Taping recap: Shinyribs

Kevin Russell is no stranger to our stage. The leader of Shinyribs last hit Austin City Limits in 2007 while a member of Austin’s beloved Gourds. Since that group’s breakup, Russell has taken his vision of roots rock in a more soulful, danceable and theatrical direction with Shinyribs. Four albums and countless live performances later, he and the band finally came back home for an ACL taping that was a celebration of all things Shiny, livestreamed worldwide in all its glory.  Livestream viewer Brenda Walker raved of the riotous East Texas frontman, “Kevin really IS the Pavarotti of the Pineywoods” and Priscilla Promises chimed in “U in Austin bAaBeE.”

Introduced by hype man Trey Worth as “the Shakespeare of swamp pop” and “the shiniest man in show business,” patriarch Kevin Russell took the stage to brag about being “Country Cool,” allowing each member to show off his instrument during this slice of soul pop. The swamp to which Worth alluded earlier bubbled up in “Don’t Leave It a Lie,” a muddy groove accompanied by the Riblets, a trio of female dancers acting as Russell’s own Ikettes. Wielding a mean ukulele, Russell indulged in some call-and-response with ace backup vocalists Alice Spencer and Kelley Mickwee for the tropical soul of “I Got Your Medicine,” the title track to the band’s fourth and latest LP. The ‘ribs gleefully blended swamp rock, funk, c&w and yodeling for the epic “Song of Lime Juice & Despair,” complete with a Riblets ‘n’ Russell dance routine. The band then pulled out an inspired cover of David Bowie’s “Golden Years,” set to a double-timed rhythm (borrowed from the Drifters’ “On Broadway”) that allowed Russell to indulge in vocalese lifted from various R&B hits.

Russell took the mood from party-hearty to wistful by dedicating the slow-burn soul song “Who Built The Moon” to much beloved local bassist George Reiff, recently passed from cancer. The group then dropped in for a quick New Orleans visit, covering Allen Toussaint’s finger-popping R&B tune “A Certain Girl,” first recorded in 1961 by Ernie K-Doe and boasting cracking solos from Russell, keyboardist Winfield Cheek, saxist Mark Wilson and trumpeter Tiger Anaya. Doubling as a possible name for Shinyribs’ musical gumbo, “Tub Gut Stomp & Red-Eyed Soul” followed, reminiscent of key Russell influence Doug Sahm. Continuing his musical tour of Texas, Russell guided the band to the Lone Star/Louisiana border for the soulful “Take Me Lake Charles.”  After the frisky pop and roll of “Walt Disney,” Russell dug deep for “I Gave Up All I Had,” a powerful cover from the catalogue of the late soul man Ted Hawkins.

While Russell crawled back up from the floor, bassist Jeff Brown and drummer Keith Langford (a fellow ex-Gourd) started up a roiling groove that signalled the frisky funk of “Baby, What’s Wrong?” which also included a mock fight between Russell and the Riblets. Shinyribs concluded the main set with the jungle pop of “Poor People’s Store,” which generated the band’s traditional conga line on the floor – joined, of course, by Russell himself. The audience couldn’t let the night end just yet, though. The band came back for an encore, starting with a song “about my favorite root vegetable.” The ballad “Sweet Potato” doubled as an excuse to introduce the band, Russell noting each member’s root veggie preference rather than his or her hometown. Russell crawled to the edge of the stage and back in mock fatigue, before a Riblet draped a sparkling robe over his shoulders—what Russell called “a luminous cloak”—his very own technicolor dreamcoat with light-up lining in ever-changing colors. As the song drifted wistfully to an end, Russell picked up his guitar, cranked up the volume and grunged his way into the rock ‘n’ soul of “East TX Rust,” the robe making him look like a glam rock Jawa. “Let’s get it on now!” he demanded as he put his axe through its paces, and there wasn’t a soul in the crowd who would disagree. The song ended in a riot of guitar, horns and an audience going wild. It was a fantastic show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs early next year as part of our Season 43 on your local PBS station.

ACL Season 43 presents Norah Jones and Angel Olsen

Austin City Limits showcases two of today’s most acclaimed singer-songwriters in a new installment. ACL veteran Norah Jones and indie breakout star Angel Olsen share the episode, with distinctive performances demonstrating the extraordinary range of the genre.

