Alabama Shakes’ triumphant return to ACL

Alabama Shakes wowed us three years ago when they taped Austin City Limits in support of their debut Boys & Girls. Now, with the band taking over the world with their follow-up Sound & Color, we were pleased to welcome them back to our stage for a triumphant second taping, and on singer Brittany Howard’s birthday, no less.

The band clearly takes a lot of pride in their new record, as they played every song from it. The quartet, augmented by two keyboardists and three backup singers, kicked off the night with the slinky “Future People,” a three-cowbell song for the singers. The combo followed with the wailing “Dunes,” featuring a clanging Howard guitar solo as well as her distinctively soulful vocals. “Shoegaze” moved the band out of the retro soul bag in which it’s often placed into somewhere more rocking. The Shakes then revisited their debut Boys & Girls for the fan favorite soul ballad “Heartbreaker,” before going back to a streak from Sound & Color. The Hi Records-styled “Guess Who,” the church-powered “Joe”  and the powerful “Miss You” brought the mood to a boil, letting the rocking “The Greatest” blow off the steam. The set hit a peak with “Gimme All Your Love,” the band’s destined-to-be classic anthem that appeared in our 40th anniversary special before it was released. The audience rewarded the Shakes by serenading the birthday girl with a spontaneous “Happy Birthday.”

The new “This Feeling” turned the heat back down to simmer before giving way once again to the past for B&G’s gospel-flavored “On Your Way.” Sound &Color gave us another trilogy of future classics: the atmospheric ballad “Gemini,” the gently groovy title track and the 70s funky strut “Don’t Wanna Fight.” The band then visited its contribution to the hit film The Silver Linings Playbook for the rocking dance tune “Always Alright,” a clear audience favorite. The Shakes’ hit lighter-waver “You Ain’t Alone” followed, much to the crowd’s delight. Howard then thanked the crowd for its support before the band ended with S&C’s sparse, soulful “Over My Head.” It was a great set that proved how much Alabama Shakes deserves every bit of acclaim and success they’ve earned, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs early next year on your local PBS station.

Sweet Baby James’ sweet ACL debut

It’s been a long time coming. James Taylor has been near the top of our wishlist for years. Now the stars have aligned, and we were thrilled to at last welcome the legendary singer/songwriter to the Austin City Limits stage for a special show full of songs from his new LP Before This World, his first collection of original music in thirteen years, and deep cuts from across his long career.

Taylor and his band (featuring original Saturday Night Live band member Lou Marini and legendary drummer Steve Gadd) opened with “Wandering,” a gentle, reflective song from his 1975 LP Gorilla. He followed with the funky “Me and My Guitar,” another gem from the early 70s, and “Copperline,” a nostalgic folk-popper from New Moon Shine, his first LP of the 90s. Taylor stayed with more recent material for the next pair of cuts, including the new album’s positivity anthem “Today Today Today” and the 90s-era ballad “Line ‘em Up.” Taylor then jumped back to 1970 for his self-described “tree-huggers’ anthem” “Country Road,” a crowd favorite from his breakthrough Sweet Baby James. Then it was back to the present for another pair from New Moon Shine and Before This World:  the rousing, gospel-inflected “Shed a Little Light” and the Boston Red Sox mash note “Angels of Fenway.”

Paying tribute to the state in which he was performing, the perpetually smiling Taylor essayed his 80s-vintage cover of Texas rock pioneer Buddy Holly’s “Everyday.” Then he took a giant leap back in time to 1968, lifting his lilting hit “Carolina in My Mind” from his self-titled debut, originally released on the Beatles’ Apple label. Donning an electric guitar, Taylor shifted gears with 1970’s bluesy, rumbling “Steamroller,” which served to showcase the talents of his band. His iconic take on his friend Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” unsurprisingly earned him a standing ovation, while “Sweet Baby James,” his variation on cowboy ballads, cooled the crowd back down like a misty rain on the dusty trail. Taylor then invited the adoring audience to join him on a raucous run through his hit cover of Marvin Gaye’s joyful “How Sweet It Is.”

