Eric Church makes his ACL Season 40 debut

Austin City Limits proudly presents an hour with country sensation Eric Church. Church has blazed his own trail to superstardom and now makes his ACL debut with his signature brand of no-holds-barred country music.

Famous for a game-changing live show, Church performs songs from his critically-acclaimed, chart-topping 2014 album The Outsiders in his ACL debut.  The music rebel’s distinctively hard-rocking spin on country, influenced as much by AC/DC and Metallica as Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings, has earned him a huge audience outside the confines of country radio.  Church appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone this year and was named one of their “50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now.” NPR raves, “Eric Church is working on a level that few other country artists of his generation can touch.”

“This is gonna be fun,” says the North Carolina native, clearly enjoying his first visit to the ACL stage. Church’s appearance is a twelve-song tour-de-force that presents the performer at the top of his game. Delivering a host of hits in his trademark aviators, Church’s crowd-pleasing set is filled with anthems about youth, family and outliers that ignite through songwriting skill, powerful riffs and energetic vocals. Highlights include the rebellious “The Outsiders”, the autobiographical title track “Sinners Like Me” from his 2006 debut and the Grammy-nominated anthem “Springsteen” from his 2011 breakthrough Chief, with the Austin audience providing the “whoa-ohs” of the chorus. Church brings it all home solo, showcasing his softer side with the heartfelt set-closing ballad “A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young.”

“Eric and his band know how to rock harder than many rock ‘n roll bands,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and his music and the words behind it have a way of reaching fans way beyond the usual borders of country music. He’s a perfect fit for ACL.”

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. Tune in next week as ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2014.

 

ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2014

Loretta Lynn - Getty Images for the Americana Music Association

For the fourth year in a row, ACL Presents heads to Nashville to bring you performance highlights from the annual Americana Music Festival. Reflecting its “spirit of eclecticism” (New York Times), The Americana Music Association has curated an impressive list of legendary performers including Loretta Lynn, Flaco Jimenez, Taj Mahal and Jackson Browne, backed by house bandleader Buddy Miller and an all-star crew of musicians. Patty Griffin & Robert Plant, Jason Isbell, Parker Millsap, Rosanne Cash, Ry Cooder, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Sturgill Simpson, The Milk Carton Kids and Valerie June all perform songs that were the recognized as

The 13th Annual Honors & Awards Show was held at the historic Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday, September 17, was hosted by Jim Lauderdale and featured a house band led by Buddy Miller that includes Don Was, Joachim Cooder, Tim Lauer, The McCrary Sisters and legend Ry Cooder. For more on the festival and the Americana Music Association, visit americanamusic.org.

ACL Season 40 continues with Ed Sheeran and Valerie June

Austin City Limits continues its milestone 40th season with 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: Nine Inch Nails.

The return of the Avett Brothers

Last night we welcomed the The Avett Brothers back to the Austin City Limits stage in a triumphant return to the show. Fresh from their appearance at the ACL Music Festival, the band was greeted by enthusiastic fans eagerly waiting to hear them and sing along.  Since the band first appeared on the show in 2009, they have been busy writing and recording back-to-back Rick Rubin-produced albums The Carpenter (which received a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album) and Magpie and the Dandelion.

As the band opened with the romantic folk rocker “Live and Die,” there was a clear difference between this band and the one that visited in Season 35, and not just because of the addition of a drummer, keyboardist and fiddler. The ragged, nervous energy of the first show has been replaced by a different vibe, one of confidence and the professionalism that comes from having played hundreds, if not thousands, of shows to people all over the world. The energy level was just as high as last time, but this time the band focused its power, giving the frisky folk tune “The Fall,” the piano anthem “Head Full of Doubt, Heart Full of Promise” and the giddy folk rocker “Satan Pulls the Strings” a blazing vitality that was infectious. Not that the audience needed much prodding – even lower key tunes like “Life” and “Rejects in the Attic” garnered cheers before they’d barely started.

As good as the band was with newer tunes, it was on older songs like “Slight Figure of Speech” and “Kick Drum Heart,” both transformed into rock anthems, that proved explosive. The band ended the show with an especially peppy take on George Jones’ “The Race is On,” on which the septet bounced all over the stage, before coming down with the lovely “November Blue” from their very first LP. The crowd went wild as their heroes left the stage, and we’re sure you’ll go wild as well when we broadcast this episode early next year on your PBS station.

Encore: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell

This weekend, music legends Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell return to Austin City Limits and share the stage to celebrate their shared history, their collaborative album Old Yellow Moon and the continuing power of the song.

Friends for forty years, Harris and Crowell have an entwined four-decade history of music-making. ACL veterans, both artists have each appeared on the program seven times, although this episode marks the first time the pair have performed together on the ACL stage. The Americana icons perform favorites and songs from their acclaimed duets album Old Yellow Moon. The collaboration was chosen as album of the year at this year’s Americana Music Awards and the pair was honored as duo of the year. American Songwriter says of the album, “On Old Yellow Moon, Harris and Crowell embrace the entire range of life and music they’ve experienced, from the reckless passions of youth to the reflectiveness of age, from loose-limbed hillbilly boogies to graceful balladry.”

