New tapings: Run The Jewels, Chris Stapleton, LCD Soundsystem and Shinyribs

Austin City Limits kicks off Season 43 October 7 on PBS and we are excited to announce a bounty of new fall tapings, featuring some of today’s most thrilling live acts joining this season’s broadcast line-up.

On Oct. 14, we open our doors to rap giants Run The Jewels. On Oct. 23, we welcome country superstar Chris Stapleton. Oct. 29 brings Austin hometown heroes Shinyribs, while Nov. 1 welcomes alt.rock icons LCD Soundsystem.  All four acts are making their ACL debuts.

Well known for their massively energetic live sets, Run The Jewels make their ACL debut in support of their third album, the aptly-titled Run The Jewels 3. El-­P and Killer Mike, two of the most distinctive and celebrated names in rap, might have seemed like an unlikely pairing on paper, but the duo subverted and pulverized all expectations with their critically lauded Run The Jewels collaborative LP in 2013. Tapping into the creative synergy they’d discovered in 2012 on Mike’s R.A.P. Music album (produced by El-­P) and El’s Cancer 4 Cure album (featuring Mike), Run The Jewels cemented their musical alliance with a set of uncompromisingly raw, forward thinking hip-­hop, garnering limitless critical accolades including the likes of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, XXL, SPIN, New York Times, and many more. Uncut calls Run The Jewels 3 “the pair’s most focused and mature work to date,” while DIY says it’s “in equal parts an unequivocal call to arms and an excitable ode to a wonderful friendship.” New Musical Express comments, “There’s tons of fun to be had from absorbing the duo’s fury, and El-P’s sci-fi beats are as thrillingly big ‘n’ bad as ever,” while The Wire simply notes, “Every track is a killer.” Vice insists that RTJ is “funnier, hookier, and kinder as well as brainier and more political” than before, while AllMusic proclaims “They’re so good at this that it seems almost unfair in its effortlessness.” Witness it for yourself on Oct. 14.  

photo by Andy Barron

Kentucky-born musician Chris Stapleton is one of Nashville’s most respected and beloved musicians. Since releasing his now double Platinum debut solo album Traveller in 2015, Stapleton has received multiple Grammy, CMA and ACM Awards and remains one of the most critically praised musicians of his time. His sophomore follow up, From A Room: Volume 1, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart upon its release and, with it’s Gold certification, remains the strongest-selling country album of 2017. Rolling Stone calls the album “strikingly focused, sonically and thematically” while The New York Times praises, “Like Traveller, From A Room is earthen, rich with tradition, has a tactile intensity and is carefully measured.” A second album, From A Room: Volume 2, will be released later this year. More details to be announced soon. In celebration of the music, “Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show” tour is currently underway and will span throughout 2017. Of a recent performance, the Seattle Times declared, “Stapleton dazzled the sold-out crowd with a barrage of songs that defy easy categorization while receiving the kind of deafening cheers reserved for superstars.” Come see for yourself on October 23.

photo by Wyatt McSpadden

Led by Beaumont, Texas native Kevin Russell, who last appeared on ACL in 2007 with the Gourds, Austin’s Shinyribs began as a side project in 2007 before becoming Russell’s full-time concern following the Gourds’ dissolution in 2013. This year, the now eight-person Shinyribs dosed fans with the exuberant swamp-pop soul-funk of their fourth release, I Got Your Medicine. Tracked at Houston’s legendary Sugar Hill Recording Studios, it carries a New Orleans R&B vibe — with extra gris-gris added by Russell’s co-producer, Jimbo Mathus, late of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. AllMusic calls the album “funny, heartfelt, and dirty, a retro-soul album that never feels stuck in the past,” while the Austin American Statesman names it as one of 2017’s best albums so far. The band puts a gospel groove on “Don’t Leave It a Lie,” and throw several retro influences into Ted Hawkins’ “I Gave Up All I Had.” The syncopated sexiness of “A Certain Girl,” an Allen Toussaint cover, a gorgeous rendering of the Toussaint McCall/Patrick Robinson ballad “Nothing Takes the Place of You” and the bluesy “I Knew It All Along,” Russell’s very-successful attempt to write “just a real good done-me-wrong soul song,” are equally captivating. “Tub Gut Stomp and Red-eyed Soul” gets its title from Russell’s definition of his musical style; an energetic N’awlins romper, it’s filled with “freak-out juice” and “Jimbo stew.” Gospel rave-up “The Cross Is Boss” puts a clever, slightly satirical finish on the affair; Russell says the song — like the album — is meant as a reminder that not every issue has to be taken so seriously. “A lot of people are so tightly wound, they can’t let themselves go,” he says. “I can demonstrate to them that you can shake your hips, roll around on the floor, scream and shout, and it’s OK: people will still accept you. It’s just music; relax and have some fun.” Join the party on Oct. 29.