The main set ended as gently as it began with the clarinet/flugelhorn/violin-enhanced Before This World ballad “You and I Again.” But of course it wasn’t over. Taylor reappeared and brought out a surprise guest: Austinite Shawn Colvin, who joined him for a lovely take on his 1971 song “You Can Close Your Eyes.” But it still wasn’t over, as Taylor and his band came back for an unplanned second encore, starting with the frisky “Mexico” and ending with the grooving “Your Smiling Face,” which drove the audience wild. It was a spectacular way to close out a landmark ACL taping, and we can’t wait for you to see the show when it airs November 14th as a full-hour episode as part of our new Season 41 on your local PBS station.  

ACL’s new season launches with the Hall of Fame 2015 special

Austin City Limits kicks off Season 41 with an opener featuring musical highlights and tributes from the 2015 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame. Hosted by Dwight Yoakam on June 18, 2015, this unique special showcases one-of-a-kind performances and collaborations from the ACL Hall of Fame celebration, honoring the artists who’ve helped make the award-winning tv series an American music institution.  An all-star line-up including Lyle Lovett, Jason Isbell, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakam, Gillian Welch and more come together for one night to perform in honor of the newest class of inductees: Asleep at the Wheel, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez, Loretta Lynn and Townes Van Zandt.   

ACL reaches back to its roots with a show-opening tribute to country trailblazer Loretta Lynn, who first appeared on the series in 1983. Country singer Patty Loveless, also a coal miner’s daughter, pays tribute to the living legend, and is joined by Vince Gill for a spirited duet of the Conway Twitty/Loretta Lynn classic “After the Fire Is Gone.” Lynn accepts her honor saying “Texas has always been so good to me. They fed me when my kids was hungry. They fed me when I was hungry.” Lyle Lovett takes the stage to honor Texas songwriting legend Guy Clark, saying “He is my friend.  He is my hero,” with a stunning reading of the first song Clark ever wrote: “Step Inside This House.” Acclaimed singer-songwriter  Jason Isbell performs a moving solo rendition of a Clark classic, “Desperados Waiting For A Train.”  

Superstar Tex-Mex accordionist Flaco Jiménez makes a joyous show-stopping cameo during his own tribute, joining Dwight Yoakam, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and conjunto masters Los Texmaniacs to show off his nimble accordion style. The late, great Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt, who first appeared in ACL’s debut season in 1975, is honored beautifully in acoustic performances by roots outfit Gillian Welch and British singer-songwriter Laura Marling. Austin’s own Asleep at the Wheel, who performed on the very first episode of ACL in 1975, are inducted by longtime fan Vince Gill, who joins the Western swing institution for a lively take on their early recording “Take Me Back to Tulsa.”

photo by Gary Miller

The special comes to a perfect close with the night’s entire cast returning to the ACL stage for a grand finale, trading verses on a Townes Van Zandt classic, “White Freightliner Blues.”
“We created our own Hall of Fame as part of our 40th anniversary last year to recognize and celebrate those artists who were there in the beginning and helped make Austin City Limits what it is today,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “The annual event is a unique showcase for some amazing performances and emotional moments, and we’re thrilled to be able to capture it all to bring to our fans at home.”

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. Tune in next week for the ACL debut of jazz great Cassandra Wilson.

Giveaway: Leon Bridges

UPDATE: Giveaway is now over

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Leon Bridges on Thursday, Oct. 8th, 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 Monday, Oct. 5th. Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pickup 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 or recording devices allowed in venue.

Vintage Trouble taping livestreams on 10/6

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Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our taping with Vintage Trouble live on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 8pm CT/9pm ET. The taping will webcast in its entirety via our YouTube channel.

