Taping recap: Ed Sheeran

The last time Ed Sheeran visited Austin City Limits, he was a pop star. For his second appearance tonight, he returned at the top of his game, and arguably the biggest pop star in the world. The massive international success of the British singer-songwriter’s third album ÷ spread his gospel far and wide, and it showed in our rapturous audience.

Taking the stage in an ACL t-shirt to thunderous applause, the one-man marvel, with just his guitar and a loop pedal, jump-started the evening with “Castle On the Hill,” the folk-rocking top 10 hit that announced the arrival of ÷. He followed with “Eraser,” one of his patented mashups of folk-pop and hip hop that found him bounding across the stage, looping his guitars and vocals into ever-more intricate musical webs. After singing the praises of Texas music, food and alcohol, Sheeran went back to “the one that kicked things off for me,” namely his breakthrough hit “The A Team.” Encouraging the eager audience to sing at the tops of their lungs, he then launched into “Don’t,” an early hit that rides a hard groove and works well for call and response. Sheeran returned to the new album for “Happier,” a heart-rending ballad perfect for pulling your loved one closer, glad you’re not the song’s subject.

The ginger tunesmith dug back into 2014’s x for “Bloodstream,” slathering the harrowing tale of a drug experience in echo, energy and live overdubbing. Then Sheeran essayed one of his concert centerpieces, a theatrical and slowly unfolding medley of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and his own “I See Fire,” the atmospheric theme to the fantasy film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. After that epic, he brought the mood back from middle-earth with “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here,” a tender love song, and “Supermarket Flowers,” a lovely number about the death of his beloved grandmother – both eschewing his usual penchant for looping and in-concert singalongs. The mood skyrocketed back up with “Photograph,” a song of devotion built into a choir of Sheerans that unexpectedly incorporated Austin’s own Sixth Street into its lyrics. He kept the ecstatic vibe going with “Perfect,” a song he described as “my favorite song I’ve ever written.”

Heading into the home stretch, Sheeran paid tribute to his grandparents’ love story with “Nancy Mulligan,” a ÷ song that brilliantly incorporated the folk of their Irish heritage into his signature beat-driven pop. Donning an electric guitar instead of his typical acoustic, he then played his Grammy-winning, chart-topping single “Thinking Out Loud,” joined on every verse by the rapt crowd. He paid tribute to that receptiveness by bringing up an audience member, complimenting her on her consistent dancing throughout the performance. Which was an appropriate segue into “Shape of You,” his current, dancehall-infused hipswinging smash that made the crowd go wild. Sheeran ended the show with an epic high-energy take on “You Don’t Me, I Don’t You,” practically a distillation of the folk/pop/hip-hop hybrid that’s made him a global superstar. It was a magnificent ending to a spectacular show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when the epic hour kicks off our 43rd season October 7 on PBS.

Austin City Limits announces Season 43 lineup

 iconic PBS series Austin City Limits announces a new season premiering October 7 with an an epic hour featuring global superstar Ed Sheeran. With this season, ACL becomes the longest-running music show in television history, providing viewers with a front-row seat to the best in performance for over 40 years, and continues its legendary run showcasing more stars, innovators and highly-anticipated debuts.

Austin City Limits returns to PBS on Saturday, October 7 at 9pm ET/8pm CT (check local listings) with a season premiere featuring UK hitmaker Ed Sheeran in his second appearance on the ACL stage, returning to perform his biggest hits and new gems from his chart-topping third album ÷ (Divide). The upcoming Season 43 is filled with musical treats: trailblazing rock band The Pretenders dazzle in their ACL debut with an electrifying, career-spanning performance. Country superstar (and Texas native) Miranda Lambert, in her third appearance, shines in a stunning hour of music while sharing the stories behind her songs. Multi-platinum Southern country-rock act Zac Brown Band make their first ACL visit with a remarkable career-wide hour. The extended line-up features ACL debuts from outstanding newcomers including indie original Angel Olsen and New Orleans blues-rocker Benjamin Booker, while returning Americana favorites Norah Jones and The Head and the Heart bring their latest music to the ACL stage.

Miranda Lambert – photo by Scott Newton

In addition to the popular livestreams of select tapings which ACL offers fans worldwide, this season will amplify the show’s commitment to delivering exciting new platforms to experience Austin City Limits’ live performances. Austin City Limits is partnering with Google’s virtual reality team to create an immersive 10-part Daydream video series, ACL VR, bringing exclusive performance and behind-the-scenes content to viewers everywhere. Stay tuned to ACL’s YouTube Channel this fall for 360° from Ed Sheeran, Zac Brown Band and more from Season 43.

For the seventh consecutive year, the producers of Austin City Limits, in conjunction with High 5 Productions, and the Americana Music Association, are proud to present a special ACL Presents—featuring the best music performances from this year’s Americana Music Association Honors and Awards Ceremony held September 13 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.

