Giveaway: Sam Smith 7/23

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Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Sam Smith on 7/23 at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We will be giving away a limited number of space available passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by Noon on July 19th.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pick up tickets. Winners will be notified by email. Passes are not transferable and cannot be sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras computers or recording devices allowed in venue.

Ponty Bone 1939-2018

photo by Scott Newton

The folks here at Austin City Limits were saddened to learn of the death on Friday of singer/accordionist Ponty Bone, an Austin institution. He was 78. He appeared on ACL with Joe Ely in 1980 and 1996, with Jimmie Dale Gilmore in 1992 and with his own showcase in 1987 as part of Season 12’s Squeezebox Special.

Born and raised in San Antonio, Harry DePonta Bone began accordion lessons when he was five years old. Moving to Lubbock in the sixties to attend Texas Tech, he became part of the beloved “Lubbock Mafia,” taking Texas music by storm alongside Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Tommy Hancock and the other West Texas luminaries who resisted any idea of musical categories. Bone moved to Austin in 1980 as part of the Joe Ely Band, he formed the Squeezetones a couple of years later, recording several albums while continuing to work as a sideman for Ely, Gilmore and Christine Albert on her landmark LP Texafrance. His output slowed down in recent years as his health declined, but his spirit never surrendered.

Well-versed in conjunto, zydeco, polka and any other kind of music that required an accordion, Ponty Bone never failed to bring the party whenever he stepped onstage. Here he is from the Squeezebox Special with “a little thing that represents my personal philosophy in life,” “Easy As Pie.”  

Encore: Father John Misty and The Black Angels

Father John Misty on Austin City Limits ©️KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a deep dive into the unconventional with two acts whose music provides a soundtrack to uncertain times: indie sensation Father John Misty in his ACL debut and modern psych-rockers The Black Angels in a return appearance.

Father John Misty, the pseudonym for the singer-songwriter also known as Josh Tillman, dazzles in his 5-song debut, offering a fascinating glimpse of one of today’s most charismatic artists. The indie-rock provocateur performs songs from his latest, Pure Comedy, a 2018 Grammy nominee for Best Alternative Album. Hailed “a sprawling masterwork” by NPR, the New York Times called it “an ideal album for the era of outrage.” Father John delivers an epic performance filled with his dry wit and keen insights on religion, fame, social media, technology and the overall state of humanity, backed by a 16-piece orchestra, including a full string and horn section. For the set-closer, the sweetly cynical “I Love You, Honeybear” (title track from his 2015 sophomore album), the magnetic bandleader playfully dances with the mic stand and waltzes offstage to embrace the crowd, a cult leader for the ages, as the audience sings along for an ecstatic climax.

Since forming in Austin in 2004, The Black Angels have become standard-bearers for modern psych-rock. The New York Times raves they “play psychedelic rock as if the 1960s never ended, and they are absolute masters of it.” The quintet debuted on ACL in 2013 and make their return appearance with a charged set of songs from their first full-length release in four years, the acclaimed Death Song. NPR raves, “The Black Angels have delivered an enormous and frighteningly timely fifth album full of uniquely trippy anthems to oblivion.” Frontman Alex Maas’ keening vocals channel 21st century outrage on hypnotic set opener “Currency,” which pillories our capitalism-above-all-else society. Surrounded by screens swirling with kaleidoscopic images, the music serves as part protest, part emotional catharsis in a climate dominated by division, anxiety and unease, anchored by cutting wordplay and the distorted fuzz of menacing guitars.

“‘These are perilous times,’ somebody once wrote, and writing songs that define or defy today’s times can be a perilous exercise,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Nobody does it better than Josh Tillman and Alex Maas. They infuse their songs with a musical urgency that is really hypnotic. The impact of their two sets together makes this a unique ACL episode.”

The Black Angels on Austin City Limits ©️KLRU 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. Tune in next week for another encore episode, featuring Americana giants Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires.

ACL to live stream R&B star Miguel’s July 8 taping

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Austin City Limits is excited to announce that we will be live streaming the upcoming debut taping from R&B singer/songwriter Miguel on July 8 here on the ACL TV YouTube channel.  

