New tapings: John Prine, Kacey Musgraves, Wild Child and Anderson East

photo by Danny Clinch

Austin City Limits announces four new Season 44 tapings to kick off the summer of 2018: legendary songwriter John Prine on June 5, contemporary country queen Kacey Musgraves on June 6, Austin indie rockers Wild Child on June 21 and soulful singer/songwriter Anderson East on June 22.

Hailed “the Mark Twain of American songwriting” by Rolling Stone, John Prine (who made his ACL debut on Season 3 in 1978) makes his highly-anticipated eighth appearance on ACL with a new batch of songs from his just-released The Tree of Forgiveness, his first album of originals in thirteen years, and the highest-charting album of his 47-year career, debuting at #5 on the Billboard 200.  Produced by Dave Cobb in Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, Tree features guest appearances by Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires and Brandi Carlile, as well as co-writes with Dan Auerbach, Pat McLaughlin and Phil Spector. But it’s Prine and his distinctive vision that hold the spotlight, what the New York Times calls “a handful of folky chords, a melody that sounds like it’s always been around, a grainy and understated vocal and lyrics that summon complex emotions in a rigorous minimum of syllables.” Pitchfork praises the “virtuoso at understatement” for “finding the joy in the mundane, and writing about what it means to be alive,” trying, as the Nashville Scene notes, to help us “tolerate the bitter taste left by bewildering, painful experiences like death and love.” “Prine’s heart is all human,” says The Tennessean, “It beats in every song on The Tree of Forgiveness …the most personal record of his 47-year recording career.” He may be singing about going to heaven,” proclaims NPR Fresh Air, “but his earthiness keeps his music alive.”

photo by Jaime Nelson

Kacey Musgraves dazzled in a standout ACL debut in 2014, and the now two-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter makes her return appearance celebrating her acclaimed third album Golden Hour.  The new album is generating glowing reviews, with NPR stating, “she’s relaxed into the sound she’s already designed, going deeper beneath its sparkly, vintage-tinted surface and further cultivating her innate commitment to clarity and craft,” and Noisey proclaims “it’s clear that the Texan is still the most talented songwriter in mainstream pop-county.” Co-writing and producing with Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk, the Golden, Texas native created an album that marks a more personal, emotional chapter for a songwriter who has been celebrated for her piercing observations and finely-hewn storytelling. “I had a different mindset this time, which was feeling rather than thinking— leading heart first, rather than brain first,” the newly-married artist says. “I was feeling genuinely happy for the first time in a long time, and it started pouring out in ideas and songs.” In this window of creative exploration, she and her collaborators offer strikingly new musical directions, with inspirations ranging from Neil Young to Sade, even dipping lightly into disco. “You won’t find anybody on this earth more inspired by traditional country music more than me,” she says, “but there are all these other facets of music that inspire me, too. I was wondering what it would sound like if those influences could live cohesively.” Pitchfork calls the record “an assured, artful snapshot of a particular rush of feelings, but its wisdom speaks volumes to Musgraves’ ongoing evolution.” Consequence of Sound calls Golden Hour “an honest, cohesive musical experience that will linger in your mind and heart long after the final notes have faded.

photo by Sean Daigle

Austin’s Wild Child make their ACL debut in support of Expectations, the band’s most creative, colorful and intellectually engaging album to date.  The Austin-American Statesman raves, “Four albums in, the Austin indie-folk band-that-could has become increasingly confident without losing the sense of childlike wonder that’s so central to the spirit of their music.”  The septet’s new release rose out of a desire to take a multispectral approach to writing and recording that went beyond simply trying to engineer success. The band made a list of their favorite musicians who were also producers, choosing ones they thought would shine a new light on specific compositions, and then set about chasing their album from studio to studio all over the world. That route took them to Chris Walla’s (Death Cab For Cutie) studio in Tromsø, Norway, to a home-built warehouse studio in Philadelphia with Dr. Dog’s Scott McMicken, and back to Wimberley, Texas, as Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit) set up a makeshift studio in Wild Child lead singer and violinist Kelsey Wilson’s childhood home. The group also tapped the talents of frequent tour mate Chris Boosahda (Shakey Graves), Atlantic Records recording artist Max Frost, and Grammy-winning producer Adrian Quesada (Black Pumas, Brownout). The result is a theater of possibilities, with arrangements that reflect the range of tastes of the producers, from scruffy lo-fi tape hiss to smoothed out precision-cut electronic pop sounds. “Without sacrificing Wild Child’s signature pop swell, Expectations emerges soulful and serious,” says the Austin Chronicle.

photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

Called “an exciting singer-songwriter effortlessly able to blend elements of rock, blues, country and soul” by Associated Press, Anderson East steps on our stage for the first time with his latest album Encore, produced by longtime collaborator Dave Cobb.  The album’s title is derived from East’s steadfast belief: that every song on his new album must be worthy of closing out one of his notoriously epic live shows. The Athens, Alabama native broke onto the music scene with “Satisfy Me” from his 2015 major label debut Delilah, followed by a breakout series of years that included appearances on Cobb’s Southern Family compilation, Brandi Carlile’s Cover Stories benefit LP and the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack, as well as spending much of 2017 on the road with Chris and Morgane Stapleton as part of their All-American Road Show.  The New York Times calls Encore “an often lustrous revisiting of raucous Southern soul, rousingly delivered and pinpoint precise,” with NPR Music claiming that it “draw[s] inspiration from the sophistication of Donny Hathaway’s compositions and arrangements, the grandness of Van Morrison’s Caledonia Soul Orchestra and the dashing song interpretation of Joe Cocker.” American Songwriter says, “This remains a sharp, soul-drenched, organically based set that solidifies the R&B roots at the heart of East’s talents,” adding that it’s “poised to push the talented singer-songwriter over the top and into the mainstream.”

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 broadcast versions will air on PBS later this year as part of our Season 44.

New taping: St. Vincent

photo by Nedda Afsari

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce an exciting new taping for Season 44, featuring the groundbreaking St. Vincent on May 14, 2018.  First appearing on ACL in 2009, the singer, songwriter and guitarist–born Annie Clark–returns to our stage in support of her highly acclaimed fifth album MASSEDUCTION.  The release has earned some of the biggest raves of her career, with Jon Pareles of The New York Times naming it his #1 album of 2017, and Billboard hailing the record as “At once epic and intimate, fusing the myth of the legend-like St. Vincent with what it means to be simply Annie Clark.”

Following 2014’s Grammy-winning Alternative album of the year, MASSEDUCTION reaffirms St. Vincent’s standing as one of the most innovative presences in modern music. The mass seduction of the album’s title is a bold, emotional reckoning, largely themed around power—or as Clark specifies, “All the forces that can swallow you whole.” These include notoriety and beauty, as well as intoxicating distractions such as pills, sex, and sorrow. Richly melodic and vividly produced, MASSEDUCTION scales up from its predecessor, and marks her first collaboration with co-producer Jack Antonoff (Taylor Swift, Lorde, Sia, ACL alumni Fun). Their work occupies a fertile space between pop and art rock, with narratives that pivot from sentimental to savage. MASSEDUCTION is, most accurately, a mosaic of St. Vincent’s own experiences: “You can’t fact-check it, it’s not a diary entry, but if you want to know about my life, listen to this record.”

One of music’s most thrilling live acts, St. Vincent’s recent shows have wowed fans and critics alike, with Variety citing, “Annie Clark’s ownership of the stage felt like fearless evidence that rock’s future might actually be female… she’s got enough style, ambition, chops, and complications for a half-dozen rock auteurs.”

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 taping will also be livestreamed on the Austin City Limits YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air on PBS later this year as part of our Season 44.

