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.

ACL announces Bloody Mary Morning at SXSW 2016

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Austin City Limits is happy to announce the fifth edition of Bloody Mary Morning, our annual feel-good, barn-burner of a party during South By Southwest. On Thursday, March 17, starting at 10 a.m., enjoy performances by Eleanor Friedberger, Joseph, Margaret Glaspy, Eliot Sumner, The Heavy, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down and Caveman. Even better, you can listen to music while enjoying free (while supplies last!) Bloody Marys from Tito’s Vodka and breakfast tacos from Tacodeli. This year’s Bloody Mary Morning takes place at GSD&M and is brought to you by our friends People Pattern, ATX Seed Ventures, Rambler On, Shiner, New Musical Express and, of course, KLRU-TV, Austin PBS.

You don’t need to be a SXSW badgeholder to attend – Bloody Mary Morning is free and open to the public. You can RSVP here.

Encore: Ed Sheeran and Valerie June

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents two innovative singer-songwriters: UK sensation Ed Sheeran and rising star Valerie June. Ed Sheeran makes his ACL debut in a must-see episode that features the breakout star performing his entire set solo. Sheeran exudes the raw talent that has made him a worldwide superstar, with charged versions of hits from his landmark debut and new songs from the chart-topping follow-up release. Acclaimed Southern singer-songwriter Valerie June shares the bill, making a captivating ACL debut with her starry-eyed roots music.  

Ed Sheeran brings his A-game in his ACL debut, with a remarkable one-man solo performance that demonstrates why he’s one of music’s most popular live performers.  Clad in an ACL t-shirt, the 23 year-old three-time Grammy nominee performs his  breakthrough hits “The A Team,” “Lego House” and songs from his new release x.  With an acoustic guitar and a loop pedal as his only accompaniment, Sheeran creates a perfectly balanced mix of hip-hop and acoustic balladry. He showcases the honest songwriting and vocals that have earned him legions of fans across the globe.  Closing out the crowd-pleasing set, Sheeran leads the rapturous audience in an epic sing-along of his hit “Sing,” with the Austin crowd still chanting as Sheeran leaves the stage.

Striking Southern singer-songwriter Valerie June makes her first appearance on the ACL stage performing songs from her luminous debut Pushin’ Against a Stone. The Washington Post raves of the release: “Shades of Nina Simone, Dolly Parton and blueswomen of decades past flicker throughout; you can easily picture it crackling out from a timeworn record player.” The Tennessee native’s heartfelt sound and beautifully timeless voice have earned her critical raves and a 2014 Americana Awards nomination for emerging artist. With one foot in country blues, the other in mountain folk music and her head in the stars, June and her band conjure a distinctive brand of genre-blending that she calls “organic moonshine roots music” for a memorable ACL debut.

photo by Scott Newton

“In some ways, Ed Sheeran and Valerie June are as different as night and day,” says ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona, “but they are both distinctly original in their music. Through their intimately personal songs and unique onstage personas, they represent everything that Austin City Limits is all about.”

Tune in this Saturday 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 goodies. Next week: Jim James and The Black Angels.