ACL congratulates the 2020 Grammy nominees

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits congratulates all the nominees for the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. But we’d like to shine a spotlight on the many nominees who appear on ACL in our current Season 45 as well as nominees from prior seasons. We’re especially proud to showcase five of this year’s Best New Artist nominees this season.

A hale and hearty congrats to the artists who contributed to our milestone season 45, including Billie Eilish, who scored top noms for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Engineered Album, while her brother Finneas, who produced the album and performed with her on her upcoming episode, earned a nod for Producer of the Year. Soul sensation H.E.R. also gathered a slew of nominations, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best R&B Performance, and Best R&B Song, while Austin hero and ACL season 45 opener Gary Clark Jr. earned noms for Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Contemporary Blues Album and Best Music Video. 

photo by Scott Newton

Indie rock gods Vampire Weekend clock in with nods for Album of the Year, Best Rock Song, and Best Alternative Music Album, while Spanish superstar Rosalía clicks off the boxes for Best New Artist and Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album. Cage the Elephant was nominated for Best Rock Album and Patty Griffin for Best Folk Album. Plus Maggie Rogers, Black Pumas and Tank and The Bangas share the nominations with Eilish and Rosalía for Best New Artist. Sarah Jarosz was nominated for Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song as part of I’m With Her, who appear in our upcoming special broadcast ACL Presents: Americana 18th Annual Honors. In addition, ACL vet Jimmie Vaughan and young blues guitar slinger Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, both of whom appear in our upcoming Hall of Fame special on Dec. 28, were each nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album.

“I think it’s pretty cool (and speaks well for us) that we’ve had so many nominees on the show this season,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “ including five of the Best New Artist nominees.”

photo by Scott Newton

Many of our distinguished alumni received nominations this year as well. Veteran country music queen Tanya Tucker, who appeared in Season 11, garnered noms for Song of the Year, Best Country Album, Best Country Song, and Best Country Solo Performance for the album While I’m Livin’, created in collaboration with Brandi Carlile. Indie rock icon Bon Iver got nominated for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Alternative Music Album, and Best Recording Package, while Dan Auerbach received a Producer of the Year nod. Our friends Esperanza Spalding, Dolly Parton, Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes, Calexico and Iron & Wine got two nominations apiece (the latter two bands for a collaborative album), while Willie Nelson, Elvis Costello, Ed Sheeran, Rosanne Cash, Khalid, Reba McEntire, CeCe Winans, Rhiannon Giddens, Miranda Lambert, Vince Gill, Rodrigo y Gabriela, John Legend, Angelique Kidjo, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, Andrew Bird, Pistol Annies, Keb’ Mo’, Delbert McClinton, and David Gray got one each.

A full list of all nominees can be found here – good luck to them all. The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards will telecast on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. 

Congratulations to ACL’s winners at the 61st annual Grammy Awards

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits wishes to congratulate our Season 44 ACL guests for their wins at the 61st annual Grammy Awards.

Kacey Musgraves went home with the prestigious Album of the Year award for her LP Golden Hour, which she radiantly showcased on her recent episode. The Texas native also won Best Country Album, Best Country Solo Performance for “Butterflies,” and Best Country Song for “Space Cowboy.” Americana powerhouse Brandi Carlile won her first-ever Grammys, sweeping her category, as her song “The Joke” won both Best American Roots Song and Best American Roots Performance, and her album By the Way, I Forgive You, which got big play during her Season 44 appearance, won Best Americana Album. The mighty St. Vincent, who kicked off our season premiere with a powerful hour-length episode, won the Best Rock Song award for her tune “Masseduction,” as well as Best Recording Package for her album of the same name.

Other Season 44 guests who took home trophies include Willie Nelson, who won Best Traditional Pop Album for his Frank Sinatra tribute My Way, and Buddy Guy, who won Best Traditional Blues Album for his LP The Blues is Alive and Well. Our distinguished alumni Beck also Best Alternative Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, while Kendrick Lamar tied for Best Rap Performance, Leon Bridges tied for Best Traditional R&B Performance and Punch Brothers won for Best Folk Album. Congratulations to them and to all the other Grammy winners.

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.”

Willie Nelson returns to the house he built in ACL Season 44

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits proudly welcomes back a longtime friend, American music icon Willie Nelson, in a career-spanning hour as he performs a mix of his universally-known hits and new classics from his timeless catalog.

There’s a good reason why a bronze statue of Willie Nelson stands at the entrance to ACL’s studio home on the Austin street that bears his name. The Texas native launched Austin City Limits with the now-historic pilot episode (taped in 1974), ushering in what has become the longest-running television music series ever. Inducted into the inaugural class of the ACL Hall of Fame in 2014, he returns to “the house that Willie built” for a remarkable 18th appearance on the program, marking his first headlining appearance in a decade since he shared the stage with Asleep at the Wheel during Season 35 in 2009. The new performance marks his first appearance with his longtime Family Band since Season 25 in 2000.

