ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2013

Dr. John performs at the 2013 Americana Music Festival

ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2013, reflects the breadth of the genre’s musical reach with star-studded performances recorded live at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Performances by legends Stephen Stills, Duane Eddy, and Dr. John anchored the evening, while upstarts such as John Fullbright and The Milk Carton Kids  gave mesmerizing performances that looked to the future of the genre. Two of Americana’s most prolific and vocal forebears – Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell kick off the program, celebrating their collaborative album “Old Yellow Moon.”

“We might very well not be here, as a genre and as an association, were it not for Emmy and Rodney,” said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association. “That we are celebrating them tonight not for the work they did 35 years ago, but for the work they did this year…speaks volumes about where we’re headed. What an amazing night.”

Another duo deeply dedicated to roots music–Charleston, South Carolina’s Shovels & Rope turn in an energetic performance of “Birmingham” from their 2012 “O’ Be Joyful” album. Holly Williams, Hank Williams’s granddaughter joins the house band on her grandfather’s classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison, themselves forebears of Americana and representatives of its Texas contingency, performed “Border Radio” from this year’s “Cheater’s Game” album. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dr. John–a purveyor of American roots music forms that have included the blues, jazz, zydeco, and rock and roll for over 50 years–is joined by Dan Auerbach (the producer of Dr. John’s “Locked Down” album and a member of The Black Keys) before taking to the piano to perform a blistering version of “I Walk on Gilded Splinters.”

Other highlights of the night include Old Crow Medicine Show performing its now-classic “Wagon Wheel,” a song composed by the band’s Ketch Secor from an unfinished Bob Dylan lyrical sketch. Miller and Lauderdale stepped out of their respective band leading and hosting duties to perform their own “Train that Carried My Girl From Town,” from this year’s “Buddy & Jim” release.

The evening’s house band led by Miller, included Don Was, Larry Campbell, Marco Giovino, John Deaderick, Jim Hoke and the McCrary Sisters.

ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2012

This weekend we’re taking a break from our Season 38 episodes for ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2012. The eleventh annual Americana Music Festival took place earlier this fall in Nashville, TN, in the historic Ryman Auditorium, with some fantastic performances from legendary artists who helped define the genre, plus some newcomers who are keeping the tradition true. Featured artists include Booker T. Jones, Alabama Shakes, Hayes Carll with Cary Ann Hearst, Guy Clark, Lee Ann Womack, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Mavericks, Richard Thompson, Carolina Chocolate Drops and many more! It’s a night full of the brightest stars celebrating the roots of American music.

Described by Southern Living as “the best music festival” the night was hosted once again by Jim Lauderdale and bandleader Buddy Miller. One highlight of the night included Lee Ann Womack singing a Tom T. Hall song entitled “I Love” in which the man himself joined her onstage, singing the last verse and receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. Another moving moment was brought on by Guy Clark’s intimate performance of “My Favorite Picture of You” a song he wrote for Susanna Clark, his late wife who passed away earlier this year. The night culminated when Emmylou Harris, Amy Helm, Bonnie Raitt, John Hiatt, Richard Thompson, Brittany Howard (of Alabama Shakes), and various other musicians joined onstage to do a tribute to the late Levon Helm by performing the timeless hit, “The Weight.”

photo by Tracy Judd

This is one night of performances you won’t want to miss! Be sure to check here for details on this special show and here for local listings and times. Also be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages for all things Austin City Limits and updates about tapings. Join us next week for an encore episode featuring Mumford & Sons and Flogging Molly!

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

amf2011featured

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.

CeCe Winans and St. Paul & the Broken Bones’ souled-out performances

CeCe Winans is a gospel legend, selling millions of albums and garnering ten Grammy Awards. St. Paul & the Broken Bones have taken the music world by storm, rising quickly through the ranks with a distinctive Americana-tinged soul sound. Both artists can raise the roof, and we were thrilled to host both of their debuts on our stage, where the ceiling definitely had trouble staying attached.

