Khalid brings youth and talent to ACL

We don’t usually think of El Paso as a hotbed of new music stars. But Khalid Robinson has kicked that notion into a corner. The twenty-year-old took the years he spent in high school in the Texan border town as inspiration for a series of hits and his double-platinum debut LP American Teen. A few sold-out tours and Grammy nominations later, including one for Best New Artist, Khalid brought his youthful outlook and abundant talent to the Austin City Limits stage for a buoyant debut taping.

With his backing trio in tow, Khalid took the stage to “8Teen,” an anthem that encouraged his peers to “do all the stupid s**t that young kids do.” Dancing across the stage, he turned his attention to young love for “Winter,” expressing his romantic confusion over a tight funk beat. Then it was time for the title track to his best selling album, on which he really opened up his vocal chords and showed off his golden pipes. He dialed back the energy for the moody “Coaster,” revving back up for the funkier “Therapy.” His knack for anthemic melody returned for “Another Sad Love Song,” the ascending melody of which belied its romantic melancholy. After that lighterwaver, he brought the mood down once again with the soulful ballad “Saved,” a song clearly beloved by the crowd. That was followed by a couple of verses of his equally sedate single “Eastside,” but that segued directly into the upbeat “Hopeless,” another study in contrast.

Bringing his stool back out, Khalid belted out “Shot Down” and “Angels,” a ballad he noted beforehand “was really special to me,” ending on his knees on the stage. That kept the audience primed for “Young, Dumb and Broke,” one of his smash hits, as the crowd provided the backup vocals and sang along. He then stepped outside the confines of his album for the hit singles “Silence,” which he originally recorded for producer Marshmello, and “Love Lies,” formerly a duet with Normandi. Dropping back into his album, the singer picked up the pace with “Let’s Go,” another song that became a call-and-response with the crowd. Thus pumped, the audience once again became part of the performance as Khalid launched into “Location,” his first major hit. He followed up with “Keep Me,” another anthemic pop tune that revved the audience up even further. Khalid and company ended the show with “OTW,” his catchy new single that suffered not a jot from the absence of recording partners 6lack and Ty Dolla Sign. It was a fine way to end a fine show, and you’ll see for yourselves when the show airs later this year on your local PBS station.  

Giveaway: Janelle Monae

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Janelle Monáe on Monday, October 8th 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, October 4th.

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.

Giveaway: Residente

Residente for blog

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Residente on Sunday, October 7th 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 Wednesday, October 3rd.

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.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue turn ACL into one big party

Whither goeth New Orleans, there goeth the party. And no one better represents New Orleans in the new millennium than Trombone Shorty. Along with his stalwart band Orleans Avenue, the singer/songwriter/horn blower channels his hometown’s legacy of soul, funk, jazz, rock and hip-hop into an irresistibly delicious stew. We drank deeply from that gumbo back in 2010, when Shorty first appeared on the show. For this taping, he brought us something special: the Voodoo Threauxdown, an expanded version of the New Orleans experience that raised having a good time to an art form.  

As some pre-taped brass played, Orleans Avenue took the stage and launched into “Buckjump” with their trademark blend of funky N.O. rhythms and rock power chords. Once the groove began cooking, Shorty himself joined in, adding his raucous namesake instrument to the riffs. After that high energy start, the only thing to do was keep it hot, and they did with the rocking “The Craziest Things.” “What’s up, ACL? We meet again!” proclaimed Shorty, leading into the greasy funk of Allen Toussaint’s “On the Way Down,” featuring Peter Murano’s electrifying guitar solo. The horsepower didn’t let up an iota for “Here Come the Girls,” which added some New Orleans Indian second line to the intro, rap on the bridge and call-and-response from the crowd for another inexorable good time. Shorty drove the song home with circular breathing and an almost impossibly sustained trumpet blast, before conducting the band in extended rhythmic improvisation. The crowd went wild like it was the closing number. But the show wasn’t even halfway done.

Most performers would take this time for a breather, maybe a ballad. Not Shorty – while “Long Weekend” had a more relaxed, almost disco groove, the energy was just as relentless as it had been thus far, spiced with some phrases from Dr. John’s “Going Back to New Orleans” and a speed-demon conga solo from percussionist Weedie Braimah. Then the guitars cranked and Shorty got down with the funky rocker “Where It At?” as the bandleader traded licks with guitarist Joshua Connelly. Follow-up “Lose My Mind” accurately described what the audience was doing by that point, especially when the song became a showcase for powerhouse vocalists Tracci Lee and Chrishira Perrier. The group finally laid back – well, almost – with the nearly mid-tempo “Something Beautiful,” allowing the audience to catch its collective breath.