photo by Ruvan Wijesooriya

LCD Soundsystem makes its Austin City Limits TV debut in the wake of its fourth LP and first #1 album, American Dream. James Murphy founded LCD Soundsystem in 2002, releasing the classic 12-inch single “Losing My Edge,” a relentless groove topped with a monologue cataloguing the trendsetting bands and rare records discovered by its protagonist in his younger, cooler prime. LCD’s self-titled debut album followed in 2005, featuring “Losing My Edge,” “Movement,” and the Grammy-nominated “Daft Punk is Playing in My House.” 2007’s Grammy-nominated Sound of Silver became the most critically-acclaimed album of that year on the strength of the anthemic “All My Friends”–hailed by Time magazine as one of the 10 Best Songs of 2007 and covered in tribute by the likes of John Cale and Franz Ferdinand—as well as “Someone Great,” “Get Innocuous!” and “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” Featuring “Dance Yrself Clean,” “I Can Change” and “Home,” LCD Soundsystem’s third album, 2010’s This is Happening was the band’s first to break the U.S. Top 10. This Is Happening was supported by a massive world tour culminating in a marathon farewell show at Madison Square Garden, documented by the feature film Shut Up and Play the Hits and the audio compendium The Long Goodbye. LCD Soundsystem marked the end of its hiatus with the surprise 2015 “Christmas Will Break Your Heart” holiday single, followed by a 2016 tour featuring headline appearances at Coachella, Lollapalooza and more. On September 1, 2017 the band released “the timeless, intricate album James Murphy’s fans always wanted but never expected” (Esquire): American Dream. Preceded by the singles “Call the Police,” “American Dream” and “Tonite,” American Dream moved Rolling Stone to rave They signed off after three of this century’s finest albums… American Dream is on the same level,” while Entertainment Weekly hailed the record as “exactly the album 2017 needs—urgent, angry, achingly self-aware. And catchy as hell, too.” See and hear why on Nov. 1.  

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.

Don Williams R.I.P.

We here at Austin City Limits were saddened to learn of the death of country singer Don Williams at the age of 78.

Blessed with a smooth baritone and an imposing build, the Gentle Giant of country music became a potent force in the genre when his first single, 1974’s “We Should Be Together,” hit the top five on the country charts. When “I Wouldn’t Want to Live If You Didn’t Love Me” hit number one, it kicked off a string of top ten hits that lasted until 1991. Forty-two of his forty-six singles went top 10 – a remarkable feat in any genre of music. One of his biggest hits, “I Believe in You,” crossed over to the pop charts at #24. Possibly his signature song, “Tulsa Time” won the Academy of Country Music’s Single of the Year Award in 1978, the same year he was named Male Vocalist of the Year. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.

Williams appeared twice on ACL, in 1980 and 1983. Here he is doing “Tulsa Time” from 1983.  

Taping recap: Father John Misty

It’s no secret that singer and songwriter Josh Tillman, as leader of Father John Misty, is a controversial figure – musically eccentric and defiantly outspoken, he inspires ire as often as devotion. But Tillman (who last appeared on our stage in 2013 as drummer for Fleet Foxes) earns attention for a better reason: the quality of the songs found on his three albums to date, including this year’s massively acclaimed Pure Comedy. Tillman’s work has earned him a loyal and ever-growing following, who turned in out in force for one of the most distinctive shows in our history.

Backed by a seven-piece band and a sixteen-person strong mini-orchestra of Austin players, Tillman opened the show with the lush pop of Pure Comedy’s title track, a satirical take on modern life that ends with the plea “each other’s all we got.” The ensemble followed with “Total Entertainment Forever Play,” a more straightforward folk rocker, before going back to the orchestration for the dramatic anthem “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution,” which Tillman punctuated with wild arm swings, like a mad conductor. He picked his guitar back up to lead the band in the pretty but pointed “Ballad of the Dying Man,” his impassioned wail scaling the heights built by the string section behind him.

Following four straight tracks from Pure Comedy, Tillman revisited his second LP I Love You, Honeybear with the irony-soaked “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me,” a sly parody of 70s sensitive balladry that namechecked Willie Nelson to comic effect and produced the biggest audience hosannahs yet. A Latin feel permeated the horn section during “Chateau Lobby #4,” which again earned a huge audience response. Returning to Pure Comedy, Tillman cleared away the clouds with the relatively subtle “When the God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell to Pay,” which focused on piano, sedate strings and his keening croon. The full force of the ensemble returned for the lush “A Bigger Paper Bag,” before really bearing down on the powerful “Birdie.” Most of the band then left the stage, leaving Tillman alone with the string section for the 13-minute emotional travelogue “Leaving LA.” “This is the only TV show you could get away with doing that song on,” he quipped.

