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.   

Chris Isaak to host Austin City Limits Hall of Fame 2017

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The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the date and host of the 2017 Inductions & Celebration. The announcement was made by Terry Lickona at the Moody Theater at tonight’s Pretenders taping.

A new class of inductees will be announced at a later date, and will be saluted at a ceremony with all-star music performances to be held October 25, 2017 at ACL’s studio home, Austin’s ACL Live at The Moody Theater. Chris Isaak will host the celebratory evening. The event will be open to the public and ticket onsale information will be announced at a later date. More information about performances, presenters and additional guest stars will be announced prior to the event.

The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame was established in 2014 to celebrate the legacy of legendary artists and key individuals who have played a vital part in the pioneering music series remarkable 40+ years as a music institution. 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.

Giveaway: The Pretenders 3/13

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UPDATE: Giveaway is now over!

Austin City Limits will be taping performances by THE PRETENDERS on Monday, March 13th, 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, March 9th.

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 or recording devices allowed in venue.

ACL to livestream Pretenders taping on March 13

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Austin City Limits kicks off Season 43 with what’s sure to be the talk of the town: a livestream of rock legends The Pretenders’ ACL debut, taping March 13. The taping will be streamed live in its entirety directly from the Austin City Limits stage, and fans worldwide can watch the concert Monday, March 13 at 8pm CT/9 pm ET on ACLTV’s YouTube channel as it happens.

Led by iconic singer/songwriter/guitarist Chrissie Hynde, The Pretenders have blazed a trail in rock ‘n’ roll for four decades and come to ACL in support of latest album Alone. Recorded with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach at his Easy Eye Studio in Nashville, the album was initially conceived as the follow-up to Hynde’s acclaimed 2014 solo debut Stockholm. But as its songs and sonics took shape, the collection soon revealed itself as the first all-new Pretenders LP since 2008′s Break Up The Concrete. Backed by a team of what Hynde proudly calls “real people playing real instruments,” Akron natives Hynde and Auerbach made for ideal foils, two idiosyncratic songwriter/musicians possessing a deep knowledge and even deeper love of rock ‘n’ roll.

Alone bears all the trademarks of The Pretenders’ legendary canon: raw and rollicking riffs, poignant balladry, taut hooks and indelible melodies – all in service of Hynde’s heartworn, ever-unsentimental songcraft. Nearly four decades on from the band’s epochal 1980 debut album, Hynde’s instantly identifiable voice, called “one of rock’s finest,” by The Guardian, is perhaps more emotional and aggressive than at any other time in her career.  That extra bit of edge only serves to add fire to new Pretenders classics like the brutally candid “I Hate Myself” and the defiant title track, a spiky rocker that sees Hynde extolling the joys and virtues of solitude. “At 65, she’s still mouthing off over brass-knuckled rock & roll,” notes Rolling Stone, “flexing command and carnality with no apology.”

Other highlights include “Roadie Man,” a softly sung paean to the hard working touring crew that has been kicking around Hynde’s unrecorded songbook for more than 25 years, the seductive “Let’s Get Lost,” and “Never Be Together,” featuring an appropriately twangy contribution from pioneering guitar hero Duane Eddy. The UK’s The Independent asserts that Alone is “a fine album, subtly varied in both musical style and lyrical slant,” while Magnet declares it’s “as good a Pretenders record as has been made.” Armed with original drummer Martin Chambers, a new landmark and their catalog of undeniable classics, The Pretenders finally make their long-awaited ACL debut.

Please join us March 13 for this full-set livestream on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air on PBS later this year as part of our Season 43.

Austin City Limits invites you to Bloody Mary Morning 2017

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Join Austin City Limits and KLRU-TV, Austin PBS at the 6th Annual Bloody Mary Morning during SXSW on Thursday, March 16 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m in the  GSDM courtyard.

This year’s lineup is our biggest yet and in keeping with Austin City Limits tradition of bringing audiences “Great Music. No Limits,” includes some of music’s most buzzed about artists from across the globe and stateside: blues revivalist duo Little Hurricane, Canadian country standout Colter Wall, U.K. rockers Sundara Karma, Third Man recording artist Lillie Mae, Minneapolis breakout rapper/singer Lizzo, Australian indie-folk up-and-comer Slow Dancer and veteran indie music outliers R. Stevie Moore & Jason Falkner.

Even better, you can listen to music while enjoying free (while supplies last!) Bloody Marys from Tito’s Vodka, beer from Shiner Beer and breakfast tacos from Tacodeli. Bloody Mary Morning is brought to you by our friends The Guild, NetApp and YETI. So make it a Bloody Mary Morning like Willie would want you to!

You don’t need to be a SXSW badgeholder to attend – Bloody Mary Morning is free and open to the public. You can RSVP here. Please join us!

New tapings: Miranda Lambert, The Head And The Heart, Norah Jones

photo by Daniela Federici

Our 43rd season on PBS is getting off to a great start! We’ve already announced the Pretenders on March 13th, and we’re thrilled to report we’ll be taping Miranda Lambert on April 19th, The Head and the Heart on May 22nd and Norah Jones on June 11th.

