Leon Bridges and Nathaniel Rateliff bring soul to ACL’s 41st season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits gives you the best seat in the house for two of today’s hottest soul sensations: Leon Bridges sharing the bill with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.  

Rising retro-soul singer-songwriter Leon Bridges makes his first appearance on the ACL stage performing tracks from his breakthrough 2015 debut Coming Home, a current Grammy nominee for Best R&B Album. “My name is Leon Bridges and I am straight out of Fort Worth Texas, baby,” says the 26-year old phenom by way of introduction. It’s been a near meteoric rise for the golden-voiced young singer who has taken the music world by storm with a silky smooth delivery rooted in ‘50s and ‘60s R&B and a classic style that sounds brand new. Rolling Stone described him as “the second coming of Sam Cooke” saying he’s “staked out his own identity as the new voice of gospel and soul music.” Bridges and his band, which includes ACL alumni, White Denim’s Austin Jenkins and Joshua Block (the pair also co-produced Coming Home), deliver an irresistible six-song set filled with genuine heart and feeling, with the stylish soul man “twistin’ & groovin’” throughout for a stunning ACL debut.

Denver-based soul rockers Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nights Sweats make their ACL debut performing tracks from their 2015 self-titled breakout album on Stax Records. You’ll hear both Sam & Dave and The Band in their sound, with what Rateliff describes as “a bit of honkytonk and a bit of working class soul.” NPR raves of the front man, “The born again spirit of vintage soul music poured out of the man, measurable mostly in gallons.” The road-tested, acclaimed live outfit is performing at some of the year’s biggest music festivals, including Coachella and Bonnaroo. Charismatic belter Rateliff tells the Austin crowd, “We’re all out here risking our marriages and our lives to play music for you guys, so we hope you enjoy it!” Fueled by a rocket-powered three-piece horn section, Hammond organ and Rateliff’s scorching tenor voice, the hard-driving band perform a soul-stirring six-song set filled with take-us-to-church choruses that has the Austin audience on their feet from the first notes of the opener “I Need Never Get Old” to their set-closing, crowd-pleasing breakout hit “S.O.B”.

photo by Scott Newton

“Great soul singers and bands have been a recurring theme this season, and Leon Bridges and Nathaniel Rateliff cover both sides of the spectrum – from smooth to raucous,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Leon proves why he’s a serious contender to pick up a couple of Grammy trophies, and you’d have to live under a rock not to have heard Nathaniel Rateliff’s sing-along favorite, ‘S.O.B.'”

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 our Season 41 finale, featuring the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story to premiere at SXSW 2016

ASongForYouBlogGraphic

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the worldwide debut of A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story at the 2016 South By Southwest Film Festival.

A Song for You tells the inside story of the creation, evolution and staying power of the Peabody Award-winning Austin City Limits. Featuring interviews with producers, creators and artists, the film also showcases plenty of ACL’s chief calling card: incredible performances from across the musical spectrum, many of which have not been seen in decades. Interviewees and performers include Willie Nelson, Beck, Bonnie Raitt, Jeff Tweedy, the Pixies, Loretta Lynn, Ray Charles, Dolly Parton, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Townes Van Zandt, Buddy Guy, Leonard Cohen, Kris Kristofferson, Marcia Ball and many, many more.

From Willie Nelson to Wilco, Ray Charles to Radiohead, A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story offers the ultimate backstage pass to 40 years of incredible music from the longest running music show in American television history. Stay tuned for more information or visit the official website here

ACL announces a new season of tapings with Iggy Pop, Natalia Lafourcade and My Morning Jacket

photo by Andreas Neumann

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the first tapings of our upcoming Season 42 with three incredible artists taking the stage: rock & roll legend Iggy Pop in his long-awaited ACL debut, the debut of international sensation Natalia Lafourcade and the return of one of rock’s finest bands, My Morning Jacket.

