Encore: The Shins and Dr. Dog

photo by Scott Newton

The first time Albuquerque-to-Portland band the Shins appeared on ACL was in 2004. This week singer/songwriter James Mercer brings a brand new crew in support of the group’s acclaimed fourth LP Ports of Morrow. The quintet samples the latest record with “September,” “It’s Only LIfe,” “The Rifle’s Spiral” and the appropriately catchy single “Simple Song,” hitting a real sweet spot between rich, melodic hooks and Mercer’s clever, literate lyrics. But the band also digs deep into the Shins catalog, bouncing through “So Says I,” from breakthrough record Chutes Too Narrow, and reaching all the way back to its debut by closing the set with “New Slang.” It’s a masterful performance by a band hitting the peak of its powers.

For its first appearance on ACL, Dr. Dog proves why it’s a favorite on the live circuit. Adding a dash of jam band spice to its psychedelic indie rock batter, the Philadelphia sextet knows how to have a good time playing, while still keeping its songs catchy and concise. The band opens this episode with “Lonesome,” the tune that begins its much-heralded seventh LP Be the Void, kicking off the show to rollicking effect. “Jackie Wants a Black Eye” and “Vampire” keep the party going, and by the time the Dog hits a trio of tunes from its fan-favorite LP Fate, ending with “The Rabbit, the Bat and the Reindeer,” Dr. Dog lets us know just why it’s been such a popular concert draw in its decade of existence. As executive producer Terry Lickona says at the beginning of the show, “Great songs and live energy make for a winning combination.”

photo by Scott Newton

To get info on when and where to tune in to this excellent episode, check here for local listings. Also, don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter orsign up for our newsletter for more updates. Next week: Bon Iver.

 

Encore: Radiohead

photo by Scott Newton

The day after we recorded Radiohead  back in March 2012, our reaction was, “Radiohead taped Austin City Limits last night. It almost feels like that’s all we need to say.” Even now we still feel the same sense of met anticipation. It was a happening that fans and we had personally been waiting for and it finally came to fruition. A band like Radiohead, (well, let’s be honest – there really isn’t a band out there like Radiohead) that can constantly challenge themselves and evolve to change their sound to continue to make beautiful and inspiring music is a rare gift. We are incredibly grateful to encore an episode featuring such progressive rock icons and modern day musical legends.

Radiohead open their set with “Bloom,” the busy and fitting song for the occasion that opens their 2011 self-released album The King of Limbs. From there the group goes to the piano-heavy and melodic “Daily Mail,” another new song from that year. The rest of the set features a collective mix of tracks from TKOL, Hail to the Thief, Kid A, OK Computer, and new singles. One highlight of the night is when they played a forgotten B-side, “The Amazing Sounds of Orgy.” Of course the essence of the night was captured at the very end when the band played the big hits and crowd favorites, “Idioteque” and “Paranoid Android.”

photo by Scott Newton

For those that missed seeing the taping live or the original broadcast last October, this is your opportunity to see what many described as being a passionate and “life-changing” performance. You can truly feel the energy of the band and the audience in this episode, and Thom Yorke’s dancing may even inspire you to flail around in your living room. (Seriously, if you don’t dance during “Idioteque” then there may be something wrong with your well-being.)

Don’t miss this weekend’s episode with Radiohead! And don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter for updates about ACL. Tune in next week for The Shins and Dr. Dog.

 

Nine Inch Nails episode airs April 5

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits announces a special broadcast featuring NINE INCH NAILS making a rare television appearance in an epic, full-hour performance. The new episode premieres on Saturday, April 5th as a preview of ACL’s 40th Anniversary Season. NIN’s arena-worthy ACL debut showcases ten songs, and will encore during the PBS music series Season 40, launching in the fall of 2014.

