New tapings: Ed Sheeran, Father John Misty and Herbie Hancock

Austin City Limits is excited to announce upcoming tapings with a trio of music’s finest.  UK superstar Ed Sheeran returns on August 20 for his second Austin City Limits appearance, supporting his chart-topping new album ÷. Indie rock star Father John Misty arrives on August 22 making his ACL debut, in support of his third album Pure Comedy and iconic Herbie Hancock makes his long-awaited ACL debut on October 12.

Ed Sheeran – an eleven-time Grammy nominee and multiple Grammy winner – has quickly established himself as one of music’s biggest acts with over 22 million albums sold and 4.7 billion Spotify streams. His latest release ÷ (pronounced “divide”) debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts and finds the 26-year-old sensation in his finest form yet. Drawing inspiration from a wide array of experiences and subjects, Sheeran takes us through a hugely personal journey by reflecting on past relationships, family memories, his musical career and his time off traveling the world in 2016. Musically, ÷ is a varied collection of beautifully orchestrated and emotive ballads, impassioned raps laid over hip hop beats, timeless acoustic guitar masterpieces, and innovative, idiosyncratic pop music. Rolling Stone notes that “Sheeran’s musical history lesson is both well-timed and rip-roaringly fun,” while The New York Times calls it “a batteries-fully-charged assault on the pop charts from a performer skilled in musical osmosis.” Sheeran made chart history this year with the first two singles from ÷, “Shape Of You” and “Castle On The Hill,” debuting at #1 and #6 respectively on Billboard’s Hot 100, making him the first artist in the chart’s 58-year history ever to debut two singles in the top 10 simultaneously.  Sheeran continues to break records, with lead single “Shape Of You” recently becoming the third song ever to hit an incredible 1 billion streams on Spotify.  His follow-up single “Castle On The Hill” has logged over 185 million views on YouTube and has already begun its ascent up the charts.  This June, Sheeran received the prestigious Hal David Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.  

photo by Guy Lowndes

photo by Guy Lowndes

The erstwhile Josh Tillman (under which name he first appeared on ACL in 2012 as drummer for Fleet Foxes) grew up in Rockville, Maryland. Discovered in Seattle by singer/songwriter Damien Jurado, he began touring and making records, releasing eight under his own name and joining Fleet Foxes for the recording and touring cycle of 2011’s Helplessness Blues. As Father John Misty, he gained immediate attention with 2012’s Fear Fun, solidifying the status of his lyric-heavy, melodic folk rock with 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear. Misty’s artistry comes to a head on the madly ambitious new album Pure Comedy. Inspired by the chaos and uncertainty of modern life, Misty 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.” Heady stuff, wrapped in lyrical wit and the kind of melodies Harry Nilsson would’ve killed to write. “This is a big-idea album in a way none of his work was before,” notes Paste, while Exclaim says that it’s “packed with so much meaning and complexity, it feels as overwhelmingly absurd, joyous, curious, tragic, extraordinary and contradictory as life itself.” Under the Radar puts it far more simply: “Pure Comedy is big and clever, and oh so very brilliant.”

Herbie Hancock for blogSix decades into an extraordinary career, 14-time GRAMMY Award winner Herbie Hancock remains at the forefront of world culture, technology, business and music. In addition to being recognized as a legendary pianist and composer, the ardent music ambassador has been an integral part of every popular music movement since the 1960s. As a member of the Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet, he pioneered a groundbreaking sound in jazz. He also developed new approaches on his own classic ‘60s recordings like Maiden Voyage, followed by his work in the ‘70s with record-breaking albums such as Head Hunters, combining electric jazz with funk and rock in an innovative style that continues to influence contemporary music. His trailblazing 1983 cross-over smash “Rockit,” an early hip-hop touchstone, is considered one of the first songs to feature “scratching,” and with the album Future Shock marked Hancock’s foray into electronic dance sounds; during the same period he also continued to work in an acoustic setting with V.S.O.P., which included ex-Miles Davis bandmates Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Hancock received an Academy Award for his Round Midnight film score and fourteen Grammy Awards, including Album Of The Year for River: The Joni Letters – only the second jazz album in the Recording Academy’s history to ever receive that award – and two Grammy Awards for 2011’s globally collaborative CD The Imagine Project. He was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor in 2013, published his memoir Herbie Hancock: Possibilities in 2014 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. Many of his compositions, including “Cantaloupe Island,” “Maiden Voyage,” “Watermelon Man” (a tune from his first album that has been recorded over 200 times) and “Chameleon,” are modern standards. Hancock will be touring across the globe this summer and fall and is currently at work on a new studio album.

