Gary Clark Jr. brings rock, blues and soul to his third ACL taping

photo by Scott Newton

The rise of Austin’s own Gary Clark Jr. has been a joy to behold, from his days as a teenage blues guitar slinger to the eclectic, critically acclaimed festival draw he is twenty years later. ACL has followed that rise with four previous appearances on the show, starting with his participation in the Jimmy Reed tribute in 2007 up through his 2012 and 2015 headlining slots and his 2015 guest appearance with Foo Fighters. (Not to mention appearances on our Hall of Fame specials and the 40th anniversary celebration.) Through those years, the ATX native has grown by leaps and bounds – and that’s never been more true than now, with his third Warner Bros. studio album This Land. So we were thrilled to welcome him back for a live streamed taping showcasing the widely hailed LP.

Clark got a loud hometown welcome as he came onstage after executive producer Terry Lickona’s introduction. The Austin homeboy basked in his welcome for a second before donning his Epiphone and going into This Land’s “What About Us,” a choogling blues rocker kissed by Clark’s alluring falsetto and co-guitarist Eric Zapata’s legato slide. “Feels good up here,” noted Clark, as Zapata knocked out the twangy riff to “When I’m Gone,” a R&B tune that could’ve come from a lost sixties soul compilation. The leader donned a Gibson SG and announced, “We’re gonna play some rock & roll for ya,” before launching into the grunged-out soul of “Low Down Rolling Stone” – like the other tunes from This Land, it focused as much on his soulful voice as his guitar. Keyboardist Jon Deas contribute a slinky Mini-Moog solo. Clark went back to his falsetto for the crunchy, but still groovy, “I Walk Alone,” taking it home with a gnarly guitar solo.

After a moment to catch his breath, Clark shifted back to a slice of warm-bath soul with “Guitar Man,” a sexy tune that, surprisingly, does not emphasize his six-string wizardry. The falsetto returned once again for “Feed the Babies,” a socially-conscious soul tune that came closer the classic sound of Curtis Mayfield than anyone outside of the man himself. Then the band went into “Feelin’ Like a Million,” an out-and-out reggae song spiced by stabs of power chords. Clark then started banging away at his axe for a repetitive guitar figure that led right into the near-punk of “Gotta Get Into Something,” a breath of fresh rock & roll air. The mood shifted from rock to funk for the similarly titled “Got to Get Up,” a hard groover that let Clark off the leash on his guitar.

After nine songs in a row from the new album, Clark dipped into his back catalog for “When My Train Pulls In,” delivering a more subdued, less fuzz-encrusted reading than usual, often more reminiscent of B.B. King than Jimi Hendrix – at least until the end, when Clark built an extended guitar solo from croon to scream. As a palette cleanser, he essayed the lovely, moody “Blak and Blu,” slowly moving towards his signature tune “Bright Lights,” which came on like a wave crashing to shore. It was the perfect setting for his latest killer: the angry, defiant “This Land,” given a seething, smoldering read. After that bit of catharsis, he ended the main set on a soothing note with the beauteous “Pearl Cadillac,” another showcase for his falsetto singing. That wasn’t quite all, of course, as Clark and band returned for a crowd singalong through his grungy version of the Beatles’ “Come Together” from the Justice League soundtracks. It was a brilliant way to end his third solo taping, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.

Rising country superstar Kane Brown opens ACL Season 45

photo by Scott Newton

There are no two ways about it: 25 year-old Kane Brown is contemporary country’s fastest rising star, as well as the first country singer to have a number one single on all five Billboard country charts. We here at Austin City Limits love hosting talented newcomers, so we were happy to welcome the Georgia native as the first taping of Season 45, with a live streamed set of hits and deep cuts from his pair of albums.

Following executive producer Terry Lickona’s opening remarks, Brown joined his band onstage and wasted no time jumping right into “Baby Come Back to Me,” the rocking opening cut from his hit album Experiment. The singer followed with his first number one hit, the equally rock-oriented “What Ifs”.  Brown and the band changed the mood with “Weekend,” a mellow party tune that incorporated a R&B vibe. “This song is my baby – it got my life started,” he stated by way of introduction to the ballad “Used to Love You Sober,” the song he posted online that got him his record deal, and a tune with which the audience sang along. From one of his oldest to his most recent: the devotional country soul of “Good As You” proved why it was poised to be his next hit, especially given the crowd’s eager participation.

