ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2015

Lee Ann Womack Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Austin City Limits heads to Nashville for a special broadcast featuring performance highlights from this year’s Americana Honors & Awards. ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2015 delivers sparkling performances that represent the genre’s diversity and excellence. The music-filled special features many of the night’s Lifetime Achievement Honorees, award-winners, next-generation stars and icons who helped define the genre; among them: Don Henley, Los Lobos, Ricky Skaggs, Lee Ann Womack, Shakey Graves, Keb’ Mo’, Jason Isbell, Rhiannon Giddens, Robert Randolph and John Hiatt.  

“The Americana Honors & Awards showcases one of the biggest and brightest lineups of talent seen all year,” raves NPR. Recorded live at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium in September, The Americana Music Association’s 14th Annual Honors & Awards ceremony is a best in show reflecting the spirit of Americana: American roots music that incorporates elements of country, rock ‘n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues.

Robert Randolph, The Fairfield Four, The McCrary Sisters Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Hosted by Americana kingpin Jim Lauderdale, the show opens with steel guitar sensation Robert Randolph joining with two legendary gospel groups, The Fairfield Four and the McCrary Sisters, for a rousing rendition of “Rock My Soul.” Highlights include show-stopping performances by the night’s Artist of the Year nominees: Rhiannon Giddens showcases her powerful vocals in a stunning performance of “Waterboy” from her Album of the Year-nominated Tomorrow Is My Turn. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, who captured top honors at last year’s awards, offers the anthemic title track of his new album, Something More Than Free. Country queen Lee Ann Womack performs from her critically-acclaimed The Way I’m Livin’, also nominated for Album of the Year.  

Another of the night’s top nominees, Emerging Artist of the Year winner Shakey Graves, is joined by Esmé Patterson for a playful duet of his nominated single “Dearly Departed.” Duo/group nominees The Lone Bellow, an indie-folk trio, make their first appearance, singing their standout “Then Came the Morning.”  

Marc Ribot & Buddy Miller Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

In true Americana style, the broadcast is loaded with musical moments and collaborations from the music’s forebears, including ovation-worthy turns from musical legend Don Henley, awarded a Lifetime Achievement Honor, performing from his acclaimed new album Cass County and veteran singer-songwriter and Song of the Year nominee John Hiatt. Bluegrass master Ricky Skaggs—the night’s Lifetime Achievement Honoree for Instrumentalist—performs with his wife and collaborator Sharon White alongside fellow legend Ry Cooder; and Americana icon Buddy Miller and celebrated guitarist and songwriter Marc Ribot present a stripped-down acoustic version of the Hank Williams classic “Cold, Cold Heart.”   

Blues titan Keb’ Mo’ pays a heartfelt tribute to the night’s President’s Award Honoree B.B. King, with a soulful interpretation of one of the late legend’s signature songs, “How Blue Can You Get,” (alongside King’s beloved guitar “Lucille”). The night’s Lifetime Achievement Award honorees for Performance, East L.A. stalwarts Los Lobos, validate their honor with a blistering, show-closing rendition of their classic “Will the Wolf Survive.”

Jim Lauderdale Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Throughout the broadcast, performers are backed by an all-star house band—led by Buddy Miller—and featuring legendary musicians: Dominic Davis, Chad Cromwell, Fats Kaplin, Ian Fitchuk, the McCrary Sisters and Little Feat founding member Bill Payne.

“This event is a musical celebration that brings together the finest musicians in the world, with legendary acts and the next generation of stars,” says Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association, adding “it’s about great songs and the appreciation for the authentic sound of American roots music.”

The show was co-produced by High Five Entertainment and its President Martin Fischer and ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona.

ACL Artists at the 2015 Grammys

photo by Scott Newton

The nominations for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards are out now, and we’re pleased to see that a lot of Austin City Limits’ distinguished guests have received the honors. Congratulations to Sam Smith with a whopping six nominations: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album. Also kudos to Beck with five nominations, Eric Church and Miranda Lambert with four, and Ryan Adams, The Black Keys, Rosanne Cash, Coldplay, Keb’ Mo’, Ed Sheeran, Chris Thile (Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers, Dolly Parton) and Jack White with three apiece.

Shout-outs as well to the following nominees: Gregg Allman (Allman Brothers Band), Dave Alvin, Arcade Fire, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Jerry Douglas (Alison Krauss & Union Station, Bela Fleck & Friends, Strength in Numbers), Mike Farris (Patty Griffin), Ruthie Foster, Eliza Gilkyson, John Hiatt, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Juanes, Alison Krauss, John Legend, Taj Mahal, Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Band, The Del McCoury Band, Tim McGraw, Nickel Creek, Old Crow Medicine Show, Pearl Jam, Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers), St. Vincent, Bryan Sutton (Bela Fleck & Friends, Dolly Parton), Keith Urban, Jesse Winchester, Lee Ann Womack and Neil Young.

You can go here to see in what categories all these artists are nominated, as well as all the other nominees.

You can catch some of these fine folks in action in the coming weeks – Nickel Creek appears on January 3, Sam  Smith on January 17, Ryan Adams on January 24 and The Black Keys on January 31.

And don’t forget – our own executive producer Terry Lickona is also co-producer of the Grammy telecast, as well as the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy, the Grammys’ parent organization. The Grammy Awards broadcast on February 8th – Good luck to Terry and all the nominees!