New tapings: Mac DeMarco and Brandi Carlile

photo by Coley Brown

Austin City Limits is happy to announce the first new tapings for 2018’s Season 44, with the debut of fast-rising singer/songwriter Mac DeMarco on February 27 and the return of acclaimed singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile on April 10 at ACL Live at the Moody Theater. The DeMarco taping will also be livestreamed around the world.

Mac DeMarco (aka 27-year old MacBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco) released This Old Dog, his third album and first full-length since 2014’s Salad Days, on May 5th, 2017, via Captured Tracks. It was a little space—in time, location (he moved from Queens to Los Angeles), and method—that inspired the Canadian native while making This Old Dog. Arriving in California with a grip of demos he’d written in New York, he realized after a few months of setting up his new shop that the gap was giving him perspective. “I demoed a full album, and as I was moving to the West Coast I thought I’d get to finishing it quickly,” DeMarco says. “But then I realized that moving to a new city, and starting a new life takes time. Usually I just write, record, and put it out; no problem. But this time, I wrote them and they sat. When that happens, you really get to know the songs. It was a different vibe.” DeMarco wrote demos for This Old Dog on an acoustic guitar, an eye-opening method for him. “The majority of this album is acoustic guitar, synthesizer, some drum machine, and one song is electric guitar. So this is a new thing for me.”  This Old Dog is rooted more in a synth-base than any of his previous releases, but he is careful not to let that tactic overshadow the other instruments and overall “unplugged” mood of the work. “This is my acoustic album, but it’s not really an acoustic album at all. That’s just what it feels like, mostly. I’m Italian, so I guess this is an Italian rock record.”

photo by Alysse Gafkjenh

Having first appeared on ACL in 2010 and most recently paid tribute to Roy Orbison in the 2017 ACL Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve celebration, Brandi Carlile comes back in celebration of her seventh album, By The Way, I Forgive You, produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and acclaimed musician Shooter Jennings. Already receiving widespread acclaim, NPR Music’s Ann Powers asserts, “By The Way, I Forgive You takes Carlile and her longtime bandmates, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, into a new space of risk-taking—as well as the emotional stratosphere. A country-rock aria dedicated to the delicate boys and striving girls born into—and, Carlile insists, destined to triumph over—this divisive time, ‘The Joke’ offers a stunning vocal performance from Carlile, swathed in warm piano, big drums and a perfect string arrangement.” Additionally, The New York Times praises, “Motherhood is disruptive, messy, inconvenient, enlightening and triumphant in ‘The Mother’…Its fingerpicking folk-rock unfurls from a blurry awakening to unabashed pride and joy,” while XPN The Key calls it, “an achingly heartfelt and quietly powerful track.” Recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, By The Way, I Forgive You includes ten new songs written by Carlile and longtime collaborators and bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth. Of their close relationship, Carlile comments, “The Twins and I have been in a band for so long now. And not just a band, we are literally a family. When you create art with twins, it becomes unclear when I end and where they begin.” Over the course of their acclaimed career, the band has released six albums, including 2015’s The Firewatcher’s Daughter, which garnered a Grammy nomination for “Best Americana Album.”

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 broadcast version will air on PBS as part of our Season 44.

New taping and livestreams: Turnpike Troubadours and Dan Auerbach

photo by David McClister

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce our final taping of Season 43 with Oklahoma country rockers Turnpike Troubadours. The breakout band will hit the ACL stage on December 5 for a debut taping that will also be streamed live around the world. Speaking of livestreams, we’re also stoked to say that we’ll be doing the same for Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach’s taping on November 27. Auerbach will also be joined during the set by a very special guest, Louisiana soul singer Robert Finley, the first signing to his Easy Eye Sound record label.  Both tapings will stream at 8pm CT/9 pm ET, Dan Auerbach here on November 27 and Turnpike Troubadours here on December 5, powered by Dell.  