Biracial and raised by a single mother, Brown detailed being subjected to bullying, racism and abuse as a child, before launching into the mid-tempo “Learning,” a song about letting go of the negativity of the past. Appropriately, that tune led into “American Bad Dream,” a tough country rocker about school shootings. Every band-member except keyboardist Cameron Pessarra and fiddler Lars Thorson left the stage, as Brown took a seat for the self-explanatory ballad “Homesick,” dedicated to those serving overseas. Guitarist Jimmie Deeghan replaced Pessarra for “Work,” a tune literally about the hard work it takes to make a relationship – a topic near to the heart of the freshly wed Brown. Piano switched out for guitar once again for another ballad, the passionate “Live Forever.”

The band retook the stage to dispel the serious mood with the slide guitar-slathered “Short Skirt Weather,” kickstarting the party vibe again. The guitar-heavy “Found You” followed, leading into the thundering Southern rock chug of “Pull It Off.” Brown then re-incorporated the audience into the show, engaging in a call-and-response chorus with the romantic hit “Heaven.” Brown ended the show with the anthemic “Lose It,” exiting the stage to wild applause as his band continued to rock. It was a crowd-pleasing show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.  

August Greene closes the Season 44 taping season with smart grooves

photo by Scott Newton

On their own, Common, Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins are powerhouses. But put this top tier rapper, keyboardist/producer extraordinaire and renowned drummer/producer together and you have magic. As August Greene, the trio released a stellar debut LP earlier this year that garnered praise from coast to coast. Now, for the final taping of Season 44, the group hit the ACL stage for a riveting set that crossed genres as easily as it made the audience’s booty move.

“We’re honored to be here,” said Common after ACL executive producer Terry Lickona’s opening introduction. Joined by four backing musicians, the group opened with its memorable radio hit “Black Kennedy,” deftly adding the chorus of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” to this celebration of black excellence. Common introduced the next song “Practice,” saying it’s about not knowing all the answers out of the box, and detailed getting through this spiritual practice called life— the powerful track was enhanced by backing singers Samora Pinderhughes and Muhsinah Abdul Karim.  Bassist Burniss Travis signaled the next tune with a beautifully melodic solo, before Pinderhughes joined Common at center stage for “Let Go.” The rapper encouraged the crowd to let go of any of their own negative energy, and they happily obliged. While the beat went on, the group segued directly into “Geto Heaven,” a tune from Common’s breakthrough classic Like Water For Chocolate. The band stayed with Common’s solo career for Be’s infectious “Go,” which earned big cheers. Common talked about working with the late producer J Dilla, leading the audience into his chant from “Thelonius,” another number from Chocolate. He then reached back almost a quarter of a century for “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” from his third solo LP Resurrection, quoting his colleagues, hip-hop all-stars Big Daddy Kane, ODB, Grand Puba, the Pharcyde and Nas along the way.  

We’re always thrilled when an artist presents new music on our stage, and August Greene obliged with “The Rival (She’s Callin),” a soulful new track from the band’s in-progress second LP. Segueing into “Come Close,” Common brought up a thrilled audience member and dazzled with his mic skills, improvising about her, the show and even Austin over the beat. The rhythm turned jazzy, allowing Glasper to show off the piano skills that elevated him to the top of the game in the modern jazz world.  He wasn’t satisfied only displaying his keyboard skills, though – the Grammy-winning jazz and R&B musician challenged the Grammy-laden rapper to a (one-sided) rap battle. That led into a vocal solo from backing vocalist Karim and a drum solo from Riggins. The drummer wasted no time after concluding his improv, driving right into “No Apologies,” a breathless burner from August Greene highlighted by a frisky Glasper solo.

Dissatisfied with the opening take of “Black Kennedy,” Common called for another take. The crowd certainly didn’t mind another “beautiful ride.” Common brought an ecstatic tween onstage for the respect anthem – and final song – “The Light,” before turning the chorus of his Like Water For Chocolate cut over to the crowd. “This has been a blessing tonight,” Common told the audience as the band took bows and exited the stage. It was a great way to end the season, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it broadcasts early next year on your local PBS station.

Willie Nelson’s triumphant return to Austin City Limits

photo by Scott Newton

Forty-four years ago, Austin City Limits debuted with a then-struggling artist who would become an American icon. Four decades after the ACL pilot in which he starred hit the airwaves, Willie Nelson returned to our stage for the first time since 2009, when he taped an episode with Asleep at the Wheel, and for the first time with his own Family band since 1999, during the show’s twenty-fifth anniversary. We welcomed back the country maverick as, working without a setlist, he played the hits, deep cuts from the classic country catalog and songs from his latest LP, the Frank Sinatra tribute My Way – a set we streamed live around the world.

