Tedeschi Trucks Band closes out ACL Season 41

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits caps a standout Season 41 with a sensational hour of music from American roots superstars Tedeschi Trucks Band in their ACL debut.   

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Susan Tedeschi, a three-time ACL veteran who first appeared on the program in 1999, and her guitar hero husband Derek Trucks merged their solo careers to form the Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2010.  The now 12-piece strong powerhouse—one of music’s most talented and admired ensembles—lights up the ACL stage in their debut, arriving at the top of their game and presenting gems from their newly-released third studio album, Let Me Get By.  Opening with the uplifting new track “Don’t Know What It Means,” the virtuoso outfit, complete with horns and back-up singers, perform a thrilling seven-song set combining their distinctive hybrid of Memphis soul, R&B, blues, rock and classic song craft.  Tedeschi puts down her guitar to let her powerful vocals shine on several standout covers including a Joe Cocker-inspired version of the Box Tops’ hit, “The Letter,” and the Leonard Cohen classic “Bird On A Wire.”  As they close out the stellar set with a highlight, “Midnight in Harlem” (from their Grammy-winning 2011 debut Revelator), featuring Trucks’ mesmerizing slide-guitar solo, TTB turn the soulful ballad into a gorgeous wall of sound for a perfect close to a thrilling performance and an outstanding season.  The transcendent set has the Austin crowd walking on air inspired by the undeniable power of great music.

“Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks are a match made in blues-rock heaven, and are proof-positive of the old maxim that the whole is greater than the sum of these musical partners,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “Together they show how their new songs are a big leap forward for these road veterans.”

photo by Scott Newton

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 an encore of our 2015 Hall of fame special.

Sleater-Kinney and Heartless Bastards rock ACL’s 41st season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents two of indie-rock’s finest in a must-see new installment featuring Sleater-Kinney splitting the episode with Heartless Bastards.

Legendary punk group Sleater-Kinney make their inaugural appearance on the ACL stage armed with songs from their first new album in a decade, No Cities To Love. The surprise release landed on top of many 2015 year-end best lists including the New York Times’ Jon Pareles, who raved “Reunited for its first album in 10 years, Sleater-Kinney returns as joyfully rigorous as ever, sinewy and ready to grapple.” Consisting of guitarists/vocalists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein (also the co-creator/star of IFC’s Portlandia), and drummer Janet Weiss, the powerhouse trio came crashing out of the Pacific Northwest in the mid-90s, setting a new bar for punk’s political awareness and emotional impact. The seminal band perform a searing, musically thrilling, career-wide seven-song set with ferocious new material alongside classic anthems including “Dig Me Out,” the title track from their 1997 breakthrough, and songs from 2005’s The Woods.

Austin-based Heartless Bastards, fronted by dynamic vocalist Erika Wennerstrom, return for their second ACL appearance since their Season 35 debut, focusing on their acclaimed new release Restless Ones. Heartless Bastards have spent the past decade in motion, bolding pushing their unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll into new shapes over four albums and nearly non-stop touring. Rich with purpose, passion, seasoned songwriting and commanding musicianship, Restless Ones, their fifth studio album, captures the idiosyncratic band exploring their craft and soul in an effort to reach a place that’s both real and transcendent. With a voice NPR describes as “warm yet gritty, throaty yet sweet, gigantic yet intimate,” singer-songwriter-guitarist Wennerstrom opens the set with the effervescent country rocker “Hi-Line.” As she switches from acoustic to electric guitar for the garage rock gem “Black Cloud,” the rockers hit their stride, juxtaposing dark subject matter with up-tempo style. The band reach back to 2012’s Arrow for “Parted Ways,” closing out the sublime set on a pitch perfect note.

photo by Scott Newton

“This show is all about women who rock, not to mention awesome singers!” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “It took a decade for Sleater-Kinney to bring us new music, but it was worth the wait. They’re living proof that a band can keep getting better and better. Same goes for Heartless Bastards. Always hometown favorites, Erika’s voice is one-of-a-kind – raw and polished at the same time!”

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 debuts of soul revivalists Leon Bridges and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.

Angelique Kidjo brings energy and joy to ACL’s 41st season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a joyous, irresistible hour with international superstar Angélique Kidjo making her highly-anticipated ACL debut. A two-time Grammy Award winner, the world-renowned African singer-songwriter delivers a high energy performance celebrating the universal power of music.    

Hailing from the West African country of Benin, Kidjo has been a major force in world music since the early 1990s. Her extraordinary musical achievements span a 25-year discography and thousands of concerts around the world. TIME Magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva” and The Guardian named her one of the Top 100 Inspiring Women in the World.  Kidjo has enjoyed a long history of notable collaborations with greats from the jazz and pop worlds, including Bono, John Legend, Josh Groban, Peter Gabriel, Carlos Santana, Branford Marsalis, Vampire Weekend and Alicia Keys. In addition to her music she is known as a powerful advocate for women’s rights, education and public health issues in Africa. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002 and a 2015 recipient of the prestigious Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, honoring individuals “who not only excel in their art, but also help to improve the world around them.”

