New Tapings: Asleep at the Wheel, Sturgill Simpson & The War on Drugs

photo by Crackerfarm

Austin City Limits announced the first round of new tapings for the series upcoming Season 41!

Feb. 24 sees the return of Austin City Limits veteran and new Hall of Fame inductee Asleep at the Wheel. The premier Western swing band not only of Texas but of the United States, the Wheel first appeared on the show in Season 1, way back in 1976, and most recently in Season 35 with Willie Nelson. Now leader Ray Benson and company return in support of the upcoming Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, with special guests Amos Lee and The Avett Brothers in tow. We’re happy to welcome Asleep at the Wheel back for its eleventh taping.

On April 1st, we welcome acclaimed country singer Sturgill Simpson to the Austin City Limits stage. The Kentucky native released his first album High Top Mountain in 2013, establishing his philosophical brand of outlaw country. He broke out with his second LP Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, which earned Simpson national press coverage and the Emerging Artist of the Year Award at the 2014 Americana Music Awards & Honors. We’re proud to welcome Simpson for his ACL debut.

photo by Dusdin Condren

April also brings another Austin City Limits debut for the much-lauded rock band The War On Drugs. Following the Philadelphia group’s breakout with 2011’s Slave Ambient and two years of non-stop touring, TWOD – led by singer, songwriter and guitarist Adam Granduciel – reached a new peak with the celebrated Lost in the Dream. Pitchfork calls it a record “loaded with songs whose greatness is revealed slowly, where the simplest, most understated chord change can blow a track wide open and elevate it from simply pretty to absolutely devastating.” We’re thrilled to bring the shimmering indie rock of The War On Drugs to the ACL stage for the first time on April 6th.

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.

Asleep at the Wheel 2/24

asleep

New Austin City Limits Hall of Fame inductees Asleep at the Wheel will be joined by guest stars including The Avett Brothers, Amos Lee and others for a special Bob Wills’ tribute on Feb. 24th.

This taping will be livestreamed on ACL’s Youtube channel

Austin City Limits announces 2015 Hall of Fame inductees

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the newest class of Austin City Limits Hall of Fame inductees with five legendary artists being honored: Western swing institution Asleep at the Wheel, country trailblazer Loretta Lynn, songwriting legend Guy Clark, master Tex-Mex accordionist Flaco Jiménez and Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt. The announcement was made January 29 by ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona at Austin’s Rattle Inn.  The 2015 ACL Hall of Fame inductees will be celebrated at a ceremony highlighted by all-star music performances to be held in June 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 newest class of inductees features artists who have all graced the ACL stage multiple times, setting the standard for excellence and contributing to four decades of incredible performances. This year’s class also recognizes in the non-performer category the original ACL crew, who played an important role in the launch and continuing success of the influential series and some of whom are still part of the crew today.

“I am truly honored to be included in this year’s ACL Hall of Fame,” said Asleep at the Wheel founder Ray Benson who was on hand for the announcement.  “After Willie did the pilot in 1974-5, Asleep at the Wheel was selected to do the first regular episode of ACL.  Joe Gracey and I were roommates then, and he was booking the show.  He asked who we wanted to share the bill with and I said, ‘The Texas Playboys, Bob Wills’ great band!’  That episode is now housed at the Smithsonian.  Over the years I have appeared in numerous episodes both as a featured performer and a guest performer, and I cannot imagine our 45-year career without the exposure that ACL afforded us. Many thanks to the great staff who make the show what it is!”

ACL also announced the first round of new tapings for the series upcoming Season 41: breakout country rebel and Grammy-nominated Sturgill Simpson, acclaimed rock outfit The War on Drugs, and, in a special Bob Wills’ tribute, new Hall of Fame inductees Asleep at the Wheel, joined by guest stars including The Avett Brothers and Amos Lee.

photo by Crackerfarm

New episodes of ACL are currently airing as part of the series’ milestone Season 40, with upcoming premieres featuring The Black Keys (Jan. 31) and the Foo Fighters (Feb. 7). Foo Fighters recently immortalized ACL in an episode of their HBO series Sonic Highways, even recording a song, “What Did I Do?/God As My Witness,” in ACL’s historic Studio 6A.  ACL closes out this triumphant season with a special installment premiering Feb. 14, featuring inductions and performance highlights from the first-ever Austin City Limits Hall of Fame presentation.

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’ remarkable 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 to non-performers who played a key role in the evolution of the program: 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.