The godfather of punk makes his inaugural appearance on the ACL stage March 15th on the eve of his surprise new release Post Pop Depression, out March 18th. Conceived in partnership with Queens of the Stone Age leader Josh Homme, a two-time ACL veteran who also produced the album, Post Pop Depression was recorded in secret in Palm Desert, CA with a vibe described as “Detroit meets Palm Desert by way of old Berlin.” The result is the successor to the legacy of Iggy’s immortal 1977 double-shot of The Idiot and Lust For Life. In their first-ever full-set live performance, Iggy and Homme take the ACL stage ahead of a SXSW appearance and a select run of one-time-only live shows. Bringing the new songs to life alongside classics spanning Iggy’s storied career, the pair will be joined by the Homme-assembled powerhouse band that recorded Post Pop Depression – including Homme’s QOTSA bandmate and Dead Weather-man Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders – fleshed out with touring members QOTSA’s Troy Van Leeuwen and Chavez’ Matt Sweeney. We’re thrilled to welcome the one and only Iggy Pop on March 15, just three days before the release of Post Pop Depression.

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 and Grammy award nominations.  The daughter of French-Chilean musician Gastón Lafourcade, the Coatepec native began making music as a child. At the age of nineteen, she released her acclaimed self-titled debut which went to #1 on the Mexican charts and earned her first Latin Grammy nomination.  Her latest LP Hasta La Raíz, hailed “her most profound and enduring statement” by the Village Voice, also reached #1, thanks to what AllMusic calls “extremely well-written songs in the grand romantic Latin American tradition…but with a contemporary perspective.” The title track won three Latin Grammys for Record, Song and Alternative Song of the Year, and the album is currently nominated for a 2016 Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album.  Please welcome Natalia Lafourcade to her debut ACL performance on March 23.  

photo by Danny Clinch

My Morning Jacket are old friends of Austin City Limits. Not only has the band been featured twice, in 2006 and 2008, but dynamic leader Jim James has appeared four additional times, as a solo headliner, with Monsters of Folk and as a special guest of Bright Eyes and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. For their first collective appearance in eight years, the eclectic Kentucky group focus on material recorded for their most recent album The Waterfall, which the New York Times called “a consolidation of the band’s strengths” and Salon hailed as “the Louisville band’s best, most ambitious and most nuanced effort in more than a decade.” Expect plenty of wide-ranging alternative rock from veterans My Morning Jacket on May 2.

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.

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.

Austin City Limits announces Hall of Fame 2016 inductees

HOF-BlogHeader2016

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the newest class of Austin City Limits Hall of Fame inductees: late blues titan B.B. King, songwriting icon Kris Kristofferson and the legendary Bonnie Raitt. The 2016 ACL Hall of Fame inductees will be celebrated at a ceremony highlighted by all-star music performances to be held October 12, 2016 at ACL’s studio home, Austin’s ACL Live at The Moody Theater. The event will be open to the public and ticket onsale information will be announced at a later date.  

The announcement was made this evening by KLRU-TV, Austin PBS General Manager Bill Stotesbery at an event in Austin. “We established the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame to pay special tribute to the people that have helped make the show the standard bearer for music on television,” said Stotesbery. “Now in its third year, we’re proud to honor three incredible performers. Each one has a catalogue of work that has influenced generations and been a vital part of the history of Austin City Limits.”

The latest class of inductees features music legends who have all graced the ACL stage multiple times, setting the standard for excellence and contributing to more than four decades of incredible performances. Legendary bluesman B.B. King made two classic appearances on Austin City Limits, in 1983 and 1996. When he first appeared on ACL in 1983 it was rare for a blues artist to command a full hour on national television; his powerhouse performances rank as two of the finest in the show’s illustrious history.  An American original, Kris Kristofferson is regarded as one of the world’s greatest songwriters.  The charismatic Texas native has been a fixture on the music scene since the 1960s, penning some of the most beloved songs of all time.  He debuted on ACL in 1982, returning in 1997 and 2010 and for ACL’s 40th anniversary special in 2014.  Ten-time Grammy-winner Bonnie Raitt is one of the most revered artists in music.  Over four decades into a remarkable career, on the eve of her twentieth release, the magnetic singer-songwriter-guitarist continues to deliver outstanding work.  Raitt has played an invaluable role in ACL’s history, with standout performances on the series in 1984, 2002 and 2012 and returning for the 40th anniversary special in 2014.

