New tapings: Patty Griffin/Steve Earle & the Dukes/H.E.R./Vampire Weekend

Austin City Limits is excited to announce four new tapings for our landmark Season 45. On July 2, we present a double shoot with a pair of veteran singer/songwriters with Texas roots and extraordinary range: Patty Griffin and Steve Earle & The Dukes. On July 8, we welcome remarkable Grammy®-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist H.E.R. On August 22, we welcome back Vampire Weekend for the indie rock titans’ second ACL taping.

On her sixth appearance on our stage, Patty Griffin is among the most consequential singer-songwriters of her generation, a quintessentially American artist whose wide-ranging canon incisively explores the intimate moments and universal emotions that bind us together. The Grammy®-winning Austinite’s recent, self-titled LP (her tenth studio album), represents an extraordinary new chapter for this incomparable artist and stands among the most deeply personal recordings of her storied two-decade career. The album – which follows 2015’s Grammy® Award-nominated Servant of Love – collects songs written during and in the aftermath of several years in which she battled – and ultimately defeated – cancer. Yet as always, like very few others, Griffin’s power lies in how, as music critic Holly Gleason observed, “her songs seem to freeze life and truth in amber.” It’s in how Griffin can express the strikingly intimate while never making it about herself, all wrapped in sparse arrangements that breathe an incomparable force and import into her songcraft. NPR raves, “One quality that’s distinguished Griffin’s body of work throughout her nearly quarter-century career is her gift for imagining the untamed forces of people’s inner lives.”  

photo by Tom Bejgrowicz

For his fifth performance on ACL, the legendary Steve Earle presents Guy, his acclaimed tribute to his songwriting mentor and ACL Hall of Fame legend Guy Clark. Earle first met Clark after hitchhiking from San Antonio to Nashville when he was 19, becoming the older songwriter’s bass player and maintaining a lifelong friendship after striking out on his own.  “No way I could get out of doing this record,” says Earle. “When I get to the other side, I didn’t want to run into Guy having made the TOWNES record and not one about him.”  “Guy wasn’t really a hard record to make,” Earle says. “When you’ve got a catalog like Guy’s and you’re only doing sixteen tracks, you know each one is going to be strong.” Earle and his five-piece band The Dukes take on Clark classics including “Desperados Waiting For a Train,” “LA Freeway,” “New Cut Road” and “Heartbroke” with a spirit of reverent glee and invention.  Earle’s raw, heartbreaking vocal on the sweet, sad “That Old Time Feeling” sounds close enough to the grave as to be a duet with his departed friend. Guy is a saga of friendship, its ups and downs, what endures. Like old friends, Guy is a diamond.

“The musical sensation H.E.R. is changing how we hear – and feel – music with her talent, vision and mystique,” hails Grammy.com and the forecast is bright for this young star with two 2019 Grammy® Award wins for Best R&B Album (H.E.R.) and Best R&B Performance (“Best Part” featuring Daniel Caesar). Elle magazine proclaims, “H.E.R. is more than a rising star – she’s a damn galaxy.” The 21-year-old is commanding stages on her own sold-out headlining tour, earning praise for live performances that not only showcase her honeyed vocals and self-penned lyrics, but also showcase her skills as a multi-talented musician playing keyboards, drum pad, acoustic and bass guitars.  With over two billion combined streams to date, the release of the breakthrough H.E.R. and the recent releases of I Used To Know Her: The Prelude and Part 2, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist H.E.R. firmly established herself as one of modern music’s most fascinating new voices. H.E.R. Vol. 1 peaked at #1 on the iTunes R&B/Soul Albums chart upon its release and H.E.R. Vol. 2 saw the same trajectory, resulting in two EPs within the Top 5 at the same time. Her latest release, I Used To Know Her: The Prelude, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart, while fan favorites “Focus,” and “Best Part” earned the #1 slot on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs Airplay chart and Urban Adult Contemporary chart, respectively. H.E.R. recently earned two 2018 Soul Train Music Awards for Album/Mixtape of the Year for H.E.R. and Best Collaboration Performance for “Best Part” feat. Daniel Caesar and captivated audiences with performances on the 2019 Grammy Awards, The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Late Show with James Corden,  and the 2018 BET Awards.

photo by Monika Mogi

Ending months of fevered anticipation punctuated by three brilliant double-A-side singles and a slew of over-the-top positive early reviews, Vampire Weekend’s long-awaited fourth album Father of the Bride was released this month, landing the #1 spot on the U.S. charts in its debut.  The rapturous reviews continue: GQ says “One of the most important bands of the 21st century…With Father of the Bride, their fourth album, the group has expanded itself and the conception of what a band can be”;  Stereogum hails Father of the Bride, “Quite possibly their magnum opus”; USA Today raves “Vampire Weekend returns as the best indie band of their generation.” The third Vampire Weekend album in a row to reach #1 on the Billboard 200, Father of the Bride’s first week tally of 138,000 is both the year’s biggest sales week for a rock act and the highest single week sales of the Grammy-winning band’s career. Vampire Weekend recently made their first television appearance in five years and kicked off their Father of the Bride North American Tour with sold-out dates throughout 2019.

