ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2012

Americana Music Festival 2012 by Erika Goldring

The folks behind Austin City Limits present a full hour of performances recorded live at The Americana Music Association’s 11th Annual Americana Honors & Awards, presented by Nissan. Recorded September 12 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the special will air November 10th on PBS.

Performers included in this very special broadcast are some of the best and brightest rising stars of Americana, as well as legendary icons who helped define the genre: Bonnie Raitt, Alabama Shakes, Booker T. Jones, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Hayes Carll with Cary Ann Hearst, Guy Clark, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, John Hiatt, Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, Tom T. Hall with Lee Ann Womack and Peter Cooper, The Mavericks, Richard Thompson, and an all-star finale tribute to Levon Helm.

The program, described by Paste Magazine as “the best awards show in the world,” was again helmed by host Jim Lauderdale and band leader Buddy Miller. Miller led the All-Star Band that also included Don Was, Rami Jaffee, Brady Blade & Larry Campbell.
The awards show kicked off the festival with more than 100 official showcases throughout Music City. In 2011, more than 12,000 fans enjoyed the festival’s musical events.

ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2011


Nashville, TN, November 3, 2011: Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris, Gregg Allman, Alison Krauss, The Avett Brothers and the Civil Wars are just a few of the artists to be showcased during ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival. The program will air November 19th on PBS stations(check local listings). Filmed live at the Ryman Auditorium October 13, 2011, during the sold out Americana Music Association’s Honors and Award Show presented by Nissan, viewers will be treated to an hour long special featuring performances from the genres’ established and rising stars.

Hosted by Jim Lauderdale, with an all-star house band led by Americana favorite Buddy Miller, the show runs the Americana gamet from the etheral opening of “I’ll Fly Away” a tribute to the O’ Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, featuring Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss to the uplifting finale spotlighting the legendary Gregg Allman. In between are performances from Jim Lauderdale, Robert Plant and The Band of Joy, Elizabeth Cook, Justin Townes Earle, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Amos Lee, and many more.

“It was time to bring the Americana Honors to another level,” said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association. We could not have had better partners than Nashville Public Television (Channel 8) President and CEO Beth Curley for our Middle Tennessee premiere and Austin City Limits Executive Producer Terry Lickona to take this to a national audience.”

The program, described by Emmylou Harris as “the shining star of Nashville and music everywhere,” was filmed by High Five Entertainment and co-produced by its President Martin Fischer along with Lickona.

ACL Presents is music programming created by, or in association with, KLRU, the producers of Austin City Limits (ACL). ACL Presents programming includes television specials, live events, web series and recorded music presentations and is made in the spirit and standards of the legendary PBS series Austin City Limits, the longest-running live music series in television history. ACL Presents collaborations have included: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass with KQED and Americana Music Festival with Nashvile Public Television (NPT).

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.

ACL 41 welcomes the legendary James Taylor

Austin City Limits presents a Season 41 highlight: the first-ever appearance of legendary singer-songwriter James Taylor in a heartwarming, hourlong performance. The musical icon shines in a career-spanning set that features beloved classics and selections from his chart-topping, acclaimed new album Before This World, his first collection of original music in 13 years.  

As one of the best-selling singer-songwriters of all time, James Taylor’s warm baritone is among the most recognized voices in popular music. A masterful lyricist and celebrated performer, Taylor sings songs of love, family, recovery and everyday passions that resonate with listeners worldwide. “Finally on ACL — this is great,” says the personable musician, grinning throughout. He delights the ACL audience with a hit-laden 12-song set featuring vintage favorites such as his first #1 single, 1971’s “You’ve Got A Friend,” and new originals from Before This World, which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200.  

photo by Scott Newton

Taylor switches midset from acoustic to electric guitar for the slow-burn blues number “Steamroller” from his landmark 1970 album Sweet Baby James, giving his star-filled 10-piece band a chance to showcase their bona fides. He brings out Austin’s own Shawn Colvin for a beautiful duet version of “You Can Close Your Eyes” from his 1971 album Mudslide Slim. The ecstatic crowd is on its feet for the set-closing gems “Your Smiling Face,” and “How Sweet It Is,” with Taylor so energized he tips his trademark cap in response to the repeated ovations and powerful applause, singing “How sweet it is to be in Austin City tonight.”  

photo by Scott Newton

“Finally! How sweet it is indeed,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “There is nobody quite like James Taylor, and he is one of the most genuine persons and artists on the planet. He is universally loved and applauded, and it was inspiring to see fans from across the generations react so emotionally to his presence on the ACL stage.”
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. Tune in next week for Americana Music Festival 2015.

Sturgill Simpson and Asleep at the Wheel keep ACL Season 41 twanging

Season 41 of Austin City Limits kicks into high gear with breakout country artist Sturgill Simpson sharing the bill with legendary Western swing institution Asleep at the Wheel.  Two acts steeped in old-school tradition but beamed through a contemporary prism, the must-see episode features rising star Simpson making his full set ACL debut while Texas swing veterans Asleep at the Wheel return for their 11th appearance. Asleep at the Wheel, newly-minted ACL Hall of Fame members, are joined by guest stars The Avett Brothers, Amos Lee and the Quebe Sisters in a special tribute to musical forebear Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing.   