Nine Inch Nails joins the list of legendary artists that have performed on ACL. NIN’s Trent Reznor and the seven-piece Tension Tour band—Alessandro Cortini, Josh Eustis, Robin Finck, Lisa Fischer, Sharlotte Gibson, Pino Palladino and Ilan Rubin—deliver an electrifying performance that is a masterpiece of tension and release. In his remarks from the ACL stage, Reznor said, “We didn’t want to make ACL a NIN show. We wanted to be out of our element.” Reznor added in a recent Reddit AMA: “I have a lot of respect for ACL and I wanted us to be a guest on THEIR show, not to convert their show into our concert. It was unusual to perform in that environment, and ended up being one of the best shows I think we played.”

NIN deliver one of the best live shows on the planet, are considered a pioneer in the industrial music movement and have been highly influential in the evolution of electronic music. The band recently released their first album in five years, the critically-acclaimed Hesitation Marks, which Spin magazine called “the most important artistic statement from Reznor since the late 90s” and Rolling Stone hailed “one of his best” in a four-star lead review.

Stay tuned to acltv.com for episode schedules, news regarding live streams of upcoming tapings and 40th Anniversary updates.

 

Encore: Arcade Fire

photo by Scott Newton

The first time Arcade Fire appeared on the ACL stage, their much-anticipated second album Neon Bible had hit number 2 on the Billboard chart and the band was poised to become superstars. Four years later The Suburbs, the Montreal band’s highly acclaimed third LP, had debuted at number 1 on the album charts and won a Grammy for Album of the Year, and the group had solidified their position as a major festival headliner. What better way to celebrate Arcade Fire’s ascendancy than a triumphant return to Austin City Limits? Find out this Saturday, as we encore one of 2012’s most celebrated episodes.

With The Suburbs at the heart of their performance, Arcade Fire take the stage with the singalong pop single “Ready to Start.” Within moments the crowd is in the palm of bandleader Win Butler’s hand, rolling through new classics like “Month of May,” “Rococo” and the Regine Chassagne showcase “Sprawl II,” pushing the studio to a fever pitch. Never fear, Arcade Fire standards “Haiti,” “Keep the Car Running” and, of course, “Wake Up” also make appearances. With nearly every tune an audience-energizing anthem, the passion never flags – this is truly one of the most exciting shows we’ve ever recorded.

You can, of course, find out for yourself on Saturday – check your local listings for the time your PBS station will broadcast this awesome episode. You can also go here for biographical info, pictures and the setlist. Don’t forget to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages and to sign up for our newsletter for more ACL TV sweet stuff. Next week: Radiohead.

 

Kacey Musgraves & Dale Watson two-step through ACL’s new season

Kacey Musgraves ©KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits closes out Season 39 with a spectacular hour of country music, Texas-style, featuring the ACL debuts of Grammy Award-winning Texas native Kacey Musgraves and Austin’s own country icon Dale Watson.

Breakout country artist Kacey Musgraves walked away with two trophies for Best Country Album and Best Country Song at this year’s Grammy Awards for her critically-acclaimed major label debut Same Trailer Different Park. The release produced the hit singles “Follow Your Arrow” and the Grammy-winning “Merry Go ‘Round” and topped many critics’ 2013 year-end best lists including Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Country Weekly, Spin and The New York Times, with Rolling Stone calling her “the gen aught Loretta Lynn…ballsy, unsentimental, thoroughly pop and yet totally in the (country) tradition.” Viewers will want to pull up a chair for a front row seat to one of the most arresting ACL debuts of the season. “Welcome to our little trailer park,” says the twenty-five year old singer-songwriter, kicking off her radiant performance surrounded by a white picket fence and porch lights. Musgrave’s honest, effortless vocals shine on songs that demonstrate her witty knack for storytelling in a bold, irresistible ACL set.

“If you didn’t know much about Kacey Musgraves before her triumph at the Grammys, you’ll really know what the buzz is all about after seeing her ACL performance,” says executive producer Terry Lickona. “She’s a remarkable songwriter and all-around talent who is blazing new trails for women in country music.”

