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.

Ralph Stanley R.I.P.

Austin City Limits mourns the loss at 89 of a true musical giant: Ralph Stanley. The Virginia native was not only a bluegrass titan as a performer, but as an innovator. Along with Flatt & Scruggs, his brother Carter and Bill Monroe, Stanley could lay claim to helping create one of America’s most distinctive musical forms. His high, lonesome singing, virtuoso clawhammer banjo picking and vast repertoire had a tremendous influence on bluegrass, folk, country, gospel and Americana. Though he didn’t write them, Stanley’s renditions of old-timey tunes “Little Maggie,” “Pretty Polly,” “O Death,” “Angel Band” and “Man of Constant Sorrow” (re-popularized by the film O Brother Where Are Thou) made them standards in the American songbook.

“Ralph Stanley was the last of the living bluegrass legends, after Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs,” remarked ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “Like the others, he invented his own sound, his clawhammer banjo style came straight out of the hills, and his voice sounded like it had been around since the beginning of time itself. He was a gracious gentleman, with a gentle spirit. His appearance on ACL with Bill Monroe in 1986 was historic, a rare performance by the two bluegrass giants. Another important part of America’s musical past is gone.”

Here is Stanley with his Clinch Mountain Boys in 1980 with his signature song “Little Maggie.”

New tapings: Grupo Fantasma and Hayes Carll

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Austin City Limits welcomes back two true Texas originals: Grupo Fantasma on June 28  & Hayes Carll on August 30.

Although Austin’s music scene changes constantly and rapidly, one band that endures and continues to evolve is the Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma, who first appeared on ACL in Season 33 in 2007 and returned for 2015’s Hall of Fame Ceremony.  Last year marked the 15th anniversary of the powerhouse Latin funk outfit’s first show and the release of their widely-acclaimed sixth album Problemas.  Longtime favorites of music icon Prince, the band served as his on-call backing band for many years, appearing with the superstar on stages from Coachella to the Golden Globes.  Praised as one of the most important independent acts in the Latin genre, they are widely known for their energetic live shows, which NPR describes as “seamless…whenever and wherever they’re on stage.” For Problemas, the nine-piece band decided to break from their DIY tradition of self produced albums. The band approached Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, someone they knew would be a well-seasoned and sympathetic producer and, as a fan, eager to work with them. Berlin states,”I see Grupo Fantasma as a bar-setter, not just for Latin music but in popular culture. Their effortless ability to shift from being one of the finest Latin bands around to one of the baddest funk bands alive and back is a rare and beautiful thing. The record we set out to make was our effort to codify that idea, and I think we succeeded. These guys are the absolute best at what they do.” This special taping will also include performances from the band’s all-funk alter ego Brownout and founding former member Adrian Quesada.

photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

“A wry Texas troubadour with a knack for crooked grace and a clever turn of phrase” (New York Times), singer/songwriter Hayes Carll returns for his second appearance, having first graced the ACL stage in Season 36 in 2010. The recipient of two Song of the Year awards, including the Americana Music Association’s for “She Left Me For Jesus” in 2008 and American Songwriter for “Another Like You,” in 2011, the Woodlands native picked up a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Country Song via LeeAnn Womack’s recording of his “Chances Are.” All of these experiences were just the warm up, however, for Lovers and Leavers, an album Paste calls “the finest of his career.” Produced by Grammy-award winning producer and musician Joe Henry (Glen Hansard, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt), the 10-track album was recorded live over five days in L.A. during the winter of 2015. Of the album, which was partially inspired by his own life, Carll reveals, “I didn’t have one song that I knew would be a sing along or would make people dance. I felt vulnerable in a way that I hadn’t in a long time. But I got what I wanted – a record with space, nuance, and room to breathe. It felt right for my art. It felt right for my life. Lovers and Leavers isn’t funny or raucous. There are very few hoots and almost no hollers. But it is joyous, and it makes me smile.” The Austin Chronicle calls it “a startlingly personal set of songs, powerfully stripped back from the raucous, clever narratives that have been Carll’s hallmark.” Lonestar Music enthuses that the album “perfectly captures the phases and stages of falling apart, facing the truth, falling in love and facing the fear and finding one’s heart in the process,” concluding that Lovers and Leavers is “tentative, doubtful, shaky, mournful and yes, wonderstruck.

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.

Guy Clark 1941-2016

Austin City Limits is saddened by the passing of legendary singer/songwriter Guy Clark this morning after a long illness. Along with his compadre Townes Van Zandt, the Monahans, TX native and longtime Nashville resident wrote new rules for starkly honest songwriting. Distinctive from the West Coast confessional approach and the East Coast folk revival, the writing that came out of the  Lone Star State in the late 60s and early 70s defined a new style of songsmithery that has proven hugely influential not only on Texas music, but on what would become known as Americana. The author of inarguable classics “L.A. Freeway,” “Dublin Blues,” “The Cape,” “Heartbroke” and “Desperadoes Waiting For a Train,” Clark sat in front of a large, talented and influential class, showing everyone with a guitar and a pen how it’s done.

Clark appeared on Austin City Limits seven times, in 1977, 1982, 1983, 1990, 1998, 2000 and 2008, and was inducted into the ACL Hall of Fame in 2015 by Lyle Lovett, who said, “He is my hero. His songs have touched all of us in Texas and people around the world.”

