Encore: Ms Lauryn Hill

Ms. Lauryn Hill ©KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a fan-favorite encore broadcast of one of the most acclaimed episodes in ACL history.  A rare hour with hip-hop/R&B icon Ms. Lauryn Hill, which premiered in August 2016 as a preview of the PBS music series’ Season 42, will be rebroadcast this weekend (check local listings).  Music fans everywhere will have the opportunity to revisit this instant classic, a must-see Season 42 standout. The performance was Ms. Hill’s debut appearance on the series, and the episode premiered to rave reviews:

“Phenomenal…probably one of the best performances to have graced the ACL studios”

i-D Magazine

“Showstopping…Hill and her stacked band deliver an electrifying take” Rolling Stone

“One of the best in the show’s history” Hot New Hip-Hop

“Her performance makes clear why she’s one of the all-time greats…Hill and her band are on-a-dime perfect” Crave

“A masterful performance…electrifying” Stereogum

“Stunning” Vibe

“The songstress (and MC) displays her strongest gifts in one of her best performances in years” Ambrosia For Heads

“Fantastic” Slate

“Dazzling set” Consequence of Sound

“The year’s best hour of televised music” Indianapolis Star  

In a performance for the ages, the trailblazing Ms. Lauryn Hill dazzles the Austin crowd with a career-spanning  set culled from her landmark release The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and her pioneering work with the Fugees, one of the best-selling hip-hop acts in history. Opening the emotional set with her solo hit “Ex-Factor,” the multiple Grammy-winning singer and songwriter performs stunning versions of her biggest hits and fan favorites. One of the greatest MCs of all time, Hill has the crowd on their feet with the opening notes of “Fu-Gee-La” for an explosive take on the Fugees classic, weaving “Austin, I love you like no other before” into the lyric. Hill commands the stage, backed by a 12-piece band and performs a gorgeous cover of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” before closing out her unforgettable performance with the crowd-pleaser “Doo Wop (That Thing),” proving she’s still one of the most powerful artists in music today.  

photo by Scott Newton

“Every Lauryn Hill performance is special,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and an hour of Ms. Hill on the ACL stage is nothing less than historic. She pours her heart and soul and every ounce of energy into every minute, and it shows. There’s nobody else quite her!”

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 a brand new episode featuring the ACL debut of the one and only Cyndi Lauper.

Celebrate the new year with ACL’s Hall of Fame 2016

photo by Scott Hoffman

Austin City Limits rings in the new year with a star-studded evening, hosted by comedy duo Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, featuring one-of-a-kind performances and collaborations from the third annual ACL Hall of Fame Inductions and Celebration. ACL royalty Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Gary Clark Jr., Rodney Crowell, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and more share the stage for one epic night to perform in honor of the newest class of inductees: Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King. This special hour, taped October 12, 2016, honors the artists who’ve helped make the award-winning TV series an American music institution.  

The special kicks off with a tribute to songwriting great Kris Kristofferson, who first appeared on the series in 1982, as Rodney Crowell honors the legend with a powerful reading of his classic “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” Willie Nelson salutes his longtime friend and collaborator with a moving version of  Kristofferson’s signature “Me and Bobby McGee.” Mavis Staples takes the stage to toast Bonnie Raitt, calling her “my sister,” and the two icons perform a spirited duet of Bob Dylan’s call for social change, “Well Well Well,” before teaming with blues legend Taj Mahal for the Raitt smash “Thing Called Love.”  ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons honors his friend and mentor B.B. King with a fiery take on the blues giant’s “You Upset Me, Baby” backed by King’s longtime band.  Blues-soul sensation Gary Clark Jr. then joins Raitt for an electrifying “The Thrill Is Gone,” as the two guitar slingers trade verses and solos on the late, great bluesman’s anthem, bringing the house down.  “I know B.B. is smiling down on us,” says Raitt.  “This one’s for him.”

The entire cast takes the ACL stage for a grand finale featuring the blues classic, “Every Day I Have The Blues,” a song B.B. King performed on his iconic 1983 Austin City Limits debut.  The celebration of music comes to an epic close complete with fireworks, and the two-dozen strong ensemble ringing in the new year with the holiday classic “Auld Lang Syne.”

photo by Scott Newton

“We created the Hall of Fame as a way to celebrate our 40th anniversary, and since then it’s really taken on a life of its own,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “The artists feel truly honored, and it gives us a chance to recognize their contributions to our legacy. And beyond that it’s a magical night of music and unique collaborations.”

Tune in this weekend for this special, 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 an encore of our landmark episode featuring R&B superstar Ms. Lauryn Hill.