After ACL executive producer Terry Lickona reminded us that Willie launched ACL back in 1974, the eighty-five-year-old took the stage and doffed his cowboy hat to the eager, welcoming crowd. Joined as every by the Family, in service now for forty-five years, Willie launched into “Whiskey River,” the songwriter’s perennial opening number. Following an extended guitar solo, Willie then led the band in the galloping “Still is Still Moving to Me.” Skipping any pause between songs, he ran right into “Beer For My Horses,” the tagline of which was sung by the audience. “Let’s do one for Waylon,” Nelson extolled, leading into“Good Hearted Woman,” his classic duet with the late Waymore that also became a chance for crowd participation. Willie turned the spotlight on his sister Bobbie (calling her “Little Sister,” even though she’s two years older) for the piano-led instrumental “Down Yonder,” a 1921 piece made famous in 1951 by Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers. Willie paid tribute to a key influence with the Lefty Frizzell gem “If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time),” before moving into a back-to-back medley of his own iconic country tunes “Funny How Time Slips Away” (a hit for Billy Walker), “Crazy” (Patsy Cline) and “Night Life” (Ray Price) – adding a snippet of “Jingle Bells” at the end. Bobbie took the spotlight again for a jaunty rendition of Euday L. Bowman’s “Twelfth Street Rag,” one of the bestsellers of the ragtime era.

Willie then stopped by his most recent album with a light, jazzy take on the Sinatra standard “Fly Me to the Moon,” driven in part by brotherly drummers Paul and Billy English and bassist Kevin Smith, still the new guy six years into his tenure. Willie continued tributing fallen idols, declaiming “Let’s do one for Merle!” to preface “It’s All Going to Pot,” from Django & Jimmie, his 2015 duet album with the late Merle Haggard. Keeping the smoky double entendres going, Willie and band essayed “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” clearly an audience favorite. He reminded us of his estimable guitar skills with the Django Reinhardt instrumental “Nuages,” before hopping onto Tom T. Hall’s “Shoeshine Man,” a showcase for the Family, particularly Bobbie and harmonica master Mickey Raphael. He then sang another classic American song – Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia (On My Mind),” a song surely co-owned by both Willie and its most famous interpreter Ray Charles. He paid tribute to another one of his peers with a rollicking take on his old pal Billy Joe Shaver’s “Georgia On a Fast Train.” Then it was back to Waylon for the crowd-pleaser “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” He also dug back into his own classic catalog for the luminously beautiful “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.”

The tempo picked back up for the audience-enhanced “On the Road Again,” which would be Willie’s signature song if he didn’t have a dozen of those already. To say the crowd went wild was an understatement. He then brought the mood back down to “lovely” with “Always On My Mind,” his hit ballad originally associated with Brenda Lee and Elvis Presley, but forever, and properly, associated with Nelson. Then it was time for more audience participation with the folk/gospel/bluegrass classics “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away,” tunes that have been in Willie’s repertoire for decades. “Thank you, Austin City Limits!” Willie exclaimed, tossing his bandana into the crowd as he exited the stage to the Family continuing to jam, sending the pumped crowd gently into the good night. It was a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it on your local PBS station early next year.

ACL Hall of Fame 2018 taping an emotional, exciting evening

Marcia Ball and Irma Thomas, HOF 2018; photo by Gary Miller

It goes without saying that an ACL Hall of Fame taping is something special. The combination of ACL greats being saluted by their peers and fans always makes for an emotional, exciting evening. For the HOF’s fifth anniversary, we were privileged to honor Austin blues icon Marcia Ball, East L.A. rock pioneers Los Lobos and the late American music giant Ray Charles. With an all-star roster of talent to celebrate these tremendous artists’ work, it’s no wonder the Hall of Fame is something we look forward to every year.

