2015 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame

photo by Scott Newton

Last night we were proud to present the new class of Austin City Limits Hall of Fame inductees. Loretta Lynn, Guy Clark, Flaco Jimenez, Townes Van Zandt, Asleep at the Wheel and the Season 1 crew joined the ranks inaugurated last year. The night was about more than awards. It was and is always about the music, and, anchored by host Dwight Yoakam.

The first award of the evening went to Loretta Lynn. The First Lady of Country Music gave us two memorable shows in Seasons 8 and 23. Accepting her award, Patty Loveless, a four-time ACL vet herself. With a fiery “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’” and a soulful “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (especially appropriate, as Loveless shares the same background as Lynn), Loveless paid perfect tribute to one of her inspirations. She and country superstar Vince Gill paired to sing a rendition of Lynn’s song “After the Fire is Gone,”  originally performed with Conway Twitty.

photo by Scott Newton

The night continued with Lyle Lovett coming to the stage to honor friend and Texan singer/songwriter Guy Clark. Lovett accepted the award on Clark’s behalf with wit and grace. Singing “Step Inside This House,” Lovett performed the first song Clark ever wrote, following that with “Anyhow I Love You,” a lovely waltz from Clark’s second album.

photo by Scott Newton

Jason Isbell killed it with the indelible Clark classic “Desperados Waiting For a Train” before being joined by guitarist extraordinare/Gillian Welch partner David Rawlings for the picker’s rumination “Black Diamond Strings.”

photo by Scott Newton

Next, host Dwight Yoakam inducted influential conjunto accordionist Flaco Jimenez. The eight-time ACLer and 76-year-old San Antonio native has recorded and performed with the honkytonk hero before, and accepted his award from his old compadre with a humble and eloquent speech. Then it was time for some classic Tex-Mex music. San Antonio Grammy winners Los Texmaniacs served as Jimenez’s opener with a swampy, rocking “Down in the Barrio,” joined by Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo on stinging guitar. The man himself took the stage for a honkytonking “He’ll Have to Go,” sung by Hidalgo,  and a irresistibly danceable “Ay Te Dejo San Antonio.”

photo by Scott Newton

Yoakam returned to the stage for “Carmelita,” his and the honoree’s distinctive take on the Warren Zevon ballad. The ensemble closed out with a pair of Yoakam classics: the two-step standard “Streets of Bakersfield” and gorgeous murder ballad “Buenos Noches From a Lonely Room (She Wore Red Dresses).”

photo by Scott Newton

After a brief intermission, Yoakam introduced superfan Gillian Welch, who inducted Townes Van Zandt by telling stories about how the Texas troubadour came to her gigs in her early days in Nashville. The late singer/songwriter appeared on ACL twice, including a Season 1 episode some argue is his best-ever television performance. Van Zandt’s eldest son JT accepted on his father’s behalf. Welch then took the stage with her guitar-slinging partner David Rawlings for faithful takes on TVZ classics “Tecumseh Valley” and “Dollar Bill Blues.”

photo by Scott Newton

British singer/songwriter Laura Marling followed up with a stunning version of “Colorado Girl,” trailed by JT himself, performing a haunted take on “Nothin’,” one of his father’s most cathartic songs.

photo by Scott Newton

Vince Gill then returned to the stage to induct Asleep at the Wheel. With eleven appearances, including the very first episode of Season 1, Asleep at the Wheel has been a mainstay on ACL. Bandleader Ray Benson accepted, dedicating his award to the late Joe Gracey — his former roommate and the person responsible for the band’s first booking on Austin City Limits. The band hit the stage for a pair of standards, “Miles and Miles of Texas” and the boogie-woogieing “Route 66.”

photo by Scott Newton

 

Gill joined his old pals for a hoppin’ version of Bob Wills’ “Take Me Back to Tulsa,” while Lyle Lovett returned for a rousing run through Wills’ “Blues For Dixie.”

photo by Scott Newton

To round out the night, the Season 1 crew, having been honored the night before, was publicly recognized for their contributions in establishing the show as a music institution.  The night ended with an all-star reading of Van Zandt’s classic roadburn “White Freightliner Blues.” It was a special evening, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it appears as part of Season 41 next year.

photo by Gary Miller

ACL announces additional performers for 2015 Hall of Fame

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Austin City Limits announces additional guest performers for the 2015 ACL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, June 18th.  Americana original Lyle Lovett and acoustic duo Gillian Welch join previously announced performers: country legend Vince Gill, acclaimed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, multi-platinum country artist Patty Loveless, British singer-songwriter Laura Marling, Los Lobos frontman David Hidalgo, GRAMMY-winning conjunto band Los Texmaniacs and Texas singer-songwriter JT Van Zandt. Hosted by multiple GRAMMY Award-winning country star Dwight Yoakam, who will also perform, the celebration honors the second class of inductees with one-of-a-kind music performances and tributes, as five trailblazing artists are inducted: Asleep at the Wheel, Loretta Lynn, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez and Townes Van Zandt.