Forty years after Willie Nelson made his iconic debut on ACL on October 14, 1974, country rebel Sturgill Simpson arrives at the top of his game in a standout ACL debut.  With his acclaimed breakthrough Metamodern Sounds In Country Music topping Best of 2014 Album lists and a stack of accolades to call his own—including a Grammy nomination, top honors at this year’s Americana Awards, slots at the year’s biggest music festivals, including Bonnaroo, Coachella and ACL Fest—ACL captures Simpson on the verge of full-blown stardom.  Playing an acoustic guitar, the Kentucky native and his ace four-piece band launch into a scorching seven-song set that makes a believer out of everyone.  He pays tribute to the outlaw country scene that inspired him, acknowledging his debt to Willie, and to Austin cosmic cowboy Steve Fromholz, with an impassioned rendition of “I’d Have to Be Crazy,” a Fromholz song Nelson made famous in the ‘70s, and a perfect showcase for Simpson’s rich baritone.  The full span of Simpson’s influences is evident with the inspired set-closer, a brilliant crossbreed of the Osborne Brothers’ bluegrass classic “Listening to the Rain” to glam-rock band T-Rex’s “The Motivator.”

A national as well as Texan treasure, the nine-time Grammy Award-winning Austin supergroup Asleep at the Wheel has kept the Western swing flame burning for forty-five years.  Still led by larger-than-life founder Ray Benson, AATW appeared in the first official episode of Austin City Limits in 1976, and returns for a remarkable eleventh appearance to perform selections from their recent Bob Wills tribute album Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, a salute to the great bandleader.  Wills’ music, born in the 1920s and ‘30s, continues to inspire younger generations, and AATW is joined on the ACL stage by some very special guests, including soul singer Amos Lee, fiddle trio the Quebe Sisters and Americana sensations The Avett Brothers, who put their own spin on Western swing classics.  A highlight of the set comes when two former Texas Playboys—singer Leon Rausch, 88, and 92-year old saxophonist Billy Briggs—take the stage.  The entire ensemble returns for a crowd sing-along of the signature “Texas Playboys Theme,” winding “Happy Trails” into the old chestnut for a perfect close. 

photo by Scott Newton

“This show goes back deep to the roots of where Austin City Limits began,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “Sturgill would’ve fit perfectly into the Austin music scene of the ‘70s, and it speaks volumes that his own progressive country sound resonates so strongly and stands in contrast to much of the country pop today.  Asleep at the Wheel appeared on the very first episode of our very first season, and they’re still kicking it 41 years later – just like ACL!”

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. Tune in next week for the ACL debut of Don Henley.

ACL announces Season 41 broadcast schedule

Following four decades as a music institution with more unforgettable performances as it gets ready to write its next illustrious chapter. Providing viewers with a front-row seat to the best in live music, ACL unveils Season 41’s stellar line-up of legendary artists, trend-setting innovators and many highly-anticipated debuts. ACL airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings for times) and full episodes are made available online for a limited time at immediately following the initial broadcast. Select tapings are also live streamed to enable music fans everywhere to experience the performances as they happen, live and unedited. Viewers can visit for news regarding future tapings, episode schedules and live stream updates. The show’s official hashtag is #acltv.

The program returns on October 3rd with the 2015 ACL Hall of Fame Special, a special hour showcasing unique collaborations and tributes from this year’s induction ceremony and celebration, held June 18, 2015. Artists Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakam, Vince Gill, Gillian Welch, Jason Isbell and more perform in honor of the newest class of inductees: Asleep at the Wheel, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez, Loretta Lynn and Townes Van Zandt.  

The upcoming season is filled with musical highlights, as a number of acts make their long-awaited ACL debuts. Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson appears for the first time in a dazzling hour featuring the songs of Billie Holiday. Music legend Don Henley makes his ACL debut, armed with his first solo release in 15 years. Iconic singer-songwriter James Taylor is also set to make his Austin City Limits debut in a career-spanning, hour long showcase that will feature songs from his latest release, his first collection of original music in 13 years.

Country music’s range is exemplified in a double-bill with modern country rebel Sturgill Simpson making his full set debut and Western swing veterans Asleep at the Wheel returning for their 11th appearance. Asleep at the Wheel, newly-minted ACL Hall of Fame members, are joined by guest stars The Avett Brothers and Amos Lee in a special tribute to forebear Bob Wills, the original Texas Playboy.  

Hometown hero Gary Clark Jr., now a Grammy-winning global sensation, returns to the program for his second headline appearance, in support of a highly anticipated new release. A number of genre-bending rock acts make their ACL debuts this year: indie rock breakout star Courtney Barnett showcases her compelling live set, while left-of-the-dial faves The War on Drugs and TV On The Radio split an episode, both gracing the ACL stage for the first time.

“With our 40th anniversary in our rearview mirror, we’re back to doing what we do best: showcasing awesome music whether it’s classic or contemporary, familiar or groundbreaking,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “As usual, we’ll give our viewers the chance to rediscover old favorites or discover new artists who are making their own mark.”

Season 41 Fall Broadcast Schedule (additional episodes to be announced)

October 3 2015 Hall of Fame Special

October 10 Cassandra Wilson

October 17 Sturgill Simpson / Asleep at the Wheel

October 24 Don Henley

October 31 Gary Clark Jr. / Courtney Barnett

November 7 TV On The Radio / The War on Drugs

November 14 James Taylor

November 21 ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2015

The complete line-up for the full 14-week season, including seven new episodes to air beginning January 2016, will be announced at a later date. Check the news section of for additional episode updates.

For the fifth consecutive year, the producers of Austin City Limits, in conjunction with High 5 Productions, and the Americana Music Association, are proud to present a special ACL Presents—featuring the best music performances from this year’s Americana Music Association Honors and Awards Ceremony held September 16th at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.

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.”