Following a delightful set of tunes from Austin’s own Mariachi Los Toros and remarks from KLRU-TV CEO Bill Stotesbery and ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, host Chris Isaak took the stage to introduce the first honoree: singing/songwriting/piano-pounding ATX veteran Marcia Ball. Inducted by her longtime friend and collaborator Irma Thomas, the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Ball gave a lovely speech that paid tribute to her inspirations (including Thomas), her family and band, and music charities HAAM, HOME and SIMS. She took her seat behind the piano and introduced Thomas and singer Tracy Nelson. Together the trio reprised their 1998 appearance on ACL with the joyful “Sing It,” the title track from their Grammy-nominated collaboration of the same name. The threesome went back to the blues for the shuffling “I Want to Do Everything For You,” from the same record. Ball then brought up her old friend and Austin treasure Lou Ann Barton, along with next-generation blues singers Shelley King and Carolyn Wonderland. Together the sextet paid tribute to Dreams Come True, the 1990 album Ball and Barton made with the sadly absent Angela Strehli, rolling through Ike Turner’s classic “Fool in Love.” Ball, King, Wonderland, Nelson and Thomas closed out the segment with the funky, uplifting “Shine Bright,” the title tune to Ball’s latest record, and proof that she’s as vital an artist now as she’s ever been.

Gary Clark Jr., Shelley King, Carolyn Wonderland and Ruthie Foster pay tribute to Ray Charles at HOF 2018; photo by Gary Miller

One quick set change later, Chris Isaak returned to introduce the next inductee, “one of the most important music artists in American music history,” the late, great Ray Charles. The genre-defiant musical giant nicknamed the Genius was inducted by Concord Records president John Burk, who produced Charles’ final album Genius Loves Company and told the story of proposing that album to Charles in his office. Valerie Ervin, president of the Ray Charles Foundation, accepted the award as the house band and Norah Jones took the stage. Joined by former Ray Charles Orchestra keyboardist and musical director Dr. James Polk, the ivories-tickling singer opened with the quietly dramatic ballad “Seven Spanish Angels,” originally recorded in 1984 as a duet between Charles and Willie Nelson. Jones then reached back three decades to the mid-fifties for the blues ballad “What Would I Do Without You,” one of her favorite Charles tunes. Host Isaak came on to gracefully sing one of Charles’ iconic recordings: Don Gibson’s classic country tune “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

Two of Austin’s own rounded out the tribute. Equally genre-agnostic singer and songwriter Ruthie Foster put her remarkable voice to the service of “Georgia On My Mind,” Hoagy Carmichael’s immortal standard that will forever be associated with Charles – though Foster’s gospel-influenced reading gave the master a run for his money. Foster remained onstage, joined by Carolyn Wonderland and Shelley King, to back up blues rock star Gary Clark Jr., eschewing his trademark guitar slinging for a swaggering take on the sizzling “(Night Time is) the Right Time.” Isaak returned to praise house band director Lloyd Maines, who introduced the ACL All-Stars: guitarist David Grissom, organist Red Young, hornmen John Mills, Jon Blondell, Eric Burnheart and Adrian Ruiz, bassist Bill Whitbeck and drummer Tom Van Schaik.

Following an intermission, Isaak returned to introduce the night’s final honoree: one of America’s greatest, most versatile rock & roll bands, Los Lobos. Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez inducted the band, telling the story of how they scored his movie Desperado. Accepting the award, David Hidalgo talked about how the Austin musical royalty of the early eighties welcomed them to town. Then it was time for Los Lobos to do what it does best, as they picked up their instruments and launched right into “Will the Wolf Survive,” the song that took the rock underground by storm in 1984. Steel guitar master Robert Randolph then came on stage for “Don’t Worry Baby,” the blazing blues rocker that opens Lobos’ first album and a standard of their shows since. The band donned acoustic instruments for one of their catalog highlights – the title track of La Pistola y El Corazón, the group’s tribute to its Mexican-American roots. Then came what may have been a surprise to Los Lobos’ fanbase, as singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs arrived to join the band to add vocals and guitar to “Hearts of Stone,” a groovy, soulful Lobos classic.

Los Lobos, Boz Scaggs, Robert Rodriguez close HOF 2018 with “La Bamba”; photo by Gary Miller

Of course, Los Lobos couldn’t leave the stage without playing their biggest hit. But they didn’t do it alone, inviting all the night’s performers, plus Rodriguez and guitarist Adrian Quesada, up for a rousing “La Bamba,” with a big rock ending and plenty of streamers. You couldn’t ask for a better ending than that, and we can’t wait for you to see it when the ACL Hall of Fame 2018 Special airs on New Year’s Eve on your local PBS station.

