Alabama Shakes and Vintage Trouble rock and groove ACL 41

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits returns to new episodes with an electrifying double-bill featuring two great live acts—Alabama Shakes and Vintage Trouble.

Alabama Shakes return to the ACL stage for a powerhouse performance on the heels of their five Grammy Award nominations, including Album of the Year, for Sound & Color, which debuted at No. 1 and topped critics’ 2015 year-end best album lists.  The Athens, Alabama-based modern soul band, who first appeared in Season 38, have become international sensations since their 2012 debut, with breakout performances at music’s biggest festivals including Coachella, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza and ACL Fest.  Lead singer Brittany Howard demonstrates her stunning vocal and emotional range in a knock-out six-song set exclusively showcasing Sound & Color, with blazing renditions of “Don’t Wanna Fight”, the Grammy-nominated track for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance and the anthemic “Gimme All Your Love”.  The soulful set-closer “Over My Head” highlights the Shakes’ genre-bending sense of exploration, as they continue to break new sonic ground as one of the finest bands of their generation.

“Few contemporary singers in the world today can touch the raw power and emotion of Brittany Howard,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “Since their ACL debut, before they even had their first record out, Alabama Shakes has reached new heights, and their Grammy nomination for Album of the Year says it all!”

photo by Scott Newton

For their first appearance on ACL, Vintage Trouble deliver a thrilling, explosive performance. The high-energy LA quartet has garnered massive attention for their stadium-worthy live show, securing opening slots with rock giants AC/DC, The Rolling Stones and The Who.  Rolling Stone raves, “Imagine James Brown singing lead for Led Zeppelin and you’ll get an idea of Vintage Trouble’s muscular, in the pocket sound.” VT performs a blistering five-song set filled with the electrifying soul, blues and rock of their recent album 1 Hopeful Rd. Dynamic frontman Ty Taylor ventures into the audience for the set-opener “Run Like The River,” and in an ACL first, climbs through the studio to deliver the song’s close from the theater’s balcony. “Can we go back to the 1950s, and can we imagine that we are in a juke joint in North Carolina?” asks Taylor, and the Austin crowd is happy to oblige, on their feet for the entirety, hands-clapping and fists-pumping. A sweat-soaked Taylor lets his passion loose on the set-closing ballad “Run Outta You,” sparking a crowd sing-along that moves the charismatic singer to tears for a memorable debut.  

“I’ve never seen anyone take command of a stage (and audience) like Ty Taylor and Vintage Trouble!” says Lickona.  “It was a musical and emotional roller-coaster ride. People are still talking about that taping—and now so will viewers.”

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 new episode, featuring the ACL debut of rap superstar Kendrick Lamar.

Encore: Tom Waits

Tom Waits. KLRU photo by Scott Newton

The Tom Waits episode of Austin City Limits is one of the most requested shows in our 40-year archive. Recorded in December 1978, the show features the iconoclastic singer/songwriter supporting his classic LP Blue Valentine and deep in the transitional phase of his career, evolving out of the jazzy beat poetry of his early work (“I Wish I Was in New Orleans”) and into the bluesier, more dissonant sounds (“Sweet Little Bullet From a Pretty Blue Gun”) for which he became known in the 80s and beyond. He acknowledged the season with the streetwise but lovely “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis,” which incorporates a few bars of a better-known Xmas hymn. And he debuted “On the Nickel,” one of his greatest ballads, and which wouldn’t be released on record until Heartattack and Vine in 1980.

You can check out the episode page for pics, the set list and the original liner notes for the episode. Don’t forget to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages and/or sign up for our newsletter for the latest news on ACL happenings. Next week: Phoenix.

Encore: Emeli Sandé and Michael Kiwanuka

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases British soul with a brand new episode featuring two uniquely original singer-songwriters—chart-topping Scottish songstress Emeli Sandé and UK sensation Michael Kiwanuka making their ACL debuts. Sandé performs hits from her breakthrough album Our Version of Events, while Kiwanuka plays tunes from his debut Home Again. Check with your local station for showtimes.