Called “the greatest country music band in the world right now” by Saving Country Music, the Turnpike Troubadours make their ACL debut in support of their fourth album A Long Way From Your Heart. Produced by Grammy winner Ryan Hewitt (The Avett Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers), Heart is a rare triumph––an album that hooks immediately but then rewards listeners willing to dig deeper. “I love what we as a band have turned into and how we treat songs,” says lead singer and chief songwriter Evan Felker. “That’s something we’ve grown into––adding some sort of oddly theatrical element to the musicianship to help the story along, to sum up where or who the character is to give him a little bit of landscape. It’s not just an acoustic guitar and a guy telling you what somebody’s doing.” Born in Okemah, Oklahoma, birthplace of Woody Guthrie and Troubadours pal John Fullbright, Felker founded his band of virtuosic country-rock road dogs in 2005. Since then, the Troubadours have delivered punch after punch of smart rock & roll that sells out huge venues throughout the Midwest and South and packs legendary haunts like the Troubadour in Los Angeles. “Felker has evolved into a Red Dirt Springsteen, deftly blending autobiographical elements with complex, hardscrabble characters,” raves Garden & Gun. Narratives put to music are nothing new, but Felker and his bandmates have upped the ante, creating a web of unforgettable characters that show up on album after album in songs that are both catchy and musically complex: men and women with their backs against their wall, represented realistically but also imbued with dignity. “It feels like going home to see that those characters are still alive in a way that movies and literary writers have always done,” Felker says. “It feels good.”

photo by Alyssa Gafkjen

Dan Auerbach has performed on ACL twice before with his band The Black Keys, and this will be his first time performing solo on the program where he will be backed by some of Nashville’s finest musicians—Bobby Wood, Gene “Bubba” Chrisman, Pat McLaughlin, Dave Roe, Russ Pahl, Ray Jacildo, Ashley Wilcoxson, Leisa Hans, Nick Bockrath from Cage the Elephant—as well as featuring legendary bluesman Robert Finley.  The eight-time Grammy winning superstar will perform songs from his acclaimed new solo release Waiting On A Song.  NPR calls the album “a batch of sparkling pop songs that’s sweet, breezy, and primed for summer.” The album is Auerbach’s follow-up to 2009’s Keep It Hid and is his love letter to Nashville. As such, he recruited some of Na­shville’s most respected players to write and record his latest. “Living in Nashville has definitely changed the way I think about music and the way that I record it,” he says about working with his heroes. “I didn’t have all of these resources before. I am working with some of the greatest musicians that ever lived.” The always-understated musician is happy to have his own version of the Wrecking Crew at his Easy Eye Studio in south Nashville. “Sometimes I feel I created my own Field of Dreams. I built the studio to accommodate live musicians playing, and then all of a sudden the best musicians in Nashville show up, and it’s happening. This is the sound I was looking for, and now there really is an Easy Eye sound. It’s a factory—but in the way that Motown or Stax or American Studios was a factory. Anything can happen, any day.” He pauses a long minute, as if to let it all sink in. “Even with the success I’ve had, it’s only just now that I’m finally finding myself,” Auerbach says. “I called the album Waiting On A Song because I’ve been waiting my whole life to be able to do this. And now I have. And none of us ever want it to stop.”

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. Or you can join us online for Dan Auerbach here on November 27 and Turnpike Troubadours here on December 5 for these full-set livestreams. The broadcast versions will air on PBS early next year as part of our Season 43.

 

New taping: Dan Auerbach

photo by Alysse Gafkjen

Austin City Limits is happy to announce a new taping with The Black Keys/Arcs singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach in support of his acclaimed new solo album Waiting On a Song. The eight-time Grammy winning artist, a two-time ACL veteran with superstars The Black Keys, makes his highly-anticipated solo debut on Monday, November 27.