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.

ACL Hall of Fame 2017 announces guest performances by Brandi Carlile, Neko Case and Trombone Shorty

Austin City Limits announces an all-star line-up of guest performers for the 2017 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Inductions & Celebration on October 25th, 2017.  Acclaimed singer-songwriters Neko Case and Brandi Carlile and music phenom Trombone Shorty are slated to perform in tribute to the latest class of inductees.  These special guests join host Chris Isaak, along with previously announced performers Raul Malo and Ry Cooder, in a celebratory evening filled with one-of-a-kind music performances and tributes as three American music legends are inducted into the fourth annual Austin City Limits Hall of Fame: pioneering rocker Roy Orbison, Americana original Rosanne Cash and New Orleans icons The Neville Brothers.

All-star guest performers will handle induction honors for an epic night: Neko Case will honor Rosanne Cash, along with guitar great Ry Cooder.  Brandi Carlile will perform in tribute to Roy Orbison, joining Mavericks’ leader Raul Malo and singer-songwriter Chris Isaak, who will host the ceremony and also handle induction honors for his musical idol.  New Orleans sensation Trombone Shorty will salute the iconic Neville Brothers along with members of The Nevilles band for a New Orleans-style tribute to the funk & soul first family.  Additional guest stars will be announced prior to the event.  

Neko Case

Neko Case

The concert event is open to the public and takes place at Austin City Limit’s studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater, in downtown Austin. A limited number of tickets are available at acltv.com/hall-of-fame/. Musical highlights and inductions from the ceremony will be broadcast in a special New Year’s Eve episode of Austin City Limits as part of the program’s Season 43 which premieres in the fall on PBS.

The 2017 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame is presented by NetApp and is sponsored in part by Dell, Stratus Properties and Texas Monthly. For sponsorship opportunities contact Amanda Hutchins at ahutchins@klru.org.

Trombone Shorty by Matthieu Bitton

Trombone Shorty by Matthieu Bitton

The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame was established in 2014 to recognize the legacy of legendary artists and key individuals who have played a vital part in the pioneering music series remarkable 40+ years as a music institution. The inaugural induction ceremony in 2014 honored Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Lloyd Maines, program creator Bill Arhos and Darrell Royal. 2015’s second annual ACL Hall of Fame ceremony honored Asleep at the Wheel, Loretta Lynn, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez and Townes Van Zandt, along with the original crew of the show’s first season in 1974-75. The 2016 Hall of Fame honored Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King, alongside former ACL executive producer Dick Peterson.

Austin City Limits and the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame are produced by KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. KLRU is a non-profit organization providing public television and educational resources to Central Texas as well as producing quality national programming. Net proceeds from this event benefit KLRU.

Taping recap: Norah Jones

Norah Jones is a longtime friend of Austin City Limits, so we’re always happy to have the Texas native back on our stage. For her fourth visit, the nine-time Grammy Award-winner performed selections from her latest album Day Breaks, alongside choice gems from her multi-platinum 2002 breakout debut Come Away With Me.  Critics have hailed the jazz-inflected Day Breaks as a kindred spirit to the landmark Come Away With Me, expanding on its bestselling sound by incorporating the musical influences she’s absorbed since her breakthrough.

Jones and her five-piece band took the stage for the title track of Day Breaks, its gentle funk underpinning her melancholy lines about “raining in my heart.” Making the debt to her debut explicit, she then went into the overtly jazzy “I’ve Got to See You Again,” from Come Away With Me. Joined only by bassist Josh Lattanzi and drummer Greg Wieczorek, Jones performed an elegant take on Horace Silver’s standard “Peace.” Guitarist Jason Roberts and keyboardist Pete Remm came back to the stage for a return to Come Away via the light, folky “Something is Calling You,” enhanced by flautist Jacob Duncan. Jones and band, with guest steel player Dan Iyeta, then essayed a countrified take on Neil Young’s classic “Don’t Be Denied,” another cut from Day Breaks. Duncan returned on sax for “Burn,” an ethereal epic that took full advantage of Jones’ underrated piano skills.