Sandé has achieved breakout success in her native UK and stateside with the striking debut, Our Version of Events, which was the biggest-selling album in 2012 in the UK and toppled The Beatles’ long-standing album chart record for the most consecutive weeks spent in the top 10 (an astounding 66 weeks). Sandé emerged as the big winner at the 2013 Brit Awards, winning a pair of awards, including the coveted Album of the Year prize. The Los Angeles Times raves, “Emeli’s folk-inflected soul/pop is Nina Simone and Bob Dylan all in one.” The New York Times calls her “a redemptive singer,” saying “Ms. Sandé has a perspective-altering voice, clear and brassy and weapons-grade.” Originally starting her music career as a songwriter, Sandé had many stellar credits for other artists (Alicia Keys, Rihanna) to her name when she traded it in for the spotlight. A dynamic performer, Sandé opens her soulful ACL debut with the upbeat anthem “Heaven,” a huge UK hit. She engages the Austin crowd as her backing choir on her current single “My Kind of Love”, and closes out a stunning set with the massive hit “Next to Me”.

“Emeli Sandé should be one of the brightest stars in the musical firmament, but despite her UK success, she’s one of the best-kept secrets here in the U.S.,” says executive producer Terry Lickona. “Hopefully her ACL performance will change all that. The best word to describe her many talents is ‘astounding!’”

photo by Scott Newton

London native Michael Kiwanuka has been making waves with his debut album, the lush, acoustic-driven Home Again, which reached No. 4 on the British charts, spawned four singles, and went Top 10 around the world, earning the 24-year-old singer, songwriter and musician opening spots for superstar artists including Adele and Mumford & Sons, and a slot at the 2012 ACL Festival. Kiwanuka was announced the winner of the prestigious BBC Sound of 2012 poll, which has also been won by Jessie J, Florence + the Machine, and Ellie Goulding. Kiwanuka connects with the Austin audience with his blues-folk sound and timeless, soulful voice, which has led to comparisons to such artists as Bill Withers, Terry Callier, and John Martyn.

“Sometimes Michael’s singing comes across as very old-school, retro soul,” said Terry Lickona. “But he has a very contemporary sensibility. With Michael, it’s all about the voice, and that’s timeless!”

Check out the episode page for more details on this great show. Be sure to hit up our Facebook and Twitter pages and our newsletter for more ACL-related information. Next week: an ACL classic with Tom Waits.

ACL artists at the 2016 Grammys

photo by Scott Newton

The nominations for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards are out now, and we’re pleased to see that a number of Austin City Limits’ distinguished guests have received top honors. Congratulations to Kendrick Lamar with eleven nominations: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song (twice), Best Rap Album, Best Pop/Sung Collaboration, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Dance Recording and Best Music Video (twice!). Also shout-outs to a number of Season 41 performers receiving well-deserved nominations, including Alabama Shakes, nominated for Album of the Year, Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Alternative Music Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical; Courtney Barnett, for Best New Artist, Angélique Kidjo, for Best World Music Album, Leon Bridges, for Best R&B Album, Don Henley, for Best American Roots Song and James Taylor, for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Kudos as well to the following ACL veterans who landed nominations: Florence + the Machine, John Legend, Ed Sheeran, Punch Brothers, Foo Fighters, Buddy Guy, Bela Fleck, the Mavericks, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Jason Isbell, Death Cab For Cutie, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves, The Milk Carton Kids, Mavis Staples, Brandi Carlile, Lee Ann Womack, Hayes Carll, Ralph Stanley, Shemekia Copeland, Bettye LaVette, Patty Griffin, Glen Hansard of the Swell Season, Rhiannon Giddens and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Congratulations to them all.

Go here to see in what categories all these artists are nominated, as well as all the nominees.

Stay tuned to ACL to catch stellar performances from some of these fine folks in action in the coming weeks – Alabama Shakes kick off the second half of our Season 41 with a return appearance on January 2, Kendrick Lamar on January 9, Angélique Kidjo on January 23, Leon Bridges on February 6 and Ed Sheeran on February 27.

And don’t forget – our own executive producer Terry Lickona is also co-producer of the Grammy telecast, as well as the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy, the Grammys’ parent organization. The Grammy Awards broadcast on February 15th – Good luck to Terry and all the nominees!

ACL to stream Tedeschi Trucks Band performance live on 12/14

Tedeschi Trucks Band Featured photo

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our final taping of Season 41, featuring roots rock giants Tedeschi Trucks Band live on Monday, Dec. 14, 8pm CT/9pm ET. The taping will webcast in its entirety via our YouTube channel, powered by Dell. 

TTB makes their ACL headlining debut on the eve of the release of their third full-length LP, Let Me Get By, on January 29th, 2016.  Led by the husband-and-wife team of singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi (who appeared twice on ACL as a solo artist) and guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks, the 12-piece outfit—one of the most deeply skilled and admired musical ensembles in the world—has quickly become the vanguard of modern roots music.  

