Leon Rausch R.I.P.

photo by Scott Newton

We here at Austin City Limits are saddened to learn of the death of Western swing legend Leon Rausch.  The Texas Playboys singer passed on May 14 in Fort Worth. He was 91.

Born in Billings, Missouri in 1927, Rausch grew up in the Show-Me State, singing with the family trio. After serving in the armed forces during the Korean War, he and his wife Vonda moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, with Rausch finding work in a glass factory and singing on the weekends with Johnnie Lee Wills, the younger brother of Western swing titan Bob Wills. The elder Wills recruited Rausch to the Texas Playboys in 1958 for a partnership that lasted until 1963, when Rausch left to form his own band.

The singer reunited with Wills for the latter’s final album, 1973’s For the Last Time. After Wills passed in 1975, leadership of the Playboys passed on to Rausch and steel guitarist Leon McAuliffe. Rausch continued to be the voice of Western swing, with and without the Playboys, until his death. He will be greatly missed.

“Leon was not only the voice of The Texas Playboys in their final days, he pretty much personified what made their music so much fun to listen – and dance – to,” remarked ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Western Swing has lost a real champion.”

Rausch appeared on Austin City Limits four times, including the debut episode of ACL’s first season, and most recently with Asleep At the Wheel in Season 41. Below are a pair of clips from those appearances: “San Antonio Rose,” the first song from the Playboys’ first appearance on the show in 1976, and “Milk Cow Blues,” in collaboration with the Wheel in 2015.  

Austin City Limits #101: Texas Playboys – San Antonio Rose from Austin City Limits on Vimeo.

Austin City Limits #4102: Asleep at the Wheel With Leon Rausch – Milk Cow Blues from Austin City Limits on Vimeo.

ACL Fest 2019 announces spectacular lineup

ACL Fest 2019 lineup announce

We’re jazzed to share the 2019 lineup of our namesake mega-festival, Austin City Limits Music Festival, produced by our friends at C3 Presents. The zeitgeist meets the classics, as contemporary hitmakers Childish Gambino, Cardi B, Robyn and Billie Eilish share the stages with The Cure, The Raconteurs, Tame Impala, Mumford & Sons and the mighty Guns N’ Roses in their first-ever ACL Fest appearance. Also on tap: Kacey Musgraves, Gary Clark Jr., 21 Savage, Thom Yorke Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, Lizzo, Lil Uzi Vert, Rosalía, Tyler Childers, Jenny Lewis, Natalia Lafourcade, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, and Third Eye Blind. That’s just the tip of the talent iceberg.

The eighteenth annual ACL Fest returns to Austin’s Zilker Park for two consecutive weekends, October 4-6 and October 11-13.  You can check out the full lineup and get ticket info on three-day passes, VIP and more here. Tickets tend to sell out quickly, so you know what to do.

Giveaway: Rainbow Kitten Surprise 5/6

photo by Matthew Salacuse

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Rainbow Kitten Surprise on Monday, May 6th at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We will be giving away a limited number of space available passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by noon on Thursday, May 2nd.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pick up tickets. Winners will be notified by email. Passes are not transferable and cannot be sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras computers or recording devices allowed in venue.

New tapings: Maggie Rogers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus

photo by Olivia Bee

ACL is thrilled to welcome three remarkable artists under the age of 25-years-old: acclaimed producer/songwriter/performer Maggie Rogers makes her ACL debut on June 21 and lauded indie singer/songwriter phenoms Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus join us for the first time on July 30 for a taping highlight—a one-of-a-kind co-headline evening with these two accomplished solo artists.

Rogers hits our stage in the middle of a sold-out tour in support of her debut album, Heard It In A Past Life (Capitol Records), which entered Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart at No. 1 and charted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. The breakout debut has sold nearly 200,000 album adjusted units to date with cumulative streams across all tracks exceeding 400 million.  Her current single, “Light On,” topped Billboard’s Adult Alternative Songs chart for three consecutive weeks.  Tickets for Rogers’ upcoming October 19thand 20th ACL Live shows sold out immediately at on sale.   

Raised in rural Easton, Maryland, Rogers released her critically acclaimed debut EP, Now That The Light Is Fading in 2017 upon graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.   The 24-year-old released her recent debut LP Heard It In A Past Life to critical raves, with The New Yorker declaring, “Maggie Rogers is an artist of her time.”  The New York Times notes, “‘Heard It in a Past Life’ is a collection of buoyant electronic pop songs, but the lyrics are unmistakably the work of an introvert struggling to recalibrate.” Rolling Stone awarded the album four stars and hailed it as “a laser-focused statement with nary a wasted lyric or synth line.” NPR Music agrees, ’Heard It In A Past Life’ (is) smart sparkling pop.”  TIME notes, “The album confirms Rogers as a tender but powerful musical force, putting her in the company of a group of solo female artists claiming space outside of the typical machines of pop, country or R&B.”

