New tapings: Mac DeMarco and Brandi Carlile

Austin City Limits is happy to announce the first new tapings for 2018’s Season 44, with the debut of fast-rising singer/songwriter Mac DeMarco on February 27 and the return of acclaimed singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile on April 10 at ACL Live at the Moody Theater. The DeMarco taping will also be livestreamed around the world.

Mac DeMarco (aka 27-year old MacBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco) released This Old Dog, his third album and first full-length since 2014’s Salad Days, on May 5th, 2017, via Captured Tracks. It was a little space—in time, location (he moved from Queens to Los Angeles), and method—that inspired the Canadian native while making This Old Dog. Arriving in California with a grip of demos he’d written in New York, he realized after a few months of setting up his new shop that the gap was giving him perspective. “I demoed a full album, and as I was moving to the West Coast I thought I’d get to finishing it quickly,” DeMarco says. “But then I realized that moving to a new city, and starting a new life takes time. Usually I just write, record, and put it out; no problem. But this time, I wrote them and they sat. When that happens, you really get to know the songs. It was a different vibe.” DeMarco wrote demos for This Old Dog on an acoustic guitar, an eye-opening method for him. “The majority of this album is acoustic guitar, synthesizer, some drum machine, and one song is electric guitar. So this is a new thing for me.”  This Old Dog is rooted more in a synth-base than any of his previous releases, but he is careful not to let that tactic overshadow the other instruments and overall “unplugged” mood of the work. “This is my acoustic album, but it’s not really an acoustic album at all. That’s just what it feels like, mostly. I’m Italian, so I guess this is an Italian rock record.”

photo by Alysse Gafkjenh

Having first appeared on ACL in 2010 and most recently paid tribute to Roy Orbison in the 2017 ACL Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve celebration, Brandi Carlile comes back in celebration of her seventh album, By The Way, I Forgive You, produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and acclaimed musician Shooter Jennings. Already receiving widespread acclaim, NPR Music’s Ann Powers asserts, “By The Way, I Forgive You takes Carlile and her longtime bandmates, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, into a new space of risk-taking—as well as the emotional stratosphere. A country-rock aria dedicated to the delicate boys and striving girls born into—and, Carlile insists, destined to triumph over—this divisive time, ‘The Joke’ offers a stunning vocal performance from Carlile, swathed in warm piano, big drums and a perfect string arrangement.” Additionally, The New York Times praises, “Motherhood is disruptive, messy, inconvenient, enlightening and triumphant in ‘The Mother’…Its fingerpicking folk-rock unfurls from a blurry awakening to unabashed pride and joy,” while XPN The Key calls it, “an achingly heartfelt and quietly powerful track.” Recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, By The Way, I Forgive You includes ten new songs written by Carlile and longtime collaborators and bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth. Of their close relationship, Carlile comments, “The Twins and I have been in a band for so long now. And not just a band, we are literally a family. When you create art with twins, it becomes unclear when I end and where they begin.” Over the course of their acclaimed career, the band has released six albums, including 2015’s The Firewatcher’s Daughter, which garnered a Grammy nomination for “Best Americana 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. The broadcast version will air on PBS as part of our Season 44.

LCD Soundsystem thrills ACL’s 43rd season

Austin City Limits showcases one of today’s most thrilling live acts, LCD Soundsystem, for an electrifying hour. The dance-rock band make their first-ever appearance on the program with a victory lap of beloved hits alongside new classics.

LCD Soundsystem perform songs from American Dream, its first new release after a five-year hiatus and the first #1 album in their decade-long run. Called “a party album for the end of the world or an apocalypse album for the end of the party,” by Rolling Stone, the album earned wide acclaim and landed on many “best of 2017” lists. The New York City band, formed by leader James Murphy in 2002, launches a spectral Austin City Limits set with a pair of songs from their acclaimed comeback: the synth-popping beat of album-opener “Oh Baby” and charging bass and cathartic guitar of dance-floor magnet “Call the Police.” Murphy clutches his signature retro mic and promises the audience a mix of songs old and new as they kick into fan-favorite “I Can Change,” a perfect balance of romantic woe, disco rhythm and pop melody from 2010’s This Is Happening. Murphy’s lyrical wit and soaring vocal is the band’s trademarks and together they dive into the wry melancholy of “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” from 2007’s Sound Of Silver.  LCD’s penchant for mixing rock anthems with dance rhythms is in full force on the rock ‘n’ roll disco opus “Tonite,” the newly-minted 2018 Grammy-winner for Best Dance Recording, the band’s first career Grammy win. The fascinating hour allows viewers an immersive glimpse into LCD’s artistry, with seven band members onstage to recreate the electronic-based parts of their catalog, layering a potent mix of sounds with free-wheeling electro-pulse synth. A staccato piano riff signals “All My Friends,” an endorphin rush ode to slowing down time that closes out the hour as Murphy gets into the spirit, stepping into the crowd to shake hands with all his new best friends in the front row.