“It’s great to be back at the world’s greatest and longest-running music show,” says Harris as she takes the ACL stage with Crowell. The breathtaking performance includes the two longtime kindred spirits joining their voices on Crowell originals as well as revivals of songs by Roger Miller, Matraca Berg and Kris Kristofferson. Harris opens with some of her earlier Gram Parsons-era hits, and the duo fast-forwards to a more recent era for Harris’ “Red Dirt Girl” and Crowell’s “Rock of My Soul,” their voices wrapping the songs in the kind of harmonies only old friends can generate. Special guest Shawn Colvin joins in the finale for a spirited take on Crowell’s “Stars On the Water.” The episode celebrates a longtime friendship and collaboration, and the pleasure the two music legends take from singing some of their favorite songs is palpable.

photo by Scott Newton

“Emmylou and Rodney are an important part of the history of ACL – going all the way back practically to the beginning,” says executive producer Terry Lickona. “But it goes deeper than that – they reflect the heart and soul of what ACL is all about. And the two of them together is a perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts!”

Hit up the episode page for more info and don’t forget to follow ACL via Facebook, Twitter or our newsletter. Next week: The Head and the Heart and Gomez.

 

ACL Announces Season 40 Broadcast TV Schedule

Today Austin City Limits is proud to unveil our milestone 40th season, celebrating a four-decade run with more legendary artists, innovators and highly anticipated debuts. Providing viewers with a front-row seat to the best in music performance for 40 years, we’ll return on Saturday, October 4th with an unforgettable hour-long set from an American original, musician/songwriter Beck. Prior to the season premiere, a primetime special honoring the program’s anniversary, Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years, airs Friday, October 3rd, 9-11pm ET on PBS Arts Fall Festival.

Beck kicks off the celebratory season with an epic, career-spanning full-hour performance. One of the most creative artists of his generation, Beck shines in an exceptionally entertaining hour, showcasing a mix of vintage fan favorites and more recent gems. On the next installment, British sensation Ed Sheeran makes his ACL debut in a must-see episode that features the breakout star performing his entire set solo acoustic. Sheeran exudes the raw talent that propelled him to the top of the charts, with charged versions of hits from his landmark debut and new songs from the chart-topping follow-up release. Acclaimed Memphis singer-songwriter Valerie June shares the bill, making a captivating ACL debut with her starry-eyed roots music. Legendary industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails make a rare television appearance in an arena-worthy hour-long presentation that previewed in the spring to become one of ACL’s most talked about episodes. A season highlight is the return of ACL veteran Jeff Tweedy for a special hour. The Wilco leader showcases his first-ever solo project Tweedy, performing a mix of new songs and Wilco classics joined by his son and special guests.  Noir-rock outfit Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds make their ACL debut in a full-hour episode offering a memorable career-wide set powered by dark songs about love, death, God and fate.  Music legends Los Lobos return to the ACL stage for their fifth appearance, with the influential and enduring East L.A. band celebrating their recent 40th anniversary alongside ACL’s.

The new season boasts a number of highly anticipated debuts from music innovators: Breakout country star Eric Church, folk-rock wonders Thao & The Get Down Stay Down and acclaimed southern rock band J. Roddy Walston & The Business.

ACL executive producer Terry Lickona says, “Anniversaries can seem trite and predictable, but this season is very special for me in so many ways. It represents 40 years of musical adventure and discovery. ACL fans have come to expect the unexpected, and we love it all. We celebrate our past, but we’re more excited about the future!”

For the fourth 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 17th at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.

Season 40 Fall Broadcast Schedule (additional episodes to be announced):

October 4            Beck

October 11          Ed Sheeran | Valerie June

October 18          Nine Inch Nails

October 25          Tweedy

November 1         Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

November 8         Los Lobos | Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

November 15       Eric Church | J. Roddy Walston & The Business

November 22       ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2014

The complete line-up for the full 13-week season, including new episodes to air beginning January 2015, will be announced at a later date. Check our news section for additional episode updates.

 

New taping: Nickel Creek

Austin City Limits is happy to announce a new taping with Grammy Award-winning and multi-platinum Nickel Creek on August 25. The recently reunited Americana trio return with their first new music in nine years and for their third appearance on the show. Mandolinist Chris Thile (who also visited us with his band Punch Brothers), guitarist Sean Watkins and violinist Sara Watkins (who recently appeared with the Decemberists) came together as Nickel Creek in the late 80s when they were pre-teens, becoming a bluegrass sensation with a pair of albums released just a few years later. But the band truly came into its own with its Alison Krauss–produced third and fourth records, Nickel Creek and This Side, which helped forge its distinctive bluegrass/roots/pop identity.

Following 2005’s Why Should the Fire Die? and 2007’s Farewell (For Now) tour, the trio took a few years off to work on individual solo careers and side projects. 2014 brought the surprise announcement of a reunion and a new album, with A Dotted Line and its subsequent tour coinciding with the band’s 25th anniversary. And since we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary, who better than Nickel Creek to return for their third ACL appearance as part of our milestone season?

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the 8/25 taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

 

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 the 2014 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 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  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: Phoenix.