R.I.P. Whitey Shafer

Whitey Shafer on ACL 10

Austin City Limits was saddened to learn of the death of C&W songwriter Whitey Shafer on Jan. 12 after a long illness. He was 84.

Sanger D. “Whitey” Shafer was born in Whitney, Texas, where he first played in school bands. After touring the country with a then-unknown Willie Nelson, he moved to Nashville in 1967 intending to make it as a singer. However, it was his songs that caught the country music establishment’s ear, and before long he was scoring hits with George Jones (“Tell Me My Lying Eyes Are Wrong”), Moe Bandy (“Bandy the Rodeo Clown”), Keith Whitley (“I Wonder Do You Think of Me”) and Johnny Rodriguez and Merle Haggard (“That’s the Way Love Goes,” co-written with Shafer’s pal Lefty Frizzell). He also wrote two of George Strait’s iconic hits: “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” and “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” both number ones and both nominated for CMA “Song of the Year” awards.

In recent years Shafer continued writing for contemporary country stars like Lee Ann Womack, John Michael Montgomery and Kenny Chesney. In 2004, Shafer earned a different kind of hit, as his own recording of “All My Ex’s” appeared on the soundtrack of the hit video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Few country songwriters of his generation can claim that, and it’s one of many reasons we’ll not see his like again.

Shafer appeared on ACL in 1980 and 1981 as part of a two-part Songwriters Special, and again in 1985 under his own name. Here he is in 1985, singing “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind.”

ACL Artists at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits congratulates all the nominees for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. We’d like to give a special shout-out to the nominees who have appeared on ACL. Big high fives to roots rock powerhouse Brandi Carlile, who earned noms for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best American Roots Performance, Best American Roots Song and Best Americana Album. And a hearty backslap once again to Kendrick Lamar, whose eight nominations include nods for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap/Sung Performance, Best Rap Song (twice – one as a writer only) and Best Song Written for Visual Media.

We’re happy to be showcasing many of this year’s nominees during our current Season 44. Besides Carlile, we’ve already broadcast new episodes from Kacey Musgraves (Album of the Year, Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Song, Best Country Album), St. Vincent (Best Rock Song, Best Alternative Music Album, Best Recording Package), John Prine (Best American Roots Song (twice), Best Americana Album), Janelle Monáe (Album of the Year, Best Music Video), Miguel (Best Urban Contemporary Album, Best R&B Song, Best Song Written for Visual Media) and Anderson East (Best American Roots Performance). Coming up next year in the second half of our season, we’ll have brand-new episodes featuring Willie Nelson (Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, Best American Roots Performance, Best Arrangement – Instruments and Vocals), Arctic Monkeys (Best Rock Performance, Best Alternative Music Album) and Buddy Guy (Best Traditional Blues Album).   

 

photo by Scott Newton

Additional congrats go out to our ACL veterans who received nominations: Beck, Chris Stapleton, Leon Bridges, Loretta Lynn, Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, Bettye LaVette, Vince Gill, Margo Price, David Byrne, Natalia Lafourcade, John Legend, Lee Ann Womack, Joan Baez, Ben Harper, Iron & Wine, Keith Urban, Boz Scaggs, Sufjan Stevens, Punch Brothers, The Milk Carton Kids and the Decemberists.

A full list of all nominees can be found here – good luck to them all. Co-produced by ACL executive producer, Terry Lickona, the 61st Annual Grammy Awards will telecast on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019.

ACL artists at the 2016 Grammys

photo by Scott Newton

The nominations for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards are out now, and we’re pleased to see that a number of Austin City Limits’ distinguished guests have received top honors. Congratulations to Kendrick Lamar with eleven nominations: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song (twice), Best Rap Album, Best Pop/Sung Collaboration, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Dance Recording and Best Music Video (twice!). Also shout-outs to a number of Season 41 performers receiving well-deserved nominations, including Alabama Shakes, nominated for Album of the Year, Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Alternative Music Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical; Courtney Barnett, for Best New Artist, Angélique Kidjo, for Best World Music Album, Leon Bridges, for Best R&B Album, Don Henley, for Best American Roots Song and James Taylor, for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Kudos as well to the following ACL veterans who landed nominations: Florence + the Machine, John Legend, Ed Sheeran, Punch Brothers, Foo Fighters, Buddy Guy, Bela Fleck, the Mavericks, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Jason Isbell, Death Cab For Cutie, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves, The Milk Carton Kids, Mavis Staples, Brandi Carlile, Lee Ann Womack, Hayes Carll, Ralph Stanley, Shemekia Copeland, Bettye LaVette, Patty Griffin, Glen Hansard of the Swell Season, Rhiannon Giddens and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Congratulations to them all.

Go here to see in what categories all these artists are nominated, as well as all the nominees.

Stay tuned to ACL to catch stellar performances from some of these fine folks in action in the coming weeks – Alabama Shakes kick off the second half of our Season 41 with a return appearance on January 2, Kendrick Lamar on January 9, Angélique Kidjo on January 23, Leon Bridges on February 6 and Ed Sheeran on February 27.

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 15th – Good luck to Terry and all the nominees!

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!

 

ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2012

photo by Erika Goldring

This weekend we’re taking a break from our Season 38 episodes for ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2012. The eleventh annual Americana Music Festival took place earlier this fall in Nashville, TN, in the historic Ryman Auditorium, with some fantastic performances from legendary artists who helped define the genre, plus some newcomers who are keeping the tradition true. Featured artists include Booker T. Jones, Alabama Shakes, Hayes Carll with Cary Ann Hearst, Guy Clark, Lee Ann Womack, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Mavericks, Richard Thompson, Carolina Chocolate Drops and many more! It’s a night full of the brightest stars celebrating the roots of American music.

Described by Southern Living as “the best music festival” the night was hosted once again by Jim Lauderdale and bandleader Buddy Miller. One highlight of the night included Lee Ann Womack singing a Tom T. Hall song entitled “I Love” in which the man himself joined her onstage, singing the last verse and receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. Another moving moment was brought on by Guy Clark’s intimate performance of “My Favorite Picture of You” a song he wrote for Susanna Clark, his late wife who passed away earlier this year. The night culminated when Emmylou Harris, Amy Helm, Bonnie Raitt, John Hiatt, Richard Thompson, Brittany Howard (of Alabama Shakes), and various other musicians joined onstage to do a tribute to the late Levon Helm by performing the timeless hit, “The Weight.”

photo by Tracy Judd

This is one night of performances you won’t want to miss! Be sure to check here for details on this special show and here for local listings and times. Also be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages for all things Austin City Limits and updates about tapings. Join us next week for an encore episode featuring Mumford & Sons and Flogging Molly!