“When LCD played their ‘last show’ at Madison Square Garden in 2011, I thought we’d missed our chance,” explained ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Then I was excited to hear James had decided to revive the band, make a new record and hit the road again. They were a must-get for ACL! LCD’s sound has a way of washing over you and carrying you away. They make music like nobody else can!”

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 the solo ACL debut of Black Keys singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and the debut of former Gourds member Kevin Russell’s party favorite Shinyribs.


Austin City Limits artists win big at the 2018 Grammy Awards

Austin City Limits sends out our hearty congratulations to our distinguished alumni on their wins at the 2018 Grammy awards.

Country sensation Chris Stapleton, who makes his ACL debut in an upcoming episode premiering Feb. 17, swept the country categories, taking top honors for Best Country Solo Performance (“Either Way”), Best Country Song (“Broken Halos”) and Best Country Album (From a Room: Vol. 1). This weekend’s featured artist LCD Soundsystem won Best Dance Recording for “Tonite” which will be featured in their career-spanning set as they make their ACL debut in a new episode airing Feb. 3.  Other season 43 winners include Ed Sheeran for Best Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit for Best American Roots Song and Best Americana Album and Father John Misty for Best Recording Packaging.

photo by Scott Newton

Plenty of past season’s guests dominated as well. Kendrick Lamar owned the Rap categories, with five awards, while CeCe Winans earned two Gospel awards. Other winners who’ve graced the ACL stage include Foo Fighters, Alabama Shakes, Randy Newman, The War On Drugs, The National, Reba McEntire, Aimee Mann, Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Portugal. The Man, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Lisa Loeb. You can see the full-length list of winners here. Congratulations to them all!

Run The Jewels rocks Austin City Limits’ Season 43

Austin City Limits presents a groundbreaking hour of hip-hop as powerhouse rap duo Run the Jewels make their first appearance on the ACL stage. The pair perform a 14-track set in a rapid-fire, riveting showcase filled with greatest hits and choice cuts from their acclaimed release Run the Jewels 3.

Two veteran rappers, Killer Mike (from Atlanta) and El-P (from Brooklyn), formed Run the Jewels in 2013 to runaway success and much critical acclaim. XXL Magazine calls the unlikely collaborators “partners in rhyme and reason…perhaps the most consistently enthralling duo in all of hip-hop.” Blasting onto the ACL stage, Killer Mike announces, “We’re gonna light this s**t on fire like Willie Nelson would light a joint,” as they break into a titanic rendition of “Talk To Me” from their latest album Run the Jewels 3. The charismatic duo, joined by bandmate DJ Trackstar on turntables, power through the entire hour at a breakneck pace, unleashing furious rhymes without pausing to breathe, backed by a relentless pulse of menacing beats. Run the Jewels’ back and forth is dazzling, spitting out showstopping verses on racism, inner city reality and scathing sociopolitical commentary cut with gallows humor. “I don’t care about what they say about watching TV – I am definitely smarter because of PBS,” declares Mike as the two MCs drop thrilling lyrical smartbombs inspiring the hooked crowd to chant R-T-J! R-T-J!

“Austin City Limits opened the door to hip hop almost 10 years ago when Mos Def performed, and has continued to present groundbreaking rappers like Kendrick Lamar ever since,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “It arguably represents the most popular and relevant musical culture in the world today. Run the Jewels proves you can have fun, entertain, and deliver a compelling message at the same time.”

photo by Scott Newton

A hallmark of Run the Jewels is visceral, expletive-laden performances and El-P cheerfully apologizes to broadcast censors, with Killer Mike admitting “We curse like goddamn sailors, kids!” The performance is edited for broadcast, but an uncensored version will be available for fans on the ACLTV YouTube Channel January 28, following the program’s initial broadcast premiere.

Viewers will also have a chance to go behind the scenes with Run the Jewels in a new installment of ACL: Backstage premiering January 25 on ACLTV’s YouTube Channel. The new 10-part 360-degree VR documentary series offers fans immersive only-in-VR moments straight from the current season. The series, created by SubVRsive and ACL in partnership with Google and sponsored by Apple Music, gives an up-close look at some of Season 43’s most iconic performances and takes viewers backstage to hear from the artists before they step under the lights at Austin City Limits’ famed studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas and join them onstage with closer-than-front-row seats. ACL: Backstage previously released four episodes featuring Ed Sheeran, Zac Brown Band, Father John Misty, and the Austin City Limits crew in “Unsung Heroes,” and five additional episodes will be released through March. The videos offer a full 360º view that lets fans look up, down, and all around. Completely surrounded by sight and sound, all it takes is the turn of a head, tilt of a phone, or a drag of the mouse to explore the story from every angle. Viewers can watch exclusively on YouTube via web, mobile, or for the best experience, with a Google Daydream View headset via the YouTube VR app. (Note: some language may be NSFW.)