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 episodes will air on PBS later this year as part of ACL’s upcoming milestone Season 45.

Giveaway: Mitski

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Mitski on Tuesday, June 4th 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, May 31st.

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.

Leon Rausch R.I.P.

We here at Austin City Limits are saddened to learn of the death of Western swing legend Leon Rausch.  The Texas Playboys singer passed on May 14 in Fort Worth. He was 91.

Born in Billings, Missouri in 1927, Rausch grew up in the Show-Me State, singing with the family trio. After serving in the armed forces during the Korean War, he and his wife Vonda moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, with Rausch finding work in a glass factory and singing on the weekends with Johnnie Lee Wills, the younger brother of Western swing titan Bob Wills. The elder Wills recruited Rausch to the Texas Playboys in 1958 for a partnership that lasted until 1963, when Rausch left to form his own band.

The singer reunited with Wills for the latter’s final album, 1973’s For the Last Time. After Wills passed in 1975, leadership of the Playboys passed on to Rausch and steel guitarist Leon McAuliffe. Rausch continued to be the voice of Western swing, with and without the Playboys, until his death. He will be greatly missed.

“Leon was not only the voice of The Texas Playboys in their final days, he pretty much personified what made their music so much fun to listen – and dance – to,” remarked ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Western Swing has lost a real champion.”

Rausch appeared on Austin City Limits four times, including the debut episode of ACL’s first season, and most recently with Asleep At the Wheel in Season 41. Below are a pair of clips from those appearances: “San Antonio Rose,” the first song from the Playboys’ first appearance on the show in 1976, and “Milk Cow Blues,” in collaboration with the Wheel in 2015.  

Austin City Limits #101: Texas Playboys – San Antonio Rose from Austin City Limits on Vimeo.

Austin City Limits #4102: Asleep at the Wheel With Leon Rausch – Milk Cow Blues from Austin City Limits on Vimeo.

Taping recap: Rainbow Kitten Surprise

We always love Austin City Limits debuts, and it’s even better with a young band as fresh and exciting as Rainbow Kitten Surprise. The Boone, North Carolina quintet hit the Moody Theater stage in support of its highly acclaimed third album How To: Friend, Love, Freefall, from which comes the hits “Hide” and “Fever Pitch.” The band presented those and a whole lot more on its first ACL taping, which we live streamed around the world.

The band took the stage to enthusiastic cheers as they launched into the rollicking “Matchbox,” with vocalist/keyboardist/guitar and dancer Sam Melo and bassist/sparkplug Charlie Holt leading the way. The equally effervescent “It’s Called: Freefall” kept the energy level popping, followed by the moodier “Shameful Company,” a showcase for Melo’s soulful vocals. Melo added rapping to his vocal repertoire for “Moody Orange,” traversing a variety of musical moods in a single composition without taking the song anywhere near the rails. Then it was on to “Hide,” one of the singles from Freefall, its anthemic pop crashing into Melo’s bitter cries of “You better hide your love!” Guitarist Darrick “Bozzy” Keller put down his axe to join Melo in front for the theatrical “Devil Like Me,” before re-donning it for the mid-tempo charmer “Cocaine Jesus,” highlighted by a cappella harmonies.

A melancholy piano intro kicked off “When It Lands,” an ambitious, multi-movement composition that showcased each member’s talents. “Wasted” was simpler, but no less impressive, with Melo giving the vocal melody an impressive slow burn. Keller and fellow guitar slinger Ethan Goodpaster exchanged their electrics for acoustics for “Heart (Hey Pretty Mama),” a folky change of pace that was clearly a crowd favorite. The electrics came back for the groovy “All’s Well That Ends,” the better to play those smooth disco rhythm parts. Back at the piano, Melo crooned the intro to the dramatic “Holy War,” before retaking the mic at the front of the stage for the melodic midtempo charmer “Painkillers.” “Hi, we’re Rainbow Kitten Surprise,” said Melo, speaking for the first time between songs.  The band delivered a crowd favorite, “Fever Pitch,” the catchy anthem that brought the group to worldwide attention. The audience went wild as RKS quit the stage.

