New taping: Paul Simon

photo by Mary Ellen Matthews

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the first-ever appearance by music legend Paul Simon, who is set to tape his ACL debut on Thursday, May 12th, 2016.

An artist whose work has had a profound effect on music and culture, Simon is one of the most successful and respected songwriters in popular music history.  Almost thirty years since the release of his landmark album Graceland, Simon continues his musical and sonic exploration on his highly anticipated 13th solo album, Stranger to Stranger, which is set for release via Concord Records on June 3rd, 2016. Produced by Simon and longtime musical partner Roy Halee, Stranger to Stranger is full of thrilling textures that feel fresh and modern, while still offering subtle and artful allusions to our shared musical past. “Its about making music that sounds old and new at the same time – music with a sense of mystery,” Simon explains of the new album, his first new studio recording since 2011’s widely acclaimed So Beautiful or So What.  “Sound is the theme of this album as much as it’s about the subjects of the individual songs. If people get that, I’ll be pleased.  The right song at the right time can live for generations. A beautiful sound – well, that’s forever.”

We can’t wait for this historic appearance, as we welcome Paul Simon to the ACL stage for the very first time.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

ACL documentary Kickstarter campaign begins today

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The legendary television music series Austin City Limits launches a Kickstarter Campaign on April 26, 2016 in support of the new documentary A Song for You: The Austin City Limits Story. The feature, which made its world premiere at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival, was directed by Keith Maitland, recently named one of Variety’s “10 Documakers to Watch.” The filmmakers have a 30-day Kickstarter goal of raising $125,000 to secure music rights for 70 songs featured in the 91-minute documentary. These funds will be used for finishing the film, which includes paying for music rights, the use of archival footage, and covering the costs of distribution.

For more than four decades Austin City Limits has brought some of the greatest musicians in the world into the homes of millions of people. Now fans can have a piece of ACL history all their own. The Kickstarter drive will offer the opportunity for supporters to choose from a collection of unique, keepsake memorabilia and one-of-a-kind backstage experiences. Special perks include the chance to play the infamous Studio 6A piano immortalized by the likes of Ray Charles, Norah Jones, and Leon Russell, or to sign the exclusive Graffiti Wall, colorfully autographed by many of the music giants who have performed on the show, including Dave Grohl, Kings of Leon and Eddie Vedder. Other “thank you” gifts include pieces of the original wooden stage, graced by legends of music from Willie Nelson to Beck, and Stevie Ray Vaughan to the late Merle Haggard. The Kickstarter campaign launches Tuesday, April 26th at 10am.

Austin-based filmmaker Keith Maitland joined the project after being approached by Austin City Limits’ producing station, KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the music institution. “The most exciting part of making this film has been digging through 40 years of the most incredible live music performances you can imagine,” says Maitland. “And we’re excited to share all this great music with audiences. But we can’t do it if we can’t afford to pay for the licensing – and that’s why this Kickstarter campaign is so important to A Song For You.”

The film has received positive early reviews, with Variety hailing, “There is, quite simply, nothing else like ‘Austin City Limits’ on American broadcast television right now.” Paste magazine raves, “There’s no question the show has a place in history,” with Rolling Stone citing the film’s “…concert footage guaranteed to make you salivate.”

You can visit the project’s Kickstarter page here for more details.

ACL to livestream Rhiannon Giddens’ taping debut

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Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our taping with Americana sensation Rhiannon Giddens live on April 25 at 8pm CT/9 pm ET. Fans around the world can watch the concert on  ACLTV’s  YouTube channel as it happens.

Rhiannon Giddens makes her highly-anticipated ACL debut performing tracks from her release Tomorrow Is My Turn, a 2016 Grammy nominee for Best Folk Album. The widely acclaimed album, produced by T Bone Burnett, marks Giddens’ solo debut after a decade as a founding member and leader of the Grammy-winning string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  Rolling Stone calls the debut “a spiritual archaeology of American racial and economic struggle via sublime covers of songs identified with Nina Simone, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Elizabeth Cotten.”  The Piedmont, NC native and classically trained singer has chosen from a broad array of songs associated with the female artists who are her musical and spiritual forebears for an album that serves both as patchwork autobiography and as a tribute to these artists and their legacies. “The strength of American music is in bringing all these things together—Celtic, gospel, jazz, folk—all these things that make American music great,” she says. “Putting them side by side and having a production that pulls it all into a cohesive whole shows how related all these things are.”  

Giddens’ showcased her powerful vocals at the White House this past year and gave a show-stopping performance in our own 2015 Americana Music Festival special, and we’re thrilled to follow her journey for her ACL debut.

Please join us on April 25 on our ACLTV YouTube channel as we welcome Rhiannon Giddens.

