folk, R&B, blues and norteño music. The group close out the masterful set with “Mas y Mas”, joined by Austin’s own Grupo Fantasma on horns, showing great music is universal.

“Los Lobos and ACL have always felt like kindred spirits,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “We share the same impulse towards originality, experimentation and fun with music. They’re still one of the best rock ‘n’ roll bands in America!”

photo by Scott Newton

Led by enigmatic singer-songwriter Thao Nguyen, the San Francisco-based Thao & the Get Down Stay Down have built a devoted following based on their spirited live shows and their catalog of smart, genre-blending indie rock. The band’s ACL debut features them performing songs from their 2013 release We the Common. The group’s blend of rhythms and Thao’s folk-influenced fingerpicking give the band a distinctive sound that truly makes it stand out from the pack. Bandleader Thao’s natural exuberance and wide-ranging songwriting acumen make for a joyful, must-see ACL appearance. The band close out the scorching set with the singalong folk pop of “We the Common,” with the Austin crowd happy to oblige.

“Thao is a true artist for the 21st century,” says Lickona. “Her influences are wide-ranging, and her live performances are mesmerizing and infectious!”

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. Next week: Tweedy.

 

Encore: Nine Inch Nails

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a rare hour of television with legendary industrial rock titan Nine Inch Nails in a special encore broadcast  that originally previewed in April as a prelude to our 40th anniversary season. Recently nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NIN give an arena-worthy performance in their ACL debut.

“We’ve waited a long time to do anything like this,” says Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor from the ACL stage. The episode offers a fascinating look at the influential act’s artistry in a flawless performance of unparalleled intensity. NIN’s Reznor and the seven-piece band—Alessandro Cortini, Josh Eustis, Robin Finck, Lisa Fischer, Sharlotte Gibson, Pino Palladino and Ilan Rubin—deliver an electrifying hour-long set that is a masterpiece of tension and release. Opening with the sultry “All Time Low” from the critically-acclaimed Hesitation Marks—their first album in five years—the band performs tracks from its recent offering alongside earlier works, including 1999’s The Fragile. NIN segue into a revamped version of “Sanctified” from the 1989 debut Pretty Hate Machine, with the vocal duo of Fischer and Gibson adding depth and texture to the pummeling rhythms throughout the song as well as the entire riveting set. The cathartic performance comes to a close with a redemptive take on the NIN classic “Hurt”, as Reznor grips the microphone and howls the confessional lyrics while the Austin audience begs for more.

“We never thought we’d see the day when Nine Inch Nails would set foot on the ACL stage,” says Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “I mean, they never did television for 25 years. I came away from this show having the greatest respect for Trent Reznor. He’s one of the most focused, intense and creative artists I’ve ever worked with.”

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 goodies. Next week: Los Lobos and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down.

Encore: Esperanza Spalding

photo by Scott Newton

Triple Grammy-winning artist Esperanza Spalding makes her return to Austin City Limits  this weekend with a mesmerizing performance that transcends jazz. In a touching tribute Spalding dedicates the episode to legendary guitarist Jef Lee Johnson, who passed away January 28, 2013. The appearance marks their final performance together.

Joined by a stellar 11-piece band, Spalding performs songs from her latest release Radio Music Society, which scored two 2013 Grammy Awards, including Best Jazz Vocal Album. The album represents a celebratory vision of the artists who helped cultivate and inspire Spalding’s career throughout the years. Radio Music Society has received high praise from critics, who hail the album’s “journey through soul, gospel, balladry and big-band swing” [The New York Times] and “torchy swaggers, world-jazzy guitar grooves propelling smoky saxes, and political songs with only a Hammond organ for company” [The Guardian].

Spalding made her ACL debut back in Season 35, performing tracks from her 2008 breakthrough Esperanza, and wowed an audience largely unfamiliar with her music. Her appearance continues to be one of ACL’s most popular encore episodes. She has since gone on to capture the attention of audiences around the globe, leading to her stunning 2011 Grammy win as the first jazz musician to win for Best New Artist. Spalding’s dynamic relationship with her acoustic double bass has cemented her presence in musical history as a modern jazz virtuoso with “a light, fizzy, optimistic drive that’s in her melodic bass playing and her elastic, small-voiced singing” [The Times].

photo by Scott Newton

“The first time Esperanza appeared on ACL, she was a best-kept secret,” admits ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “But now the word is out, and the world is her stage. This time she also brings a stage full of incredible jazz musicians, and an hour full of new music. People will be writing about this show 50 years from now.”