“This season proves once again why both music fans and artists alike consider Austin City Limits to be the finest showcase for the best in music today – no matter where it comes from,” says longtime executive producer Terry Lickona. “Artists consider it an honor to step on our stage, and we are honored to capture these performances and bring them to the world – now in more formats than ever before.”

Benjamin Booker – photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits continues to livestream select performances including a trio of highly-anticipated Season 43 performances: On August 21, in a rare double taping, ACL will livestream acclaimed singer/songwriters Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires and on August 22 indie rock sensation Father John Misty. The tapings are livestreamed worldwide on ACL’s YouTube Channel at 9pm ET/8pm CT. The broadcast episodes of these tapings will air as part of the second half of ACL’s Season 43 which kicks off on New Year’s Eve. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding future tapings, episode schedules and live stream updates.

 

Season 43 Fall Broadcast Schedule (additional episodes to be announced):

October 7 Ed Sheeran

October 14 The Pretenders

October 21 Zac Brown Band

October 28 Norah Jones/ Angel Olsen

November 4 Miranda Lambert

November 11 The Head and the Heart/ Benjamin Booker

November 18 ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2017

The complete line-up for the full 14-week season, including eight new episodes to air beginning December 31, 2017, will be announced at a later date. Check the news section of acltv.com for additional episode updates.

ACL livestreams Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires on 8/21, Father John Misty on 8/22

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Austin City Limits is happy to announce a trio of upcoming livestreams featuring some of this season’s most highly-anticipated performers: Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Amanda Shires and Father John Misty. ACL will host back-to-back live streams from a rare double shoot with acclaimed singer-songwriters Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires. The creative collaborators (and husband and wife team) will each perform separate sets, with Shires up first in her solo ACL debut streaming live starting at 8pm CT/9pm ET on ACLTV’s YouTube Channel; Isbell takes the stage after a 20-minute intermission and his return ACL appearance will stream live at approximately 9:20pm CT/10:20pm ET.  The next day on August 22 join us to witness the captivating Father John Misty in his solo ACL debut, which will stream in its entirety live from the Austin City Limits stage at 8pm CT/9 pm ET on ACLTV’s YouTube Channel.

One of the finest songwriters working today, Alabama native Jason Isbell first-appeared on ACL back in Season 39 and returns August 21 with his band the 400 Unit to perform gems from the acclaimed new album, The Nashville Sound, a beautiful piece of American music-making. Isbell has earned numerous accolades since his ACL debut on the heels of 2013’s career breakthrough Southeastern, including a pair of GRAMMY Awards for 2015’s Something More Than Free, and we’re thrilled to have the American original back on our stage.  

A fixture on the Texas circuit since she began her career as a 15-year old fiddle player touring with Western swing institution the Texas Playboys, Amanda Shires has toured and recorded with John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver, Todd Snider, Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope, and most recently her husband and creative partner Jason Isbell, with whom she first-appeared on ACL in 2013. The Texas native makes her solo debut on the ACL stage with songs from her acclaimed release My Piece Of Land.  Produced by Dave Cobb, the very personal record deals with family, anxiety, and the phases of a young woman’s life, but the primary focus is the concept of home. Shires addresses the similarities and differences between the home she was born into, the two homes she was eventually split between, and the home she has finally made for herself as a wife and new mother.  We’re delighted to have her back home in Texas and on the ACL stage.

Now known as Father John Misty, the erstwhile Josh Tillman (under which name he first appeared on ACL in 2012 as the drummer for Fleet Foxes) makes his long-awaited solo debut on our stage in support of his third solo release, the madly ambitious new album Pure Comedy.  Inspired by the chaos and uncertainty of modern life, the charismatic indie-rock provocateur writes about the dubious privilege of being here, the elusiveness of meaning, true love and its habitual absence, random euphoria and the inexplicable misery of others, truth and its more alluring counterfeits, the sophistication of answers that don’t make any sense, the barbarism of our appetites, lucky breaks and injustice, faith and ignorance, crippling, mind-numbing boredom, and the terror of it all ending too soon.  Variety recently hailed him “the greatest rock star of his generation” and we’re thrilled to bear witness when he takes the ACL stage on August 22, streaming live for fans across the globe.

Please join us both August 21 and 22 for these full-set livestreams on our ACLTV YouTube Channel. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires will stream here and Father John Misty here. The broadcast versions will air on PBS as part of our upcoming Season 43 which premieres this fall.

Giveaway: Father John Misty 8/22

UPDATE: Giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Father John Misty on Tuesday, August 22nd 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 Friday, Aug. 18th.

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 computers or recording devices allowed in venue.

Giveaway: Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires 8/21

UPDATE: Giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires on Monday, August 21st 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 Friday, Aug. 18th.

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 computers or recording devices allowed in venue.