Combining inspired Memphis soul, electric rhythm & blues, country, rock and classic song craft, Tedeschi Trucks Band has captured the admiration of both concert audiences and critics worldwide. Since their inception in 2010, TTB have seen both of their albums debut in the top 15 of the Billboard Top 200 album chart, and won a GRAMMY for their debut album Revelator, which was hailed by Rolling Stone as a “masterpiece.” They tour over 200 days a year, with such 2015 highlights as headlining their first Wheels of Soul amphitheater tour this past summer, four consecutive sold-out shows at the Beacon Theatre in NYC this fall, and a surprise appearance on the debut episode of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  In studio and on stage, TTB continue to flourish and surprise, and their highly-anticipated release, Let Me Get By, marks the beginning of another exciting chapter in the band’s storied tale.  

Let Me Get By is an album of firsts – in addition to being the first TTB record Trucks produced on his own, and the first on which he and Tedeschi wrote all the songs within the TTB family, it’s Trucks’ first album since his 15-year run as a member of the Allman Brothers concluded when the group disbanded last year. In Trucks’ own words, “That’s what I hear in the music on this new album – this feeling that we’re now putting 100% of what we have into this band, not going back to anything else, everyone giving it their all.”

The broadcast version of this show will air as our full-hour Season 41 finale February 13th, 2016 on PBS.  Join us for this highly-anticipated live webcast of the Austin City Limits debut of Tedeschi Trucks Band.

ACL announces second half of Season 41

photo by Scott Newton

The landmark television music series Austin City Limits announces the second half of Season 41, with seven brand-new shows to begin airing in January 2016. ACL has featured some of the most iconic performances in live music for over four decades, and continues with an ever more diverse line-up showcasing the most original and relevant music of today.  The program returns on Saturday, January 2nd at 8pm CT/9pm ET, ringing in the new year with a new installment featuring the return of powerhouse rockers Alabama Shakes and the debut of soul revivalists Vintage Trouble.  

A season highlight is multiple Grammy Award-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar making his first-ever appearance on the ACL stage. The hip-hop superstar dazzles in an epic hour with an explosive career-spanning set. Rock troubadour Ryan Adams, an ACL veteran who appeared in the milestone Season 40, returns with a special all-acoustic set, sharing an episode with acclaimed Austin indie-folk rocker Shakey Graves.  The extended line-up features a number of artists making ACL debuts, among them soul phenom Leon Bridges and breakout rock ‘n soul sensations Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats in a scorching double-bill. African music queen Angélique Kidjo captivates in a stunning hour of world music. Influential indie-rock trio Sleater-Kinney make their ACL debut sharing an episode with Austin’s own garage rockers Heartless Bastards, who return in their first appearance since their arresting 2009 debut. Roots rock giants Tedeschi Trucks Band close out the season in a must-see full-hour season finale.  

“With Grammy season heating up, we offer our own taste of some of ‘the best of the best’ in the year of music,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Kendrick Lamar showcases his hip-hop masterpiece, To Pimp A Butterfly; Angelique Kidjo is a world music superstar; and the rest of the season offers up everything from R&B to folk and indie rock.  This is one of our most diverse seasons ever.”

ACL’s Season 41 premiered in October with unforgettable performances from Sturgill Simpson, Asleep at the Wheel, Cassandra Wilson, Courtney Barnett, Gary Clark Jr., TV On The Radio, The War on Drugs, Don Henley, James Taylor and more. The award-winning series will continue to broadcast fan-favorite encore episodes through the end of 2015. In what has become an ACL holiday tradition, the program will encore Tom Waits’ legendary December 1978 performance, one of the most requested episodes in ACL’s 40+ year archive. Tune-in on December 19th to see this classic Christmas episode.

Season 41 | 2016 Broadcast Schedule

January 2 Alabama Shakes / Vintage Trouble

January 9 Kendrick Lamar

January 16 Ryan Adams / Shakey Graves

January 23 Angélique Kidjo

January 30 Sleater-Kinney / Heartless Bastards

February 6 Leon Bridges / Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

February 13 Tedeschi Trucks Band

Encore: Portugal. The Man and Michael Kiwanuka

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents Portugal. The Man and Local Natives in their ACL debuts.  

