New taping: The Black Angels

photo by Sandy Carson

Austin City Limits is thrilled to welcome back hometown heroes The Black Angels on May 23rd for their second ACL taping, armed with a powerful new record Death Song.

Death Song is the Austin psych rock masters’ first full-length release in four years, and their debut for Partisan Records. NPR raves, “The Black Angels have delivered an enormous and frighteningly timely fifth album full of uniquely trippy anthems to oblivion.”  Written and recorded in large part during the recent election cycle, the music serves as part protest, part emotional catharsis in a climate dominated by division, anxiety and unease. “Currency,” a strong contender for the heaviest song the band has ever put to wax, meditates on the governing role the monetary system plays in our lives.  Album highlight “Half Believing,” the track Texas Monthly calls “a turning point for the band,” is a slow-building stunner that questions the nature and confusing realities of devotion. Recorded between Seattle and Austin, ‘Death Song’ features production from Phil Ek (Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, The Shins). The eleven-track collection offers a sharply honed elaboration on their signature sound – menacing fuzz guitar and cutting wordplay, steeped in a murky hallucinatory dream.  Classic Rock says Death Song “is their heaviest to date, a toxic draught of garage-rock and booming psychedelia that buzzes with echo and reverb,” while A.V. Club claims “confirms there’s no end to the kinds of hurt and frustration that can be channeled into its cathartic music.”

Since forming in Austin in 2004, The Black Angels have become standard-bearers for modern psych-rock, and the New York Times has said they “play psychedelic rock as if the 1960s never ended, and they are absolute masters of it.” The band’s 2010 breakthrough Phosphene Dream launched the Austin collective onto the world stage, drawing massive audiences for their scorched earth live shows and touring with Queens of the Stone Age, Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Black Keys and more, and landing on festival stages including Glastonbury, Fuji Rock, Primavera, Harvest Fest, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Fun Fun Fun Fest and, of course, Austin City Limits Music Festival. Two of the band members co-founded Levitation Festival (formerly Austin Psych Fest) in 2008, which has since grown into one of the best-reviewed and expertly-curated festivals in the country. The Black Angels made a stellar ACL debut in 2013 and we look forward to their return.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

Taping recap: Benjamin Booker

photo by Scott Newton

Benjamin Booker has been on the ACL radar for a couple of years now. So we were thrilled to finally host the singer/songwriter/guitarist for his debut taping, which we streamed live around the world. The New Orleans-based Booker gifted us with a soulful, standout show, featuring plenty of songs from his highly anticipated sophomore album Witness, out in June.

But first Booker revisited his acclaimed 2014 self-titled debut with a quartet of rocking tunes. He and his four-piece band kicked off the show with the galloping “Have You Seen My Son?” The rhythms stayed blazing for “Old Hearts,” before slipping into a shuffling boogie for “Chippewa,” Booker’s husky croon taking on a playful cast. The band grabbed hold of a sexy groove for “Happy Homes,” highlighted by a bluesy guitar solo. Booker put down his guitar for “Off the Ground,” a Witness tune that started as a lush soul ballad but transformed into a snarling rocker. Speaking of which, he re-donned his guitar and launched into the familiar riff of his radio hit “Violent Shiver,” garnering cheers from the crowd. He then brought on “someone I’ve never performed with before but I’ve known for a long time” – his big sister Nicole, who added harmonies to the fast-choogling “Wicked Water.”

“This is my first time with backing singers,” Booker commented. “I’ve made it, people!” Three vocalists joined Nicole for a set from the new record, starting with the relaxed and funky “Overtime.” The hip-swaying “Slow Drag Under” followed, setting itself up as a cut likely to be in his repertoire for the rest of his career. Rock & roll returned to the menu with the rollicking “Right On You,” before Booker once again set aside his axe for the new record’s single, the gospel-soaked anthem “Witness” – already a clear crowd favorite. He continued channeling his inner soul man for “Carry,” before strapping on the guitar once again for the accordion-laced, set-closing ballad “Slow Coming.”

