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

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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.

Austin City Limits announces Hall of Fame 2016 inductees

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Austin City Limits is proud to announce the newest class of Austin City Limits Hall of Fame inductees: late blues titan B.B. King, songwriting icon Kris Kristofferson and the legendary Bonnie Raitt. The 2016 ACL Hall of Fame inductees will be celebrated at a ceremony highlighted by all-star music performances to be held October 12, 2016 at ACL’s studio home, Austin’s ACL Live at The Moody Theater. The event will be open to the public and ticket onsale information will be announced at a later date.  

The announcement was made this evening by KLRU-TV, Austin PBS General Manager Bill Stotesbery at an event in Austin. “We established the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame to pay special tribute to the people that have helped make the show the standard bearer for music on television,” said Stotesbery. “Now in its third year, we’re proud to honor three incredible performers. Each one has a catalogue of work that has influenced generations and been a vital part of the history of Austin City Limits.”

The latest class of inductees features music legends who have all graced the ACL stage multiple times, setting the standard for excellence and contributing to more than four decades of incredible performances. Legendary bluesman B.B. King made two classic appearances on Austin City Limits, in 1983 and 1996. When he first appeared on ACL in 1983 it was rare for a blues artist to command a full hour on national television; his powerhouse performances rank as two of the finest in the show’s illustrious history.  An American original, Kris Kristofferson is regarded as one of the world’s greatest songwriters.  The charismatic Texas native has been a fixture on the music scene since the 1960s, penning some of the most beloved songs of all time.  He debuted on ACL in 1982, returning in 1997 and 2010 and for ACL’s 40th anniversary special in 2014.  Ten-time Grammy-winner Bonnie Raitt is one of the most revered artists in music.  Over four decades into a remarkable career, on the eve of her twentieth release, the magnetic singer-songwriter-guitarist continues to deliver outstanding work.  Raitt has played an invaluable role in ACL’s history, with standout performances on the series in 1984, 2002 and 2012 and returning for the 40th anniversary special in 2014.

The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame was established in 2014 in conjunction with the iconic television series’ 40th Anniversary to celebrate the legacy of legendary artists and key individuals who have been instrumental in the landmark series’ 40+ years as an American music institution. The invitation-only inaugural induction ceremony took place April 26, 2014 at ACL’s original Studio 6A. Hosted by Oscar-winning actor and Texas native Matthew McConaughey, the historic evening honored the first class of inductees, featuring American music icon Willie Nelson (who starred on the original ACL pilot program), Austin blues rock giants Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and legendary steel guitarist and Grammy Award-winning music producer Lloyd Maines. In addition, non-performers who played a key role in the evolution of the program were honored: original show creator Bill Arhos and longtime ACL supporter, Texas Longhorns football head coach Darrell Royal. A star-studded line-up paid tribute with incredible music performances, including: Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph, Doyle Bramhall II and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The second annual ACL Hall of Fame ceremony took place June 18, 2015, honoring Western swing institution Asleep at the Wheel, country icon Loretta Lynn, songwriting legend Guy Clark, master Tex-Mex accordionist Flaco Jiménez and the late Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt. In addition, the original television production crew that worked on the first season of ACL in 1974/1975 were recognized in the non-performer category for their contributions in setting the foundation for the series. Hosted by Dwight Yoakam, the event featured memorable moments and musical highlights from an all-star cast including Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, Jason Isbell, Patty Loveless, Gillian Welch, Laura Marling, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, Los Texmaniacs and JT Van Zandt.  

About the 2016 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Honorees:

photo by Scott Newton

B.B. King:

The foremost ambassador the blues has ever had, the late, great B.B. King brought the genre to new artistic and popular heights with his powerful voice, incomparable axework and classic songs. With his guitar “Lucille” strapped to his chest, the undisputed King of the Blues made two legendary appearances on ACL in 1983 and 1996. King’s debut episode was recorded in 1982 and originally broadcast in 1983 as part of Season 8.  The 11-song set spans the length and breadth of his career to that point, from his then-new album Love Me Tender (including “Since I Met You, Baby” and the title track, a cover of the Elvis Presley classic) to his own standards “Everyday I Have the Blues” and “The Thrill is Gone.”  In a powerhouse performance, King hits full-force with a voice that is neither harsh nor sweet, that bends, like his fingers, with each note. “There was electricity in Studio 6A that night like no other,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “It was pure B.B. – just him, Lucille and one of the best road bands he ever toured with. He mixed up hardcore blues with Elvis ballads, and had the audience in the palm of his hand, following his every lead. It was historic!”

photo by Scott Newton

Kris Kristofferson:

Rhodes scholar, Golden Gloves boxer, college football player, film actor, acclaimed songwriter, social activist—few artists can boast the kind of freewheeling career enjoyed by songwriting legend Kris Kristofferson.  The Brownsville, Texas native gave up a promising military career in favor of life as a self-described “songwriting bum,” arriving on the music scene in the 1960s.  He expanded the language of country music songwriting with emotional truth and revealing honesty, penning enduring classics (“Me and Bobby McGee,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “For the Good Times”) that continue to resonate with audiences worldwide.  His incredible body of work includes his many film and television roles, (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, A Star is Born, Lone Star).  An American original, he is a lifelong activist who continues to speak out on social justice and human rights issues. Kristofferson first appeared on ACL in 1982, returning in 1997 and 2010 and for the series 40th anniversary special in 2014.

