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.

New tapings: Willie Nelson and August Greene

photo by David McClister

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the final two tapings of Season 44 – one with an old friend and the other featuring some new ones. On November 19, we welcome back an American music icon: Willie Nelson, who anchored the pilot episode of ACL back in 1975, returns for his eighteenth appearance on the program and his first headlining appearance in almost a decade. We’re also thrilled to report that this highly-anticipated homecoming will be live streamed worldwide direct from the ACL stage. On November 26, we open the stage for the first time to supergroup August Greene, the collective of rap superstar Common, jazz keyboardist/producer Robert Glasper and drummer/producer Karriem Riggins.

With a seven-decade career and two hundred-plus albums, Willie Nelson needs no introduction. A bronze statue of Nelson at the entrance to ACL’s studio home on the Austin street that bears his name, honors the Texas native.  He spearheaded the Outlaw country movement in the 1970s, and has since become a musical and cultural treasure whose artistic vision has held steady for over half a century. Inducted into the ACL Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2014, the Red Headed Stranger has earned every conceivable award as a musician and amassed reputable credentials as an author, actor, and activist.  With a staggering legacy of classic songs and enduring influence, the 85-year-old continues to tour regularly throughout North America. In recent years, he has delivered more than then twelve new album releases, released a Top 10 New York Times’ bestseller, again headlined Farm Aid (an event he co-founded in 1985), received his 5th degree black belt in Gong Kwon Yu Sul, headlined the last three years of the on-going Luck Reunion food and music festival during SXSW at his ranch in Luck, TX, announced the launch of his cannabis company Willie’s Reserve, and graced the cover of Rolling Stone. In 2015, the Library of Congress honored him with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song for his contributions to music – the first country artist ever to receive the distinguished award. 2016 brought the releases of the Grammy-winning Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, which debuted at #1 on both the Top Current Jazz chart and the Top Traditional Jazz chart, and For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price, an album of newly recorded interpretations.  Nelson also released Pretty Paper, a novel inspired by his classic holiday song of the same title. In 2017, he released God’s Problem Child, an album with thirteen new songs that debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Country album chart and #10 on the Billboard 200. Nelson continues his restless streak in 2018 releasing two LPs: the all-originals Last Man Standing and My Way, a collection of songs associated with Frank Sinatra. Nelson released a new single, “Vote ‘Em Out,” this October urging citizens across the country to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming midterm elections.  We are honored to welcome Willie Nelson back to “the house that Willie built” to carve his name in the ACL stage once again.

photo by B+

In early 2016, musicians and friends Common, Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins found themselves in the studio, crafting the soulful backdrop of Common’s eleventh album Black America Again.  “It was such a real form of expression,” says Common. “It felt natural. We all have an affinity for great music.” As the trio created, they began to notice something different taking shape—something rooted in the warm R&B sounds of yesteryear but still very much in the present. It was soul music with a modern bounce, a jazz-rap hybrid in the spirit of A Tribe Called Quest. It fully encapsulated the black experience: the serenity and pain through which we channel gorgeous art, the beauty and struggle of simply trying to exist. Equally peaceful and profound, the music they captured laid the foundation for August Greene. The artists come to this project having reached major respective milestones over the years. Since 1992, the Chicago-born, Grammy-, Emmy- and Oscar-winning Common has uplifted listeners with his emotive blend of hip-hop and soul, releasing some of the genre’s greatest work. The four-time Grammy-winning Glasper, a Houston-born pianist/producer known for his esoteric mix of jazz, rock and soul, has long created music that defies expectation. Riggins, a Detroit native, is a world renowned percussionist and producer whose work can be heard on many modern recordings, including the Emmy-winning “Letter to the Free,” his collaboration with Common and Glasper for Selma director Ava Duvernay’s acclaimed documentary 13th. Featuring the singles “Black Kennedy” and “Optimistic,” which guest-stars R&B great Brandy, August Greene culminates years of mutual respect and friendship, channeling the musicians’ various talents into a cohesive project. The perfect marriage of jazz, hip-hop and soul, it’s music that just is, speaking to those pushing through the dark for brighter days, and a masterpiece from which virtue can shine.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast versions will air on PBS in early 2019 as part of our Season 44.

A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story makes its broadcast debut on KLRU-TV

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce that A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story will make its broadcast debut on KLRU-TV in Austin on Sept. 29 at 8:00 p.m.