ACL Announces Complete Season 42 Broadcast Schedule

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits announces the second half of Season 42, with seven all-new shows to begin airing New Year’s Eve as part of the program’s fourteen-episode season. Providing viewers with a front-row seat to the best in music performance for over 40 years,  the series continues the legendary run showcasing more icons, innovators and highly-anticipated debuts.  

The program returns to new episodes on Saturday, December 31 with a special broadcast, Austin City Limits Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve. Austin City Limits rings in the new year with the star-studded celebration, hosted by comedy super-couple Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, featuring one-of-a-kind performances and collaborations from the 2016 ACL Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. Performers include ACL royalty Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Kris Kristofferson and Gary Clark Jr.

photo by Scott Newton

The season continues with hip-hop/R&B trailblazer Ms. Lauryn Hill in a towering performance that previewed this summer to critical acclaim. Hitmaker Cyndi Lauper debuts on the ACL stage in an entertaining hour of classic hit songs and the stories behind them. The extended line-up features Nashville rebels Margo Price and Hayes Carll in a powerhouse double-bill that forecasts country’s future. Indie rockers Band of Horses return for their second appearance, sharing an episode with Americana breakout singer/songwriter Parker Millsap. Gospel legend CeCe Winans shines in a stunning ACL debut, paired with acclaimed soul sensations St. Paul & The Broken Bones. The season finale features U.K. alt.rock phenom Foals and the fifth appearance by rock troubadour Alejandro Escovedo, who first-appeared on the series in 1983 and is joined by R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck.

“The secret to becoming the longest-running music series in television history is to capture one-of-a-kind performances from legendary artists and newcomers alike, and share them with an audience of diehard music fans everywhere,” said long-time executive producer Terry Lickona. “As usual, Season 42 wraps up with a little something for everybody, from megastars and legends to indie originals, and with a nod to our rich past.”

Season 42 | 2017 Broadcast Schedule

December 31 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve

January 7 Ms. Lauryn Hill

January 14 Cyndi Lauper

January 21 Margo Price | Hayes Carll

January 28 Band of Horses | Parker Millsap

February 4 CeCe Winans | St. Paul & The Broken Bones

February 11 Foals | Alejandro Escovedo

photo by Scott Newton

ACL’s Season 42 premiered in October with unforgettable performances from Iggy Pop, Paul Simon, Robert Plant, Florence + The Machine, My Morning Jacket, Rhiannon Giddens, Andra Day, Ben Harper, James Bay, Grupo Fantasma and more. The award-winning series will continue to broadcast fan-favorite encore episodes through the end of 2016. 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 24th to see this classic Christmas episode.

ACL artists at the 2017 Grammys

Sturgill Simpson ©KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits congratulates all the nominees for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. We’d like to give special recognition to the nominees who have appeared on ACL. Congratulations to Sturgill Simpson, whose latest LP A Sailor’s Guide to Earth is nominated for the top honor of Album of the Year, as well as Best Country Album; Iggy Pop, nominated for Best Alternative Music Album for Post Pop Depression, an album given its first full live airing on our show this season; Radiohead, who have nominations for both Best Rock Song and Best Alternative Music Album; Rhiannon Giddens, who gets nods for both Best Folk Album and Best Americana Roots Performance; Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban, who go head to head for Best Country Performance and Best Country Song (Urban also has a Best Country Album nod); the Avett Brothers, nominated for Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Performance; and Austin’s own Sarah Jarosz, nominated for Best Folk Album and Best American Roots Performance. Congratulation also to both Steve Martin and Cyndi Lauper, who are both nominated in the Best Musical Theater Album category for their scores for Bright Star and Kinky Boots, respectively, which may be a first for us. And we’d like to send a special congratulations to Alabama Shakes, who not only garnered a Best Rock Performance nod for “Joe,” but did it with a track recorded on our stage:

Congratulations also to the following ACL performers who nabbed nominations: Willie Nelson, Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Dolly Parton, Tim McGraw, Loretta Lynn, Jesse & Joy, Blind Boys of Alabama, William Bell, Robbie Fulks, Jack White, Vince Gill, Kris Kristofferson, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Elvis Costello, Trey Anastasio, Andrew Bird, Bonnie Raitt, Leon Bridges and Coldplay. A full list of nominations can be found here.

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards will telecast on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017.

Sharon Jones R.I.P.

photo by Scott Newton

We here at Austin City Limits were deeply saddened to learn about the premature passing of Sharon Jones after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer, at the age of 60.