The rest of the orchestra retook the stage, but the mood stayed placid with “So I’m Growing Old On Magic Mountain,” a clear audience fave. FJM ended the main set with the title track to I Love You, Honeybear, on which Tillman pulled out all the stops as a loverman crooner, venturing out into the audience to dispense hugs and lead the crowd in a chorus of “oh’s.” With that titanic end, Father John Misty quit the stage. But Tillman returned with the strings and pianist Jon Titterington for “Holy Shit,” a paean to change far more thoughtful and melodic than its profane title might lead one to believe. The rest of the ensemble quietly took the stage behind them and crashed into a bit of cacophonous bombast, clearing the sinuses before returning to a full band version of the melody as previously stated. One more crowd chorus of “oh’s” and it was over, everyone satiated. It was a great end to a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it arrives early next year as part of our Season 43 on your local PBS station.

Taping recap: Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires

When last we saw Jason Isbell and his intrepid band the 400 Unit, it was on the heels of the release of his beloved 2013 breakthrough Southeastern. Since then he’s become an award-winning star in the Americana world, releasing two more acclaimed records: 2015’s Something More Than Free and this year’s The Nashville Sound. As thrilled as we were to have him back, we were even more excited that he would be joined by his wife and creative partner Amanda Shires – not only as a member of the 400 Unit, but as a featured artist in her own right. The former fiddler for the most recent version of the Texas Playboys has built a critically acclaimed catalog of five solo albums, including 2013’s revered Down Fell the Doves and last year’s My Piece of Land. Two great sets in one night – both livestreamed around the world.

“What a dream,” said Amanda Shires as she tuned her violin. Then she and her three-piece band launched into “My Love (The Storm),” before an unauthorized monitor buzz rudely interrupted. (“That’s OK, I enjoy a technical problem,” she quipped, before soundchecking with a bit of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”) Problem fixed, the band went back into “My Love” with no issues. That song’s swampy menace segued directly into “You Are My Home,” a smoky ballad whose romantic title sentiment was knocked off kilter by Shires’ violin skronk. The quartet wasted no time going into the next song, the minor key folk rock of “Devastate” contrasting nicely with its more languid predecessor. After a witty round of band intros, she donned a tenor guitar and led her boys in “The Way It Dimmed,” a frisky country tune, and “Harmless,” a wistful ballad.

Following a story about an old boyfriend, Shires invited said paramour onstage, as husband Jason Isbell arrived to add harmony vocals and a fiery guitar solo to the folk rocker “Wasted and Rollin’.” Switching back to the violin, she sang and bowed the atmospheric ballad “Pale Fire,” before bearing down on her fretboard for the darker, gnarlier “Look Like a Bird.” Shires drove the song with drone as Isbell and guitarist Zach Setchfield traded solos, before digging in with her own epic four-string cries and growls, much to the crowd’s delight. Isbell left the stage (to get ready for his own show, presumably) as Shires switched back to the guitar for the melodic rocker “When You’re Gone,” ending the set on a powerful and upbeat note. “That was awesome!” said producer Terry Lickona as he came out to announce the intermission for the stage to be reset.

photo by Scott Newton

“Happy to be back on the best rock & roll TV show in the whole wide world,” said Jason Isbell as he and the 400 Unit (which includes Shires) took the stage and began with “Hope the High Road,” a burly rocker from The Nashville Sound. Then it was on to the Grammy-winning hit “24 Frames,” a perfect marriage of powerful music and Isbell’s poetic lyric, and the accordion-kissed country rocker “Codeine.” Showing himself to be the natural heir to the songwriting tradition set by Guy Clark and John Prine, Isbell went into “Last of My Kind,” an introspective tune interrupted by a mistake, quickly righted by a second, stronger take. The band followed with “The Life You Chose,” a melodic folk rocker that really got the crowd going.

With both Isbell and co-guitarist Sadler Vaden on acoustic guitars, “Chaos and Clothes” moved even further into the realm of folk, but lyrics that referenced black metal T-shirts kept it grounded in the modern world. Isbell donned a crunchy Telecaster and the Unit blasted into the powerhouse rock & roller “Cumberland Gap,” keeping the electricity flowing with the social commentary of “White Man’s World.” The acoustic guitars came back out for “If We Were Vampires,” a song of devotion that seems destined to be an Isbell standard. Speaking of standards, Isbell dipped into the songbook of ACL favorite John Prine for a duet with Shires on “Clocks and Spoons.” A round of band intros followed, before the 400 Unit roared into the anthem “Anxiety,” its grunged-out intro and outro allowing the band to really get loud. Isbell and the Unit took a bow to wild applause and the music, sadly, was over. It was a great doubleheader of a show, one we can’t wait for you to see when Isbell and Shires’ shared episode airs early next year as part of our Season 43 on your local PBS station.