Over the last decade, Miguel has established himself as one of R&B’s most sonic fabulists, a consummate artist unafraid to follow his impulses wherever they lead him. The Los Angeles native’s mix of funk, rock, hip-hop and electronica has garnered him frequent comparisons to Prince and Babyface. Miguel’s fourth studio full-length, War & Leisure, is his most ambitious and stunning project yet, a perfect blend of forward-thinking production and melodic delights that more than embody the duality hinted at in the album’s title. Miguel conceived these twelve pop gems as perfectly blending the skyward pop of 2012’s Kaleidoscope Dream (which netted him a Best R&B Song Grammy win in 2013 for its astounding single “Adorn”) and the restless, moody vibes of 2015’s Wildheart—reflecting the true Miguel experience for both listeners and the album’s creator. “On every project, I’m trying to paint a picture for my future self to go back, listen, and remember my experiences and how I was perceiving the world through music,” he states on the mercurial meeting point that War & Leisure reaches. “Kaleidoscope Dream and Wildheart are two sides of the same coin, and this is me taking those sounds and applying all the energy I’m feeling most from those two contrasts.” This is Miguel fusing the two halves of his creative id—the restless experimentalist and the crowd-pleasing hitmaker that millions of fans adore—to reach a new peak in artistic achievement.

Join us on July 8 for this full set live stream of Miguel’s debut taping here on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air on PBS this fall as part of our upcoming Season 44.

Encore: Sleater-Kinney and Heartless Bastards

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents two of indie-rock’s finest in a must-see installment featuring Sleater-Kinney splitting the episode with Heartless Bastards.

Legendary punk group Sleater-Kinney make their inaugural appearance on the ACL stage armed with songs from their first new album in a decade, No Cities To Love. The surprise release landed on top of many 2015 year-end best lists including the New York Times’ Jon Pareles, who raved “Reunited for its first album in 10 years, Sleater-Kinney returns as joyfully rigorous as ever, sinewy and ready to grapple.” Consisting of guitarists/vocalists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein (also the co-creator/star of IFC’s Portlandia), and drummer Janet Weiss, the powerhouse trio came crashing out of the Pacific Northwest in the mid-90s, setting a new bar for punk’s political awareness and emotional impact. The seminal band perform a searing, musically thrilling, career-wide seven-song set with ferocious new material alongside classic anthems including “Dig Me Out,” the title track from their 1997 breakthrough, and songs from 2005’s The Woods.

Austin-based Heartless Bastards, fronted by dynamic vocalist Erika Wennerstrom, return for their second ACL appearance since their Season 35 debut, focusing on their acclaimed new release Restless Ones. Heartless Bastards have spent the past decade in motion, bolding pushing their unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll into new shapes over four albums and nearly non-stop touring. Rich with purpose, passion, seasoned songwriting and commanding musicianship, Restless Ones, their fifth studio album, captures the idiosyncratic band exploring their craft and soul in an effort to reach a place that’s both real and transcendent. With a voice NPR describes as “warm yet gritty, throaty yet sweet, gigantic yet intimate,” singer-songwriter-guitarist Wennerstrom opens the set with the effervescent country rocker “Hi-Line.” As she switches from acoustic to electric guitar for the garage rock gem “Black Cloud,” the rockers hit their stride, juxtaposing dark subject matter with up-tempo style. The band reach back to 2012’s Arrow for “Parted Ways,” closing out the sublime set on a pitch perfect note.

photo by Scott Newton

“This show is all about women who rock, not to mention awesome singers!” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “It took a decade for Sleater-Kinney to bring us new music, but it was worth the wait. They’re living proof that a band can keep getting better and better. Same goes for Heartless Bastards. Always hometown favorites, Erika’s voice is one-of-a-kind – raw and polished at the same time!”

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. Tune in next week for another encore episode, featuring indie rockers Father John Misty and The Black Angels.

New taping: Alessia Cara

photo by superduperbrick

Austin City Limits welcomes the 2018 Grammy Award-winner for Best New Artist: acclaimed singer/songwriter Alessia Cara, who will hit the stage in her debut taping on August 2, showcasing songs from her highly-anticipated new album alongside chart-topping career highlights.

Following a groundbreaking run of six global platinum hits, the 21-year old Canadian recently released “Growing Pains,” the debut single from her forthcoming sophomore album, out later this year.  The entire LP was written solely by Cara and features two songs self-produced by the Grammy Award winning artist. “I really thought it’d be cool to have a nice challenge to see if I can write something, like a whole project, on my own,” she tells Rolling Stone.  “It’s something that I wanted to see if I could do.”  

Cara catapulted onto the charts in late 2015 with her spellbinding, multi-platinum smash “Here,” from her breakout platinum debut album KNOW-IT-ALL, which also spawned the chart-topping global hit “Scars To Your Beautiful.” For Alessia’s legions of die-hard fans, “Growing Pains” is the long-awaited follow-up to the 4x-platinum “1-800-273-8255,” her hit collab­o­­­ration with fellow Def Jam artist Logic, one of 2017’s landmark singles with over 1.5 billion streams worldwide. Along with “Stay”—her Grammy-nominated double-platinum #1 pop collaboration with Zedd—and a parade of hits, Alessia has generated over 7 billion global streams to date, becoming the most-streamed new female artist of 2017.

