ACL Season 37 Special: – ACL Presents Highlights of the Americana Music Festival on Nov. 19

Here at ACL HQ, we don’t just stay within the borders of our (admittedly impressive) territory – we like to keep up with the interesting stuff our peers do as well. Case in point: the venerable Americana Music Association throws a four-day party in Nashville every year called the Americana Music Festival, sort of a more roots music-oriented version of Austin’s own SXSW. The highlight of a week of beer and bands is the annual Americana Music Association Honors and Awards ceremony – at which our own Terry Lickona received a lifetime achievement award in 2008. (You can see a list of every year’s winners here.)

We think this festival is a cool thing, so we’re proud to partner with the AMA and Nashville’s longstanding public television station WNPT for ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival, airing Saturday Nov. 19 on your local PBS station. ACLP:AMF (say that three times fast – or, um, at all)  taped on October 13, the night of the Awards and Honors show, and features a plethora of performances from that magical evening.

And who might be providing those performances, you might ask? You get everyone from ACL vets Robert Plant (recipient of Album of the Year for Band of Joy), Lucinda Williams (Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting) and the Avett Brothers (Duo/Group of the Year) to Justin Townes Earle (Song of the Year for “Harlem River Blues”), Candi Staton and the Civil Wars. Gregg Allman (who appeared on ACL with the Allman Brothers Band back in Season 21) celebrates his Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance by crooning the classic “Melissa,” and Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss lead a tribute to the film soundtrack of O Brother Where Art Thou. All this and Amos Lee, Elizabeth Cook, Jessica Lea Mayfield, bandleader Buddy Miller and host Jim Lauderdale as well.

For more info on the embarrassment of riches that is this show, head over to the episode page for pics, clips, the set list and more. And, of course, for more scuttlebutt on all things ACL, you should visit the Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr pages and sign up for our newsletter.

After ACLP: AMF, we’ll take a break from Season 37 for the holidays. But we have lots of excellent encore episodes coming your way, including a much-beloved classic from way back in Season 4. Stay tuned.

Encore: Sarah Jarosz and The Milk Carton Kids

Join us this weekend as we present Americana music originals Sarah Jarosz and The Milk Carton Kids in a brand new episode. Both artists showcase their bona fides in an all acoustic hour with roots/folk singer-songwriter Jarosz making a return appearance on the ACL stage and newcomers The Milk Carton Kids in their ACL debut. The episode showcases the young folk acts who were both nominated for Best Folk Album at this year’s Grammy Awards.

Pushing the limits of Americana with her own distinctive style, multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz takes the ACL stage for her second appearance performing highlights from her recent album Build Me Up From Bones. The incredibly talented Jarosz has already released three albums at the age of 22. With her two-piece band featuring a fiddle player and cello, Jarosz begins a stellar set with the Grammy-nominated title track in an acoustic performance that showcases her musicianship and songwriting. Switching between mandolin and banjo, Jarosz also dips into the songbooks of others, treating the audience to an accessible take on Joanna Newsom’s “The Book of Right On” and a solo rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Kathy’s Song”. She invites The Milk Carton Kids out to join her and the band for “Annabelle Lee” (based on an Edgar Allen Poe poem), displaying their complementary visions of contemporary folk music.

“We are so proud of Sarah, we feel like she’s part of the family,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “The last time she graced our stage she was on her way to college, now she’s graduated with honors and her remarkable talent has grown exponentially. We couldn’t resist having her back!”

photo by Scott Newton

The Milk Carton Kids, the L.A. acoustic folk duo consisting of Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan, make their ACL debut playing songs from their critically-acclaimed new album The Ash & Clay. The besuited pair “play a sweetly dazzling variation on close-harmony vocals, part Simon and Garfunkel and part Everly Brothers” (LA Times) for a sound NPR calls “gorgeous contemporary folk.” With flat-picking harmonies and a touch of twisted humor, the duo play purely acoustically on the ACL stage—no guitar amplification and one vocal mic—to beautiful effect. In a skillful performance infused with their signature wit, the Kids charm the Austin crowd with their playful, deadpan banter, exquisite guitar work, rich harmonies and timeless folk.