NPR calls Waiting On A Song “a batch of sparkling pop songs that’s sweet, breezy, and primed for summer. The album is Auerbach’s follow-up to 2009’s Keep It Hid and is his love letter to Nashville. As such, he recruited some of Na­shville’s most respected players to write and record his latest, including John Prine, Duane Eddy, Jerry Douglas, Russ Pahl, Pat McLaughlin as well as Bobby Wood and Gene Chrisman of the Memphis Boys. Auerbach said about working with his musical heroes: “Living in Nashville has definitely changed the way I think about music and the way that I record it. I didn’t have all of these resources before. I am working with some of the greatest musicians that ever lived.”

“Sometimes I feel I created my own Field of Dreams. I built the studio to accommodate live musicians playing, and then all of a sudden the best musicians in Nashville show up, and it’s happening.” The always-understated musician is happy to have his own version of the Wrecking Crew at his Easy Eye Studio in south Nashville. “This is the sound I was looking for, and now there really is an Easy Eye sound. It’s a factory—but in the way that Motown or Stax or American Studios was a factory. Anything can happen, any day.” He pauses a long minute, as if to let it all sink in. The dream realized. “Even with the success I’ve had, it’s only just now that I’m finally finding myself,” Auerbach says. “I called the album Waiting On A Song because I’ve been waiting my whole life to be able to do this. And now I have. And none of us ever want it to stop.”

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.

New tapings: Run The Jewels, Chris Stapleton, LCD Soundsystem and Shinyribs

photo by Dan Medhurst

Austin City Limits kicks off Season 43 October 7 on PBS and we are excited to announce a bounty of new fall tapings, featuring some of today’s most thrilling live acts joining this season’s broadcast line-up.

On Oct. 14, we open our doors to rap giants Run The Jewels. On Oct. 23, we welcome country superstar Chris Stapleton. Oct. 29 brings Austin hometown heroes Shinyribs, while Nov. 1 welcomes alt.rock icons LCD Soundsystem.  All four acts are making their ACL debuts.

Well known for their massively energetic live sets, Run The Jewels make their ACL debut in support of their third album, the aptly-titled Run The Jewels 3. El-­P and Killer Mike, two of the most distinctive and celebrated names in rap, might have seemed like an unlikely pairing on paper, but the duo subverted and pulverized all expectations with their critically lauded Run The Jewels collaborative LP in 2013. Tapping into the creative synergy they’d discovered in 2012 on Mike’s R.A.P. Music album (produced by El-­P) and El’s Cancer 4 Cure album (featuring Mike), Run The Jewels cemented their musical alliance with a set of uncompromisingly raw, forward thinking hip-­hop, garnering limitless critical accolades including the likes of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, XXL, SPIN, New York Times, and many more. Uncut calls Run The Jewels 3 “the pair’s most focused and mature work to date,” while DIY says it’s “in equal parts an unequivocal call to arms and an excitable ode to a wonderful friendship.” New Musical Express comments, “There’s tons of fun to be had from absorbing the duo’s fury, and El-P’s sci-fi beats are as thrillingly big ‘n’ bad as ever,” while The Wire simply notes, “Every track is a killer.” Vice insists that RTJ is “funnier, hookier, and kinder as well as brainier and more political” than before, while AllMusic proclaims “They’re so good at this that it seems almost unfair in its effortlessness.” Witness it for yourself on Oct. 14.  

photo by Andy Barron

Kentucky-born musician Chris Stapleton is one of Nashville’s most respected and beloved musicians. Since releasing his now double Platinum debut solo album Traveller in 2015, Stapleton has received multiple Grammy, CMA and ACM Awards and remains one of the most critically praised musicians of his time. His sophomore follow up, From A Room: Volume 1, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart upon its release and, with it’s Gold certification, remains the strongest-selling country album of 2017. Rolling Stone calls the album “strikingly focused, sonically and thematically” while The New York Times praises, “Like Traveller, From A Room is earthen, rich with tradition, has a tactile intensity and is carefully measured.” A second album, From A Room: Volume 2, will be released later this year. More details to be announced soon. In celebration of the music, “Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show” tour is currently underway and will span throughout 2017. Of a recent performance, the Seattle Times declared, “Stapleton dazzled the sold-out crowd with a barrage of songs that defy easy categorization while receiving the kind of deafening cheers reserved for superstars.” Come see for yourself on October 23.