The audience wanted more, of course, and Booker was ready, bounding back onstage. Bringing on a string section to accompany himself and the band, he manned the mic for the soul-stirring anthem “Believe.” “I just want to believe in something,” he sang, “I don’t care if it’s right or wrong.” The song was definitely right, and the crowd showed its appreciation quite loudly. One group bow later, Booker and band quit the stage to a rapturous reception. It was a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when the episode airs this fall on your local PBS station.

Giveaway: Benjamin Booker 4/27

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UPDATE: Giveaway is now over. If you did not receive the email about passes, be sure to watch the live stream on 4/27

Austin City Limits will be taping performances by BENJAMIN BOOKER on Thursday, April 27th, 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 Tuesday, April 25th.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pickup 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.

Taping recap: Miranda Lambert

photo by Scott Newton

We here at Austin City Limits were proud to welcome back country superstar Miranda Lambert for her third appearance on our stage. Riding high on her best selling double album The Weight of These Wings, which won Album of the Year at the 2017 ACM Awards, she was named ACM Female Vocalist of the Year for a record-breaking eight consecutive years, the Lindale, Texas native delivered a power-packed show full of indelible hits and stunning performances.

Lambert and her eight-piece band hit the stage with a rocking “Kerosene,” the title track to her 2005 idebut album and her traditional show opener. She then dipped into the new album with “Highway Vagabond,” a choogler about the road life, before going into the crowd favorite “Heart Like Mine.” “I wrote this one from the perspective of not giving a s**t about what people think about me,” Lambert said by way of introduction to “For the Birds,” a deceptively easygoing ode to defiant self-confidence. She continued sampling the new record with the hit rocker “Vice” and the cheeky “We Should Be Friends.” The band then went back to the earlier Four the Record for the soulful ballad “Over You” and the celebratory anthem “All Kinds of Kinds,” which had the crowd waving in time to the beat. Then it was time for “The House That Built Me,” Lambert’s Grammy-winning ballad that shifted her from star to superstar.

The mood shifted from serious to fun with the slow grind “Pink Sunglasses.” “Ugly Lights,” the defiant paean to justifiable bad behavior segued directly into the freight train fan fave “Mama’s Broken Heart.” The party vibe kept flowing with “Fastest Girl in Town,” a thumbs-up to bad girls everywhere. After introducing the band, Lambert then led them in a lighter-waving cover of Little Feat’s classic “Willin,” which came across like she wrote it. The musicians shifted to heartland rock for “Automatic,” before adding some countrified garage rock with “Little Red Wagon.” The set ended with her killer one-two punch of declarative defiance: “White Liar” and “Gunpowder and Lead,” complete with shotgun mic stand.

Lambert returned to the stage alone for her latest single: the poignant “Tin Man,” co-written by fellow Texan singer/songwriters Jack Ingram and Jon Randall. The stark, heartfelt performance was a perfect way to end the show. We can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.

ACL Hall of Fame 2017 to induct Roy Orbison, Rosanne Cash, Neville Brothers

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Austin City Limits is proud to announce the newest class of Austin City Limits Hall of Fame inductees: pioneering rocker Roy Orbison, Americana legend Rosanne Cash and New Orleans icons The Neville Brothers. The 2017 ACL Hall of Fame inductees will be saluted at a ceremony with all-star music performances to be held October 25, 2017 at ACL’s studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Renowned singer-songwriter Chris Isaak will induct his idol and host the celebratory evening, which features an all-star line-up of guest performers including Grammy-winning legends Raul Malo and Ry Cooder.

The event will be open to the public and tickets are on sale starting April 21st at http://acltv.com/hall-of-fame/. More information about performances, presenters and additional guest stars will be announced prior to the event.