2018 was a milestone year for Richmond, VA’s Lucy Dacus.  Her widely celebrated sophomore record, Historian, was met by a cavalcade of critical elation, with NPR, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NBC News, Slate, The Atlantic, Billboard, Paste, Stereogum, and more choosing it as one of the year’s best albums. Dacus’ remarkable sense of melody and composition are the driving force throughout, giving Historian the immersive feel of an album made by an artist in full command of her powers. “This is the album I needed to make,” says Dacus, who views Historian as her definitive statement as a songwriter and musician. “Everything after this is a bonus.” She played revelatory sold-out shows at clubs and festivals alike, along with multiple high profile television appearances.  A glance at her worldwide touring schedule in 2019 shows little sign that Dacus is slowing down, and in fact, she will release a series of songs titled 2019 to celebrate.  Recorded in here-and-there studio spurts over the last two years, 2019 will be released later this year as a physical EP on Matador Records, and will be made up of originals and cover songs tied to specific holidays, each of which will drop around their respective date: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day (and Taurus season!), Independence Day, Springsteen’s Birthday, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Memphis native Julien Baker’s chilling solo debut, Sprained Ankle, was one of the most widely acclaimed works of 2015. The album, recorded by a then 18-year-old and her friend in only a few days, was a bleak yet hopeful, intimate document of staggering experiences and grace, centered entirely around Baker’s voice, guitar, and unblinking honesty. Sprained Ankle appeared on year-end lists everywhere from NPR Music to The AV Club to New York Magazine’s Vulture. With 2017’s Turn Out The Lights, Baker claimed a much bigger stage, but with the same core of breathtaking vulnerability and resilience. From its opening moments — when her chiming, evocative melody is accompanied by swells of strings — Turn Out The Lights throws open the doors to the world without sacrificing the intimacy that has become a hallmark of her songs. The album explores how people live and come to terms with their internal conflict, and the alternately shattering and redemptive ways these struggles play out in relationships. “Turn Out The Lights is beautifully crafted throughout,” noted Spin, “full of the kinds of songs that linger long after they’ve ended.” Under the Radar declared, “Baker is writing faultless songs that will always have a home in our hearts because finding comfort in even the saddest moments means we’re still feeling. And if we’re feeling, there’s hope for us yet.”  

In addition to their successful solo careers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus (along with Phoebe Bridgers), comprise the indie rock supergroup boygenius, whose 2018 EP landed on the year-end best-of lists of Newsweek, The New Yorker, Esquire, The New York Times and more, with Pitchfork raving “(boygenius) sing like hell together in lung-shattering harmony.”

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast episodes will air on PBS later this year as part of ACL’s upcoming milestone Season 45.

Taping recap: The Revivalists

photo by Scott Newton

New Orleans rock band The Revivalists earned their success the old-fashioned way: writing good songs and playing ‘em for people as often as they could. After 10 years of grinding, the veteran road dogs scored a platinum single with 2015’s breakout “Wish I Knew You,” setting the stage for their next wave of success with 2018’s Take Good Care and its hit “All My Friends.” We were happy to catch that wave as it crested, hosting the octet for its Austin City Limits debut, which we live streamed around the world.

“What a true honor it is to be here on this stage,” remarked singer David Shaw as the band took the stage. Then the band kicked off with “When I’m With You,” a slow build that turned into a mini-anthem. The group then launched a heavy groove that powered “Oh No,” a bluesy rocker that had the front row singing along. The radio hit “All My Friends” came next, filling the room with its catchy chorus. Shaw put down his guitar for “Change,” a song for the crowd to clap along with and sing the “Ooooohs.” The Revivalists kept the energy level up with “You and I,” Shaw advising the crowd to “give us the good stuff.” A certain psychedelic element crept into “Criminal,” courtesy pedal steel guitarist Ed Williams’ spacy tones, but the electricity never flagged, and the audience responded with its biggest cheers yet.

The band slowed the pace down slightly with “It Was a Sin,” which had a more measured tempo – at least until the bridge, when it all ramped up again. “Fade Away” dived deeper into the pool of soul balladry, a move the eager crowd adored. “Otherside of Paradise” explored more atmospheric pop, before “You Said It All” re-asserted groove without breaking the spell. That presaged “Got Love,” a gospel-inflected tune that carried the group’s love for old-school soul into the audience for some old-fashioned call-and-response. That vibe kept burning bright with “Celebration,” its unabashed “na-na” chorus evoking the titular feeling.

“We’re in the home stretch now!” declared Shaw, which meant that it was time for the Big Hit. Sure enough, the band went straight into “Wish I Knew You,” the lyrics’ yearning tone riding the song’s irresistibly smooth pop groove into a massive crowd singalong. The Revivalists quit the stage to massive applause. But of course the show wasn’t over; a meditative piano line and Shaw strumming an acoustic guitar signaled the start of “Soulfight,” a lighter-waver of the first order that had the crowd going wild. That was the real end, with band and audience happy beyond words. It was a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.