Jones strapped on a guitar and reached into the catalog of Puss N Boots, her alt.country side band, for the two-stepping “Hey You.” Iyeta returned to the stage as Jones moved to her electric piano for the soulful ballad “Rosie’s Lullaby,” then it was back to the guitar for “Nightingale,” a widescreen tune from Come Away With Me highlighting Roberts’ rocking guitar solos. She returned to her signature grand piano stylings for the jazzy pop tune “Tragedy” and the lovely piano ballad (with pedal steel enhancement) “Humble Me.” She went back to Day Breaks for the smoky “Sleeping Wild,” before really digging into her jazz training for a stunning cover of Duke Ellington’s “Fleurette Africaine” (“African Flower”), humming the melody with Duncan’s alto sax in tow.

The rest of the band came back for the galloping rocker “Flipside,” before ending the main set with “Carry On,” a bluesy ballad with gospel organ that’s tailor-made for a set-closer. The crowd showed its appreciation, even more so when Jones returned, acoustic guitar in hand, with Lattanzi on double bass, Roberts on resonator guitar and Wieczorek on portable snare. The quartet pulled a surprising cover out of its collective hat: the Grateful Dead’s “Ripple,” reimagined as a folk classic.  It was a fitting way to bring a gorgeous show to a close, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.  

Giveaway: Norah Jones 6/11

UPDATE: Giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping performances by NORAH JONES on Sunday, June 11th 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, June 8th.

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. Gregg Allman

Austin City Limits was saddened to learn of the death of Gregg Allman from liver cancer on May 27, 2017 at the age of 69. The singer, songwriter, keyboardist and guitarist appeared on ACL with the Allman Brothers Band in 1996.

Though born in Nashville, Allman came of musical age in Florida in the mid-sixties, forming the Allman Joys with his guitarist brother Duane. The Joys evolved into the Hour Glass, which in turn morphed into the Allman Brothers Band. Based out of Macon, Georgia, the Allmans used their instrumental firepower and improvisational spirit to push the blues further than it had ever gone before. After Duane died in 1971, Gregg continued with the band, but also began striking out on his own, recording several LPS over the years both solo and with the Gregg Allman Band, and scoring hits with “Midnight Rider” (originally recorded by the Allmans) and “I’m No Angel.” He continued touring with the Allman Brothers Band until its dissolution in 2014.

In 2011 Allman released Low Country Blues and received a lifetime achievement award from the Americana Music Association. The next year saw the publication of his memoir My Cross to Bear. Before his death, Allman completed the Don Was-produced album Southern Blood, scheduled for release later this year. As he wrote in his book, “Music is my life’s blood. I love music, I love to play good music, and I love to play music for people who appreciate it. And when it’s all said and done, I’ll go to my grave and my brother will greet me, saying, ‘Nice work, little brother—you did all right.’ I must have said this a million times, but if I died today, I have had me a blast.”

Below, the Allman Brothers Band performs Gregg’s signature song “Midnight Rider” during Season 21 of the show in 1996.

 

Taping recap: The Black Angels

It’s no surprise that we at ACL love to showcase Austin’s finest acts when we have the opportunity. So we were thrilled to welcome back Central Texas’ modern psychedelic sons The Black Angels for their livestreamed second appearance. Performing the entirety of their latest album, the critically-acclaimed Death Song, alongside crowd favorites, the Angels delivered a scorching set of darkly droning, acid-kissed rock & roll.

Surrounded by screens projecting trippy kaleidoscopic images, the band kicked things off with new album opener “Currency” a politcally charged tirade that rolled off the stage on a wave of reverb anchored by frontman Alex Maas’ keening vocals. A twanging guitar line signaled the start of “The Prodigal Sun,” from the band’s striking debut Passover, much to the approval of the crowd. Backed by the otherworldly display of abstract lighting, the Angels launched into the droning but rocking “Entrance Song,” before upping the energy level for “Better Off Alone.” The quintet returned to the new record for the menacing “I Dreamt,” aptly displaying the darker side of the hippie dream as implied by their name. The rhythm-driven “Medicine” added a side of funk to the group’s smoky acid rock, while “Hunt Me Down” glowered its way through the grungy riffs of guitarists Christian Bland and Jake Garcia.