The latest class of inductees features music legends who have given timeless performances on the ACL stage. Roy Orbison’s legendary appearance on ACL in 1983 is long considered one of the show’s undeniable classics. With a setlist of indelible hits — “Only the Lonely,” “Crying,” “Blue Bayou,” and “Pretty Woman” — Orbison performed his greatest hits with all the emotional power that made him an icon. Singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash debuted on ACL the same season as Roy Orbison in 1983 and has gone on to make seven standout appearances, each showcasing her artistic evolution as a songwriter. The Nevilles appeared on the show in 1979, 1986 and 1995, raising the bar on funk and soul with each appearance.

“Our annual Hall of Fame Induction and Celebration has become one of the highlights of the year,” says Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “This year’s honorees represent historic milestones in ACL’s early years. Roy Orbison gave the audience collective goosebumps when he hit those highest notes; Rosanne was a trailblazer among female country singers; and The Neville Brothers were the first major New Orleans band to play the show. Even in those early days, they represented the diversity that has been the hallmark of Austin City Limits down through the decades.”

The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame was established in 2014 to celebrate the contributions of those legendary artists and key individuals who have played a vital part in creating the legacy of what has become the longest-running music series in television history (43 years). The inaugural induction ceremony in 2014 honored Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Lloyd Maines, program creator Bill Arhos and Darrell Royal. 2015’s second annual ACL Hall of Fame ceremony honored Asleep at the Wheel, Loretta Lynn, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez and Townes Van Zandt, along with the original crew of the show’s first season in 1974-75. The 2016 Hall of Fame honored Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King, alongside former ACL executive producer Dick Peterson.

About the 2017 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Inductees:

Roy Orbison:

photo by Scott Newton

Roy Orbison possessed one of the most remarkable and recognizable voices in all of music; combined with his easy facility for writing memorable pop songs, it led to superstardom. The Vernon, Texas native’s first success came as a songwriter in the ‘50s, when the Everly Brothers recorded his “Claudette.” But he became a major star starting in 1960 with “Only the Lonely,” beginning a string of hits including “Crying,” “In Dreams,” “Running Scared” and the immortal “Oh, Pretty Woman.” After several years out of the spotlight, Orbison made a comeback in the late ‘80s as part of supergroup the Traveling Wilburys and with his final solo album Mystery Girl. His melodic gifts, well-timed sense of drama and magnificent voice spoke to generations of music fans – he remains one of the most beloved musical artists of the 20th century.

Rosanne Cash:

photo by Clay Patrick McBride

One of the country’s pre-eminent singer/songwriters, Rosanne Cash has released 15 albums of extraordinary songs that have earned multiple Grammy Awards and 11 nominations, as well as 21 Top 40 hits, including 11 No. 1 singles. Her restless musical journey spans nearly four decades and includes a recent career triumph: three 2015 Grammy Awards for her widely-acclaimed album, The River & the Thread. Cash took top honors for the American roots travelogue, including Best Americana Album, and the Awards testify to her enduring talent as she won her original Grammy thirty years earlier. A collaboration with husband/co-writer/producer and arranger John Leventhal, The River & the Thread evokes a kaleidoscopic examination of the geographic, emotional, musical and historic landscape of the American South and achieved the highest Billboard album debut of Cash’s career. The soul-searching trailblazer has been winning over audiences since she debuted on Austin City Limits in 1983. Cash went on to make six more appearances on the ACL stage, with each performance offering new insight into her creative process. A longtime arts advocate, Cash has partnered in programming collaborations with Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, San Francisco Jazz, Minnesota Orchestra and The Library of Congress. Country royalty, Cash has carved out her own powerful legacy and continues at the peak of her artistic powers and in full command of her singing and songwriting talent.