Robert Earl Keen to host ACL Hall of Fame 2019 – tickets on sale April 12

photo by Nick Doll Photography

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce the host of the 2019 ACL Hall of Fame: legendary Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen. This year’s celebration, to be held October 24th, honors the newest class of inductees: Lyle Lovett, Buddy Guy and Shawn Colvin. Save the date for one of the cultural highlights of 2019, a star-studded night filled with performances and collaborations from music’s finest. Tickets for this one-of-a-kind celebration will go on sale Friday, April 12 at 10 a.m at acltv.com/hall-of-fame. The event is held at ACL’s studio home, Austin’s ACL Live at The Moody Theater. More information about performances, presenters and additional guest stars will be announced prior.

“The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame is my Academy Awards,” says Robert Earl Keen. “I don’t think there is a higher honor than to be asked to host the ACL Hall of Fame and as a bonus, I don’t have to wear a tux!” The Lone Star troubadour and renowned party-starter takes the reins for the first time as host of the celebrated event. Houston-raised Keen is one of the most beloved songwriters and performers in Texas. His signature anthem “The Road Goes on Forever” recaps his remarkable music journey: over three-decades strong, with thousands of live shows under his belt, nineteen records to his name, and no end in sight to the road ahead. You can complete his anthem and sum up his storied career with its next five words—the ones routinely shouted back at Keen by legions of fans at every show— “and the party never ends!”

Keen debuted on Austin City Limits during 1989’s Season 14 as part of a Texas Showcase and has made four acclaimed headlining appearances in addition to appearing as a guest of Lyle Lovett in 2000 and returning for ACL’s milestone 40th Anniversary special in 2014. His songs have been recorded by Nanci Griffith, Joe Ely, George Strait, Gillian Welch, The Highwaymen and more. Keen has received many, many accolades along the way, including his recent 2019 induction into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, where he was presented with the Rick Smith “Spirit of Texas Award”. He became the first recipient of BMI’s Troubadour Award in 2015 for songwriting. In 2012 he was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame (alongside his longtime friend and Texas A&M classmate Lyle Lovett) and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Texas A&M University in 2018.

We hope you’ll join us as Robert Earl Keen saddles up and anchors our tributes to Buddy Guy, Shawn Colvin and Lyle Lovett when tickets go on sale this Friday, April 12 at 10 a.m at acltv.com/hall-of-fame.

Raymond D. “Son Geezinslaw” Smith 1942-2019

Son Geezinslaw, right; photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits was disheartened to learn of the death this weekend of Raymond D. Smith, AKA Son Geezinslaw of ACL three-timers the Geezinslaw Brothers, nearly a year after the passing of his partner-in-crime Sammy Allred. He was 77.

The Geezinslaws were one of Austin’s first breakout acts, with a career going back to the fifties and stints on the Louisiana Hayride with Elvis Presley. The pair released twelve albums over the course of forty-plus years, starting in 1963 with The Kooky World of the Geezinslaw Brothers and concluding with 2005’s Eclectic Horseman. The duo scored with cuts like “Five Dollar Fine,” “I Wish I Had a Job to Shove,” “Help I’m White and I Can’t Get Down” and unique takes on classic tunes like the Eagles’ “Take It to the Limit” and Judy Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Besides ACL, the band appeared on The Tonight Show, The Smothers Brothers Show and The Roger Miller Show. “As a boy. Son would walk down the streets of old south Austin to guitar lessons,” noted his obituary in the Austin-American Statesman. “As a man, he played before presidents, across the screens of America’s televisions, and with some of the greatest legends of Country and Western Music.”

Unlike Allred, whose radio career continued apace after the final Geezinslaws record, Smith stayed out of the spotlight once the band had run its course. “Son was easily characterized by his thorny exterior,” says the Statesman. “Perhaps we would call him the perpetual diamond in the rough, but after being preceded in death by his wife and daughter, those that really knew him could see that bashful self that had been singing us truths for the past sixty some odd years.”

“Son had the voice, Sammy brought the schtick,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “But seriously, Son was a great country singer, and combined with Sammy’s offbeat comedy, there’s been nobody quite like them ever since. In their own way, they were ‘keeping Austin weird’ even before there was such a thing.”

The Geezinslaws performed on ACL in 1982, 1986 and 1989. Below is a clip of the duo putting their own spin on My Fair Lady’s “On the Street Where You Live,” preceded by Allred paying tribute to his poker-faced compadre in his own unique way.

Giveaway: The Revivalists

photo by Zackery Michael

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by The Revivalists on Tuesday, April 9th at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We will be giving away a limited number of space available passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by noon on Thursday, April 4th.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pick up tickets. Winners will be notified by email. Passes are not transferable and cannot be sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras computers or recording devices allowed in venue.