“Call him the ‘Dean’ or ‘King’ of Texas songwriters, he was simply the best there was, and set the standard for all the others,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “If you want to know what makes Texas songwriters different, just listen to Guy Clark. He was a storyteller and a rascal with a poet’s heart. Most of the personal stories I have about him I can’t tell, but maybe someday. I doubt if there will ever be anybody else quite like him.”

May he rest in peace with his wife Susannah and his best buddy Townes in that great songwriters’ bar in the sky.

Here’s Clark singing “Depseradoes Waiting For a Train from his 1977 debut appearance:

“L.A. Freeway” from the 1983 songwriters special:

“Dublin Blues,” from the Lyle Lovett & Friends guitar pull, 2008:

Rhiannon Giddens does it all on ACL debut

Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, interpreter – Rhiannon Giddens does it all on her acclaimed solo debut Tomorrow is My Turn. We were thrilled to host the Carolina Chocolate Drops member for her livestreamed debut ACL taping, and the NC native didn’t disappoint.

A barefoot Giddens and her seven-piece Americana orchestra took the stage to already enthusiastic applause. Donning her banjo, she and the band launched into the dramatic “Spanish Mary,” a Bob Dylan song Giddens finished for the all-star New Basement Tapes project. An accidentally muted fiddle meant an immediate retake – “Here’s a tune you may have heard before,” Giddens quipped – but the eager crowd clearly didn’t mind, and was rewarded with a tougher, grittier performance. She then moved to Tomorrow for the jaunty, fiddle-heavy “Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind” from the catalog of the great Dolly Parton, “one of the most feminist writers out there.” She stayed with classic country for a stirring take on Hank Cochran’s sad and beautiful “She’s Got You,” made famous by the iconic Patsy Cline, before turning to the catalog of folk singer Odetta for the African-American work song “Waterboy,” a powerful showcase for her classically-trained vocal chops. She closed out the Tomorrow portion of the evening with a rumbling version of the Geeshie Wiley blues “Last Kind Words” that spotlighted her Drops bandmate Hubby Jenkins on mandolin.

Giddens then dug into her own growing catalog of originals for “Julie.” Inspired by a book of slave narratives, the tune recounts a conversation between a slave and her mistress, a performance stripped down to Dirk Powell’s fiddle and her own banjo, which is a replica of a 19th-century instrument. The rest of the band rejoined them as Giddens switched to fiddle and Powell (a folk and traditional music star in his own right) picked up his accordion for the Creole tune “Dimanche Apres-Midi” (“Sunday Afternoon Waltz”). Giddens and the band rocked up the folk for “Louisiana Man,” a snarling romantic putdown from Giddens’ own pen that bore down thanks to the circle of her banjo, Powell’s fiddle, Jason Sypher’s bass and Chance McCoy’s electric guitar. Jenkins then stepped forward to join Giddens on vocals for the gospel song “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” which he brought to the Drops’ repertoire.

Giddens went back to her own catalog for the chilling “At the Purchaser’s Option,” a dark tune inspired by a 19th century advertisement for a slave and her baby and frosted by Malcolm Parson’s scraping cello. After ten songs chronicling American folk, she crossed the ocean for one of the musical strains at its root, closing the set with a stunning performance of traditional Gaelic “Mouth Music” that brought the house down. A standing ovation brought Giddens and the band back, wherein she explained that this was the band’s last show of the year and how thankful she was for her band and the paths on which her music has taken her. Following hugs all around for the musicians, Gidden and friends launched into a medley of “That Lonesome Road” and “Up Above My Head” from the catalog of pioneering gospel singer/proto rock & roll guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe – a rollicking call-and-response closer with solos all around. The crowd sent the band out with wild cheers and applause, all well-deserved. It was a rousing closer to a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall as part of our Season 42 on your local PBS station.    

ACL to livestream Rhiannon Giddens’ taping debut

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Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our taping with Americana sensation Rhiannon Giddens live on April 25 at 8pm CT/9 pm ET. Fans around the world can watch the concert on  ACLTV’s  YouTube channel as it happens.

Rhiannon Giddens makes her highly-anticipated ACL debut performing tracks from her release Tomorrow Is My Turn, a 2016 Grammy nominee for Best Folk Album. The widely acclaimed album, produced by T Bone Burnett, marks Giddens’ solo debut after a decade as a founding member and leader of the Grammy-winning string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  Rolling Stone calls the debut “a spiritual archaeology of American racial and economic struggle via sublime covers of songs identified with Nina Simone, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Elizabeth Cotten.”  The Piedmont, NC native and classically trained singer has chosen from a broad array of songs associated with the female artists who are her musical and spiritual forebears for an album that serves both as patchwork autobiography and as a tribute to these artists and their legacies. “The strength of American music is in bringing all these things together—Celtic, gospel, jazz, folk—all these things that make American music great,” she says. “Putting them side by side and having a production that pulls it all into a cohesive whole shows how related all these things are.”  

Giddens’ showcased her powerful vocals at the White House this past year and gave a show-stopping performance in our own 2015 Americana Music Festival special, and we’re thrilled to follow her journey for her ACL debut.

Please join us on April 25 on our ACLTV YouTube channel as we welcome Rhiannon Giddens.