Merle Haggard 1937-2016

photo by Scott Newton

We at Austin City Limits were shocked and saddened to learn of the death of the great Merle Haggard on his 79th birthday, due to complications from pneumonia. An American original often cited as the greatest country singer of all time, Haggard made an incalculable contribution not just to country music, but American music in general. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t know at least a handful of his many classics. “Mama Tried,” “Big City,” “Silver Wings,” “Workin’ Man Blues,” “Okie From Muskogee,” “Daddy Frank,”  “If We Make It Through December,” Mama’s Hungry Eyes,” “Sing Me Back Home” – these songs are essentials threads in the fabric of the American musical tapestry. 

Haggard appeared on our show a total of nine times, in 1978, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1994 and 1996 (twice). “Other than Willie, Merle Haggard was the first major country artist to appear on Austin City Limits in its early years (season 3), and he appeared many times since,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.” He told me once that he was so proud of his ACL performances that he considered them ‘a scrapbook’ of that time in his career. He was a maverick and a true original.”

Below is Haggard from his first appearance on ACL in Season 3, 1978. May he rest in peace.

New tapings: James Bay and Andra Day

Courtesy of Republic Records

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce a pair of new tapings: British folk-rock sensation James Bay on April 12 and soul singer Andra Day on June 12.

Coming off three 2016 Grammy nominations and a recent BRIT Award win for Best Male Solo Artist, singer-songwriter-guitarist James Bay is busily conquering the States with his debut LP Chaos and the Calm. Recorded in Nashville with producer Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, R.E.M.), the album went to #1 in the U.K and top 15 in the U.S. and produced the breakout hits “Let It Go” and “Hold Back the River.” The 25-year-old began playing music at age 11, growing up in the London suburb of Hitchin, strumming along to his parents’ Van Morrison and Derek & the Dominos records. At 18, Bay moved to the seaside city of Brighton to study music and hit every open mic night he could. When a fan recorded one of his performances it caught the attention of Republic Records, who signed him in 2013. Since then Bay has gone on to perform at iconic festivals including Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, Sasquatch, Outside Lands, Austin City Limits Festival and more. Internationally, Chaos And The Calm has gone on to become one of the “Biggest New Artist Album Releases of 2015” and has been certified Gold in Australia & Switzerland, double platinum in the UK and has sold one over million albums worldwide. Currently in the midst of a sold-out Stateside headlining tour, Bay makes his Austin City Limits debut on April 12. You can enter our drawing for passes to this taping here

photo by Myriam Santos

Singer and songwriter Andra Day also turned heads at this year’s Grammys, performing her uplifting song “Rise Up” from her Grammy-nominated debut album Cheers to the Fall.  With a vintage flair and a voice for the ages, Day proved she’s ready to take her place in the pantheon of soulful vocalists and deliver her truth to the world. Her acclaimed debut, Cheers to the Fall, produced by heavyweight soul man Raphael Saadiq, is self-described as “a biography told in the form of music,” with themes centered on truth, fearlessness, vulnerability, forgiveness and love. The Boston Globe says, “This confident, stylish pop R&B record ushers in a sophisticated vocalist who faithfully reflects past influences while remaining contemporary and relevant,” and Vibe raves, “The beauty in Andra’s art is that the message applies to all. All we need to do is listen.” Singing in the church choir and studying, dance, theater and music at San Diego’s School of Creative and Performing Arts, Day always knew she wanted to sing professionally. She was performing in local nightclubs when none other than Stevie Wonder discovered her.

Day then filmed a series of popular YouTube clips, including a mashup of Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse, which caught the attention of Warner Bros. Records and led to a record deal. Known for her standout live performances, Day is currently on a U.S. tour, including upcoming dates with ACL alum Leon Bridges and a performance at this year’s Bonnaroo on deck.  Join us in welcoming Andra Day in her ACL debut on June 12.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

Natalia Lafourcade’s ACL taping to livestream on Mar. 23

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Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our taping with international sensation Natalia Lafourcade live on March 23 at 8pm CT/9 pm ET. Fans around the world can watch the concert on  ACLTV’s  YouTube channel as it happens.

Singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade is one of Mexico’s biggest music stars. Her infectious mix of pop, rock, folk and bossa nova has earned her multiple chart-topping albums in Latin America and her first Grammy Award this year for her acclaimed album Hasta La Raíz.  Lafourcade became a breakout success in her homeland at the age of nineteen, releasing a self-titled debut which soared to #1 on the Mexican charts and delivered the first of many Latin Grammy nominations.  Lafourcade emerged the night’s big winner at this year’s Latin Grammy Awards, winning Best Alternative Music Album for Hasta La Raíz, with the record’s title track sweeping top honors for Record, Song and Alternative Song of the Year.  The best-selling album is being hailed “her most profound and enduring statement” by the Village Voice, thanks to what AllMusic calls “extremely well-written songs in the grand romantic Latin American tradition…but with a contemporary perspective.”

Please join us online on our ACLTV YouTube channel as we welcome Natalia Lafourcade.