photo by Wyatt McSpadden

Led by Beaumont, Texas native Kevin Russell, who last appeared on ACL in 2007 with the Gourds, Austin’s Shinyribs began as a side project in 2007 before becoming Russell’s full-time concern following the Gourds’ dissolution in 2013. This year, the now eight-person Shinyribs dosed fans with the exuberant swamp-pop soul-funk of their fourth release, I Got Your Medicine. Tracked at Houston’s legendary Sugar Hill Recording Studios, it carries a New Orleans R&B vibe — with extra gris-gris added by Russell’s co-producer, Jimbo Mathus, late of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. AllMusic calls the album “funny, heartfelt, and dirty, a retro-soul album that never feels stuck in the past,” while the Austin American Statesman names it as one of 2017’s best albums so far. The band puts a gospel groove on “Don’t Leave It a Lie,” and throw several retro influences into Ted Hawkins’ “I Gave Up All I Had.” The syncopated sexiness of “A Certain Girl,” an Allen Toussaint cover, a gorgeous rendering of the Toussaint McCall/Patrick Robinson ballad “Nothing Takes the Place of You” and the bluesy “I Knew It All Along,” Russell’s very-successful attempt to write “just a real good done-me-wrong soul song,” are equally captivating. “Tub Gut Stomp and Red-eyed Soul” gets its title from Russell’s definition of his musical style; an energetic N’awlins romper, it’s filled with “freak-out juice” and “Jimbo stew.” Gospel rave-up “The Cross Is Boss” puts a clever, slightly satirical finish on the affair; Russell says the song — like the album — is meant as a reminder that not every issue has to be taken so seriously. “A lot of people are so tightly wound, they can’t let themselves go,” he says. “I can demonstrate to them that you can shake your hips, roll around on the floor, scream and shout, and it’s OK: people will still accept you. It’s just music; relax and have some fun.” Join the party on Oct. 29.

photo by Ruvan Wijesooriya

LCD Soundsystem makes its Austin City Limits TV debut in the wake of its fourth LP and first #1 album, American Dream. James Murphy founded LCD Soundsystem in 2002, releasing the classic 12-inch single “Losing My Edge,” a relentless groove topped with a monologue cataloguing the trendsetting bands and rare records discovered by its protagonist in his younger, cooler prime. LCD’s self-titled debut album followed in 2005, featuring “Losing My Edge,” “Movement,” and the Grammy-nominated “Daft Punk is Playing in My House.” 2007’s Grammy-nominated Sound of Silver became the most critically-acclaimed album of that year on the strength of the anthemic “All My Friends”–hailed by Time magazine as one of the 10 Best Songs of 2007 and covered in tribute by the likes of John Cale and Franz Ferdinand—as well as “Someone Great,” “Get Innocuous!” and “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” Featuring “Dance Yrself Clean,” “I Can Change” and “Home,” LCD Soundsystem’s third album, 2010’s This is Happening was the band’s first to break the U.S. Top 10. This Is Happening was supported by a massive world tour culminating in a marathon farewell show at Madison Square Garden, documented by the feature film Shut Up and Play the Hits and the audio compendium The Long Goodbye. LCD Soundsystem marked the end of its hiatus with the surprise 2015 “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” holiday single, followed by a 2016 tour featuring headline appearances at Coachella, Lollapalooza and more. On September 1, 2017 the band released “the timeless, intricate album James Murphy’s fans always wanted but never expected” (Esquire): American Dream. Preceded by the singles “Call the Police,” “American Dream” and “Tonite,” American Dream moved Rolling Stone to rave They signed off after three of this century’s finest albums… American Dream is on the same level,” while Entertainment Weekly hailed the record as “exactly the album 2017 needs—urgent, angry, achingly self-aware. And catchy as hell, too.” See and hear why on Nov. 1.  

