RIP Joe Sun

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We here at Austin City Limits pay our respects to country singer Joe Sun, who passed away of natural causes Oct. 25 at his home in Florida. He was 76. 

After a stint in the Air Force and as a radio DJ, the Minnesota native went to Nashville in the seventies in hopes of becoming a country singer, scoring a hit in 1978 with “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You.” Over the next few years Sun earned seven more top 40 country hits, before turning his attention to Europe. He also recorded ads for Budweiser and Timberline Boots, and appeared in the 1985 film Marie with Sissy Spacek, Jeff Daniels and Morgan Freeman. His rich, bluesy voice and rootsy honkytonk sound will be missed. 

Sun appeared on ACL in Season 5, 1980, paired with Carl Perkins. Here he is with his biggest hit, “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You.” 

Austin City Limits #512: Joe Sun – “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You” from Austin City Limits on Vimeo.

RIP Paul Barrere of Little Feat

We here at Austin City Limits are saddened by the passing of Little Feat singer, songwriter and guitarist Paul Barrere on Oct. 26. He was 71. No cause of death has been announced, but Barrere was undergoing treatment for liver cancer. 

The Burbank native joined Little Feat in 1972, just in time to record the band’s classic LP Dixie Chicken. Besides serving as an alternate singer and skilled guitar foil to bandleader Lowell George, Barrere wrote or co-wrote several Feat classics in its repertoire, including “Time Loves a Hero,” “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now,” “Old Folks Boogie,” “Down on the Farm,” “Skin It Back” and “All That You Dream.” When the band reconvened in 1988 following George’s death, Barrere assumed the frontman position, leading the Feat through a further nine albums, including the gold-selling Let It Roll and its most recent LP Rooster Rag. Barrere also played live and in the studio with Taj Mahal, Jack Bruce, Carly Simon, Chico Hamilton and Nicolette Larson, among others. In between the two eras of Little Feat, he recorded two solo albums and led the band the Bluesbusters. He will be missed by bandmates and fans alike. 

Little Feat performed on Austin City Limits in 1991. Here they are with the Barrere-led “Old Folks Boogie.”

Austin City Limits 1611: Little Feat – "Old Folks Boogie" from Austin City Limits on Vimeo.

Taping recap: ACL Hall of Fame 6th Annual Honors

Every year the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Honors feels like a homecoming. This year was no exception, with so many friends and family with us to help celebrate. For this year’s sixth Hall of Fame class, we inducted singer/songwriter Shawn Colvin, blues giant Buddy Guy and Texas icon Lyle Lovett, the man who nearly holds the record for the most appearances on the ACL stage (he’s one behind Willie Nelson), and their pals came out to start the party. It was a night to remember. 

Austin drum corps Austin Samba set a festive mood to kick off the evening. KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, CEO & General Manager Bill Stotesbery welcomed the crowd and introduced ACL’s longtime executive producer Terry Lickona. He briefly recapped the show’s iconic history before ceding the stage to the evening’s host, Texas troubadour Robert Earl Keen and the ceremony was quickly underway. 

photo by Gary Miller

Keen introduced the evening’s first inductee – veteran Austinite Shawn Colvin. The legendary Jackson Browne inducted Colvin with a moving speech about her musical history and the genius that has marked it. “He’s my hero,” said Colvin, “and he just inducted me into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame.” She accepted the honor with a heartfelt speech about what Austin and the show have meant to her, before she and Browne took up their acoustic guitars for the lovely “These Four Walls,” which she called a tribute to her town. Following that, Colvin welcomed Wimberley native Sarah Jarosz, who used her mandolin for the classic lick of Colvin’s Grammy-winning smash “Sunny Came Home.” After Jarosz left the stage, Colvin was joined by guitarist Steuart Smith and bassist Larry Klein, both of whom produced records for her, and formed a touring trio with her in the nineties. “This is the first time we’ve played together in 25 years,” she declared, before the threesome nailed a version of her later-period hit “Polaroids.” Jarosz joined the trio for “Diamond in the Rough,” Colvin’s radio breakthrough – which was also enhanced by fellow inductee Lyle Lovett’s surprise appearance on harmony vocals and a thrilling Smith guitar solo. The musicians quit the stage to grand applause. 