As anyone who ever saw her perform with her crackerjack band the Dap-Kings knows, the Brooklyn native was a powerhouse onstage. Her rich vocals and dynamic stage presence could rouse a dead man from his grave. She spent her first forty years as a session backup vocalist, wedding singer, corrections officer and armored car guard – it’s as if it all came bursting out when she was finally given her turn in the spotlight in 1996, when she recorded her first single “Switchblade.” Once she had the Dap-Kings writing for, producing and backing her on the road, she was unstoppable. She released a series of classic old-school soul and funk LPs on DapTone in the new millennium, starting with Dap Dippin’ in 2002 and sadly ending with her 2015 Christmas album It’s a Holiday Soul Party and compilation soundtrack to the acclaimed documentary Miss Sharon Jones! Tunes like “Stranger to My Happiness,” “I Learned the Hard Way” and “100 Days, 100 Nights” will last as long as the 60s soul and R&B classics that inspired them. With her unflagging optimism (even in the face of cancer) and soaring musical capacity, Sharon Jones was a shining light in an often dark industry, and she will be missed.

Jones and the Dap-Kings rocked the ACL house in 2008 during Season 34. Here she is performing the opening cut, joined by a member of our audience on the funky “How Do I Let a Good Man Down?”

ACL to livestream Alejandro Escovedo taping

Alejandro-Escovedo_square

Austin City Limits closes out a banner Season 42 with something beautiful: a livestream of Austin legend and four-time ACL veteran Alejandro Escovedo on November 30. The taping will be streamed live in its entirety directly from the Austin City Limits stage.  Fans everywhere can watch the concert November 30 at 8pm CT/9 pm ET on ACLTV’s YouTube channel as it happens.  

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Escovedo returns to our stage in support of Burn Something Beautiful, his twelfth solo album. Recorded in Portland, OR with R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and the Minus 5’s Scott McCaughey as co-writers and producers, Burn Something Beautiful is at once a celebration of the rock & roll life, a contemplation of mortality and a tribute to the healing power of love. The project coalesced beautifully with the help of an esteemed group of musicians who give the album a band feel, including ACL vets Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Kelly Hogan (Neko Case), John Moen (the Decemberists) and Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney). Connecting repeatedly with his soulful heart and voice at its core, Burn Something Beautiful is Alejandro Escovedo at his very best. The San Antonio native is, of course, no stranger to ACL – he has been on the show four times previously, starting as a member of Austin cowpunk legends Rank and File when they debuted on the show in 1983. For this appearance he’ll be joined by Buck, McCaughey, the Fastbacks’ Kurt Bloch, the Decemberists’ John Moen and Neko Case backup singer Kelly Hogan. We’re thrilled to welcome him back.

Please join us November 30 for this full-set livestream on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air early next year as part of our current Season 42 on PBS.

ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2016

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 21: William Bell and Bonnie Raitt perform onstage at the Americana Honors & Awards 2016 at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music)

Austin City Limits returns to Nashville for a special broadcast featuring performance highlights from this year’s Americana Honors & Awards. ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2016 premieres November 19th on PBS and delivers dazzling performances that represent the genre’s diversity and excellence. The music-filled hour features many of the night’s award-winners and honorees, including buzzed about newcomers and icons who helped define the genre; among them: George Strait, Margo Price, Jason Isbell, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Weir, Alison Krauss, Steve Earle, Parker Millsap, Dwight Yoakam, William Bell and Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell.

Recorded live at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on September 21st, The Americana Music Association’s 15th Annual Honors & Awards ceremony is a celebration of music that is authentic, diverse and original from many genres, both traditional and contemporary. “If you can taste the dirt through your ears, that is Americana,” says Americana Music Association Executive Director Jed Hilly. “It is music that is derived or inspired by American roots traditions.”

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Jason Isbell, who took top honors for Album of the Year and Song of the Year, gives a captivating performance of his “If It Takes A Lifetime,” accompanied by his wife, fiddler Amanda Shires, and band The 400 Unit. Roots giants who died in 2016, Merle Haggard, Guy Clark and Ralph Stanley are honored with one-of-a-kind performances: the show opens with the night’s Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree for Performance, Grateful Dead founder Bob Weir, in tribute to Merle Haggard, performing a rendition of the country outlaw’s iconic “Mama Tried.”  Steve Earle delivers Guy Clark’s classic “Desperados Waiting For A Train,” calling out “See you when I get there, Maestro,” at the song’s close. Roots titan Alison Krauss performs a stunning a cappella version of bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley’s “Gloryland,” joined by stalwarts Buddy Miller, Melonie Cannon and Stuart Duncan.

NASHVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 21: Stuart Duncan, Melonie Cannon, Alison Krauss, and Buddy Miller perform onstage at the Americana Honors & Awards 2016 at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music)

In true Americana style, the broadcast is loaded with musical moments and collaborations. Legendary duet partners Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, awarded Duo/Group of the year, perform a stirring “Bring It On Home.” Bonnie Raitt, a 2015 Lifetime Achievement honoree, offers a new track, “Gypsy in Me,” backed by gospel greats The McCrary Sisters. She returns to join Stax soul legend William Bell, the night’s Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree for Songwriting, on the slow-burn “The Three of Me,” accompanied by producer John Leventhal on guitar. Honky-tonk maverick Dwight Yoakam delivers a blistering gem from his acclaimed new release Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars… alongside Stuart Duncan on fiddle.

The genre’s breakout newcomers give show-stopping performances, including the Emerging Artist Award-winner, Nashville rebel Margo Price with her “Tennessee Song.” Americana sensation Parker Millsap performs a powerful “Heaven Sent” from his critically-acclaimed Album of the Year-nominated release, joined by standouts Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan on backing vocals.  Chart-toppers The Lumineers light up the stage with a new song, “Angela.” Emerging Artist nominees Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats perform “Wasting Time,” showing the full range of the Americana spectrum.  

King of country music George Strait, performs his signature, “King of Broken Hearts,” alongside the songwriter, Jim Lauderdale, for a thrilling close. The hourlong broadcast is hosted by Americana kingpin Lauderdale, and performers are backed by a first class house band led by Nashville mainstay Buddy Miller and featuring it-producer Dave Cobb, with Stuart Duncan, Fred Eltringham, Steve Fishell, Matt Rollings, Chris Wood and The McCrary Sisters.

The show was co-produced by High Five Entertainment and its President Martin Fischer and ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona.

Leonard Cohen 1934-2016

photo by Scott Newton

We at Austin City Limits are greatly saddened to learn of the passing of the great singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen at the age of 82.

Transcending genre, the Montreal native was one of the most unique figures in all of popular music. Many songwriters are credited with bringing literary acumen to their work, usually without any real justification. But for Cohen it’s true – he’d already had a career as a poet and a novelist before turning to music as his main artistic outlet, and he brought his full authorial weight to the songs he recorded. His lyrics reveal a craftsman’s eye, knowing exactly what words to include and what to leave out, and his melodies strip down to support the libretto without becoming forgettable backdrops. While often accused of dwelling too often in the darkness, his songs travel a wide range of emotional terrain, from anger to joy to confusion to, yes, depression, exploring them all with an intellectual’s wit and a poet’s sensitivity. Cohen had a special affinity for navigating that mysterious space between the sacred and the secular – unsurprising for this grandson of a rabbi and follower of Buddhism. His ability to blur the lines between the sensual and the divine highlighted the truth in unbridled passion and the grace in a sense of wonder – not for nothing did Cohen once claim he “Came So Far For Beauty.”

Cohen had a special connection to Austin. On the 1979 tour captured on the live album Field Commander Cohen, he used the Austin jazz fusion group Passenger as the core of his road band, and guitarist Mitch Watkins, keyboardist Bill Ginn, saxophonist Paul Ostermayer and, especially, bassist Roscoe Beck would be off-and-on staples of his backup groups from then on. (Longtime backing singer Julie Christensen also did time in Austin prior to joining Cohen’s troop.) Perhaps it was this connection that led to his decision to make his major U.S. television debut on Austin City Limits. Recorded on Halloween night in 1988 and broadcast in 1989, Cohen’s hour-long episode was and is one for the ages, a tour-de-force of songcraft and performance that has become one of our most beloved and requested shows.

“Leonard was not much aware of ACL until his Austin friends and cohorts convinced him to do the show,” remarks Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “The band played a late show in L.A. the night before and took the red-eye straight to Austin, arriving just in time for rehearsal. They were all wearing the same clothes (Leonard never did change), and his only request was for a bottle of tequila, which the band easily dispensed with. The show was mesmerizing, as was the reaction from viewers who had never heard or seen anything quite like him. Leonard told me some years later that that Austin City Limits performance ‘saved his career in America’ at a time when he had all but been forgotten.”

Cohen returned in 1993 in support of his trailblazing record The Future. The maestro was so pleased with the results he included two of the songs on his 1994 concert record Cohen LiveWe’re honored to have these two classic appearances to document his unforgettable legacy.  You can watch the first one below.