In the 45-year history of Austin City Limits, no artist has personified the music series’ eclectic, freewheeling spirit more fully than Willie Nelson. Joined by the five-piece Family band, Willie starts the 16-song set with his perennial opener, “Whiskey River,” the song he launched ACL with almost a half-century ago. The energy is palpable for the mainstays that established him as a songwriting legend: “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Crazy,” and “Night Life” (undertaking such an intense, bluesy shred on his trusty acoustic Trigger that he has to shake out his left hand afterward). He honors departed pals and co-songwriters with shout-outs (“Good Hearted Woman,” “for Waylon!” and “It’s All Going to Pot,” “for Merle!”). Willie calls out often for the crowd to join in, and they reply with joy and respect. “I hear it!”, he answers back with a grin during one of many sing-along moments.

photo by Scott Newton

The set features the pinnacles of his artistry as an interpreter: “Georgia on My Mind” anchored by harmonica master Mickey Raphael’s counter melodies; his version of “Nuages,” Django Reinhardt’s 1940 gypsy jazz instrumental, is lifted by the fascinating interplay with sister Bobbie’s piano; “Always on My Mind” showcases Willie’s inimitable phrasing. In tribute to his own favorite vocalist, Willie dips into his most recent album for a jazzy take on Frank Sinatra’s hit “Fly Me to the Moon.” The outlaw legend performs his new-classic anthem “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” and elicits unerringly faithful crowd-chorus callbacks on “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” and the raucous sing-along “On the Road Again.” All reveal a singular artist who’s still exploring, still playful, still pushing the boundaries of where his music can go. After a rousing, standing-room, hand-clapping “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and his now-standard set-closer “I’ll Fly Away,” Willie smiles as wide as Texas, and with a wave of his hat offers a heartfelt “Thank you, Austin City Limits!”

“There would be no Austin City Limits without Willie Nelson – simple as that,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “He launched ACL into the television universe in 1974, and has helped keep us going for 45 years. It was truly emotional to witness such an outpouring of love from the audience. This show is Willie Nelson, pure and simple.”

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Join us next week for another brand new episode, featuring the return of blues legend Buddy Guy and the debut of hip-hop/jazz supergroup August Greene.

ACL announces lineup for second half of Season 44

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits announces the second half of Season 44, with eight all-new installments to begin airing December 15 as part of the program’s fourteen-episode season. The stellar slate of broadcast episodes features highly-anticipated debuts from today’s most talked-about live acts, and the return of ACL stalwarts, continuing Austin City Limits’ run as the longest-running music television show in history, providing viewers a front-row seat to the best in live performance for over 40 years.

The season returns with many acts making first-time appearances on the ACL stage including UK modern rock icons (and 2019 Grammy nominees) Arctic Monkeys, rising R&B star Khalid and Canadian indie rocker Mac DeMarco splitting a bill, and trailblazing Puerto Rican rapper Residente in a thrilling rapid-fire hour. A series highlight features the return of American icon Willie Nelson, who helped launched ACL in 1974, in a new performance for the ages, marking a remarkable eighteenth appearance on the series and his first headlining set in a decade. Also returning is New Orleans sensation Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews who celebrates his second ACL with a N’awlins-style hourlong party featuring his 10-piece Orleans Avenue band along with special guest, ACL Hall of Fame legend Cyril Neville. Blues giant Buddy Guy, another 2019 Grammy nominee, returns for his third headlining appearance, sharing an episode with the all-star collective known as August Greene, featuring hip-hop’s Common and renowned producers/jazz music phenoms Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins. Austin favorites Wild Child round out the season in a spirited debut from this seven-piece indie-folk outfit.

“This might be our most eclectic mix of artists, styles and genres in one fell swoop ever,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.” It really speaks to what separates Austin City Limits from every other music show, ever. I’m so proud we are able to showcase two giants in their respective genres, and both legends: Buddy Guy and Willie Nelson. Without Willie, there would be no ACL!”

Season 44 | Season 44 Broadcast Season (second half)

December 15 Khalid / Mac DeMarco
December 22 Tom Waits (encore)
December 29 Iggy Pop (encore)
December 31 ACL Hall of Fame New Year’s Special

January 5 Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
January 12 Residente
January 19 Arctic Monkeys / Wild Child
January 26 Willie Nelson

February 2 Buddy Guy/ August Greene

February 9 ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival

ACL’s Season 44 premiered in October with standout performances from St. Vincent, John Prine, Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves, Miguel, Anderson East, Alessia Cara, Sam Smith and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. The award-winning series will continue to broadcast fan-favorite encore episodes through the end of 2018. In what has become an ACL holiday tradition, the program will encore Tom Waits legendary December 1978 performance, one of the most requested episodes in ACL’s 40+ year archive. Tune-in on December 22nd to see this classic Christmas episode. A recent classic, Iggy Pop’s iconic 2016, Season 42 debut on the ACL stage, backed by an all-star band including Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, encores December 29th.

A special broadcast of Austin City Limits Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve airs Monday, December 31 at 10pm CT/11pm ET. Austin City Limits rings in the new year with this star-studded celebration, hosted by Chris Isaak, featuring one-of-a-kind performances and collaborations from the 2018 ACL Hall of Fame induction ceremony, taped October 25, 2018. Performers include ACL royalty Los Lobos, Marcia Ball, Norah Jones, Gary Clark Jr., Irma Thomas, Robert Randolph, Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, Ruthie Foster, Boz Scaggs & more.

photo by Gary Miller

For the eighth consecutive year, the producers of Austin City Limits, in conjunction with Two Talented Cats, LLC, and the Americana Music Association, are proud to present a special ACL Presents on February 9th to close out Season 44—featuring the best music performances from the 17th Annual Americana Music Association Honors and Awards Ceremony held September 12, 2018 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.

Austin City Limits continues to offer its popular live streams of select performances for fans worldwide on ACL’s YouTube Channel. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding live streams, future tapings and episode schedules.

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.

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.

Giveaway: Willie Nelson 11/19

photo by David McClister

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Willie Nelson on Monday, November 19th at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We will be giving away a limited number of space available passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by noon on Thursday, November 15th.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pick up tickets. Winners will be notified by email. Passes are not transferable and cannot be sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras computers or recording devices allowed in venue.