About the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Honorees:

Asleep at the Wheel

Based in Austin, TX, Asleep at the Wheel formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia in 1970. Since their inception, the venerable Texas swing band lead by founder Ray Benson has won nine GRAMMY awards, released more than 20 studio albums and charted more than 20 singles on the Billboard country charts. In 1972, the band signed their first record deal after Van Morrison mentioned they “play great country music” in an interview in Rolling Stone. They have appeared on Austin City Limits ten times, including the program’s first official episode in 1976 along with The Texas Playboys.  Asleep at the Wheel’s star-studded upcoming release Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys features guest appearances by ACL veterans Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, The Avett Brothers, George Strait, Kat Edmonson and Merle Haggard.

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Flaco Jiménez

San Antonio, TX born conjunto musician Flaco Jiménez has enjoyed a career that has spanned more than six decades, throughout which, he has collaborated with artists such as Willie Nelson, the Texas Tornados, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, Doug Sahm, and The Rolling Stones. Jiménez is a five-time ACL guest, first appearing in the program’s debut season. A five-time GRAMMY winner who is also a 2015 recipient of a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award, Jiménez maintains a huge influence on the Tex-Mex genre by continuing to record and tour, as he upholds his status as the definitive Tex-Mex accordionist.

photo by Scott Newton

Loretta Lynn

An American music treasure with a storied career, Loretta Lynn is a living legend with over seventy chart hits, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award and a Kennedy Center Honor. She appeared on two classic episodes of ACL in 1983 and 1998. As her most famous song says, she is a proud Kentucky-born coal miner’s daughter, who went on to become one of the most influential women in the history of American music.

photo by Scott Newton

Townes Van Zandt

One of the Lone Star state’s greatest songwriters, the Fort Worth native set the standard for legions of Texas troubadours and made two memorable appearances on ACL. Van Zandt appeared in the very first season in 1976, in addition to joining Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock and David Halley for a renowned ACL songwriters special in 1983. ACL aired a tribute show in 1998 led by longtime friend Guy Clark and Townes’ son J.T. that was so popular it encored in 2000 as an ACL Classic. Called “one of the best songwriters that ever lived” by many, Van Zandt left behind an inestimable legacy – a few of his classics include “Pancho & Lefty,” “To Live is To Fly,” “If I Needed You,” “Tecumseh Valley,” “Waitin’ Round to Die,” “Lungs” and “A Song For.”

photo by Scott Newton

Guy Clark

A West Texas native, Guy Clark has built a career of writing starkly honest story-songs. He’s one of the finest living songwriters in American folk music, holding up the legacy of his late friend Townes Van Zandt. NPR raves “If you want to learn how to write a song — one that’s built to last, with vivid characters and images that plant you squarely inside a scene — listen to Guy Clark.” Bob Dylan counts Clark among his handful of favorite songwriters. His first album Old No. 1 came out in 1975 and the revered songwriter has made seven stunning appearances on ACL.

photo by Scott Newton

 

Ryan Adams and Jenny Lewis continue ACL Season 40

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits continues its milestone Season 40 with an exceptional double bill: Ryan Adams paired with Jenny Lewis in a new installment showcasing the acclaimed singer-songwriters, both returning to the ACL stage for the first time in a decade for our 40th anniversary season.  Frequent collaborators and recent tour mates, the LA-based artists perform separate sets and deliver knockout performances.

A prolific songwriter with a 25-year body of work, Ryan Adams makes a memorable ACL return performing songs from his 2014 self-titled solo release.  The album has generated critical accolades across the board and earned three 2015 Grammy Award nominations, including Best Rock Album. Hailed “one of the few truly great roots-rock troubadours left” by Entertainment Weekly, the North Carolina native tells the Austin crowd, ”We came here to play you really depressing music, but really loud.” Adams and his band the Shining launch into a career-spanning six-song ACL set with the bluesy rocker “Stay With Me,” on a stage outfitted with a vintage arcade video game, a stuffed tiger, an oversized fake amp and an American Flag customized with a peace sign. Adams moves seamlessly back and forth between new songs and long-time favorites in a must-see appearance, representing the impressive range of his storied career.

Indie-pop treasure Jenny Lewis returns for her solo ACL debut, nearly ten years since her debut on the program as frontwoman for the band Rilo Kiley. Lewis performs songs from her new album The Voyager, largely produced by Ryan Adams and widely regarded as one of 2014′s best releases by Spin, Rolling Stone, TIME and many more. Rolling Stone raves, “Blending Laurel Canyon sensibilities with modern wit, The Voyager shows she’s stronger and wiser – and can still draw blood.”  Decked out head-to-toe in her distinctive rainbow and stars suit (complete with matching guitar), she opens with the Rilo Kiley classic “Silver Lining” and continues with pop gems from her solo career including the recent singles “Just One of the Guys” and “She’s Not Me.” Lewis closes out a sparkling set with her bandmates surrounding a single mic for the beautiful, hymn-like “Acid Tongue,” “going full Joni Mitchell as she [sings] plaintively of liars, cobblers and sweethearts with the softest of hands” (Austin American-Statesman). After blowing a kiss to the audience, Lewis exits to wild applause, having captured the hearts of the Austin audience.

photo by Scott Newton

“The best songs are best sung by those who wrote them,” notes ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “There aren’t many contemporary songwriters who are better than Ryan and Jenny, or singers who can bring their songs to life as well as they can. Theirs are the kinds of songs that will stay with you long after you hear them for the first time.”