Vintage Trouble play live-wired, straight-shootin’, dirty-mouth’d juke music. Or, as Rolling Stone put it, “imagine James Brown singing lead for Led Zeppelin and you’ll get an idea of Vintage Trouble’s muscular, in the pocket sound.” The LA quartet take a break from their current tour with rock giants AC/DC to make their ACL debut.  The band has garnered massive attention for their powerhouse performances, even securing opening slots with rock’s biggest live acts, The Rolling Stones and The Who, on the heels of their self-released 2011 debut album The Bomb Shelter Sessions. The band signed to prestigious Blue Note Records and their new release 1 Hopeful Rd., produced by label president Don Was, features the singles “Doin’ What You’re Doin’” and “Run Like the River.” Paste raves, “Doin’ What You’re Doin’” grooves like Al Green with background doo-wops. [Singer Ty] Taylor’s falsetto range stars in ‘Shows What You Know’ and the band could convincingly resurrect the blues-infused power ballad with songs like ‘If You Loved Me.’” Classic Rock notes, “You want the real vintage rock’n’soul deal? Look this way, and then make sure you catch them live.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, and it underlines how thrilled we are to welcome Vintage Trouble to the ACL stage.

The broadcast version of this show will air as part of our Season 41 on PBS.  Join us for this live webcast of the Austin City Limits debut of Vintage Trouble.

New tapings: Kendrick Lamar and D’Angelo and The Vanguard


Austin City Limits is proud to announce two new tapings as part of our upcoming Season 41: the ACL debuts of Kendrick Lamar on Oct. 30 and D’Angelo and The Vanguard on Nov. 7.

Perhaps the most acclaimed rapper on the planet, Kendrick Lamar comes to our stage on Oct. 30. The Compton native – born a year before the genre-defining N.W.A. LP Straight Outta Compton – began writing rhymes when he was 13. The young rapper would become an underground phenomenon, releasing mixtapes and independent albums that made him one of the top-selling digital artists. In 2012 he signed with Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope and released the landmark, platinum-selling good kid, m.A.A.d city. The LP debuted at #2 on the Billboard album chart, garnered seven Grammy nominations and spun off multiple top 40 singles, including “Swimming Pools (Drank”) and “Poetic Justice.” After touring with Kanye West, appearing on Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 and performing a packed set at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Lamar followed up with the smash single “i,” which won Grammys for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the 2015 ceremony. The hit also set the stage for Lamar’s widely acclaimed latest LP To Pimp a Butterfly, which Rolling Stone called “a masterpiece of fiery outrage, deep jazz and ruthless self-critique” and Spin named the “Great American Hip-Hop Album.” The record debuted at #1 on Billboard’s chart, firmly establishing Lamar as one of the biggest hip-hop artists in the world. We’re thrilled to welcome Kendrick Lamar to be part of ACL history.

On Nov. 7 we welcome musical genius D’Angelo and his band The Vanguard. Born in Richmond, Virginia, D’Angelo migrated to New York City at 18 to develop his skills as a singer, songwriter, musician and producer.  After signing a publishing deal in 1991 and a record contract in 1993, his 1995 debut Brown Sugar breathed new life into R&B and yielded gems including the title track, “Lady,” “Cruisin’,” and more. Its 2000 follow-up Voodoo received a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, while the single “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” earned the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. After a silence of over a decade, broken only by the release of 2008’s compilation The Best So Far…, D’Angelo and The Vanguard delivered Black Messiah to the unsuspecting, yet receptive, masses on December 15, 2014. Reaffirming the need for raw, righteous, and real soul, its impact could immediately be felt when it landed at #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart and #5 on the Top 200. The critics spoke as well, with The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, NPR, and countless others extolling the album for both its music and message, thus usurping countless “Best of 2014” music lists. D’Angelo and The Vanguard hit the road, earning rave reviews for live shows Rolling Stone called “ a master class in soul” and Wall Street Journal described as “rendering a strain of soul music reminiscent of Sly Stone in the ‘60s, George Clinton in the ‘70s or 1980s Prince, onstage D’Angelo is a dynamo of the James Brown variety.” We’re excited to experience the same magic as we welcome D’Angelo and The Vanguard to the ACL stage for the first time.

In addition to performing at ACLTV D’Angelo and The Vanguard will also headline the Fun Fun Fun Fest Orange Stage on Sunday, November 8th. USP, 3 Day, and Single Day Passes for the festival are available for purchase at
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.