Portugal. The Man‘s roots are in Wasilla, Alaska, but their music knows no bounds. The shape-shifting psych-rock band’s latest release Evil Friends was produced by five-time Grammy Award winner Danger Mouse (The Black Keys, Gnarls Barkley) and P.TM draw heavily from the record in a stellar ACL debut. Opening with “Evil Friends”, the band weave the title track into the widescreen coda of “So American.” The band’s chemistry and spontaneity has generated a huge following for their live shows, and is evident in their ACL set, with frontman John Gourley stopping mid-song during “Senselesss” to admit “I got really nervous,” before effortlessly picking up where he left off. The band’s guitar-centric performance of their chart-topping single “Modern Jesus” incorporates a subtle Beatles feel, updating classic 60s psych pop for a new generation. P. TM begin their set closing hit “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” with the first verse and chorus of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2,” a mashup that works wonderfully due to the similarity between the rhythm guitar parts and illustrates P. TM’s entrancing sound and style that’s all their own.

“You could almost call this an accidental booking,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “I knew their music, but when I caught their live set at the ACL Festival, I was so impressed that I booked them immediately. Three weeks later they were on our stage taping a show! They are that good—see for yourself!”

photo by Scott Newton

Sharing the bill is something new and original from Los Angeles—Local Natives. The Silverlake-based band formed in 2008 and immediately garnered attention for their dramatic and eclectic brand of indie-rock. Local Natives have been steadily building a loyal, passionate audience ever since and have toured with Arcade Fire and The National. The National’s Aaron Dessner produced their recent sophomore release Hummingbird. A highlight of their ACL set is the profoundly emotional performance of “Colombia” with lyrics written to bandmember Kelcey Ayer’s deceased mother, which Pitchfork hailed “one of the best songs the band’s ever written.” In their ACL debut, the band trade vocal duties and foster a highly collaborative sound, proving why they’re one of the most dynamic bands in contemporary indie rock.

“There are few bands that can take wild drumming, soaring harmonies and dreamy melodies and make musical sense out of it all,” says Terry Lickona. “Local Natives can do all that and more. This is serious music for serious music fans.”

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: Emeli Sandé and Michael Kiwanuka.

Encore: Jason Isbell and Neko Case

photo by Scott Newton

This weekend ACL features two powerful singer-songwriters: Jason Isbell and Neko Case, each possessing a distinctive style and voice.

Hailed as “one of America’s thoroughbred songwriters” by The New York Times, Jason Isbell opens the episode, making his ACL debut. The Nashville-via-Mussel Shoals, Alabama singer/songwriter’s 2013 album Southeastern scored a Top 25 on the Billboard 200, and critical raves, including topping many critic’s year-end best lists. The New York Times Magazine declared, “the record is a breakthrough for Isbell—prickly with loss, forgiveness, newfound sobriety and second chances.” Rolling Stone calls it “one of the year’s best in any genre,” and Pitchfork raves “Southeastern is easily Isbell’s best solo album.” A former member of acclaimed Southern rock band Drive-By Truckers, Isbell launched a solo career in 2007. Backed by his band the 400 Unit, including his wife, fiddler Amanda Shires, and with a rawness and honesty that’s rare in contemporary songwriting, Isbell gives a stunning must-see performance on the ACL stage.

You can see Isbell’s performance in its unedited entirety on the DVD Jason Isbell: Live at Austin City Limits. You can purchase a copy here.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” said executive producer Terry Lickona, “but when Jason sang ‘Elephant,’ it literally gave me chills. That’s the kind of writer he is, and that’s the kind of performer he is.”

photo by Scott Newton

Neko Case makes a thunderous return to ACL (she first appeared in 2003) performing songs from her acclaimed 2013 release The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, her sixth studio album.  Case emerges from a three-year period the artist describes as full of “grief and mourning,” in the wake of the deaths of not just both her parents, but several intimates as well. With her fearless songwriting and musical curiosity, Neko Case captures fans with “one of the most memorable and seductive voices in music” (NPR).  Pitchfork says The Worse Things Get… “is the most potent album of her career,” and Rolling Stone raves that Case is “one of America’s best and most ambitious songwriters.” Case performs a captivating set of songs from the new record, and a few gems from her recent releases.

“There’s something about that voice, but it’s also about the delivery – which makes this performance that much more special,” said Lickona. “Her television performances are few and far between, so this is one that’s not to be missed!”

Check out the episode page for more details. Don’t forget, you can click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL goodies. Next week: Portugal. The Man and Local Natives.