In her ACL debut, Kidjo performs a buoyant, career-spanning, eleven-song set including songs from her 2015 release Sings, a 2016 Grammy nominee for Best World Music Album. Backed by her four-piece band, the spirited artist takes the stage resplendent in colorful dress, letting her powerful voice soar and her feet move. “I can see you’re ready for singing and dancing,” she tells the Austin crowd, “so don’t hold back.” Kidjo is accompanied by Austin choir Veritas for a soulful rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” She pays homage to the pioneering South African singer Miriam Makeba, widely known as Mother Africa, with a version of her classic “Pata Pata,” delivered in Swahili as a funky, infectious call to dance. Kidjo ventures out into the audience for “Afirika,” a celebration of the human family, as the crowd happily joins in. The revelry continues as she invites the audience onstage for the luminous “Tumba.” Kidjo leads the packed stage in dance, closing out the hour in a jubilant crescendo, with the entire audience on its feet, showering the singer with cheers and applause in appreciation.

photo by Scott Newton

“This is an amazing hour — a very joyful and emotional musical experience,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “You will want to dance, and you will cry. It really stands out in an otherwise great season, and represents what makes Austin City Limits unique. Angélique is a special artist — and she makes the best dance music on the planet!”

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 the Austin City Limits debut of Sleater-Kinney and the return of Heartless Bastards.

ACL 41 continues with singer/songwriters Ryan Adams and Shakey Graves

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents an acoustic double-bill: Ryan Adams paired with Shakey Graves in a new installment showcasing the acclaimed singer-songwriters.  Ryan Adams, an ACL veteran who appeared in the milestone Season 40, returns with a rare, all-acoustic set, sharing the episode with Austin indie-folk rocker Shakey Graves.

Rock troubadour Ryan Adams offers a fascinating look at his acoustic side, in this intimate solo appearance filled with entertaining commentary from the artist and highlights from his standout catalog.  Opening with “My Wrecking Ball,” from his Grammy-nominated 2014 self-titled solo release, Adams humorously recounts the first time he performed on ACL as a 22-year old upstart.  He revisits his 2000 solo debut Heartbreaker for the melancholy “Oh My Sweet Carolina,” affably adding, “if you thought that was depressing, you haven’t heard anything yet.”  “Gimme Something Good,” a 2015 Grammy-nominee for Best Rock Performance, is rendered acoustic to powerful effect.  The self-deprecating artist closes the captivating set with 2002’s Demolition track “Desire,” likening it to “a 1-800-Flowers song,” while the sublime performance reveals it to be another hidden gem from his astounding body of work.

Hailing from Austin, Texas and recently crowned Best Emerging Artist at 2015’s Americana Music Awards, Shakey Graves makes his debut on ACL performing songs from his critically-acclaimed 2014 release And the War Came and 2011 debut Roll the Bones.  Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known as Shakey Graves, gained recognition with his 2011 breakout as a one-man band, in which he thumped a kick drum made from an old Samsonite suitcase.  NPR raves, “The Texas singer’s charisma is matched by his warm, sometimes frenetic music.”  He tours extensively, performing at music’s biggest festivals, including 2015’s Lollapalooza and ACL Fest.  With his ever-present suitcase-housed kick drum, Graves kicks off an engaging set of his distinctive blend of country, blues and rock ‘n’ roll.  The gifted raconteur regales his hometown crowd with tales from the road and backstory on his songwriting for a memorable ACL debut.

photo by Scott Newton

“This show is all about the song – the art and craft of great songs and brilliant songwriters,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “The icing on the cake is that in the case of Ryan Adams and Shakey Graves, we have two artists who know how to pull every shred of emotion, and humor, from every word and note they write. Of course we’re also proud to show off our own homegrown talent with Shakey’s first-ever ACL.”

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 the Austin City Limits debut of African superstar Angelique Kidjo.

Kendrick Lamar highlights ACL Season 41

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits is proud to present a season highlight, a highly-anticipated hour with rap superstar Kendrick Lamar. ACL has featured some of the most iconic performers in music for over four decades, and the legendary PBS series continues it run by showcasing this game-changing artist, widely-acclaimed as one of the greatest rappers of his generation. Already a two-time 2015 Grammy Award-winner, Lamar recently scored a staggering 11 Grammy nominations, leading the pack as 2016’s most-nominated act. In his hour-long ACL debut, Lamar performs tracks from his landmark 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly, Grammy-nominated for top honors including Album of the Year and Best Rap Album.    

The Compton, California native’s sophomore effort To Pimp A Butterfly is the year’s most critically acclaimed record, topping year-end best lists across the globe. The album debuted at No. 1, firmly establishing Lamar as one of the biggest hip-hop artists in the world. The New York Times hailed the work as a “magnum opus,” noting it “an album-length immersion in all the choices and contradictions facing a rapper with a conscience. Race, poverty, fame, lust, cultural heritage, the direction of America and the trajectory of his career are all on his mind.”