Featuring a bevy of pivotal performances by everyone from Willie Nelson and Beck to Ray Charles and Radiohead, A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story is the ultimate backstage pass to the longest-running music show in television history, recounting ACL’s 40-year evolution from local outlaw country Texas showcase to a required stopping point for superstars, cult bands, and up-and-comers from just about every corner of popular music. The film gives an inside look at the people who built the series into the institution it is today and features interviews with many of the music innovators and legends who have made history on the ACL stage. Set against the colorful backdrop of Austin, Texas, A Song For You provides a candid look at central moments in the program’s four decades, including the challenges and highlights in the evolution of the Peabody Award-winning series. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Keith Maitland, named one of Variety‘s “10 Documakers to Watch,” the documentary premiered at SXSW to critical acclaim, with Variety hailing, There is, quite simply, nothing else like Austin City Limits on American broadcast television right now. Paste magazine raves, There’s no question the show has a place in history, with Rolling Stone citing the film’s …concert footage guaranteed to make you salivate. Decider calls A Song For You a lovingly made tribute to one of the nation’s most important cultural institutions.

A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story is also available to fans outside the KLRU viewing area through VOD. Watch the trailer below.   

Lukas Nelson expands on family tradition for his debut ACL

photo by Scott Newton

The great Willie Nelson has been a mainstay of Austin City Limits since the 1974 pilot  – indeed, many of us think of him as ACL’s patron saint. It was inevitable that some of Willie’s kids would follow in his footsteps, not only in music, but onto our storied stage. Lukas Nelson is not merely a chip off the old block, however. With his band Promise of the Real, the 28-year old singer, songwriter and guitar-slinger has regularly backed Neil Young and built his own legacy over the course of a decade with five albums and a handful of EPs. Nelson the younger recorded his debut ACL episode in support of his and POTR’s acclaimed 2017 eponymous album, which formed the heart of the show that we streamed live around the world.

“You ever watch that show Rick & Morty?” said Nelson as he strapped on his guitar. “I wrote a song after watching it and I want you to hear it.” With that, he and the five-piece Promise of the Real (plus special guest Micah Nelson, Lukas’ brother) launched into the unrecorded song “Entirely Different Stars,” a psychedelic anthem that included plenty of fireworks from Nelson and steel guitarist Jesse Siebenberg and a coda redolent of Nelson’s native Hawaii. The frisky country rocker “Die Alone” revved the engines back up, while “Fool Me Once” took the same tack with a choogling tempo and sardonic lyrics. Nelson and company visited the other side of the law with “Runnin’ Shine,” with the scion really showing off his vocal resemblance to the father. “Caroline” showed an affectionate debt to the Texas singer/songwriter tradition, while “Lil Girl” incorporated reggae into the band’s rocking Americana.

“Four Letter Word” married clever wordplay with an expanded Nelson guitar solo, including a quick snippet of the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The band brought the rock back for “Something Real,” including more six-string magic. Then the Real quit the stage, leaving the Austin-born Nelson alone with an acoustic guitar for the crowd-pleasing “Just Outside of Austin,” a song destined to be a mainstay in his set for decades. Nelson underscored the Austin connection by soulfully covering Willie’s “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” garnering an audience reaction as loud ‘n’ proud as that for “Austin.” Nelson then sang Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold,” paying tribute to his sometime employer, for whom he and the rest of Promise of the Real have provided backup for the last few years. He wasn’t done with other folks’ tunes yet, though, as he then went into Tom Petty’s “Breakdown,” connecting his father’s distinctive vocal style with the late classic rocker’s.

P of the R returned to the stage for “Forget About Georgia,” a melancholy country song that bespeaks driving all night and thinking too much about the love left behind. Nelson left heartbreak behind for the skanking kiss-off “Find Yourself,” which became an enthusiastic crowd singalong. A faithful cover, complete with a cappella intro, of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes” was a surprise, giving bassist Corey McCormick and percussionist Tato Melgar chances to show their stuff. The spotlight then turned to steel guitarist Jesse Siebenberg, who provided an extended intro to “Set Me Down On a Cloud,” returning the band to the kind of elegiac anthemry with which they began. Nelson reclaimed his acoustic guitar for the gentle ballad “Turn Off the News,” before sending the appreciative audience into the night with the Southern rock singalong “The Awakening.” It was a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs in ACL’s forty-fourth, only on your local PBS station.       

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real’s debut taping to live stream July 2

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Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce that we will be live streaming the upcoming debut taping from Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real on July 2 here on the ACL TV YouTube channel.  

After more than a decade on the road barnstorming across the U.S and around the world, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real have developed into one of America’s most dazzling live acts, attracting a dedicated, ever expanding following.  

Still, with a bounty of invaluable experience under their belts, nothing foretold the artistic leap of their latest album, the self-titled Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, a mesmerizing, emotionally genuine, endlessly rewarding slice of cosmic country soul.  Released via Fantasy Records last summer, the widely acclaimed album draws on many of Lukas’ country and rock influences including literate Texas songsmiths like his dad, Willie Nelson, ‘uncles’ Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings, and iconoclasts such as J.J. Cale, The Band, Clapton-era Delaney & Bonnie and of course, the band’s mentor Neil Young, for whom the young devotees have toured and recorded with the past few years.   