The Neville Brothers:

The first family of New Orleans music, the Neville Brothers have been world ambassadors for their city’s distinctive style of funk, soul and R&B for four decades. Though Art, Aaron, Cyril and Charles first began performing as a unit in 1977, their musically legacy goes back much further, with Aaron’s 1966 hit “Tell It Like It Is” and Art’s work with the Meters starting in the mid-60s. The family band made its recorded debut in 1978 and has been unstoppable ever since, amassing a catalog of classic, rumpshaking albums like Fiyo On the Bayou and Yellow Moon and hits “Brother John/Iko Iko,” “Yellow Moon” and their inimitable take on Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On a Wire.” A mainstay of New Orleans stages and a huge influence on the musicians who followed them, the beloved band took its party around the world. The Nevilles’ three appearances on the show in 1979, 1986 and 1995, continued to get groovier, greasier and more funky with age.

photo by Scott Newton

The 2017 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame is brought to you by NetApp and also sponsored in part by Stratus Properties, Dell, HomeAway, Miller Imaging & Digital Solutions, Tracey & Bill Marshall, Asian American Cultural Center, The Capital Grille, Catherine L. Robb, Bruce Stuckman, Ph.D. and Nona Niland. For sponsorship opportunities contact Amanda Hutchins at ahutchins@klru.org.

Giveaway: Miranda Lambert 4/19

photo by Daniela Federici

UPDATE: Giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping performances by MIRANDA LAMBERT on Wednesday, April 19th, 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 Monday, April 17th.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pickup 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: ZAC BROWN BAND, ANGEL OLSEN, BENJAMIN BOOKER

photo by Danny Clinch

Austin City Limits continues its mission of presenting music’s best and brightest with new Season 43 tapings from Zac Brown Band on August 3, Angel Olsen on July 25 and Benjamin Booker on April 27, all making their ACL debuts.

Three-time GRAMMY Award-winning multi-platinum artists Zac Brown Band will tape their first-ever ACL appearance August 3, on the heels of their highly-anticipated new release WELCOME HOME, the band’s upcoming album out May 12, and their first release on Southern Ground/ Elektra Records. Produced by GRAMMY Award-winning producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell) and In The Arena Productions, and recorded at Southern Ground Nashville Studio, WELCOME HOME is what the band calls not only a return to their roots, but also a return to The Foundation, the band’s 2008 breakthrough debut that is now 5X platinum. 2016 was a record-breaking year for Zac Brown Band. Their “Black Out the Sun” tour broke attendance records at Camden’s BB&T Pavilion and Boston’s Fenway Park, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum hosted a career-spanning exhibition exploring the group’s rise to fame. All this built on the group’s three platinum-selling albums (Uncaged, You Get What You Give, and Jekyll + Hyde), 5x platinum The Foundation, their 2013 project The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1, 25 million singles and eight million albums sold, and a historic fifteen #1 radio singles, along with the distinction of becoming the second act ever to top both the country and active rock formats.

photo by Amanda Marsalis

An artist who reigns over the land between being an elliptical outsider and a pop personality with a haunting obliqueness and sophisticated grace, Angel Olsen hits our stage in celebration of her third LP My Woman, which Uncut calls “another giant progression in an already distinguished career.” The St. Louis native began her journey in Chicago as a backing vocalist for Bonnie Prince Billy, but her talent soon manifested in her first EP Strange Cacti and album Half Way Home in 2012. Signing to respected indie Jagjaguwar, Olsen released 2014’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness to great fanfare, setting the stage for My Woman. Recorded with producer Justin Raisen (Charlie XCX, Santigold) after her relocation to Asheville, NC, the record expands on the reverb-shrouded poetic swoons, shadowy folk and grunge-pop workouts of her previous work via 70s country rock, vintage electronic pop and languid psychedelic soul. “These are controlled, tempered, well-steered songs, capable of navigating genres,” notes Q. An intuitively smart, warmly communicative and fearlessly generous record, My Woman speaks to everyone. “Contradictory, complex, and worthy of endless re-listens,” says DIY, “Angel Olsen has crafted her most compelling record to date.”