Sam Smith and Future Islands’ soulful sounds in ACL’s 40th season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents an hour of soulful music from breakout sensations Sam Smith and Future Islands.

Chart-topping British soul singer and songwriter Sam Smith topped off a whirlwind 2014 with an astonishing six major Grammy nominations. There is virtually no contemporary vocalist as stylish and elegant as Smith, a throwback to an elite crew of singers from an earlier generation. A beautifully soulful singer, the 22-year old London native makes a stunning ACL debut performing the songs of unrequited love and heartbreak that drive his landmark platinum album In the Lonely Hour. Like soul singers of yore, Smith takes to the ACL stage as his eight-piece band is already a minute into the show-opener “Nirvana,” the title track of his early EP. The vocal stunner pays tribute to one of his idols with an aching piano rendition of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know”. Smith demonstrates his considerable range with an inspired mashup of his “Money On My Mind” fused with 90′s club anthem “Finally”. Bringing the gorgeous set to a rapturous close with his signature song, the double-platinum “Stay With Me”, Smith bares his soul with the Austin audience in the palm of his hand.

“Sam told me after the show that it was probably the best performance he’s given in America so far,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “This show deserves to be seen and heard by fans of great music and great singers everywhere!”

Baltimore’s Future Islands share the episode, also making an epic ACL debut. Having steadily built a fan base since their first album in 2006, the synth-pop trio became a breakthrough smash in 2014 with the critically acclaimed Singles, landing on top of many year-end best lists including Pitchfork, Stereogum, Spin, Rolling Stone and NPR. Dynamic live shows featuring charismatic frontman Samuel T. Herring’s hip-swiveling swagger and dramatic chest-beating have inspired their own internet memes. Spin raves “Calling on his Sam Cooke-meets-Tom Jones growl, Herring charges into every song, roaring with impassioned heart and soul.” As the band bound into their six-song set, Herring commands the ACL stage, delivering song after song of glistening pop while creating an emotional narrative of love, loss and inspiration. It’s a transfixing debut, highlighted by a performance of their dazzling hit “Seasons (Waiting On You)”, crowned Song of the Year in the influential year-end Village Voice Pazz + Jop critics poll.

photo by Scott Newton

“I was mesmerized the first time I saw Sam Herring onstage, and booked him on the spot!” ACL executive producer Terry Lickona exclaimed. “In fact, I’ve never seen anybody put so much of himself into a performance. He’s like a man possessed!”

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 a brand new episode with Ryan Adams and Jenny Lewis.

 

Spoon and White Denim get local on ACL’s 40th season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents standout alternative music in a double-bill featuring two bands hailing from Austin itself—Spoon and White Denim. ACL has a long-standing legacy of showcasing music from around the globe, but in this installment ACL is thrilled to cast a spotlight exclusively on homegrown talent.

Returning to ACL for the fourth time, Spoon is at the top of their game. Pitchfork hails them “one of the most stand-up bands of their generation” and of their twenty-year streak, Rolling Stone raves, “It’s just been one long stretch of slow-build greatness”. The Austin natives perform songs from their acclaimed eighth album, They Want My Soul, their first album after a four-year hiatus, named one of the 50 Best Albums of 2014 by Spin, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and NPR, and landing on year-end best lists across-the-board. Spoon’s six-song ACL set is a tour de force drawing primarily from the recent release and highlighting fan-favorites. Chugging guitar, tight melodies, killer hooks, and frontman Britt Daniels’ indelible vocals coupled with drummer Jim Eno’s impeccable beats to create a sound all their own—it’s a master-class performance from a band that has made it strictly on its own terms.

White Denim makes their ACL debut performing songs from their fifth album, Corsicana Lemonade, produced by Jeff Tweedy. Recently hailed “one of the city’s best up-and-coming acts” by Rolling Stone, the Austin band has firmly established itself as an international draw on the club and festival circuits.  The Wall Street Journal raves, “White Denim is a band for fans who want their music served with serious playing and a touch of the experimental.”  Known for their exceptional live shows, the shape-shifting quartet mixes psychedelia, punk energy, prog rock and Southern rock-jamming to create a sonic blend that has the Austin crowd on their feet.

photo by Scott Newton

“Both Spoon and White Denim go way beyond being ‘Austin’s Own,’” says ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “When people ask me, ‘What’s the Austin sound,’ I say ‘it’s 1,000 different sounds.’ That’s what helps to define Austin, and why we’ll always continue to showcase the best of the best from the Austin music scene.”