The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame was established in 2014 in conjunction with the iconic television series’ 40th Anniversary to celebrate the legacy of legendary artists and key individuals who have been instrumental in the landmark series’ 40+ years as an American music institution. The invitation-only inaugural induction ceremony took place April 26, 2014 at ACL’s original Studio 6A. Hosted by Oscar-winning actor and Texas native Matthew McConaughey, the historic evening honored the first class of inductees, featuring American music icon Willie Nelson (who starred on the original ACL pilot program), Austin blues rock giants Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and legendary steel guitarist and Grammy Award-winning music producer Lloyd Maines. In addition, non-performers who played a key role in the evolution of the program were honored: original show creator Bill Arhos and longtime ACL supporter, Texas Longhorns football head coach Darrell Royal. A star-studded line-up paid tribute with incredible music performances, including: Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph, Doyle Bramhall II and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The second annual ACL Hall of Fame ceremony took place June 18, 2015, honoring Western swing institution Asleep at the Wheel, country icon Loretta Lynn, songwriting legend Guy Clark, master Tex-Mex accordionist Flaco Jiménez and the late Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt. In addition, the original television production crew that worked on the first season of ACL in 1974/1975 were recognized in the non-performer category for their contributions in setting the foundation for the series. Hosted by Dwight Yoakam, the event featured memorable moments and musical highlights from an all-star cast including Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, Jason Isbell, Patty Loveless, Gillian Welch, Laura Marling, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, Los Texmaniacs and JT Van Zandt.  

About the 2016 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Honorees:

photo by Scott Newton

B.B. King:

The foremost ambassador the blues has ever had, the late, great B.B. King brought the genre to new artistic and popular heights with his powerful voice, incomparable axework and classic songs. With his guitar “Lucille” strapped to his chest, the undisputed King of the Blues made two legendary appearances on ACL in 1983 and 1996. King’s debut episode was recorded in 1982 and originally broadcast in 1983 as part of Season 8.  The 11-song set spans the length and breadth of his career to that point, from his then-new album Love Me Tender (including “Since I Met You, Baby” and the title track, a cover of the Elvis Presley classic) to his own standards “Everyday I Have the Blues” and “The Thrill is Gone.”  In a powerhouse performance, King hits full-force with a voice that is neither harsh nor sweet, that bends, like his fingers, with each note. “There was electricity in Studio 6A that night like no other,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “It was pure B.B. – just him, Lucille and one of the best road bands he ever toured with. He mixed up hardcore blues with Elvis ballads, and had the audience in the palm of his hand, following his every lead. It was historic!”

photo by Scott Newton

Kris Kristofferson:

Rhodes scholar, Golden Gloves boxer, college football player, film actor, acclaimed songwriter, social activist—few artists can boast the kind of freewheeling career enjoyed by songwriting legend Kris Kristofferson.  The Brownsville, Texas native gave up a promising military career in favor of life as a self-described “songwriting bum,” arriving on the music scene in the 1960s.  He expanded the language of country music songwriting with emotional truth and revealing honesty, penning enduring classics (“Me and Bobby McGee,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “For the Good Times”) that continue to resonate with audiences worldwide.  His incredible body of work includes his many film and television roles, (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, A Star is Born, Lone Star).  An American original, he is a lifelong activist who continues to speak out on social justice and human rights issues. Kristofferson first appeared on ACL in 1982, returning in 1997 and 2010 and for the series 40th anniversary special in 2014.

photo by Scott Newton

Bonnie Raitt:

More than just a best-selling artist, respected guitarist, expressive singer, and accomplished songwriter, Bonnie Raitt has carved out an enviable forty-five year strong career. The ten-time Grammy winner was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and Rolling Stone named the slide guitar ace one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.” Her landmark albums Nick of Time and Luck of the Draw have secured her place as an American music treasure. Raitt’s widely-acclaimed 2012 release Slipstream sold over a quarter-million copies, making it one of the top selling independent albums, and earned Raitt her 10th Grammy Award (Best Americana Album). A tireless performer with decades of non-stop touring under her belt, in 2012 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance from the Americana Music Association. In February 2016, Raitt releases her highly-anticipated 20th album, Dig In Deep. When not burning up highways on tour with her band, the devoted activist has championed and spoken out on behalf of many social causes. Raitt performed on ACL in 1984, 2002 and 2012 and most recently for the series’ 40th anniversary special in 2014.  

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.