Robert Plant’s ACL taping to livestream on Mar. 21

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Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce that we will be streaming our taping with the legendary Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters live on March 21st at 8pm CT/9 pm ET.  The music icon returns to our stage for the first time in more than a decade and fans can log on via the show’s YouTube Channel to watch the entire taping as it happens live from The Moody Theater in downtown Austin.  Joined by his diverse, versatile six-piece band the Sensational Space Shifters for this appearance, Plant adds, “Having just begun work on our new album, we thought we’d take time out to raise a little sand and welcome springtime with one more adventure, another celebration of life and song.”  The broadcast version will air on PBS as part of the series upcoming Season 42 which launches this fall.    

Please join us online on our YouTube channel as we welcome back Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters.

New tapings: Robert Plant, Rhiannon Giddens and Florence + the Machine

photo by Frank Melfi

Austin City Limits is proud to announce three new tapings. Singer and songwriter Robert Plant, returns to our stage for the first time in more than a decade on March 21, singer/multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens makes her ACL debut on April 25 and rock stars Florence + the Machine come back for their second visit on May 20 .

Plant travels to ACL with his band The Sensational Space Shifters as part of his “Southern Journey,” visiting the “places that gave birth to so much of the music I love,” with a select run of live dates dubbed the “Blues…Roots and Hollers” tour. The music icon celebrates the American South as a continuation of the eclectic soulful journey he began since leaving Led Zeppelin decades ago. He has spent many years exploring Americana music and America itself, traveling though the U.S. and collaborating with roots musicians, including Alison Krauss for 2009’s six-time Grammy-winning album Raising Sand.  Plant’s acclaimed 10th solo album, 2014’s lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar, combines his love of everything from American country blues and rockabilly to British folk, Moroccan trance music and West African griot into a vision all his own.  Joined by the diverse, versatile six-piece band The Sensational Space Shifters, Plant adds, “Having just begun work on our new album, we thought we’d take time out to raise a little sand and welcome springtime with one more adventure, another celebration of life and song.”  

photo by Dan Winters

Rhiannon Giddens makes her highly-anticipated ACL debut performing tracks from her release Tomorrow Is My Turn, a 2016 Grammy nominee for Best Folk Album. The widely acclaimed album, produced by T Bone Burnett, marks Giddens’ solo debut after a decade in the string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  Rolling Stone calls the debut “a spiritual archaeology of American racial and economic struggle via sublime covers of songs identified with Nina Simone, Patsy Cline and Elizabeth Cotten.”  Reviving, interpreting, and recasting traditional material from a variety of sources has been central to Giddens’ career.  The Piedmont, NC native’s work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops has investigated and promoted the foundational role African-American artists have played in folk-music history, while making recordings that are vital, contemporary, and exuberant. With her solo album Tomorrow Is My Turn, the classically trained singer has embarked on a more personal sort of journey, but with a nod towards history as well. She’s chosen from a broad array of songs associated with the female artists who are her musical and spiritual forebears for an album that serves both as patchwork autobiography and as a tribute to these artists and their legacies. Through the process of creating this album with a disparate set of musicians and practically a century’s worth of songs, she also illustrates the democratic way American music has taken shape and evolved: “The strength of American music is in bringing all these things together—Celtic, gospel, jazz, folk—all these things that make American music great,” she says. “Putting them side by side and having a production that pulls it all into a cohesive whole shows how related all these things are.” We’re thrilled to follow her journey for her ACL debut on Apr. 25.

photo by Tom Beard

Florence + the Machine had a gigantic 2015, seeing the release of her first U.S. #1 album How Big How Blue How Beautiful and nominations for five Grammy Awards. Released to extensive critical acclaim and named to year-end best lists from Rolling Stone, NPR Music, SPIN, American Songwriter, Consequence of Sound and more, the album landed Welch on Coachella’s main stage in a standout performance, bookings all over TV and in front of her biggest audiences thus far. Written and recorded over the course of 2014 and produced by Markus Dravs (Björk, Arcade Fire, Coldplay), the album follows Florence’s globally acclaimed Lungs (2009) and Ceremonials (2011). Called “Florence Welch’s most personal, vulnerable and moving album to date” by Rolling Stone, How Big How Blue How Beautiful reached #1 in the U.K. (her third #1 album in the country), Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland and Canada after reaching the top spot on iTunes charts in 24 countries worldwide. The album features the massive hit “Ship to Wreck,” which Fader calls “the best song of her career” and The Daily Beast calls “a testament to her ability to straddle pop and rock, convention and alternative.” As anyone who saw Florence’s previous appearance on ACL knows, her taping will present, as Entertainment Weekly puts it, “an outsize physical presence who doesn’t so much sing as emit deeply emoted sounds out of some wellspring of the collective unconscious who commanded her space and demanded undivided attention.” We’re happy to welcome back Florence + the Machine on May 20.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.