photo by Gary Miller

Keen came back onstage to introduce the next inductee: the one and only Buddy Guy. The blues legend was inducted by his old friend and Austin blues icon Jimmie Vaughan, who talked about discovering Guy as a kid from the album Folk Festival of the Blues, and how that put him on the path he’s followed since. “Better late than never!” exclaimed Guy as he accepted his award, garnering a big laugh. The Chicago axeman paid tribute to his own influences – Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins – before thanking the audience and his fellow artists for helping to keep the blues alive. Guy and Vaughan then joined the former’s band onstage, launching into “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues,” one of many signature Buddy Guy tunes. Blues singer Shemekia Copeland came next, duetting with Guy on his latest hit “Cognac,” which made getting tipsy absolutely sensual. One of Guy’s recent mentees, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram then took the stage for a rip through “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” one of the classics from Guy’s own mentor Muddy Waters. Closing out his segment, Guy and Ingram welcomed back Copeland and Vaughan and Guy donned an electric sitar for “Skin Deep,” a deep soul ballad in the style of “Feels Like Rain” that reminded us all that we share more than we differ. 

photo by Gary Miller

After an intermission (which featured another performance from Austin Samba), Keen returned to introduce his old friend Lyle Lovett. Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn surprised the crowd with an unannounced appearance to induct his pal, calling him “a humble maestro,” “the storytelling heir to Faulkner, Rogers and Twain,” speaking eloquently and humorously about the impact his music and friendship has had on his life. After thanking Penn, Lovett delineated how long his history with Austin City Limits goes back, from watching the show since its first season to closing out Studio 6A in 2010, before thanking the show and his family – his mother was in attendance. Then Lovett announced seminal Texas songwriter, and key Lovett influence, Willis Alan Ramsey, who sang, with help from the large band, his friend’s anthem “If I Had a Boat.” Dallas native Edie Brickell was next, taking on Lovett’s tart country ballad “I Loved You Yesterday.” The maestro himself came back onstage, thanking his crew and the Large Band, before paring the latter down to fiddler Luke Bulla, mandolinist Keith Sewell and bassist Viktor Krauss for “12th of June,” inspired by his family past and present. The Large Band returned and Lovett welcomed Keen back to the stage to sing “This Old Porch,” a song the pair of them wrote nearly 40 years ago – a fitting tribute to enduring friendships and a long-running career. Keen then invited the other inductees and guests on stage for the final song. Lovett took the opportunity to introduce the large band, including his longtime backup singer Francine Reed, who garnered the biggest round of applause.

photo by Gary Miller

Then it was time for the closing number – “That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas,” one of Lovett’s most famous songs and one perfect for a chorus of famous backup singers. The audience went wild as streamers came down from the ceiling, as another successful Hall of Fame taping came to a close. We can’t wait for you to see it when it airs as a special New Year’s broadcast on your local PBS station. 

H.E.R. sparkles on debut ACL episode

Austin City Limits spotlights R&B sensation H.E.R. in a powerhouse debut. The 2019 double Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist dazzles in a new hour. 

A rare talent, 22-year-old H.E.R. delivers a stunning performance in her ACL debut. Opening with the acoustic guitar-driven “Carried Away,” H.E.R. calls out “Austin — you want to lose your mind a little bit?” She commands the hour running through a medley of her hits while showcasing her musician skills, seamlessly switching between keyboards, drum pads, bass, acoustic and electric guitars throughout. With a remarkable demonstration of range, she folds her Grammy Award-winning double-platinum hit “Best Part” from her 2017 breakout debut H.E.R. between covers of Deniece Williams’ “Free” and Lauryn Hill’s “Nothing Really Matters”. She brings a rock ‘n’ roll bravado to her love crisis banger “Hard Place” enlisting the enthralled crowd to raise their voices “a little louder” for the soaring anthem. H.E.R. earns an extended standing ovation for her showstopping rendition of “Make It Rain”, adding her own stamp with a bluesy guitar solo and soulful vocals. She showcases her platinum smash “Focus” and gives nods to her inspirations along the way, leading the crowd in a full-throated singalong of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor”, and closing with a fiery guitar solo coda of Prince’s “Purple Rain” in a performance for the ages. 