Next up is Austin’s king of country music: Dale Watson. Called “the silver pompadoured, baritone beltin’, Lone Star beer drinkin’, honky-tonk hellraiser” by The Austin Chronicle, the hometown hero has flown the flag for classic honky-tonk for over two decades and twenty albums. His latest album, El Rancho Azul, continues his work as one of the world’s finest C&W singers and songwriters, and ACL is thrilled to present Austin’s favorite son in his first feature performance. For Watson’s set, the ACL studio is transformed into a substitute for his regular Austin haunt Ginny’s Little Longhorn, with a room full of dancers two-stepping in the time-honored manner and he gets the ATX audience fired up with “Honkiest, Tonkiest Beer Joint,” his paean to the legendary saloon. Watson turns on the Texas charm as he performs a career-spanning, crowd-pleasing set, turning ACL into a full-on honky-tonk complete with Texas shuffles, closing out the season in good fun on a glorious high note.

“Dale is the real deal. Nobody else is making country music like this today,” Lickona says. “It’s time for the rest of the world to discover why he’s so special to us in Austin.”

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 news and happenings. Next week: Arcade Fire.

Gear Blog: Sarah Jarosz and The Milk Carton Kids

photo by Scott Newton

We hope everybody enjoyed this weekend’s episode featuring Sarah Jarosz and The Milk Carton Kids. If you missed it, you can catch it here. In the meantime, our longtime audio support guy and intrepid gear reporter gives us a new installment in our Gear Blog series, featuring the equipment onstage with these solely acoustic acts. Take it away, Kevin. 

Sarah Jarosz is no stranger to the viewers of PBS affiliate KLRU (home of Austin City Limits). Many Austinites recall being introduced to a barely teenage Sarah in a segment on the local children’s show The Biscuit Brothers. Even by then she was already a fixture of the Central Texas bluegrass and folk scene. Sarah released her first album at 17, then headed Boston to study composition at The New England Conservatory and found time to record and tour during her studies. This is Sarah’s second appearance on ACL – she made her first ACL appearance in Season 36 with Steve Martin.  Nathaniel Smith (cello) and Alex Hargreaves (mandolin and fiddle) also mark their return with Sarah.

Sarah brought a Collings  D1 dreadnought acoustic guitar and MF5 mandolin. Fortuitously, Sarah and the Collings factory both hail from Wimberly, Texas.

Sarah also brought what looks like a custom built “Burning Sun” banjo built by Blanco, Texas piano restorer Bernard Mollberg.  The esoteric instrument to the right is an octave mandolin crafted by Fletcher Brock of Seattle, Washington.

All instruments on stage run to their own pickups into their own dedicated Radial Tonebone PZ-Pres and then into the PA.

Hailing from Eagle Rock, California, Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan formed, The Milk Carton Kids in 2011 – after years of paying  dues as solo artists, they were hailed as an overnight sensations as a duo. Whereas Ms. Jarosz and company avail themselves of a more modern technology to amplify their acoustic instruments, Ryan and Pattengale go the old-fashioned route and use microphones exclusively to project the sound of their voices and instruments. For the taping, MCK brought their own preferred setup of Ear Trumpet Lab microphones. Below you’ll see a couple of pictures of a far more complicated set-up than what was used at the actual taping. For the recorded show, “the less is more” approach was decided and a single microphone was used. Though one microphone makes life simpler (or probably more complicated) for the sound guys, it necessitates a more dynamic approach to performing for Kenneth and Joey, meaning they have to physically move toward and away from the microphone as their musical parts dictate. That’s quite an accomplishment of technique that is rarely seen these days.

Pictured are the Edwina models for vocals and the Ednas placed lower for the guitars. Though they may look ancient, Ear Trumpet Lab mics are quite contemporary, extremely versatile, and very affordable.

Joey plays a 1951 Gibson J-45, pictured below. Kenneth plays a 1954 Martin 0-15.