“I first saw Kenneth and Joey perform on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium last September, and it was obvious that they are world-class entertainers beyond their years,” says Lickona. “They are traditionalists with a modern spin and a mischievous sense of humor.”

photo by Scott Newton

Check out the episode page for more details. Be sure and visit our Facebook and Twitter pages or sign up for our newsletter for more ACL goodness. Next week: Kacey Musgraves and Dale Watson.

Encore: The Lumineers and Shovels & Rope

Austin City Limits celebrates the best in Americana music today, with The Lumineers and Shovels & Rope making their ACL debuts. Denver’s Lumineers perform their breakthrough hits including “Ho Hey” and “Stubborn Love,” while Charleston, South Carolina’s Shovels & Rope perform songs from their acclaimed debut O’ Be Joyful.

The broadcast offers a deeper look at two acts that have been receiving well-deserved attention for their recent releases.  Leading off the hour is The Lumineers, a folk-rock trio that play traditional but original heart-on-the-sleeve music.  Of the band The Austin Chronicle writes, “There’s nothing precious or affected here, just three dedicated artists opening their hearts.”  The group’s breakthrough hit “Ho Hey” was one of the most-played songs of 2012, earning them a performing slot on 2013’s Grammy Awards telecast, in addition to two Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Americana Album.  The Lumineers’ uplifting ACL debut is filled with heart-swelling stomp-and-clap acoustic rock, classic pop and front-porch folk.  Their set includes an inspired take on a Dylan classic, while the tambourine driven beat of “Ho Hey” brings the crowd to its feet and the performance closes with a crowd sing-along on “Stubborn Love.”

“There’s more to The Lumineers than just the song that seemed to have the whole world singing along to this year,” notes executive producer Terry Lickona. “There aren’t many bands that can engage an audience the way they do, and watching their ACL performance is the next best thing to being there.

photo by Scott Newton

The second half of the episode introduces Shovels & Rope, the husband and wife roots duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst.  The dynamic pair channel country, bluegrass and blues to create folk music with raw energy.  The NY Times raves, “While they are country, there is an edgy, punk, raucous side to go with their beautiful harmonies.”  NPR agrees, “Seeing Hearst and Trent perform live together—as they conjure images of country-singing couples like Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash—renders them almost impossible to resist.”  The first-time nominees were big winners at this year’s recent Americana Music Awards, taking home top honors for Emerging Artist of the Year and Song of the Year.  The couple’s creative chemistry is on display in their ACL debut, an irresistible performance that’s a potent mix of Southern gothic and country rock and deftly showcases their soulful harmonies.

“It doesn’t get more basic than Shovels & Rope,” says Lickona, “but they rock out more than a stage full of musicians, and there’s something refreshingly authentic about their live performance that just makes you feel good.”

ACL announces additional performers for 2015 Hall of Fame

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Austin City Limits announces additional guest performers for the 2015 ACL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, June 18th.  Americana original Lyle Lovett and acoustic duo Gillian Welch join previously announced performers: country legend Vince Gill, acclaimed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, multi-platinum country artist Patty Loveless, British singer-songwriter Laura Marling, Los Lobos frontman David Hidalgo, GRAMMY-winning conjunto band Los Texmaniacs and Texas singer-songwriter JT Van Zandt. Hosted by multiple GRAMMY Award-winning country star Dwight Yoakam, who will also perform, the celebration honors the second class of inductees with one-of-a-kind music performances and tributes, as five trailblazing artists are inducted: Asleep at the Wheel, Loretta Lynn, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez and Townes Van Zandt.