Arctic Monkeys chase superstardom on debut ACL taping

photo by Scott Newton

Arctic Monkeys are certified superstars in their home country. While the Sheffield UK band isn’t quite that big here, they’re no slouches, as their massive radio hit “Do I Wanna Know?” and their set at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival attest. If we were clairvoyant, we’d say American superstardom is just around the corner for the Monkeys. So we were excited to host them for the first time, especially in light of their acclaimed sixth album Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino.

Augmented by four auxiliary musicians, the quartet took the stage and went into “Four Out of Five,” from Casino. The harmony-heavy glam pop tune led into the familiar, riff-rocking pound of “Do I Wanna Know?,” a clear audience favorite. But the same could be said for “Crying Lightning,” a dramatic Humbug cut that earned cheers as soon as the first notes rang out. Leader Alex Turner sat down at the piano for “505,” an intricate song from the band’s debut Favorite Worst Nightmare, which was immediately followed by a crunchy instrumental jam. That segued directly into the title track of Casino, which brought the sound back to “505.” Next up was “One Point Perspective,” a tune that blended elements of Paul McCartney, David Bowie and orchestral pop with the Monkeys’ own je ne sais quoi for a song that couldn’t be by anyone else. Turner moved to the organ for “American Sports,” driven by the leader’s rolling keyboard riff.

Turner abandoned instruments entirely for “Cornerstone,” reveling in the persona of a rock & roll crooner for the loquacious ballad. Acoustic guitar in hand, he led the band through the midtempo pop of “No. 1 Party Anthem,” a nod to the world-weary side of the British glam rock years. The Monkeys kept that vibe going for “Knee Socks,” a subtly funky rocker with just a hint of menace. Once again indulging his 70s Bowie jones, Turner took the mic and belted “The Ultracheese” as if it was the sequel to “Life On Mars.” Back at the piano, Turner took the Monkeys to the cabaret, giving the ballad its own Arctic twist. The band ended the set with the hard-rocking “R U Mine?,” a sort of aggressive sequel to “Do You Wanna Know?” It was the perfect blast to end the show, as the audience’s loud approval showed. It was a nicely rocking set, which we can’t wait for you to see when it airs early next year on your local PBS station.   

Janelle Monae brings 4-act masterpiece to ACL

photo by Scott Newton

If there’s proof you can be a superstar and a restless innovator, it resides in the art and life of Janelle Monáe. The Atlanta-based singer, songwriter, producer, actor and label owner was proclaimed a star right out of the box with her debut album The ArchAndroid, and her stock has done nothing but rise since. Following two renowned LPs and breakout roles in the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures and Oscar-winning Moonlight, Monáe hit the music world like a freight train with the wildly lauded Dirty Computer, a major statement on community and inclusion and her most successful album yet. We were thrilled to host her acclaimed four-act masterpiece that is the Dirty Computer tour.

The band took the stage to the strains of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” before launching into the title track of Dirty Computer. The scene thus set, Monáe herself climbed the white pyramid at center stage for “Crazy, Classic, Life,” a song that lays out her philosophy and invites everyone to join in. Donning a guitar, she chunked out the chords to “Screwed,” a catchy funk/pop tune that conflates the act of sex with the exercise of power. Changing her costume onstage in front of a mirror held by a dancer (a nice homage to the futuristic funk of The Time), Monáe ascended the throne that appeared at the top of the pyramid for “Django Jane,” a fiercely rapped anthem of empowerment for weirdos everywhere. The lights went down for a minute as the four dancers changed costume; when illumination returned, it was to the tune of “Q.U.E.E.N.,” from her sophomore record The Electric Lady. That was followed by the title track from that LP, which became a call-and-response singalong with the electric ladies in the audience, who knew every word. After letting the crowd know that they were loved, Monáe eased into “Primetime,” a positive power ballad that guitarist Kellindo Parker morphed into the ending solo of key Monáe influence Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

After a break, bassist Téja Veal and keyboardist Krystal Johnson broke out the keytars and Monáe and her dancers came out for the catchy funk rock of “Pynk,” her infamous ode to human anatomy. While that song is as much about the color all people have in common inside as anything more lascivious, there was no mistaking the erotic vibe of “Yoga,” her 2015 single with rapper Jidenna. “We’re here to celebrate self love,” she declared, but before anyone could get the wrong idea, she followed that sentiment with “I Like That,” a song about self-acceptance that became another communion between performer and audience. The stage darkened once again, before everyone returned for a redo of “Pynk.” One more quick interlude later, and it was on to the awesomely hooky “Make Me Feel,” a sensual bit of stripped-down funk with nods to Michael Jackson (who inspired Monáe’s shadow dancing during the intro), Prince (who helped create sounds for the song before his untimely death) and James Brown (bits of whose “I Got the Feeling” made sporadic appearances). The funk kept roiling with “I Got the Juice,” yet another highlight from Dirty Computer that became a showcase not only for her dancers, but select members of the audience Monáe invited to show off their juice. The dancing kept going as the lights went down, the spotlight came up, and Monáe returned to redo her silhouette dance and the rest of “Make Me Feel.”  