Known for stripped down, powerful live shows, Cara closed out this year’s Grammy broadcast joined by collaborators Logic and Khalid, in a show-stopping, emotional performance of  the Grammy-nominated anti suicide song “1-800-273-8255”. Still at the beginning of what promises to be a remarkable career, we’re thrilled to showcase this stunning new artist on the ACL stage.

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 version will air on PBS later this year as part of our upcoming Season 44.

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real’s debut taping to live stream July 2

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Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce that we will be live streaming the upcoming debut taping from Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real on July 2 here on the ACL TV YouTube channel.  

After more than a decade on the road barnstorming across the U.S and around the world, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real have developed into one of America’s most dazzling live acts, attracting a dedicated, ever expanding following.  

Still, with a bounty of invaluable experience under their belts, nothing foretold the artistic leap of their latest album, the self-titled Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, a mesmerizing, emotionally genuine, endlessly rewarding slice of cosmic country soul.  Released via Fantasy Records last summer, the widely acclaimed album draws on many of Lukas’ country and rock influences including literate Texas songsmiths like his dad, Willie Nelson, ‘uncles’ Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings, and iconoclasts such as J.J. Cale, The Band, Clapton-era Delaney & Bonnie and of course, the band’s mentor Neil Young, for whom the young devotees have toured and recorded with the past few years.   

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real features Lukas Nelson (guitar, vocals), Tato Melgar (percussion), Anthony LoGerfo (drums), Corey McCormick (bass, vocals) and Jesse Siebenberg (steel guitars, Farfisa organ, vocals) along with back-up vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Lessig of the indie-pop group Lucius, and Lady Gaga who added stirring vocals to two of the album’s 12 tracks.  The album’s lilting, Glen Campbell inspired gem, “Just Outside of Austin” also features a classic Willie Nelson guitar solo, and piano from Lukas’ 86-year-old Aunt Bobbi.

“Their latest displays a newfound confidence, brokering country-soul, Southern rock and R&B with some panache,” proclaimed Uncut.  “The band’s best work, the record is a huge leap forward for Nelson,” raved Entertainment Weekly, and American Songwriter declared, “Ultimately, Lukas is carrying on Willie’s tradition, pushing the outlaw boundaries his famous father established in the ’70s and proving that the musical apple truly does not fall far from the tree.”

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real were recently honored with a 2018 Americana Music Awards nomination for Group of the Year.

Join us on July 2 for this full set live stream of Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real’s debut taping here on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air on PBS this fall as part of our upcoming Season 44.

Encore: The Head and The Heart and Benjamin Booker

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases two standout acts featured on this year’s namesake ACL Festival: The Head and the Heart and Benjamin Booker. Both acts are highlights on the touring circuit, drawing raves for soulful live performances.

Seattle folk-rock band The Head and the Heart make their second ACL appearance with a luminous performance featuring songs from their newest release Signs of Light. The indie favorites are one of live music’s biggest draws, with high-profile 2017 festival appearances including Coachella, Bonnaroo, Newport Folk in addition to Austin’s own ACL Festival. The sextet deliver an uplifting, singalong set filled with new musical touchstones including “All We Ever Knew” and “City of Angels.” A moving cover of “Hunger Strike” honoring late Seattle icon Chris Cornell is a set highlight, rich with three-part harmonies. The band bring the passionate set to a glorious close with the soaring “River and Roads” from their 2011 self-titled debut, a fan favorite.

Florida-raised, New Orleans-based guitarist and singer-songwriter Benjamin Booker delivers a raw, impassioned ACL debut packed with songs from his acclaimed 2017 album Witness and his 2014 self-titled breakout debut. Opening with his rocking radio hit “Violent Shiver,” the twenty-eight year old phenom draws on soul, blues and gospel, showcasing stirring soul-rockers “Carry,” “The Slow Drag Under” and “Believe” backed by a gospel choir. A powerful performance of his Civil Rights anthem “Witness” combines Booker’s husky, soulful voice with a profound message on racism in America. 

“The Head and the Heart and Benjamin Booker are prime examples of artists who just keep getting better,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Rather than finding a groove and just staying with it, they are constantly searching for new ways to express their voices, and new sounds to go along with them. The end result can be surprising but always inspiring.”

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 encore episode, featuring jazz singer Cassandra Wilson performing a tribute to Billie Holiday.