All-star guest presenters will handle induction honors in what is sure to be a memorable night: Vince Gill will induct Western swing institution Asleep at the Wheel, Lyle Lovett inducts fellow Texan Guy Clark, Dwight Yoakam inducts master Tex-Mex accordionist Flaco Jiménez, and Gillian Welch is set to honor songwriting hero Townes Van Zandt.  Country icon Loretta Lynn will accept her honor in a special video for the occasion.  Inductees Asleep at the Wheel and Flaco Jiménez will also perform at the ceremony. Renowned steel guitarist and producer Lloyd Maines, inducted last year into the ACL Hall of Fame, returns as Music Director, leading an Austin all-star house band.

photo by Mark Seliger

The event is open to the public this year and will take place at ACL’s studio home, Austin’s ACL Live at the Moody Theater. 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 episode as part of ACL’s Season 41 which premieres in the fall on PBS.

 

Encore: Ed Sheeran and Valerie June

Austin City Limits presents two innovative singer-songwriters: UK sensation Ed Sheeran and rising star Valerie June. Ed Sheeran makes his ACL debut in a must-see episode that features the breakout star performing his entire set solo. Sheeran exudes the raw talent that has made him a worldwide superstar, with charged versions of hits from his landmark debut and new songs from the chart-topping follow-up release. Acclaimed Southern singer-songwriter Valerie June shares the bill, making a captivating ACL debut with her starry-eyed roots music.

Ed Sheeran brings his A-game in his ACL debut, with a remarkable one-man solo performance that demonstrates why he’s one of music’s most popular live performers. Clad in an ACL t-shirt, the 23 year-old three-time Grammy nominee performs his  breakthrough hits “The A Team,” “Lego House” and songs from his new release x.  With an acoustic guitar and a loop pedal as his only accompaniment, Sheeran creates a perfectly balanced mix of hip-hop and acoustic balladry. He showcases the honest songwriting and vocals that have earned him legions of fans across the globe.  Closing out the crowd-pleasing set, Sheeran leads the rapturous audience in an epic sing-along of his hit “Sing,” with the Austin crowd still chanting as Sheeran leaves the stage.

Striking Southern singer-songwriter Valerie June makes her first appearance on the ACL stage performing songs from her luminous debut Pushin’ Against a Stone. The Washington Post raves of the release: “Shades of Nina Simone, Dolly Parton and blueswomen of decades past flicker throughout; you can easily picture it crackling out from a timeworn record player.” The Tennessee native’s heartfelt sound and beautifully timeless voice have earned her critical raves and a 2014 Americana Awards nomination for emerging artist. With one foot in country blues, the other in mountain folk music and her head in the stars, June and her band conjure a distinctive brand of genre-blending that she calls “organic moonshine roots music” for a memorable ACL debut.

photo by Scott Newton

“In some ways, Ed Sheeran and Valerie June are as different as night and day,” says ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona, “but they are both distinctly original in their music. Through their intimately personal songs and unique onstage personas, they represent everything that Austin City Limits is all about.”

Tune in this Saturday 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 goodies. Next week: Juanes.

 

Stream our taping with Sturgill Simpson live on Apr. 1

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Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our debut taping with Sturgill Simpson live on Wednesday, April 1, 8pm CT/9pm ET. The taping will webcast in its entirety via our YouTube channel and powered by Dell.

The Kentucky native released his first album High Top Mountain in 2013, establishing his philosophical brand of outlaw country. He broke out with his second LP Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, which earned Simpson national press coverage and the Emerging Artist of the Year Award at the 2014 Americana Music Awards & Honors. We’re proud to welcome Simpson for his ACL debut.

The broadcast version of this show will air this fall on PBS.  Join us for this live webcast of the Austin City Limits debut of Sturgill Simpson.

 

New tapings: Sleater-Kinney, Cassandra Wilson and Shakey Graves

Austin City Limits is proud to announce new Season 41 tapings with Sleater-Kinney, Cassandra Wilson and Shakey Graves, all coming to our stage for the first time.