photo by Scott Newton

Bonnie Raitt:

More than just a best-selling artist, respected guitarist, expressive singer, and accomplished songwriter, Bonnie Raitt has carved out an enviable forty-five year strong career. The ten-time Grammy winner was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and Rolling Stone named the slide guitar ace one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.” Her landmark albums Nick of Time and Luck of the Draw have secured her place as an American music treasure. Raitt’s widely-acclaimed 2012 release Slipstream sold over a quarter-million copies, making it one of the top selling independent albums, and earned Raitt her 10th Grammy Award (Best Americana Album). A tireless performer with decades of non-stop touring under her belt, in 2012 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance from the Americana Music Association. In February 2016, Raitt releases her highly-anticipated 20th album, Dig In Deep. When not burning up highways on tour with her band, the devoted activist has championed and spoken out on behalf of many social causes. Raitt performed on ACL in 1984, 2002 and 2012 and most recently for the series’ 40th anniversary special in 2014.  

ACL 41 continues with singer/songwriters Ryan Adams and Shakey Graves

Austin City Limits presents an acoustic double-bill: Ryan Adams paired with Shakey Graves in a new installment showcasing the acclaimed singer-songwriters.  Ryan Adams, an ACL veteran who appeared in the milestone Season 40, returns with a rare, all-acoustic set, sharing the episode with Austin indie-folk rocker Shakey Graves.

Rock troubadour Ryan Adams offers a fascinating look at his acoustic side, in this intimate solo appearance filled with entertaining commentary from the artist and highlights from his standout catalog.  Opening with “My Wrecking Ball,” from his Grammy-nominated 2014 self-titled solo release, Adams humorously recounts the first time he performed on ACL as a 22-year old upstart.  He revisits his 2000 solo debut Heartbreaker for the melancholy “Oh My Sweet Carolina,” affably adding, “if you thought that was depressing, you haven’t heard anything yet.”  “Gimme Something Good,” a 2015 Grammy-nominee for Best Rock Performance, is rendered acoustic to powerful effect.  The self-deprecating artist closes the captivating set with 2002’s Demolition track “Desire,” likening it to “a 1-800-Flowers song,” while the sublime performance reveals it to be another hidden gem from his astounding body of work.

Hailing from Austin, Texas and recently crowned Best Emerging Artist at 2015’s Americana Music Awards, Shakey Graves makes his debut on ACL performing songs from his critically-acclaimed 2014 release And the War Came and 2011 debut Roll the Bones.  Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known as Shakey Graves, gained recognition with his 2011 breakout as a one-man band, in which he thumped a kick drum made from an old Samsonite suitcase.  NPR raves, “The Texas singer’s charisma is matched by his warm, sometimes frenetic music.”  He tours extensively, performing at music’s biggest festivals, including 2015’s Lollapalooza and ACL Fest.  With his ever-present suitcase-housed kick drum, Graves kicks off an engaging set of his distinctive blend of country, blues and rock ‘n’ roll.  The gifted raconteur regales his hometown crowd with tales from the road and backstory on his songwriting for a memorable ACL debut.

photo by Scott Newton

“This show is all about the song – the art and craft of great songs and brilliant songwriters,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “The icing on the cake is that in the case of Ryan Adams and Shakey Graves, we have two artists who know how to pull every shred of emotion, and humor, from every word and note they write. Of course we’re also proud to show off our own homegrown talent with Shakey’s first-ever 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 Austin City Limits debut of African superstar Angelique Kidjo.

ACL artists at the 2016 Grammys

The nominations for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards are out now, and we’re pleased to see that a number of Austin City Limits’ distinguished guests have received top honors. Congratulations to Kendrick Lamar with eleven nominations: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song (twice), Best Rap Album, Best Pop/Sung Collaboration, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Dance Recording and Best Music Video (twice!). Also shout-outs to a number of Season 41 performers receiving well-deserved nominations, including Alabama Shakes, nominated for Album of the Year, Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Alternative Music Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical; Courtney Barnett, for Best New Artist, Angélique Kidjo, for Best World Music Album, Leon Bridges, for Best R&B Album, Don Henley, for Best American Roots Song and James Taylor, for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Kudos as well to the following ACL veterans who landed nominations: Florence + the Machine, John Legend, Ed Sheeran, Punch Brothers, Foo Fighters, Buddy Guy, Bela Fleck, the Mavericks, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Jason Isbell, Death Cab For Cutie, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves, The Milk Carton Kids, Mavis Staples, Brandi Carlile, Lee Ann Womack, Hayes Carll, Ralph Stanley, Shemekia Copeland, Bettye LaVette, Patty Griffin, Glen Hansard of the Swell Season, Rhiannon Giddens and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Congratulations to them all.

Go here to see in what categories all these artists are nominated, as well as all the nominees.

Stay tuned to ACL to catch stellar performances from some of these fine folks in action in the coming weeks – Alabama Shakes kick off the second half of our Season 41 with a return appearance on January 2, Kendrick Lamar on January 9, Angélique Kidjo on January 23, Leon Bridges on February 6 and Ed Sheeran on February 27.

And don’t forget – our own executive producer Terry Lickona is also co-producer of the Grammy telecast, as well as the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy, the Grammys’ parent organization. The Grammy Awards broadcast on February 15th – Good luck to Terry and all the nominees!

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.