Norah Jones made her first appearance on Austin City Limits in 2002, just prior to the release of her landmark debut Come Away With Me, which propelled her to the world stage. Since then, Jones has sold 50 million albums worldwide and is a nine-time Grammy-winner. She returns for her fourth appearance on the series performing new songs from her sixth album Day Breaks, a kindred spirit to Come Away…and a return to her piano and jazz roots. Seated at her grand piano, the native Texan delivers a stately performance featuring new gems, including the stunning originals “Flipside” and “Carry On,” and gorgeous renditions of Neil Young’s “Don’t Be Denied” and Horace Silver’s jazz standard “Peace.” Jones closes out the set on acoustic guitar surrounded by her bandmates as they gather around a single microphone for an inspired cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Ripple,” reimagined as a folk classic.

A unique voice in indie music, Angel Olsen shares songs from her widely-acclaimed release My Woman in a compelling, confident ACL debut. “I have a couple things I’d like to share with you tonight. A couple of feelings and a couple of songs,” says the dynamic singer-songwriter-guitarist. Her powerful vocals anchor her longing, demanding love songs as the Austin crowd sing along rapturously. Olsen’s five-piece band, sharp in matching powder blue suits, join in soaring harmonies to breathtaking effect. The indie stunner has the crowd in her pocket as she closes with a highlight, the reverb-shrouded poetic swoon of “Shut Up Kiss Me,” an anthem for the ages.

photo by Scott Newton

“Norah and Angel are very different singers, but they share that special ability to convey deep personal feelings in a way that connects with you,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Norah continues to surprise with each new musical offering, and Angel is just amazing.”

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 a brand new episode, featuring the return of country star and our friend Miranda Lambert.

ACL Hall of Fame inducts Roy Orbison, Rosanne Cash and the Neville Brothers, with a special tribute to Fats Domino

Last night three American musical innovators were inducted into the fourth annual Austin City Limits Hall of Fame: singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash, New Orleans funk ‘n’ soul collective the

Neville Brothers and late rock & roll legend Roy Orbison. The evening featured one-of-a-kind music performances and tributes from Elvis Costello, Brandi Carlile, Neko Case, Ry Cooder, Dr. John, the Mavericks’ Raul Malo, Trombone Shorty, the Nevilles Band and host Chris Isaak.

Austin’s renegade brass ensemble the Minor Mishap Marching Band led the audience to their seats with a second line, setting the scene for a party. After opening remarks from KLRU-TV CEO Bill Stotesbery and ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, Chris Isaak took the stage to welcome the crowd and introduce the first tribute. “He was a baritone, tenor and angel,” said Isaak about the late, great Roy Orbison before inducting his hero. Orbison’s three sons Wesley, Roy, Jr. and Alex and granddaughter Emily and grandson Roy III accepted the award, noting that this ceremony, including Cashes, Nevilles and Orbisons, was a family affair. Then, of course, came the music: the Mavericks’ Raul Malo belted “Crying,” Brandi Carlile nailed “It’s Over” and Isaak crooned “Only the Lonely” as if it was written for him. Carlile returned, and she and Isaak harmonized divinely on “Dream Baby,” one of Orbison’s friskier tunes. There was only one way the Orbison tribute could end, as Malo joined Isaak and Carlile for a joyful “Oh, Pretty Woman.”

After Isaak introduced honoree Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello inducted his friend, noting the power and skill in her voice and words. Cash accepted her award with humility, explaining how ACL helped her feel part of a music community when she was starting out, making her ACL debut in 1983 at age 28.  Costello returned, along with Cash’s husband and creative collaborator, guitarist and producer John Leventhal, for the stirring affirmation “April 5th,” a song co-written by Cash, Leventhal, Costello and Kris Kristofferson. Spiritual descendant Neko Case took the stage next, for a transcendent version of the aching and defiant “What We Really Want is Love.” Cash herself re-entered with her friend (and guitarist extraordinaire) Ry Cooder for the sparse, strong “A Feather’s Not a Bird” – a song from Cash’s 2015 triple-Grammy-winning album The River & the Thread and proof that she’s as brilliant now as she’s always been. Costello and Case came back for “Seven Year Ache,” Costello alternating chorus vocals and Case and Cash sharing harmonies like they shared an episode back in 2003.

House bandleader & ACL Hall of Fame inductee Lloyd Maines introduced the ace house band including guitarist David Grissom, bassist Bill Whitbeck, drummer Tom Van Schaik and keyboardist/mandolinist Chris Gage. Then it was on to intermission, as Minor Mishap played, the audience danced and the ACL crew reset the stage for the grand finale.

The second half of the show brought the funk, with a celebration of New Orleans music. Given that the sad news of the passing of rock & roll pioneer Fats Domino broke earlier in the day, ACL elected to open with a video of the New Orleans icon singing “Blueberry Hill,” taken from his classic 1987 ACL episode. The first induction of the second half honored a non-performer – the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967. The milestone signing helped pave the way for PBS.  Johnson’s granddaughter Catherine Robb and Amy Barbee, chairperson of the LBJ Foundation, accepted the award.