All-star guest presenters will handle induction honors in what is sure to be a memorable night: Vince Gill will induct Western swing institution Asleep at the Wheel, Lyle Lovett inducts fellow Texan Guy Clark, Dwight Yoakam inducts master Tex-Mex accordionist Flaco Jiménez, and Gillian Welch is set to honor songwriting hero Townes Van Zandt.  Country icon Loretta Lynn will accept her honor in a special video for the occasion.  Inductees Asleep at the Wheel and Flaco Jiménez will also perform at the ceremony. Renowned steel guitarist and producer Lloyd Maines, inducted last year into the ACL Hall of Fame, returns as Music Director, leading an Austin all-star house band.

photo by Mark Seliger

The event is open to the public this year and will take place at ACL’s studio home, Austin’s ACL Live at the Moody Theater. A limited number of tickets are available at acltv.com/hall-of-fame. Musical highlights and inductions from the ceremony will be broadcast in a special episode as part of ACL’s Season 41 which premieres in the fall on PBS.

 

Johnny Gimble 1926-2015

photo by Scott Newton

We here at Austin City Limits were saddened to learn of the passing of the great Johnny Gimble, Texas swing and C&W fiddler extraordinaire. The Tyler, Texas native and Dripping Springs resident was 88.

Following a stint in the army, Gimble played with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in the late 40s, appearing on the classic 1950 recording of “Faded Love.” After spending a few years in Waco working as a barber and raising a family, the fiddle virtuoso moved to Nashville and became a first-call session musician. Gimble appeared on recordings by Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Marty Robbins, Ray Price and his longtime musical running buddy Willie Nelson, with whom he toured in the late ‘70s. Gimble was also recruited for Nashville session supergroups the Million Dollar Band (frequent performers on Hee Haw) and the Superpickers, and backed Carrie Underwood at the Grammy Awards in 2007. He also scored a country hit of his own in 1983 with “One Fiddle, Two Fiddle,” featuring Ray Price, and appeared in Clint Eastwood’s film Honkytonk Man as his old boss Bob Wills. His most recent album is 2010’s Ray Benson-produced Celebrating With Friends, recorded in collaboration with the Country Music Hall of Fame. That album also includes performances with his singer/pianist daughter Emily, who makes her ACL debut later this year as a member of Asleep at the Wheel.

Gimble was also a frequent guest on Austin City Limits, appearing numerous times with Willie Nelson, as well as making memorable appearances with the Superpickers in Season 4 and on the Season 6 Mandolin Special, on which he demonstrated his expertise on his other instrument, the electric mandolin. Gimble fronted a double-header episode in Season 5, headlining the first half and leading the Texas Swing Pioneers in the second half.

“Aside from being a Texas Playboy, he was the most renowned Country and Western Swing fiddler – ever!” remarked ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “He played with heart and soul and had an infectious spirit and sense of adventure – in both his music and personality. Before Lloyd Maines set the current record, Johnny played more times on ACL than any other musician. There was a time when everybody wanted Johnny Gimble to play on their show.”

Our condolences go out to his family and friends, of which he had hundreds. May he rest in peace.

 

Austin City Limits Announces Performers for 2015 ACL Hall of Fame

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Austin City Limits announces guest performers for the 2015 ACL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, June 18th: country legend Vince Gill, acclaimed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, multi-platinum country artist Patty Loveless, British singer-songwriter Laura Marling, Los Lobos frontman David Hidalgo, Grammy-winning conjunto band Los Texmaniacs and Texas singer-songwriter JT Van Zandt.

Hosted by multiple GRAMMY Award-winning country star Dwight Yoakam, who will also perform, the celebration honors the second class of inductees with one-of-a-kind music performances and tributes, as five trailblazing artists are inducted: Asleep at the Wheel, Loretta Lynn, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez and Townes Van Zandt. The event is open to the public this year and will take place at ACL’s studio home, Austin’s ACL Live at The Moody Theater. A limited number of tickets are available at acltv.com/hall-of-fame. Musical highlights and inductions from the ceremony will be broadcast in a special episode as part of ACL’s Season 41 which premieres in the fall on PBS.

More information about performances and additional guest stars will be announced prior to the event. Inductees Asleep at the Wheel and Flaco Jiménez will also perform at the ceremony and country icon Loretta Lynn will accept her honor in a special video for the occasion. Renowned steel guitarist and producer Lloyd Maines, inducted last year into the ACL Hall of Fame, returns as Music Director, leading an Austin all-star house band.

The newest class of inductees also recognizes—in the non-performer category—the original ACL crew, who will be honored at the event, and 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. The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame celebrates the legacy of legendary artists and key individuals who have been instrumental in the pioneering music series remarkable 40+ years as an American music institution. The inaugural induction ceremony took place April 26, 2014 and honored Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Bill Arhos, Darrell Royal and Lloyd Maines. The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is an annual event, honoring a new class of inductees each year.