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.

New taping: Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires

photo by Danny Clinch

Austin City Limits is happy to announce a rare double shoot on August 21, featuring top-notch Americana with Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s acclaimed new album, The Nashville Sound, is a beautiful piece of American music-making. As with Isbell’s 2013 breakthrough, Southeastern (which Isbell showcased on his debut ACL appearance in Season 39) and his double-Grammy-winning follow up, 2015’s Something More Than Free, The Nashville Sound was produced by Dave Cobb. Isbell says that he and Cobb created a simple litmus test for the decisions they made in the two weeks they spent at RCA Studios (which was known as “The home of the Nashville Sound” back in the ’60’s and ’70s): they only made sonic moves that their heroes from back in the day could’ve made, but simply never did. It’s a shrewd approach—an honest way to keep the wiz-bang of modern recording technology at arm’s length, while also leaving the old bag of retro rock ’n’ roll tricks un-rummaged. It’s also the best way to keep the spotlight on Isbell’s stock-in-trade: great songs. Simply put, Isbell has a gift for taking big, messy human experiences and compressing them into badass little combustible packages made of rhythm, melody and madly efficient language. The songs are full of little hooks—it could be guitar line that catches one listener, or a quick lyric that strikes to the heart of another—and an act of transference takes place. The stories Isbell tells become our own. The music is coming not from Jason and the band, but from within us. Lyrically, The Nashville Sound is timely. Musically, it is timeless.

photo by Josh Wool

photo by Josh Wool

Texas native Amanda Shires began her career as a teenager playing fiddle with the Texas Playboys. Since then, she’s toured and recorded with John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver, Todd Snider, Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope, and most recently her husband and creative collaborator Jason Isbell, with whom she first-appeared on ACL in 2013. Along the way she’s made three solo albums, each serving to document a particular period in her life while improving on the perceptive qualities of the previous record. The songs on her latest My Piece Of Land deal with family, anxiety, and the phases of one young woman’s life, but the primary focus is the concept of home. Shires addresses the similarities and differences between the home she was born into, the two homes she was eventually split between, and the home she has finally made for herself. She recorded the album under the guidance of producer Dave Cobb at his Low Country Sound studio. Cobb believes in the spontaneity of early takes, and with the proficient rhythm section of Paul Slivka and Paul Griffith, the studio band was able to record the album in a relatively short amount of time without sacrificing performance quality. This approach gives each song on the album emotional urgency along with a groove that’s loose and effortless. With My Piece Of Land, Amanda Shires has reached a personal pinnacle. This album is the creative milestone suited to accompany the recent milestones in her life: becoming a mother, developing into a true artist, and finally finding a home.

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.

New tapings: Ed Sheeran, Father John Misty and Herbie Hancock

photo by Greg Williams

Austin City Limits is excited to announce upcoming tapings with a trio of music’s finest.  UK superstar Ed Sheeran returns on August 20 for his second Austin City Limits appearance, supporting his chart-topping new album ÷. Indie rock star Father John Misty arrives on August 22 making his ACL debut, in support of his third album Pure Comedy and iconic Herbie Hancock makes his long-awaited ACL debut on October 12.