“H.E.R. is a modern Renaissance Woman whose musical skills know no bounds,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “It’s inspiring and jaw-dropping to watch her morph and meld one style or genre on top of another. Her Grammy performance was a stand-out and her ACL performance really gives her the room to stretch out.”

photo by Scott Newton

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 another brand new episode, featuring veteran singer/songwriter Patty Griffin and New Orleans rockers The Revivalists.

Tank and The Bangas 11/18/19

Austin City Limits is happy to announce a final taping for our current Season 45.   Breakout New Orleans act Tank and The Bangas make their ACL debut on November 18. (more)

Edie Brickell Joins ACL Hall of Fame All-Star Line-up

We are celebrating our sold-out sixth annual Austin City Limits Hall of Fame this Thursday, October 24, honoring three music greats: Buddy Guy, Shawn Colvin and Lyle Lovett. We have a few last-minute changes to our guest performers line-up: we are thrilled to announce that singer/songwriter Edie Brickell will be joining the all-star line-up featuring Jackson Browne, Shemekia Copeland, Jimmie Vaughan, Sarah Jarosz, Willis Alan Ramsey, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and host Robert Earl Keen for an evening of one-of-a-kind performances, unannounced surprises and collaborations from music’s finest.  

We also regret to announce that Bruce Hornsby will not be able to join us due to a family illness.  

The ACL Hall of Fame Inductions & Celebration will be held at ACL’s studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin on October 24 at 7:30pm.  Musical highlights and inductions from the celebration will air on PBS as a special Austin City Limits New Year’s broadcast.

Following the multi-platinum success of her landmark debut album with New Bohemians, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars, and the follow-up Ghost of a Dog, Edie Brickell went on to a flourishing solo writing and recording career. The title track from Brickell’s 13-song collaboration with Steve Martin, Love Has Come For You, won a 2014 Grammy® Award for Best American Roots Song, the inaugural award in its category. The pair went on to write the acclaimed Tony-nominated Broadway musical, Bright Star. In 2017, Brickell reunited with her longtime bandmates, and Edie Brickell & New Bohemians’ most recent album, Rocket, was released in 2018. We’re thrilled to welcome the Dallas native to our ACL stage. 

Steve Earle and friends bring Guy Clark tribute to ACL Season 45

Austin City Limits presents a Season 45 highlight: Steve Earle & The Dukes spotlighting the songwriting legacy of the legendary Guy Clark. Americana stalwart Earle makes his fifth appearance on the ACL stage paying tribute to his mentor, the late Texas singer-songwriter and ACL Hall of Fame legend Guy Clark, in a heartwarming hour filled with choice classics and personal anecdotes.  Performing a collection of gems from his acclaimed Clark tribute album Guy, Earle is accompanied by his five-piece band The Dukes, and special guests including Rodney Crowell, Joe Ely, Terry Allen and Jo Harvey Allen. The episode is capped with vintage clips from Clark’s own ACL appearances, including his 1977 debut.  

Steve Earle kicks off the hour appropriately singing “I wish I was in Austin…,” the infamous opening of Guy Clark’s “Dublin Blues.”  In his signature bandana, the Americana maverick Earle showcases a true Texas icon in this moving hour, filled with entertaining stories and personal tales from Earle’s longtime relationship with one of his main songwriting influences.  Earle explains how he, at 19, first met Guy after hitchhiking from Texas to Tennessee, eventually playing bass in Clark’s band “until Guy needed a better bass player.” Earle shares the stage with special guests: Texas legend Joe Ely joins Earle for the beloved Clark signature “Desperados Waiting For A Train”; and Rodney Crowell collaborates on a rousing duet of “Heartbroke”, an early nugget Crowell first recorded in 1980.  Earle performs a stunning solo acoustic reading of “Randall Knife,” adding his own powerful take on a Clark classic.  “I guess I should play a couple of songs of mine so y’all won’t think Guy didn’t teach me anything,” quips Earle before launching into gorgeous renditions of a pair of his own: “Guitar Town,” the 1986 track that introduced Earle’s talents to the world, and “Copperhead Road”. “That’s what I learned from Guy Clark,” asserts Earle before bringing Ely and Crowell back, joined by Lubbock legends Terry Allen and Jo Harvey Allen, saying “Everyone here loved Guy Clark.” The Texas natives close out the hour together with a poignant rendition of the Clark gem, “Old Friends,” as each artist takes a turn at the mic: “...Old friends they shine like diamonds.”  Earle leads the audience in a final round of the chorus, before calling out directly to his songwriting hero at the close: “Guy Charles Clark—see you when I get there, maestro.” 