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 a brand new episode with Sam Smith and Future Islands.

 

Season 40 resumes with the Avett Brothers and Nickel Creek

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits ushers in the new year with a stellar double-bill featuring music from the heart and soul of America: Americana rockers The Avett Brothers and Grammy Award-winning bluegrass trio Nickel Creek.

North Carolina’s Avett Brothers are one of the biggest draws in live music today, becoming sought-after headliners over the course of their decade-plus career. Fronted by siblings Scott and Seth Avett, they made their ACL debut as a trio in Season 35 and return for ACL’s milestone Season 40 as a seven-piece, including the addition of a fiddler, drummer and keyboardist. Together they deliver a standout performance — the band’s onstage energy is undeniably entertaining as they perform with unbridled joy.  Turning the catchy fan-favorite “Kick Drum Heart” into a rock anthem, the ACL audience handclaps along in time. Seth Avett admits performing on ACL is an especially poignant experience for the brothers.  “We grew up watching this show,” he tells the Austin crowd.  “To us, this is what music looks like on television.” Their ACL appearance is a victory lap of musicianship and revelry, illustrating why they are one of music’s best live acts.

“An Avett Brothers show today is worlds apart from five years ago,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “More energy, more excitement, bigger sound. But what has not changed is that down-to-earth quality that connects with fans now more than ever.”

Bluegrass innovators Nickel Creek celebrated their 25th anniversary with their first new release in nine years, 2014’s A Dotted Line, recently nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album.  Their highly-anticipated reunion brings them back to the ACL stage for their third appearance together.  The remarkably talented collective—mandolin ace Chris Thile, fiddler Sara Watkins and guitarist Sean Watkins (Sara’s brother), along with accompanying bassist Mark Schatz—showcase their virtuoso musicianship and tight harmonies in their ACL return.  Performing a mix of old and new crowd pleasers, the Southern Californian group take turns on vocals and licks.  Sara sings lead on the breakout single “Destination”, also a 2015 Grammy nominee for Best American Roots Performance.  Sean Watkins handles vocals on the faux end of the world ode “21st of May”, while Thile dazzles with his mandolin skills on the instrumental “The Elephant in the Corn”.  A gorgeous rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Ledge” follows, with the three childhood friends delighting in each other’s company and talents for an exquisitely fun performance.

photo by Scott Newton

“The members of Nickel Creek grew up with each other – literally, and musically,” says executive producer Lickona. Their individual talents merge into something much bigger. The old saying ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ has never been truer.”

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 a brand new episode featuring Spoon and White Denim.

Encore: Radiohead

photo by Scott Newton

The day after we recorded Radiohead  back in March 2012, our reaction was, “Radiohead taped Austin City Limits last night. It almost feels like that’s all we need to say.” Even now we still feel the same sense of met anticipation. It was a happening that fans and we had personally been waiting for and it finally came to fruition. A band like Radiohead, (well, let’s be honest – there really isn’t a band out there like Radiohead) that can constantly challenge themselves and evolve to change their sound to continue to make beautiful and inspiring music is a rare gift. We are incredibly grateful to encore an episode featuring such progressive rock icons and modern day musical legends.

Radiohead open their set with “Bloom,” the busy and fitting song for the occasion that opens their 2011 self-released album The King of Limbs. From there the group goes to the piano-heavy and melodic “Daily Mail,” another new song from that year. The rest of the set features a collective mix of tracks from TKOL, Hail to the Thief, Kid A, OK Computer, and new singles. One highlight of the night is when they played a forgotten B-side, “The Amazing Sounds of Orgy.” Of course the essence of the night was captured at the very end when the band played the big hits and crowd favorites, “Idioteque” and “Paranoid Android.”

For those that missed seeing the taping live or the original broadcast, this is your opportunity to see what many described as being a passionate and “life-changing” performance. You can truly feel the energy of the band and the audience in this episode, and Thom Yorke’s dancing may even inspire you to flail around in your living room. (Seriously, if you don’t dance during “Idioteque” then there may be something wrong with your well-being.)

photo by Scott Newton

Don’t miss this weekend’s episode with Radiohead! And don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter for updates about ACL. Next week: the second half of Season 40 begins with the Avett Brothers and Nickel Creek.