Ed Sheeran – an eleven-time Grammy nominee and multiple Grammy winner – has quickly established himself as one of music’s biggest acts with over 22 million albums sold and 4.7 billion Spotify streams. His latest release ÷ (pronounced “divide”) debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts and finds the 26-year-old sensation in his finest form yet. Drawing inspiration from a wide array of experiences and subjects, Sheeran takes us through a hugely personal journey by reflecting on past relationships, family memories, his musical career and his time off traveling the world in 2016. Musically, ÷ is a varied collection of beautifully orchestrated and emotive ballads, impassioned raps laid over hip hop beats, timeless acoustic guitar masterpieces, and innovative, idiosyncratic pop music. Rolling Stone notes that “Sheeran’s musical history lesson is both well-timed and rip-roaringly fun,” while The New York Times calls it “a batteries-fully-charged assault on the pop charts from a performer skilled in musical osmosis.” Sheeran made chart history this year with the first two singles from ÷, “Shape Of You” and “Castle On The Hill,” debuting at #1 and #6 respectively on Billboard’s Hot 100, making him the first artist in the chart’s 58-year history ever to debut two singles in the top 10 simultaneously.  Sheeran continues to break records, with lead single “Shape Of You” recently becoming the third song ever to hit an incredible 1 billion streams on Spotify.  His follow-up single “Castle On The Hill” has logged over 185 million views on YouTube and has already begun its ascent up the charts.  This June, Sheeran received the prestigious Hal David Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.  

photo by Guy Lowndes

photo by Guy Lowndes

The erstwhile Josh Tillman (under which name he first appeared on ACL in 2012 as drummer for Fleet Foxes) grew up in Rockville, Maryland. Discovered in Seattle by singer/songwriter Damien Jurado, he began touring and making records, releasing eight under his own name and joining Fleet Foxes for the recording and touring cycle of 2011’s Helplessness Blues. As Father John Misty, he gained immediate attention with 2012’s Fear Fun, solidifying the status of his lyric-heavy, melodic folk rock with 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear. Misty’s artistry comes to a head on the madly ambitious new album Pure Comedy. Inspired by the chaos and uncertainty of modern life, Misty writes “about the dubious privilege of being here, the elusiveness of meaning, true love and its habitual absence, random euphoria and the inexplicable misery of others, truth and its more alluring counterfeits, the sophistication of answers that don’t make any sense, the barbarism of our appetites, lucky breaks and injustice, faith and ignorance, crippling, mind-numbing boredom, and the terror of it all ending too soon.” Heady stuff, wrapped in lyrical wit and the kind of melodies Harry Nilsson would’ve killed to write. “This is a big-idea album in a way none of his work was before,” notes Paste, while Exclaim says that it’s “packed with so much meaning and complexity, it feels as overwhelmingly absurd, joyous, curious, tragic, extraordinary and contradictory as life itself.” Under the Radar puts it far more simply: “Pure Comedy is big and clever, and oh so very brilliant.”

Herbie Hancock for blogSix decades into an extraordinary career, 14-time GRAMMY Award winner Herbie Hancock remains at the forefront of world culture, technology, business and music. In addition to being recognized as a legendary pianist and composer, the ardent music ambassador has been an integral part of every popular music movement since the 1960s. As a member of the Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet, he pioneered a groundbreaking sound in jazz. He also developed new approaches on his own classic ‘60s recordings like Maiden Voyage, followed by his work in the ‘70s with record-breaking albums such as Head Hunters, combining electric jazz with funk and rock in an innovative style that continues to influence contemporary music. His trailblazing 1983 cross-over smash “Rockit,” an early hip-hop touchstone, is considered one of the first songs to feature “scratching,” and with the album Future Shock marked Hancock’s foray into electronic dance sounds; during the same period he also continued to work in an acoustic setting with V.S.O.P., which included ex-Miles Davis bandmates Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Hancock received an Academy Award for his Round Midnight film score and fourteen Grammy Awards, including Album Of The Year for River: The Joni Letters – only the second jazz album in the Recording Academy’s history to ever receive that award – and two Grammy Awards for 2011’s globally collaborative CD The Imagine Project. He was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor in 2013, published his memoir Herbie Hancock: Possibilities in 2014 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. Many of his compositions, including “Cantaloupe Island,” “Maiden Voyage,” “Watermelon Man” (a tune from his first album that has been recorded over 200 times) and “Chameleon,” are modern standards. Hancock will be touring across the globe this summer and fall and is currently at work on a new studio album.

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