photo by Scott Newton

“There’s nobody better suited personally, musically, or emotionally to bring new life to the songs of Guy Clark than Steve Earle,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Guy’s songs are timeless, but Steve makes sure that nobody will forget why he will always be considered the Dean of Texas songwriters.” 

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 another brand new episode, featuring rising  R&B star H.E.R.

New taping: Tank and the Bangas

Austin City Limits is happy to announce a final taping for our current Season 45.   Breakout New Orleans act Tank and The Bangas make their ACL debut on November 18.

“There’s no record quite like Green Balloon, and no band quite like Tank and The Bangas,” raves NPR Music. The New Orleans five-piece R&B, funk and hip-hop outfit, featuring vocalist Tank Ball, bassist Norman Spence, drummer Joshua Johnson, saxophonist Albert Allenback and keyboardist Merell Burkett is earning numerous shout-outs from national press: “There’s no leaving a Tank and The Bangas performance in a bad mood” (The New Yorker); “Lead singer Tank has an elastic, surprising voice that oozes energy, turning simple lyrics into full stories just with a twist of the syllables”  (Time Magazine). Simply put, Tank and The Bangas are a beacon of life. And it’s that life that you hear in their music. That’s what makes them one of the most thrilling, unpredictable and sonically diverse bands on the planet; a unit where jazz meets hip-hop, soul meets rock, and funk is the beating heart of everything they do. Their new album Green Balloon is their first release with major label Verve Forecast – a deal that came together after their standout live performance unanimously won NPR’s 2017 Tiny Desk Contest, beating out hundreds of other acts. That moment changed their lives, catapulting the hard-working band into the national spotlight.

Since 2017, the band has toured non-stop selling out venues both stateside and abroad including festival appearances at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival and more. They earned a spot Rolling Stone’s list of the “10 Artists You Need To Know,” who called them, “A secular church experience, with freewheeling improvisational chops and positive vibes.” “We’re really vibe-y as a band,” says the act who came together in 2011 at a NOLA open mic. They’d arrive at sessions with an idea of what they wanted, but it was never strict enough to derail them from jamming and going with the flow. It’s purely organic. “It’s a puzzle and everybody needs to be there to solve it,” says former slam poet and lead singer Tank Ball. They don’t connect with the idea of genre, which is thoroughly modern in itself. “Everything we’re influenced by we don’t have a problem putting on a record because we don’t feel like we’re stuck in one lane. When we’re creating, we are creating. We never say: that sounded too blues-y, that sounded too country, that’s too hip-hop. It’s just that’s what this feels like, so let’s push that feeling to its completion, make it feel good.” 

Despite their newfound global focus, Tank and The Bangas remain a New Orleans band at heart. ”You don’t need to do a certain type of music to be connected to New Orleans,” says Tank. “It’s in the culture, it’s in the people, it’s in the fact that we can all find so many common things in the streets.” New Orleans champions its own, which allowed Tank and The Bangas to grow their fanbase by word of mouth and community. “That’s more New Orleans than anything I’ve ever heard. The music in New Orleans isn’t technical, it’s not a bunch of fancy-ass notes. It’s felt and it’s very passionate. It’s real. That’s what people get to take home.” 

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week prior to the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast episode will air on PBS early next year as part of ACL’s milestone Season 45.