Monáe and band returned to remind the audience that her work celebrates inclusion, empowerment and the fight for the rights of those unfairly pushed to the margins. “I come in peace,” she explained, “but I mean business.” To underscore the point, she ended the main set with an extended “Tightrope,” the rocking soul tune that was a highlight of her debut. But that was not, of course, the end. Egged on by enthusiastic applause, Monáe and the band returned for the rollicking “Come Alive (War of the Roses),” which blazed across the stage, heavy on audience participation, before the star danced her way through the crowd itself. It was an incredible end to a show like no other that’s ever graced the Austin City Limits stage, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this season on your local PBS station.

Residente brings the music of the world to ACL

photo by Scott Newton

It’s not every day that an artist records an album inspired by a DNA test. But that’s just what Puerto Rican superstar Residente did. Energized by discovering that his genetics came from literally all over the world, the former Calle 13 co-founder traveled to France, China, Russia, Spain, England, Africa, the United States and more to record his smash self-titled LP. The erstwhile René Juan Pérez Joglar brought this incredible range of sounds to his debut ACL taping for a show that made the crowd dance and think at the same time.

Residente’s seven-piece band took the stage first with “Intro ADN/DNA,” mixing Latin, African and Arabic music with rock guitar and electronica to hint at the incredible range of the music to come. The man himself came out rocking with “Somos Anormales,” the explosive opening cut from his solo album. He then dipped into the Calle 13 catalog, adapting “Bailes De Los Pobres” and “El Aguante” to his current worldbeat-driven style – how many other rappers prominently feature instruments like oud and dumbek? “We like to include everyone, not exclude anyone,” Residente explained about going back and forth between English and Spanish – a philosophy that translates to his musical vision as well. Things slowed down for that rarest of things in hip-hop: a ballad. “Desencuentro” began with a jazzy piano solo courtesy keyboardist Leo Genovese (who previously visited the ACL stage with Esperanza Spalding), evolving into a duet between Residente and singer Kiani Medina and ending with a lighter-waving guitar solo from Elias Meister. Switching gears dramatically, Residente and band brought the rock side back to the fore for the angry “Calma Pueblo,” which the vocalist dedicated to “the motherfuckers of the music business.”  

Explaining the concept of his solo album, Residente introduced “Dagombas El Tamale,” a song based around the vocal and percussion styles of the African nation of Ghana. “Adentro,” a dis track aimed at gangsta rappers, followed, before the band went back to Africa for “La Sombra,” recorded with Nigerian guitarist Bombino and filled out by Meister and co-axeslinger Justin Purtill onstage. The rapper shouted out the resistance – but, pointedly, not the use of violence – for “Guerra,” a track that ended in an explosion from the guitarists, Genovese, percussionists Daniel Diaz and Brahim Fribgane and ex-Mars Volta/Suicidal Tendencies drummer Thomas Pridgen. “Latinoamérica,” a beautiful tribute to Residente’s region of the world, began with virtuoso acoustic guitar picking from Purtill before flowing into vocal trade-offs between the leader and Medina. The energy level shot back up for “Apocalíptico,” a dramatic track inspired by the Chinese landscape in which it was recorded.

As the song drifted into ambience, Residente quit the stage, but the break was brief. The rapper returned with the Calle 13 tune “La Vuelta Al Mundo,” an especially groovy number with lush synth work from Genovese. Fribgane kicked off  “El Futuro Es Nuestro” with an expert oud solo, introing recorded with Bosnian singer Goran Bregović, but blew the doors off in good hands here. After the world travels of the rest of the show, Residente brought it back to Latin America for “Atrévete-Te-Te,” Calle 13’s irresistibly danceable barnburner from its debut album. It was an incredible ending to an incredible show, the most internationally diverse since Manu Chao a decade ago. We can’t wait for you to see it when it airs early next year on your local PBS station.