The Angels returned to social commentary with “Grab As Much (as you can),” another spear in the side of greed. Bland sat down at the keyboard for the dreamy open of “Half Believing,” its idyll altered by drummer Stephanie Bailey’s insistent thump and Garcia’s fuzzed-out Rickenbacker. The energy level blasted off immediately after for the growling “Bloodhounds,” the guitars competing with multi-instrumentalist Kyle Hunt’s cutting Farfisa organ, and stayed high for the cheerfully threatening “I’d Kill For Her.” The dramatic, arresting “Comanche Moon” came next, as Maas imagined vengeance on behalf of First Peoples everywhere. The Angels ended the main set with the melancholy atmospheres of “Life Song,” Maas’ cries of “I’ll see you on the other side” belying the song’s title.   

It wasn’t over, of course; after the appropriate amount of cheering, the band returned for the blurry, meditative “Estimate.” An insistently buzzing guitar snapped the atmosphere into sharper focus for “Death March,” one of Death Song’s standouts. The Angels returned to the beginning for the final number, swirling its fuzzy guitars, pounding rhythms and seething rage for “Young Men Dead,” a warning shot from Passover that got the audience riled up on first lick. It was a perfect closer for this terrific show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.    

Taping recap: The Head and the Heart

The Head and the Heart returned to the Austin City Limits stage for its second appearance on the show, on the heels of its acclaimed third LP Signs of Light. The livestreamed performance left no fan disappointed, as the Seattle band hit the stage with its effervescent melodies and poignant harmonies intact.

The band took the stage, tuned up and went into the hyper-melodic “All We Ever Knew,” from Signs of Light. The sextet stuck to the new record for “City of Angels,” a rocking paean to Los Angeles. Kenny Hensely’s piano pounding then signaled a look back to the band’s beloved first album in the form of the rollicking tune “Ghosts.” “Rhythm and Blues” followed, its title genre subtly woven into the rhythm, before the pace slowed a bit with the shimmering “Another Story.” The Head and the Heart then essayed the lovely “Let’s Be Still,” the lush duet between leader Jonathan Russell and violinist Charity Rose Thielen that became a stirring anthem and serves as title track to the combo’s second record.

The cut-time strumming of Russell’s acoustic guitar brought the folk-popping “Lost in My Mind,” one of the band’s hits and, from the sound of the cheers, a clear crowd favorite. The group showcased its trademark harmonies on “Winter Song,” a fingerpicked folk tune of surpassing beauty. Then came a surprise – the Seattleites paid tribute to late Soundgarden leader Chris Cornell with a gently faithful take on Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike,” sung by new guitarist Matthew Gervais and Russell, that found great favor with the audience. Following that triumph, Russell commanded the stage solo for “Oh My Dear,” a dramatic ballad that segued into the full band thumper “I Don’t Mind,” both from Signs of Light. The Head and the Heart returned to its debut for the tunefulness overload of “Sounds Like Hallelujah,” before cranking the amps and the rhythm for Let It Be Still’s “Shake.” The main set ended with “Down in the Valley,” the fan favorite folk pop anthem that distills the band’s essence into one memorable number.

One boisterously cheering crowd later, Russell, Thielen and Gervais returned to the stage for “Library Magic,” putting their own stamp on the guitar ‘n’ three part harmony sound of Crosby, Stills & Nash. The rest of the band came back onstage to close with the crowd-pleaser “Rivers and Roads,” one of the group’s most potent folk rock anthems. The crowd went appropriately wild, and the band quit the stage to rapturous applause. It was a great show, and we’re happy for you to see it this fall when it airs on your local PBS station.

R.I.P. Jimmy LaFave

Austin City Limits was saddened to learn of the death of singer/songwriter Jimmy LaFave at the age of 61 after a yearlong battle with spindle cell sarcoma. The longtime Austin mainstay appeared on the show in 1996 as part of our Season 21.

Born in Wills Point, Texas, LaFave came of musical age in Stillwater, Oklahoma as part of a collective of songwriters who helped develop what’s now known as “Red Dirt music.” After relocating to Austin in the early 90s, LaFave became known for a sound the magazine Folk and Music Exchange rightly called “reminiscent of the Dust Bowl heritage of Woody Guthrie, the early rock of Chuck Berry, the quiet folk reflections of Bob Dylan, and the rock anthems of Bruce Springsteen.” He recorded several albums featuring his gritty voice and poignant songs over the course of his two-plus decades in Austin, including Austin Skyline, Highway Trance, Buffalo Return to the Plains, Depending On the Distance and his most recent LP The Night Tribe, named after his long-running band. LaFave gave an emotional farewell concert at Austin’s Paramount Theater on May 18, surrounded by his friends, family and peers, passing peacefully at home three days later. May he rest in peace.

You can watch his episode of Austin City Limits below.