Singer, songwriter, guitarist and rocker Benjamin Booker comes to ACL in advance of his greatly anticipated sophomore platter Witness, out in June. With Witness, the New Orleans-based Booker has created his most ambitious work yet by digging deep into his passion for eccentric soul, R&B, and blues – drawing on everything from William Onyeabor’s 70s African psych-rock to Freddie Gibbs and Pusha T, while never straying too far from the garage-punk intensity that made his self-titled 2014 debut such a creative breakthrough. Born in Virginia Beach and raised in Tampa, Booker attended a magnet school for the arts before matriculating at the University of Florida, studying music journalism. After self-releasing his 2012 EP Waiting Ones, he signed to ATO, who released his eponymous debut in 2014. “Singing with a maturity beyond his years,” said The Guardian about the critically-adored LP, “he crafts hooks that pay homage to Robert Johnson, Sam Cooke and the shambolic punk he grew up listening to.” Following the album’s release, Booker hit the road and the festival circuit, touring with Jack White and Courtney Barnett and playing the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza. Now Booker is ready to unleash Witness on the world, preceded by the title track, released as a single and featuring gospel legend and ACL alum Mavis Staples.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

The Pretenders rock the first taping of ACL season 43

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits was thrilled to kick off our 43rd taping season with the legendary rock & roll band The Pretenders, streamed live around the world. Led, as always, by singer/songwriter/guitarist Chrissie Hynde, the band blazed through a catalog packed with hits and favorites, stopping along the way to sample the group’s latest LP Alone as well.

In that vein, the Pretenders opened the show with the rollicking title track, guitarist James Walbourne and steel player Eric Heywood trading licks like Keith Richards and Ron Wood, and Hynde singing the paean to singlehood with confident swagger. Hynde donned her trademark Telecaster for the pounding “Gotta Wait,” original drummer Martin Chambers bashing his kit like a jackhammer. His shift to a glam rock beat signaled the first classic, as Hynde led the band into the indelible rocker “Message of Love,” from the band’s second record II. “You don’t have to be polite, as we don’t plan to be,” she asserted. Then it was into the dub reggae-flavored “Private Life,” another hit and one that highlighted how good her voice still sounds, nearly 40 years into her career. The band then dipped into Stockholm, Hynde’s 2014 solo album, recasting “Down the Wrong Way” as a Pretenderized rocker. Rhythm section Chambers and bassist Nick Wilkinson then took a break, as Hynde crooned Meg Keene’s lovely ballad “Hymn to Her,” recorded for the Pretenders’ fourth album Get Close.

Reclaiming her Telecaster, Hynde hit the instantly recognizable chord of “Talk of the Town,” bringing the audience to their feet. They stayed there for that other rhythm guitar-centered hit, “Back On the Chain Gang” – both songs proven, timeless classics. The group ventured back into ballad territory with “I’ll Stand By You,” the top 20 hit from the mid-90s’ Last of the Independents that really showcases Hynde’s spectacular singing. She then lightened the mood, asking “Do you feel like dancing?” before the sprightly pop song “Don’t Get Me Wrong.” To the crowd’s delight, the band reached all the way back to 1979 for “Stop Your Sobbing,” the Kinks cover that served as the first Pretenders single. After commenting on the group’s time in Austin, including a shout-out to longtime Austin music fixtures Charlie Sexton and Willie Nelson, Hynde led them into the loping, bass-driven fan favorite “My City Was Gone.” The Pretenders then extracted a truly deep cut from its self-titled first LP, rolling through the shoulda-been-hit “Mystery Achievement,” before closing out the main set with a pulse-pounding rip through the hit “Middle of the Road” that left the audience on fire.  

For the encore, the band returned to the latest album Alone with the shimmering “Let’s Get Lost” and subtly defiant “I Hate Myself.” Then it was back to rocking with “Up the Neck,” an unheralded blaster from the band’s first album. Speaking of which, the band went back for the only song that could end a set this hit-packed: “Brass in Pocket,” the early single that marked the Pretenders as a major band in three minutes. Hynde encouraged the audience to come to the lip of the stage, even bringing a member onstage to serenade. The crowd went as wild as one might expect, the band quitting the stage to rapturous applause. It was a great set, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.