Check out the episode page for more information. Don’t forget to keep up with ACL goings-on on our Facebook and Twitter pages, or via our newsletter. Next week: Nine Inch Nails.

Encore: B.B. King May 30th

photo by Scott Newton

Once again for the first time, welcome to the Austin City Limits stage: the King of the Blues, Mr. B.B. King.

B.B. King personified blues music for the whole world,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “but when he first appeared on Austin City Limits in 1983 it was rare for a blues artist to command a full hour on national television.” In honor of the late, undisputed King of the Blues, ACL is proud to bring that iconic hour out from the vault and back to television for the first time in 22 years.

The first of two legendary appearances on ACL, King’s debut episode was recorded in 1982 and originally broadcast in 1983 as part of Season 8. The 11-song set spans the length and breadth of his career to that point, from his then-new album Love Me Tender (including “Since I Met You, Baby” and the title track, a cover of the Elvis Presley classic) to his own standards “Everyday I Have the Blues” and “The Thrill is Gone.” In a powerhouse performance, King hits full-force with a voice that is neither harsh nor sweet, that bends, like his fingers, with each note.

“There was electricity in Studio 6A that night like no other,” says Lickona. “It was pure B.B. – just him, Lucille and one of the best road bands he ever toured with. He mixed up hardcore blues with Elvis ballads, and had the audience in the palm of his hand, following his every lead. It was historic!”

“He was larger than life, but a gentle man with a kind soul and big heart. His ACL performance ranks as one of my personal favorites, and I was never more proud than when he somehow slipped ‘Austin City Limits’ into the lyric of his classic rendition of Willie Nelson’s ‘Night Life.’  We’ve lost a giant.”

Go here for more information on this episode, and check here to see where/when you can catch it. Be sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest ACL update, and subscribe to our newsletter for even more info. Next week: Bob Mould and Delta Spirit.

B.B. King 1925-2015

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits is saddened to learn of the passing of B.B. King. Not only did the King of the Blues visit Studio 6A for two classic performances in 1983 and 1996 (the latter recorded on his 70th birthday), but the man born Riley B. King made a massive contribution to American culture. The blues would not have been the same without BB’s hits: “Three O’Clock Blues,” “Sweet Little Angel,” “How Blue Can You Get,” “Nobody Loves Me But My Mother,” “Paying the Cost to Be the Boss,” “Playing With My Friends,” the titanic hit “The Thrill is Gone.” The world will be a sadder place without the creator of those classics in it.

“B.B. King personified blues music for the whole world,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “but when he first appeared on Austin City Limits in 1983 it was rare for a blues artist to command a full hour on national television. He was larger than life, but a gentle man with a kind soul and big heart. His ACL performance ranks as one of my personal favorites, and I was never more proud than when he somehow slipped ‘Austin City Limits’ into the lyric of his classic rendition of Willie Nelson’s ‘Night Life.’ We’ve lost a giant.”

May he rest in peace.

 

Encore: Bon Iver

photo by Scott Newton

In a few short years, the world watched Bon Iver’s progression from the “bare boned” yet profound debut For Emma, Forever Ago in 2007, to 2011’s lush self-titled LP. Justin Vernon came a long way from writing in total seclusion in a cabin in the mountains to collaborating with artists such as Kanye West and winning Grammys. When the group recorded this episode in April 2012, we were eager to see how this progression and critical acclaim would manifest in the performance. The result is a passionate, meticulously layered display of talent and musical tranquility.

In this episode, Bon Iver draws mostly from the eponymous album, starting with the opening track, “Perth,” and seamlessly leading into the next tune, “Minnesota, WI.” From there we get “Brackett, WI,” a beautifully-written track that appeared on the 2009 Dark Was the Night compilation album that raised funds and awareness about HIV and AIDS. Audience favorites included a more fleshed-out version of “Blood Bank,” complete with various horns, and of course the hits from For Emma, “Skinny Love” and “For Emma.”

photo by Scott Newton

Go here for more information on this episode, and check here to see where/when you can catch it. Be sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest ACL update, and subscribe to our newsletter for even more info. Next week: The Lumineers and Shovels & Rope.