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, click over to YouTube for the related episode of ACL Backstage, 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 reunited alt.rock champs LCD Soundsystem.


Herbie Hancock brings jazz mastery to ACL Season 43

Austin City Limits presents a series highlight: a career-spanning hour with one of the world’s most celebrated artists, jazz legend Herbie Hancock, in his first-ever appearance on the program.  

Hancock opens the hour with an early gem, “Cantaloupe Island,” from his 1964 album Empyrean Isles.  Originally composed during his time in Miles Davis’ second great quintet of the Sixties, Hancock thrills with a new take on a modern standard, showcasing his remarkable touch on the piano, anchored by the number’s iconic riffs.  Playing with a palpable pure joy, the Grammy-lauded giant is exhilarating to watch, ageless six decades into an extraordinary career.  The bandleader shares the ACL stage with a seasoned jazz combo comprised of bassist James Genus, saxophonist/keyboardist Terrace Martin, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.  Hancock pivots to his Korg Kronos synthesizer for the futuristic, ambient opening of “Overture,” before spotlighting his band of aces as each player answers the call with elastic, playful chemistry. He takes the mic to say, “We like to go a little crazy up here sometimes,” to the crowd’s delight, before launching into “Secret Sauce,” a new composition that begins with him on vocoder and a thrusting synth and bass groove, breaks down to near-silence, then slowly simmers to a boil, with  Hancock masterfully commanding his synth and piano simultaneously. The band closes out the stunning set with the funk classic “Chameleon,” from 1973’s landmark album Head Hunters, as Hancock takes center stage with his white keytar, dazzling with jaw-dropping solos as the crowd responds in rapt appreciation.

photo by Scott Newton

“Jazz doesn’t often find its way onto the ACL stage, so when it does it’s always something special,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “In my humble opinion, this is one of the most historic shows we’ve ever done, so that – among many other reasons – makes it must-see TV!”

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 hip-hop superstars Run the Jewels.

Austin City Limits announces Auckland and Sydney City Limits

After the success of the inaugural Auckland City Limits Music Festival in 2016 (inspired by our own namesake Austin City Limits Music Festival, now going into its 17th year), organizers and our friends down under are thrilled to announce the 2018 Auckland City Limits Music Festival in Auckland, New Zealand and the first-ever Sydney City Limits Music Festival, in Sydney, Australia, taking place in February/March 2018. The lineups include Beck, Justice, Grace Jones, Phoenix, and Vance Joy (Sydney only), as well as performances from Tish Sultana, George Ezra (Auckland only), The Libertines, The Head and the Heart, Car Seat Headrest and many more.

Sydney promoter Secret Sounds, in partnership with C3 Presents and Live Nation Entertainment, are pleased to announce the inaugural Sydney City Limits Music Festival, which will take place on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at the lush inner city oasis of Centennial Park. Tickets are now on sale here.

Auckland promoter CRS Presents, in partnership with C3 Presents and Live Nation Entertainment, will deliver the second annual Auckland City Limits Music Festival on March 3, 2018 to Western Springs stadium, and surrounding fields and lakeside park. The inaugural festival, held in 2016, was a resounding success, with the New Zealand Herald proclaiming, “Hats off to the organizers of the inaugural Auckland City Limits. It was one of the easiest, smoothest, most well-run music festivals Auckland has ever had.” Tickets are on sale now here.

Both festivals will continue the Austin City Limits Music Festival tradition of including top culinary options, family fun with Kiddie Limits, and local art. Additional details about these options will be released soon.


Austin City Limits episodes on American Airlines flights

American Airlines has partnered with Austin City Limits to bring the series on board American Airlines flights. The official airline of ACL, American Airlines offers ACL-branded video and audio channels featuring a variety of musical genres and artists. From early episodes featuring legendary artists such as Roy Orbison to recent seasons showcasing musical superstars Radiohead and the Pretenders, passengers can choose from eight different episodes each month. Megan Worley, Manager, Brand Actions, at American Airlines said, “We’re continuously looking to partner with brands that will engage and delight our passengers. Austin City Limits is a superb addition to our inflight entertainment, and will surely resonate with music lovers of all ages flying American.”