Austin City Limits and the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame are produced by KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. KLRU is a non-profit organization providing public television and educational resources to Central Texas as well as producing quality national programming. Net proceeds from this event benefit KLRU.

Asleep at the Wheel’s all-star homecoming

photo by Scott Newton

It’s always a thrill to welcome back ACL alumni. It’s an even bigger thrill to re-open the stage to a band that was literally there from the beginning. Asleep at the Wheel appeared in ACL’s first official episode in 1976, joined by Bob Wills’ Original Texas Playboys. It’s now 40 years down the road, and Austin’s beloved Western swing institution returns for their tenth taping in salute to the Playboys’ vast catalog.

After opening with straightforward renditions of “Cherokee Maiden” and “Miles and Miles of Texas” (which is as much a Wheel standard at this point as a Playboys staple), bandleader Ray Benson welcomed 92-year-old saxophonist Billy Briggs, who was a 1950s-era Playboy, to the stage for a hopping take on “Route 66,” co-sung by pianist Emily Gimble, the granddaughter of former Playboy (and frequent ACL guest) Johnny Gimble. The band then took a skillful, joyful trip through Wills’ back catalog, hitting not only the obvious hits (“San Antonio Rose,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Faded Love”) but titles that ring bells only with hardcore Western swing fans (“Keeper of My Heart,” “It’s All Your Fault,” “A Good Man’s Hard to Find”). Ending the first half with the party-hearty “Big Balls in Cowtown,” the Wheel brought the crowd to their feet.

For the second half, the band brought out some special guests. The Quebe Sisters, a trio from Burleson, TX, brought triple harmonies to both their fiddles and their Andrews Sisters-styled vocals on “Navajo Trail” and “Across the Alley.” Amos Lee gave “I Hear Ya Talkin’” and “Sweet Pea” a bluesily soulful spin. The Avett Brothers and their band turned “Girl I Left Behind Me” and “Take Me Back to Tulsa” (the Wheel’s first song on their debut episode 40 years prior) into down-home folk songs as much as Western swing. Then came the night’s biggest coup, as former Playboys singer Leon Rausch, who played with Wills in the ‘50s and with the Playboys on ACL’s 10th anniversary episode in front of the Texas capitol, arrived onstage for a rousing “Milk Cow Blues.” Eighty-eight years young. Rausch hasn’t lost a step and the audience showed its appreciation.

The entire ensemble then took the stage for a nifty run through the “Texas Playboys Theme,” which used to open the Playboys’ radio show; the band interpolated “Happy Trails” into the old chestnut. The Wheel encored with another of its standards, the jumping “Choo Choo Ch-Boogie,” before closing things out with a crowd singalong on country superstar – and Western swing fanatic – George Strait’s “All My Exes Live in Texas.” We can’t imagine a better way to complete a circle that began in the mid-70s, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs later this year on PBS.

 

Live Stream our taping with Asleep at the Wheel and special guests

Live stream Asleep At The Wheel

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce a live stream of Western swing institution Asleep at the Wheel joined by special guests The Avett Brothers and Amos Lee, in a special tribute to the late Bob Wills, King of Western swing. The taping, Tuesday, February 24th @ 9pm ET/ 8pm CT, is the first of ACL’s new season, and will be live streamed worldwide directly from ACL’s stage via the show’s YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/austincitylimitstv. Fans can log on to watch the entire taping as it happens live from The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. The broadcast episode will air on PBS this fall as part of the legendary music series upcoming Season 41. The show’s hashtag is #acltv. The live stream is powered by ACL underwriter Dell Computers.

Asleep at the Wheel were featured in ACL’s first official episode in 1976 along with The Texas Playboys, and their return marks an incredible eleventh appearance on the program. Asleep at the Wheel are also the newest members of the ACL Hall of Fame, and will be inducted at a ceremony to be held in Austin later this year. The legendary band releases their highly-anticipated new Bob Wills tribute album Still The King: Celebrating The Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys on March 3rd, featuring an all-star line-up of special guests, including ACL veterans Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, The Avett Brothers, George Strait, Kat Edmonson and Merle Haggard.  Founded in 1970 and based in Austin, TX, Asleep at the Wheel, 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 charts. For over 40 years, Ray Benson & Asleep at the Wheel have been the chief practitioners, conspirators and caretakers of Western swing, carrying Bob Wills’ traditions well into the 21st century, reaching both their contemporaries and the next generation of artists inspired by the great bandleader.

ACL recently announced the inductees for its second annual ACL Hall of Fame and the first round of tapings for the series’ upcoming Season 41, which also include the Grammy nominated country rebel Sturgill Simpson and acclaimed rock outfit The War on Drugs.

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

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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