Backed by the tight five-piece band The Wesley Theory for his ACL debut, the 28-year old emcee invites the audience “into the magical world of ‘To Pimp A Butterfly,’” opening the intimate, riveting hour with the spoken word piece “For Free?” Lamar delivers an epic 13-song career-spanning set, deftly blending hip-hop, jazz, soul and funk, owning the stage and showcasing the whip-smart lyrical skills that have established him as a generational spokesman.  He brilliantly weaves together tracks from his 2012 breakthrough, the platinum-selling good kid/m.A.A.d. city, performing with a rawness and urgency while touching on universal, life-affirming themes for one of the most memorable performances on the ACL stage. The emotional, exhilarating hour comes to a moving close with the anthem “Alright,” a Grammy nominee for Song of the Year, with the entire Austin crowd breaking into the chant “We gon’ be alright!”

photo by Scott Newton

To Pimp A Butterfly is the most important album of 2015, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to disagree,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Beyond making a powerful statement about the America we live in today, it’s a radical reinvention of modern hip-hop fused with improv jazz and classic R&B. This is the only full-length television performance of a contemporary masterpiece – it deserves to be seen and heard.”

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 a special acoustic set from Ryan Adams and the ACL debut of Austin favorite Shakey Graves.

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.

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

ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2015

Lee Ann Womack Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Austin City Limits heads to Nashville for a special broadcast featuring performance highlights from this year’s Americana Honors & Awards. ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2015 delivers sparkling performances that represent the genre’s diversity and excellence. The music-filled special features many of the night’s Lifetime Achievement Honorees, award-winners, next-generation stars and icons who helped define the genre; among them: Don Henley, Los Lobos, Ricky Skaggs, Lee Ann Womack, Shakey Graves, Keb’ Mo’, Jason Isbell, Rhiannon Giddens, Robert Randolph and John Hiatt.  

“The Americana Honors & Awards showcases one of the biggest and brightest lineups of talent seen all year,” raves NPR. Recorded live at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium in September, The Americana Music Association’s 14th Annual Honors & Awards ceremony is a best in show reflecting the spirit of Americana: American roots music that incorporates elements of country, rock ‘n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues.

Robert Randolph, The Fairfield Four, The McCrary Sisters Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Hosted by Americana kingpin Jim Lauderdale, the show opens with steel guitar sensation Robert Randolph joining with two legendary gospel groups, The Fairfield Four and the McCrary Sisters, for a rousing rendition of “Rock My Soul.” Highlights include show-stopping performances by the night’s Artist of the Year nominees: Rhiannon Giddens showcases her powerful vocals in a stunning performance of “Waterboy” from her Album of the Year-nominated Tomorrow Is My Turn. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, who captured top honors at last year’s awards, offers the anthemic title track of his new album, Something More Than Free. Country queen Lee Ann Womack performs from her critically-acclaimed The Way I’m Livin’, also nominated for Album of the Year.  

Another of the night’s top nominees, Emerging Artist of the Year winner Shakey Graves, is joined by Esmé Patterson for a playful duet of his nominated single “Dearly Departed.” Duo/group nominees The Lone Bellow, an indie-folk trio, make their first appearance, singing their standout “Then Came the Morning.”  

Marc Ribot & Buddy Miller Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

In true Americana style, the broadcast is loaded with musical moments and collaborations from the music’s forebears, including ovation-worthy turns from musical legend Don Henley, awarded a Lifetime Achievement Honor, performing from his acclaimed new album Cass County and veteran singer-songwriter and Song of the Year nominee John Hiatt. Bluegrass master Ricky Skaggs—the night’s Lifetime Achievement Honoree for Instrumentalist—performs with his wife and collaborator Sharon White alongside fellow legend Ry Cooder; and Americana icon Buddy Miller and celebrated guitarist and songwriter Marc Ribot present a stripped-down acoustic version of the Hank Williams classic “Cold, Cold Heart.”   

Blues titan Keb’ Mo’ pays a heartfelt tribute to the night’s President’s Award Honoree B.B. King, with a soulful interpretation of one of the late legend’s signature songs, “How Blue Can You Get,” (alongside King’s beloved guitar “Lucille”). The night’s Lifetime Achievement Award honorees for Performance, East L.A. stalwarts Los Lobos, validate their honor with a blistering, show-closing rendition of their classic “Will the Wolf Survive.”

Jim Lauderdale Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Throughout the broadcast, performers are backed by an all-star house band—led by Buddy Miller—and featuring legendary musicians: Dominic Davis, Chad Cromwell, Fats Kaplin, Ian Fitchuk, the McCrary Sisters and Little Feat founding member Bill Payne.

“This event is a musical celebration that brings together the finest musicians in the world, with legendary acts and the next generation of stars,” says Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association, adding “it’s about great songs and the appreciation for the authentic sound of American roots music.”

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