Miranda Lambert makes her third appearance on ACL on April 19th in support of her sixth album The Weight of These Wings. Since the Lindale, Texas native’s first appearance in 2006, she has earned widespread acclaim, including two Grammy Awards, thirteen Country Music Association Awards, and an astonishing twenty-five Academy of Country Music Awards. Lambert is the reigning ACM Female Vocalist of the Year, having been bestowed this honor for seven consecutive years. A sprawling double-album, The Weight of These Wings debuted at #1 on Billboard’s country albums chart, as well as at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart, and spawned the current hit singles “Vice” and “We Should Be Friends.” Rolling Stone calls The Weight of These Wings Lambert’s “most ambitious LP…the sort of Great Album rock acts used to spit out regularly back in the day,” while the Boston Globe says the album “matches the take-no-prisoners attitude of her lyrics with music that travels unexpected routes but often winds up touching the soul.” The record ended up on over a dozen Best of 2016 lists, including those from Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Billboard, Spin and more.

photo by James Minchin

When Seattle band, The Head and The Heart, who first appeared on ACL in Season 37, regrouped in 2016 to start writing together again after a sabbatical, “it almost felt like we were a new band, trying things we hadn’t tried,” bassist  Chris Zasche recalls. “We stayed at a bungalow on the beach. We’d wake up, have coffee and go boogie boarding. We were ready and excited to be back together.” That renewed sense of purpose can be felt throughout Signs of Light, the group’s third album and first release for Warner Bros. Records. “This album isn’t about us now having achieved our dreams,” says vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Charity Rose Thielen. “The day we started being able to live off our art was the day we achieved our dreams, in my mind. This is the album where we really fell into our true voices as those artists.” Recorded in Nashville with producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Cage The Elephant), Signs of Light crackles with the upbeat, singalong energy of the band’s finest work. Throughout, the colors are brighter, the electric guitars are louder and the musical touchstones more universal. Lead single “All We Ever Knew,” written during the Let’s Be Still era but never captured to the band’s satisfaction until now, is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, while “Turn It Around” seems primed to be a future concert staple, matching its inspirational message with a lush and multi-layered soundscape. Blurt say the album “fulfills the aim the band’s handle appears to indicate. This is after all, music that connects with the head and the heart, and imparts a dual sense of resilience and delight in its wake.” Join us on May 22nd for The Head and The Heart’s second ACL taping.

photo by Danny Clinch

Norah Jones made her first appearance on the ACL stage in 2002, just prior to the release of her landmark debut Come Away With Me, which propelled her to the world stage, sweeping the 2003 Grammy Awards and signaling a paradigm shift away from the prevailing pop music of the time. Since then, Jones has sold 50 million albums worldwide and become a nine-time Grammy-winner, returning to ACL in 2007 and again in 2013. But when the Texas native first moved to New York City in the Summer of 1999,  it was with the hope of being a jazz singer and pianist, and her jazz influences — from Bill Evans and Miles Davis to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone — have always remained. Now Jones has come full circle with Day Breaks, her sixth album which finds her returning to the piano and her jazz roots, while still retaining her unmistakably unique sound that weaves together several bedrock styles of American music: country, folk, rock, soul, jazz. Day Breaks is a kindred spirit to Come Away With Me, though it is unquestionably the work of a mature artist who has lived life and grown immensely in her craft. The album features jazz luminaries including saxophonist Wayne Shorter, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, and drummer Brian Blade, who played on Norah’s debut and became the backbone of the new album. Rolling Stone calls it “A marvelous consolidation, floating buoyantly between past tradition and her own unique present,” while MOJO declares Small-hours jazz perfection … her masterpiece to date … inspired and breathtaking.” Jones returns to the ACL stage on  June 11th.

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.

Foals and Alejandro Escovedo bring ACL Season 42 to a rocking close

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits closes out Season 42 with a big rock finish—a season finale featuring UK alt-rock sensations Foals and Texas legend Alejandro Escovedo. Foals play tunes from their album What Went Down, while Escovedo, joined by an all-star band that includes R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, showcases songs from his acclaimed release Burn Something Beautiful.

One of the UK’s most popular bands, Foals make their debut on the Austin City Limits stage with songs from their acclaimed fourth album What Went Down, awarded Best Album by NME in 2016. Hailed as “fierce, amorphous rock” by The Guardian, the British quintet formed in Oxford in 2005 and have gone on to conquer festival stages including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds in their native UK, and Coachella and the Austin City Limits Festival stateside. Foals perform a blistering five-song set featuring their breakthrough anthem “Mountain At My Gates,” and closing with the seething “What Went Down,” which features a crowd visit from charismatic frontman Yannis Philippakis that thrills the besotted Austin fans.

“Foals has a reputation for their amazing live performances,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and I had more people come up to me after this show than any other to say it was the best one all season. That should give you some idea what to expect!”

Called a “rock and punk godfather” by Rolling Stone, Alejandro Escovedo first appeared on Austin City Limits in 1983, and returns for a fifth, unforgettable performance. The Texas trailblazer performs songs from Burn Something Beautiful, his 11th studio album, joined by alt-rock luminaries including R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and the Minus 5’s Scott McCaughey, who co-produced the new release, rounded out by a team of rock stalwarts: ex-Fastbacks guitarist Kurt Bloch, Decemberists’ drummer John Moen, and singers Kelly Hogan (Neko Case) and Karla Manzur. Escovedo and Buck lock guitars for the shimmering “Suit of Lights” featuring a gorgeous vocal spotlight by Hogan, and the six-string army blazes at full-force on the fiery, infectious punk of album opener “Horizontal.” The luminous set is a celebration of the rock ‘n’ roll life and a testament to the enduring power of a rock ‘n’ roll survivor.

photo by Scott Newton

“In so many ways, Alejandro epitomizes what Austin City Limits is all about,” says Lickona. “His music expanded, deepened and evolved over the years much the same way ACL has. It’s always a special night when he takes our stage.”

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 special encore, featuring Album of the Year Grammy nominee Sturgill Simpson and Austin scene vets Asleep at the Wheel.