And a good thing, too, as Shorty brought up one of his New Orleans mentors: ACL Hall of Famer Cyril Neville. The nattily-dressed Neville Brother reached back to the Nevilles’ predecessor, though, burning through the legendary Meters’ “No More Okey Doke” and “Fiyo On the Bayou,” a certified New Orleans classic that made every pair of hips in the room move. After a warm embrace that felt like a passing of the torch, Neville left the stage, followed quickly by Shorty and Orleans Avenue. But let’s face it: we all knew it wasn’t really over. Sure enough, the band came back and ripped into first album steamroller “Hurricane Season,” segueing seamlessly into the unconquerable funk of “Do To Me.” Just as a reminder of where this all came from, Shorty and sax players BK Jackson and Dan Oestreicher dropped into “When the Saints Go Marching In” in the brass band tradition, leading the crowd into a giant singalong. Once the tune circled back to “Do To Me,” Shorty joined the audience, turning the room into a massive jumpfest. One band intro and flourish later, the song – and show – was over, band and crowd finally satiated.

If the Neville Brothers were New Orleans’ greatest musical ambassadors in the twentieth century, that honor goes to Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue for the twenty-first. You’ll see why when this episode airs early next year on your local PBS station.

Giveaway: Khalid 10/3

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Khalid on Wednesday, October 3rd 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, October 1st.

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.

Giveaway: Trombone Shorty 9/26

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Trombone Shorty on Wednesday, September 26th 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, September 24th.

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.

Buddy Guy gives ACL the blues

Austin City Limits has been privileged to host many music legends on our stage, and we were thrilled to welcome back another: blues titan Buddy Guy. The Chicago bluesman has headlined twice before, bringing his signature guitar style and bottomless catalog for a pair of landmark episodes. This evening Guy returned to one of his favorite cities to show off those strengths once again, including songs from his latest LP The Blues is Alive and Well with a taping we live streamed around the world.

Taking the stage in his trademark polkadots, signature drill-through-a-concrete-slab Strat tone and no setlist, Guy and his four-piece Damn Right Blues Band took the stage with the classic “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues,” a statement of purpose if there ever was one. The 82-year-old then brought out “Hoochie Coochie Man,” from the repertoire of his old employer Muddy Waters, engaging in some playful call-and-response with both the audience and keyboardist Marty Sammon. He stayed with the Waters catalog by segueing into “She’s Nineteen Years Old,” adding a snippet of “Somebody Done Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man” at the end in tribute to his late partner Junior Wells. Clearly just warming up, Guy sampled his latest record with “Cognac,” a savage blues celebrating the titular beverage in lyric and the British blues rockers Guy inspired in music, calling out Keith Richards and Jeff Beck in particular. He revisited his Grammy-winning 2015 album Born to Play Guitar for the title track, before indulging in some more blues history with Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Nine Below Zero.”

That didn’t last long, however, as he jumped back into his own catalog for his modern blues classic “Somebody Else is Steppin’ Out (Slippin’ Out, Slippin’ In),” for which he took his traditional walk into the audience, mic and stinging guitar solos in hand. That would be a hard song for anyone to follow, but Guy knew what to do, going back to 1992 and the elegiac John Hiatt-penned title track to Feels Like Rain, joined by his 19-year-old six-string protegeé Quinn Sullivan. As with “Steppin’ Out,” Guy invited – nay, expected – the crowd to sing the chorus, even requesting the house lights come up so he could playfully keep the people in line. His mentor egging him on, Sullivan stayed onstage for covers of Cream’s “Strange Brew” and Jimi Hendrix’ “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” the latter run straight into Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” Guy then decided to survey the guitar players that influenced him, touching on B.B. King’s “Sweet Sixteen” and John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom,” thanking the audience and joining them to pass picks out while the Damn Right Blues Band vamped behind him. Guy retook the stage for a couple of verses of his own “Meet Me in Chicago,” before ceding it back to Sullivan and the band for a couple of instrumental choruses of “Black Magic Woman” – proof you never know what to expect with a veteran artist working without a net. But Buddy Guy has earned the right to follow his muse into whichever corner it wants to explore. We can’t wait for you to see this remarkable show when it airs early next year on your local PBS station.    

Janelle Monae 10/8

Janelle Monáe is a Grammy® nominated singer-songwriter, performer, producer, activist and actress. read more