Giveaway: Ed Sheeran 8/20

UPDATE: GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Ed Sheeran on Sunday, August 20th 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, Aug. 17th.

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 computers or recording devices allowed in venue.

R.I.P. Glen Campbell

We at Austin City Limits were saddened to learn of the death of country pop great Glen Campbell at age 81.

The Arkansas native began his career as a first-call session guitarist in Los Angeles, playing as part of the infamous Wrecking Crew and adding licks to a staggering array of hits records: the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” and singles by everyone from Jan & Dean and the Monkees to Frank Sinatra and Nat “King” Cole. In 1964, he subbed for the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson on tour and in 1967 sang uncredited lead vocals for the cult sunshine pop group Sagittarius.

Campbell scored his first solo hit on the country charts in 1966 with “Burning Bridges,” but it was in 1967 that he became a household name with “Gentle On My Mind.” He followed that with even bigger hits, forging a special bond with songwriter Jimmy Webb via “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston,” “Where’s the Playground Susie” and “Wichita Lineman,” which became his signature song. He parlayed his musical stardom into a major acting gig in the 1969 John Wayne vehicle True Grit, for which he also performed the title tune, and the host job on the popular TV show The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour from 1969-1972.

Refocusing on music, Campbell earned some of his biggest hits in the 1970s, including the #1 pop smashes “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights” and the top 20 hit “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.).” While his pop stardom faded, he remained a major force on the country charts for years, also expanding into gospel and Christian music. In 2008, he released Meet Glen Campbell, an album featuring covers of songs by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the Replacements, Green Day and the Foo Fighters. His 2010 follow-up Ghost On the Canvas followed a similar vein, and was intended as a farewell LP. But his 2011 diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease led him to one final album (Adios, recorded in 2012-13 but released in 2017), a farewell tour and a documentary, 2014’s award-winning Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. His final recording, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” was released in 2014, by which time he was living in a Nashville memory care facility. He died in Nashville on August 8, 2017.

Campbell appeared on Austin City Limits during Season 10 in 1985. Here he is on the show performing his signature hit “Wichita Lineman.”

Taping recap: Zac Brown Band

Grammy-award winning, multi-platinum Zac Brown Band has been a consistent presence in the music world since 2008’s major label debut The Foundation, and it was inevitable that they would eventually make their way to our stage. So we were pleased to welcome one of music’s biggest live acts, celebrating the success of their latest record Welcome Home with a career-spanning set in front of a crowd practically vibrating with excitement.

Said crowd cheered wildly as the octet took the stage. ZBB launched into the easygoing country rock of “Home Grown,” both a statement of purpose and a clear fan favorite. Brown kept the theme of home and comfort going with Welcome Home’s poppy “Family Table,” before entering a more philosophical mode with the anthemic “Quiet Your Mind,” which he called “one of my favorite things we’ve ever recorded.” The group brought down the intensity with the rolling country ballad “Sweet Annie,” before starting back up that ramp with the power-of-music testament “Day That I Die.” “I never get tired of playing this song,” Brown declared before easing into “Free,” a flowing anthem that smoothly segued into Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” to the crowd’s delight.

The band dipped into its country bag for “Goodbye in Her Eyes” and “2 Place at 1 Time,” an ode to trying to be on the road and with one’s family at once. ZBB then cranked up the congas and the clavinet for the rocking grooves of “Day For the Dead,” a salute to Hallowe’en and the Day of the Dead that allowed the musicians to really stretch out with both their instruments and some impressive counterpoint vocals. The band slowed down the tempo but turned up the heat for the #1 hit “Colder Weather,” a power ballad in the grand tradition. Welcome Home contributed “Roots,” once again affirming the inextricable bond Brown has with music, before ZBB stripped their sound down for the ballad “My Old Man,” a tribute to father figures everywhere. The rock returned for the power waltz “The Muse,” before the band closed the main set in tribute to Gregg Allman, burning through the Allman Brothers Band classic “Whipping Post” with keyboardist/guitarist Clay Cook on soulful lead vocals and Brown taking lead guitar. 

Of course, it wasn’t really over. After the audience showed its loud appreciation, the octet returned for “All the Best,” a heartfelt take on John Prine’s great ballad. After expressing his love for Prine, Brown immediately launched into the fingerpicking pattern of “Chicken Fried,” the band’s biggest smash. The crowd cheered wildly and began singing along immediately, amping up even further when the band brought on a member of the United States Armed Services in appreciation of their service. To close out the night, Brown donned a bass guitar and thanked the band’s crew, before launching into a surprise (well, except to longtime ZBB fans): a pounding cover of Metallica’s greatest hit “Enter Sandman,” sung by guitarist John Driskell Hopkins and highlighted by Jimmy DeMartini’s effects-laden electric violin solo. Brown introduced the band as the finally satiated audience showed its love. It was a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs as part of our upcoming Season 43 which premieres this fall on your local PBS station.