Isaak returned to the stage to introduce the first family of New Orleans music: the Neville Brothers. New Orleans sensation Trombone Shorty, a kindred musical hybridist, inducted the family with colorful stories about the Nevilles with whom he lived and toured as a child. While the brothers couldn’t be there, Aaron Neville’s son Ivan, Art’s son Ian and Charles’ son Khalif accepted on their behalf before taking their places behind their instruments (keyboards, guitar and more keys, respectively). Ivan introduced Dr. John and Elvis Costello, who came up to help with a rollicking take on “Ain’t That a Shame,” in tribute to its author Fats Domino.

Backed by Shorty, Ian, the Grooveline Horns, Ivan’s Dumpstaphunk bandmate Nick Daniels and longtime members of the Nevilles’ band Brian Stoltz, Tony Hall and Willie Green, Ivan asked the audience, “Are you ready to get funky?” Then it was into “Fire & Brimstone,” one of the Nevilles’ greatest tunes, sung by Hall. The group paid tribute to the Nevilles’ predecessor act the Wild Tchoupitoulas with that band’s call to arms “Meet De Boys on the Battlefront.” Things got even funkier for “Brother Jake,” a gem from the band’s late 80s’ sleeper Brother’s Keeper that really got the crowd going. Khalif then joined Ivan on keyboards for “Healing Chant,” a Grammy-winning instrumental from the band’s seminal Yellow Moon that featured Shorty on a lyrical trombone solo. That special breed of New Orleans funk burned brightly on “Fire On the Bayou,” one of the Nevilles’ signature tunes, earning a standing ovation. The Nevilles mini-set came to a close with the exultant dance party of “Shake Your Tambourine.”

But the music wasn’t over yet. Ivan brought Dr. John back to the stage for “Big Chief,” the Earl King-penned/Professor Longhair-popularized shout that has been in the repertoire of nearly every New Orleans and N.O.-inspired dance band for five decades. Elvis Costello rejoined Shorty, the Night Tripper and the Nevilles for a distinctly New Orleans groove through the traditional standard “Down By the Riverside,” which ran directly into its musical cousin “Amen.” That song brought Isaak, Carlile and Malo to the stage as well, and the audience was on their feet, ready to join in Ivan’s call-and-response. As the song reached its climax, confetti burst and the musicians rang in the Austin new year a couple of months early. The roof was raised, and the 2017 HOF celebration came to a close. Viewers everywhere will get to join this party when it airs as a special broadcast on New Year’s Eve on your local PBS station.

Fats Domino 1928-2017

We here at Austin City Limits were saddened to learn of the death of rock & roll pioneer Fats Domino on October 24 at the age of 89. The ivory-tickling New Orleans icon appeared in a hour-long, hits-packed 1987 episode of ACL.

Antoine “Fats” Domino was born in 1928 in the Big Easy to a French Creole family – Louisiana Creole French was his first language. He learned to play piano from his jazz musician brother-in-law, joining bandleader Billy Diamond’s group in 1947. (Diamond bestowed the nickname “Fats” on the young musician in tribute to Fats Waller.) Fats released “The Fat Man,” his first single, in 1949 – a million-selling song that pioneered rock & roll before the term even existed. Fats went on to score 37 top 40 singles, including such immortal classics as “Blue Monday,” “I’m Walkin’,” “Ain’t That a Shame,” “I Hear You Knockin’,” “Walkin’ to New Orleans” and his version of the Gene Autry/Louis Armstrong standard “Blueberry Hill,” his bestselling and highest-charting song. As with many of the original rockers, his chart career waned after the British Invasion, but he continued to record and tour into the 1980s. By the end of that decade, he decided that he would no longer leave his hometown, claiming he couldn’t find any food he liked on the road – not even induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame or an invitation to perform at the White House could change his mind. Like far too many others, he was forced to leave New Orleans after Katrina flooded his home, but he returned as soon as he could, remaining a fixture until Father Time did what Mother Nature could not.

Here is Fats doing “Blue Monday” on ACL in 1987.  

And “Blueberry Hill,” possibly his signature song in a catalog full of candidates, from the same show.

Giveaway: LCD Soundsystem 11/1

UDPATE: Giveaway is now over

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by LCD Soundsystem on Wednesday, November 1st 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. 30th.

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.

Taping recap: Chris Stapleton

After years of penning others’ hits, singer, songwriter and guitarist Chris Stapleton took the country and Americana scenes by storm in 2015 with his multi-platinum, Grammy-winning debut Traveller.  Since then the Kentucky native has gone from strength to strength, releasing the follow-up From a Room: Volume 1 earlier this year to great success, and hitting the road with his “All-American Road Show” tour in preparation for the companion release of Volume 2 on December 1. In the midst of another banner year for the now superstar artist, we were thrilled to host him and his crack band on the ACL stage for the first time.