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real features Lukas Nelson (guitar, vocals), Tato Melgar (percussion), Anthony LoGerfo (drums), Corey McCormick (bass, vocals) and Jesse Siebenberg (steel guitars, Farfisa organ, vocals) along with back-up vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Lessig of the indie-pop group Lucius, and Lady Gaga who added stirring vocals to two of the album’s 12 tracks.  The album’s lilting, Glen Campbell inspired gem, “Just Outside of Austin” also features a classic Willie Nelson guitar solo, and piano from Lukas’ 86-year-old Aunt Bobbi.

“Their latest displays a newfound confidence, brokering country-soul, Southern rock and R&B with some panache,” proclaimed Uncut.  “The band’s best work, the record is a huge leap forward for Nelson,” raved Entertainment Weekly, and American Songwriter declared, “Ultimately, Lukas is carrying on Willie’s tradition, pushing the outlaw boundaries his famous father established in the ’70s and proving that the musical apple truly does not fall far from the tree.”

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real were recently honored with a 2018 Americana Music Awards nomination for Group of the Year.

Join us on July 2 for this full set live stream of Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real’s debut taping here on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air on PBS this fall as part of our upcoming Season 44.

Anderson East brings heavy soul to his debut ACL taping

photo by Scott Newton

Singer/songwriter Anderson East hails from Alabama and resides in Nashville, and he brings serious firepower to every note he sings. Armed with his acclaimed new album Encore (produced by Dave Cobb, who’s helmed records by Zac Brown Band, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, John Prine, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and others who’ve been on the show in the last two years), East gave the audience a strong shot of soul on his debut Austin City Limits taping, which we streamed live around the world.

Taking the stage in a snakeskin jacket, East and his eight-piece band immediately paid tribute to the ACL legacy by opening with Willie Nelson’s “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces,” giving it a funky soul ballad reading. Putting his acoustic guitar aside, East dug into the songbook of the late, great Ted Hawkins for the raucous stomper “Sorry You’re Sick.” That Southern soul energy kept running for “Surrender,” featuring fireworks from East and singers Whitney Coleman and Kristen Rogers. Donning his guitar and welcoming a four-piece string section (led by Nashville’s Kristin Wilkinson, here a couple of months ago with Brandi Carlile), East sang a song “about how I feel tonight” – the mid-tempo charmer “King For a Day.” Guitarist Scotty Murray donned an electric dobro for the lighter-waving ballad “Devil in Me,” while keyboardist Philip Towns powered the gospel groover “Learning” with some seriously funky organ.  

After that tour-de-force, East went back to ballad territory for “If You Keep Leaving Me,” which sounded like a vintage Otis Redding cover. The strings returned for “Without You,” another heartbreaker that filled the room with sound. The musicians revved up again for the swaggering “Girlfriend,” which segued directly into the funky “All On My Mind,” both of which showed off the band as much as East’s prodigious pipes. The singer went back to his Southern soul roots for his hit “Satisfy Me,” which could have been a long-lost gem from the Stax catalog of the sixties and was a clear crowd favorite.

“I’ve been watching this show for a long time, and I never thought I’d be on it,” remarked East, before launching into the set-closing “This Too Shall Last,” a widescreen ballad highlighted by Murray and East trading guitar solos that brought the cheering crowd to its feet. After that reaction, more was required, and East, band and strings returned for “House is a Building” (“then home is a feeling”), which built on Towns’ jazzy piano to East’s powerhouse vocal climaxes. “Thanks for making us feel at home tonight,” East said, and the audience made sure he knew the feeling was mutual. It was a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs as part of our forty-fourth season on PBS.

Chris Isaak returns as host of 2018 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame 10/25/18

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Austin City Limits announces the fifth annual Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Induction & Celebration will take place on Thursday, October 25, 2018, with music great Chris Isaak returning as host of the celebratory evening.  Save the date for one of the year’s highlights, a star-studded night filled with performances and collaborations from music’s finest.  The announcement was made by ACL executive producer Terry Lickona at tonight’s Brandi Carlile taping.

A new class of inductees will be announced at a later date, and will be saluted at the ceremony to be held at ACL’s studio home, Austin’s ACL Live at The Moody Theater.  The event will be open to the public and ticket onsale information will be announced at a later date. Sponsor packages are available now at www.acltv.com/hall-of-fame/. All proceeds benefit KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. More information about performances, presenters and additional guest stars will be announced prior to the event.

photo by Gary Miller

The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame was established in 2014 to celebrate the legacy of legendary artists and key individuals who have played a vital part in the pioneering music series remarkable 40+ years as a music institution. The inaugural induction ceremony in 2014 honored Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Lloyd Maines, program creator Bill Arhos and Darrell Royal. 2015’s second annual ACL Hall of Fame ceremony honored Asleep at the Wheel, Loretta Lynn, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez and Townes Van Zandt, along with the original crew of the show’s first season in 1974-75. The 2016 Hall of Fame honored Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King, alongside former ACL executive producer Dick Peterson.  Last year’s Hall of Fame honored Roy Orbison, Rosanne Cash and The Neville Brothers, and the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act.