On April 15 we welcome acclaimed rock band Sleater-Kinney, out supporting their first new album in a decade, No Cities To Love (Sub Pop), which New York Times critic Jon Pareles called “the first great album of 2015.” Consisting of guitarists/vocalists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein (also the co-creator/star of Portlandia), and drummer Janet Weiss, the powerhouse trio came crashing out of the Pacific Northwest, setting a new bar for punk’s political insight and emotional impact. Hailed as “America’s best rock band” by Greil Marcus in Time Magazine, and as “America’s best punk band ever. EVER” by Rob Sheffield in Rolling Stone, the band put out seven searing albums in 10 years before going on indefinite hiatus in 2006. Almost a decade later, the trio has come back together with the surprise announcement of No Cities To Love, which Pareles described as full of “hurtling, bristling, densely packed, white-knuckled songs that are all taut construction and raw nerve.” Can’t join us in the studio for this taping? Join us online on our  Austin City Limits YouTube channel where you will be able to watch the entire taping as it happens live on April 15 starting at 8 pm CT.

photo by Mark Seliger

Grammy-winning American jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer Cassandra Wilson makes her ACL debut on April 28, armed with her new LP Coming Forth by Day, an homage dedicated to the beauty, power, and genius of Billie Holiday. Jazz critic Gary Giddins describes Wilson as “a singer blessed with an unmistakable timbre and attack who has expanded the playing field” by incorporating blues, country and folk music into her work.  A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Wilson moved to New York City in the early 80s, met saxophonist Steve Coleman and became one of the founding members of the M-Base Collective. She signed with Blue Note Records in 1992 and released the landmark album Blue Light ‘Til Dawn, which paved the way for a new generation of jazz singers seeking an approach and repertoire that challenged the supremacy of the American Standard songbook.

On May 6 we open the stage to Austin-based singer/songwriter Shakey Graves, playing songs from his acclaimed 2014 LP And the War Came. An actor who had a recurring role on Friday Night Lights and appeared in several Robert Rodriguez films, the erstwhile Alejandro Rose-Garcia started making music as part of New York City’s “anti-folk” scene. Since returning to Austin, Shakey Graves has become so closely associated with his hometown that for the last three years, Austin has celebrated “Shakey Graves Day” by mayoral proclamation. With And the War Came, he extends the ground emotionally and sonically broken by his 2011 self-released debut Roll the Bones, which still ranks near the top of Bandcamp’s digital best-seller charts. As noted by Exclaim, And the War Came “displays remarkable growth as a songwriter, guitar player and arranger without entirely leaving behind the one-man-band, lo-fi aesthetic that made his debut such a captivating listen.” Please join us for the ACL debut of Shakey Graves. Watch KLRU’s Arts In Context documentary on Shakey Graves now

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

 

New Tapings: Asleep at the Wheel, Sturgill Simpson & The War on Drugs

Austin City Limits announced the first round of new tapings for the series upcoming Season 41!

Feb. 24 sees the return of Austin City Limits veteran and new Hall of Fame inductee Asleep at the Wheel. The premier Western swing band not only of Texas but of the United States, the Wheel first appeared on the show in Season 1, way back in 1976, and most recently in Season 35 with Willie Nelson. Now leader Ray Benson and company return in support of the upcoming Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, with special guests Amos Lee and The Avett Brothers in tow. We’re happy to welcome Asleep at the Wheel back for its eleventh taping.

On April 1st, we welcome acclaimed country singer Sturgill Simpson to the Austin City Limits stage. The Kentucky native released his first album High Top Mountain in 2013, establishing his philosophical brand of outlaw country. He broke out with his second LP Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, which earned Simpson national press coverage and the Emerging Artist of the Year Award at the 2014 Americana Music Awards & Honors. We’re proud to welcome Simpson for his ACL debut.

photo by Dusdin Condren

April also brings another Austin City Limits debut for the much-lauded rock band The War On Drugs. Following the Philadelphia group’s breakout with 2011’s Slave Ambient and two years of non-stop touring, TWOD – led by singer, songwriter and guitarist Adam Granduciel – reached a new peak with the celebrated Lost in the Dream. Pitchfork calls it a record “loaded with songs whose greatness is revealed slowly, where the simplest, most understated chord change can blow a track wide open and elevate it from simply pretty to absolutely devastating.” We’re thrilled to bring the shimmering indie rock of The War On Drugs to the ACL stage for the first time on April 6th.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.