The singer/guitarist took the stage with drummer Derek Mixon, bassist J.T Cure and his wife and fellow traveler, singer Morgane Stapleton, and wasted no time launching into the bluesy groove of “Might As Well Get Stoned,” showcasing both his stinging guitar and blowtorch soul. Stapleton hit the honky-tonk for “Nobody to Blame” and the ballad box for “Broken Halos.” He then unveiled “Hard Livin’,” a new song from the upcoming Volume 2 that revived classic 70s country rock for the twenty-first century. It was back to Volume 1 for the stoner anthem “Them Stems,” before another brand new tune: the choogling “Tryin’ to Untangle My Mind,” which, from the crowd’s reaction, is destined to be his next hit. Stapleton then really let it all ride, singing the bluesy ballad “I Was Wrong” with raw hurt. He then stripped down musically, dismissing the band and wielding an acoustic guitar to reclaim the Traveller gem “Whiskey and You,” formerly a hit for both Tim McGraw and Jason Eady.

Cure and Mixon returned as Stapleton explained that he wrote “The Devil Named Music” while he fronted the bluegrass band the SteelDrivers. The classic road dog ballad sounded right at home in its current electric arrangement, highlighted by its guitar solo. Gifted vocalist Morgane returned for “Outlaw State of Mind,” a swampy tune that mixed Creedence Clearwater Revival with the 70s country of its title. The song ended in a shriek of feedback that served as a bridge to “Death Row,” a crawl through the heart of darkness. The black clouds parted, however, with “Traveller,” the title track hit from his breakthrough debut and a song that elicited immediate screams from the audience. The Stapletons wrapped their voices around each other for the romantic affirmation “Fire Away,” the couple’s harmony showing in both voice and intimate glances. Things got a little crunchier for “Second One to Know,” a Volume 1 corker that unabashedly rocked.  

Stapleton ended the set with another hit. “Tennessee Whiskey” has been recorded by David Allan Coe and George Jones before Stapleton wrapped his pipes around it, but his version keeps the honky-tonk balladry and adds a dollop of southern-fried soul. The band left the stage to rapturous applause, but of course it wasn’t over. Stapleton and company returned to a thunderous reception. “What a treat to play Austin City Limits – I guess I’ll have to find a new dream,” he declared before crooning the delicate breakup tune “Either Way” solo acoustic. The band returned for closer “Sometimes I Cry,” a slow blues burn that pushed his full-throated rasp to its limits. It ended a sharp, powerful set, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs early next year as part of our Season 43 on your local PBS station.  

Dan Auerbach 11/27

Austin City Limits is happy to announce a new taping with The Black Keys/Arcs singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach in support of his acclaimed new solo album Waiting On a Song. Read more

New taping: Dan Auerbach

Austin City Limits is happy to announce a new taping with The Black Keys/Arcs singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach in support of his acclaimed new solo album Waiting On a Song. The eight-time Grammy winning artist, a two-time ACL veteran with superstars The Black Keys, makes his highly-anticipated solo debut on Monday, November 27.

NPR calls Waiting On A Song “a batch of sparkling pop songs that’s sweet, breezy, and primed for summer. The album is Auerbach’s follow-up to 2009’s Keep It Hid and is his love letter to Nashville. As such, he recruited some of Na­shville’s most respected players to write and record his latest, including John Prine, Duane Eddy, Jerry Douglas, Russ Pahl, Pat McLaughlin as well as Bobby Wood and Gene Chrisman of the Memphis Boys. Auerbach said about working with his musical heroes: “Living in Nashville has definitely changed the way I think about music and the way that I record it. I didn’t have all of these resources before. I am working with some of the greatest musicians that ever lived.”

“Sometimes I feel I created my own Field of Dreams. I built the studio to accommodate live musicians playing, and then all of a sudden the best musicians in Nashville show up, and it’s happening.” The always-understated musician is happy to have his own version of the Wrecking Crew at his Easy Eye Studio in south Nashville. “This is the sound I was looking for, and now there really is an Easy Eye sound. It’s a factory—but in the way that Motown or Stax or American Studios was a factory. Anything can happen, any day.” He pauses a long minute, as if to let it all sink in. The dream realized. “Even with the success I’ve had, it’s only just now that I’m finally finding myself,” Auerbach says. “I called the album Waiting On A Song because I’ve been waiting my whole life to be able to do this. And now I have. And none of us ever want it to stop.”

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.