The fact that the lights didn’t go off signaled that the show wasn’t over. Sure enough they came back for a generous encore, starting with the minimalist “Possum Queen,” essentially a duet between Melo and drummer Jess Haney’s techno-influenced beats. Haney ceded the spotlight solely to Melo for the (mostly) solo “Polite Company.” Following the jaunty “Recktify,” RKS closed out the set with the hard-rocking guitar-frenzy “Run,”Melo doffing his shirt and in-ear monitor to slink around the stage like the rock star he is. The crowd went appropriately crazy.

But it still wasn’t over. Due to technical difficulties, the band decided on re-takes of “Matchbox,” “It’s Called: Freefall” and “When It Lands.” Given that there was nothing wrong performance-wise with the originals, this was a gift to fans for sticking around. It was a nice way to end a stunning show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.

ACL Fest 2019 announces spectacular lineup

ACL Fest 2019 lineup announce

We’re jazzed to share the 2019 lineup of our namesake mega-festival, Austin City Limits Music Festival, produced by our friends at C3 Presents. The zeitgeist meets the classics, as contemporary hitmakers Childish Gambino, Cardi B, Robyn and Billie Eilish share the stages with The Cure, The Raconteurs, Tame Impala, Mumford & Sons and the mighty Guns N’ Roses in their first-ever ACL Fest appearance. Also on tap: Kacey Musgraves, Gary Clark Jr., 21 Savage, Thom Yorke Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, Lizzo, Lil Uzi Vert, Rosalía, Tyler Childers, Jenny Lewis, Natalia Lafourcade, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, and Third Eye Blind. That’s just the tip of the talent iceberg.

The eighteenth annual ACL Fest returns to Austin’s Zilker Park for two consecutive weekends, October 4-6 and October 11-13.  You can check out the full lineup and get ticket info on three-day passes, VIP and more here. Tickets tend to sell out quickly, so you know what to do.

ACL to live stream Rainbow Kitten Surprise taping on 5/6

RainbowKittenSurprise_Livestream_45_square

Austin City Limit is happy to announce that we will be live streaming our upcoming Season 45 taping with eclectic North Carolina rock band Rainbow Kitten Surprise on May 6. The performance will stream via the ACL YouTube channel here.  With a devoted and ever-growing fanbase, the band makes their ACL debut in the middle of a North American headline tour which has recently been extended to include a fall leg.

Nearly every song from ACL first-timers Rainbow Kitten Surprise unfolds in a dizzying rush of feverish yet finespun lyrics that feel both intimate and mythic. Throughout their third album How To: Friend, Love, Freefall, the Boone, North Carolina five-piece sets those lyrics to a thrillingly unpredictable sound that transcends all genre convention, endlessly changing form to accommodate shifts in mood and spirit. But while Rainbow Kitten Surprise push into some complex emotional terrain, the band’s joyful vitality ultimately makes for an album that’s deeply cathartic and undeniably life-affirming. Produced by Grammy Award-winner Jay Joyce and recorded in Nashville, How To: Friend, Love, Freefall marks Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s debut release for Elektra Records. In creating the album, the band immersed themselves in a deliberate sonic exploration, infusing their music with the kinetic energy of discovery. In sculpting the inventive arrangements and textures, Rainbow Kitten Surprise embedded each track with indelible melody and chilling harmonies with a long-lingering power. The quintet moves gracefully through infinite sounds and tones: the energetic R&B of “Fever Pitch,” the haunting a cappella harmonies of “Pacific Love,” the full-throttle frenzy of “Matchbox,” the tender psychedelia of “Moody Orange,” the tumbling folk of “Painkillers.” In working through such a kaleidoscopic sonic palette, Rainbow Kitten Surprise show the sharp musicianship and powerful camaraderie they’ve developed since forming at Appalachian State University in 2013. It wasn’t long before they’d gained a devoted following – amassing over a million streams on each song from their self-released catalog – and word spread about their unforgettable live show: a blissed-out free-for-all that typically finds frontman Sam Melo jumping right into the audience, building an unbreakable connection with the crowd, as delivered during stand-out sets at major festivals like Bonnaroo, Firefly, Sasquatch, and Austin City Limits.

Join us on May 6 for this full set live stream of Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s debut taping here. The broadcast version will air on PBS later this year as part of our upcoming Season 45.