Bringing church to ACL, Detroit native Winans and her eleven-piece band opened with a funky New Orleans version of the old classic “When the Saints Go Marching In” that segued into a medley of “Victory is Mine” and “In the Name of Jesus We Have Victory.” Celebratory spirit thus established, she then shifted to new material from her upcoming Let Them Fall in Love, her first album in nine years, out February 3, 2017. The bluesy “Hey Devil!” told Lucifer to get lost with a high-spirited romp that included the chorus of Ray Charles’ gospel-derived “Hit the Road, Jack.” “Run to Him,” a love song to Jesus, brought old school soul to the party, as well as a call-and-response that employed two different counterpoints for Winans to sing over. “Peace From God” rode an easygoing groove as it delivered its message, while “Lowly” added a shot of 70s soul to its rousing call to stay low (because there’s no place to fall). Winans then brought Texas to the gospel equation, with a powerhouse take on Kris Kristofferson’s probing ballad “Why Me Lord” that got the biggest round of applause so far. Barely a second went by before she went into “I Need Thee,” the hymn serving as a coda to “Why Me Lord.” Winans followed with “Never Have to Be Alone,” her latest single and a sky-reaching ballad in the tradition of her late friend Whitney Houston. She closed with “Dancing in the Spirit,” a blazing sing- and dance-along that drove Satan from the building with pure spiritual joy.

But the night wasn’t over yet. Alabama’s St. Paul & the Broken Bones took the stage, singer Paul Janeway decked out in a bright red suit and sparkly golden robe, wailing through “Crumbling Light Posts, Pt.1,” the atmospheric opener to the eight-piece outfit’s second and latest LP Sea of Noise. Janeway doffed his robe and the band launched directly into “Flow With It,” a groovy seduction tune that had the audience in their pockets. The rocking yet grooving “Mighty River” drew right from the Muscle Shoals tradition, Janeway channeling the late, great blue-eyed soul homeboy Eddie Hinton. One flute intro later, the Bones eased into the clever plea “I’ll Be Your Woman.” “This is one of those milestone things,” commented Janeway, before the band performed the mid-tempo gem “Tears in the Diamond.” The band then revisited its 2014 debut album with “I’m Torn Up,” a powerhouse ballad that found Janeway in the crowd, preaching the gospel of heartbreak. The Bones dipped their toes back into the Sea of Noise with the rocking funk of “Midnight On the Earth,” which got the audience shaking their groove thangs with abandon. “Waves” followed, a ballad driven by Browan Lollar’s growling guitar, before St. Paul exercised his thrilling falsetto on the 70s grooves of “All I Ever Wonder.” The Bones ended the main set with the anthemic ballad “Sanctify,” to a wild ovation from the crowd.

The band returned, of course, for a generous encore of three tunes. The warm country soul of “Is It Me,” which Janeway introduced as a lullaby, served as a palette cleanser before the raucous R&B of “Call Me,” another gem from the first Bones LP. The group ended the show with “Burning Rome,” a slow burn ballad that had Janeway pulling out all his vocal stops and wrapping his carpet around his shoulders like a cape. The audience loved it, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it broadcast this winter as part of our Season 42 on your local PBS station.

My Morning Jacket and Ben Harper bring big rock to ACL’s Season 42

Austin City Limits showcases two of modern rock’s best live acts: My Morning Jacket and Ben Harper.  The longtime fan favorites make return appearances armed with new material in a must-see installment as part of ACL’s Season 42.

My Morning Jacket return for the first time in nearly a decade for their third Austin City Limits appearance, highlighting songs from their last two studio albums, The Waterfall and Circuital.  The Kentucky indie-rockers, five-time Grammy Award-winners, kick off a blissed-out 4-song set with the title track to 2011’s Circuital.  Charismatic leader Jim James dazzles in a colorful kimono and big sunglasses as the band builds their signature soundscapes, including a tune from The Waterfall, a 2016 Grammy nominee for Best Alternative Album.  Their psychedelic textures expand into a glorious wall of sound for the set-closer “Victory Dance,” as the shape-shifting James prowls the stage with a towel on his head and an electronic sampler around his neck for an epic close.

Ben Harper reunites with his longtime backing band the Innocent Criminals after a seven-year hiatus for his first ACL appearance since Season 35.  Harper and crew deliver a powerful, six-song set featuring classics and new songs from 2016’s acclaimed Call It What It Is.  Opening with the ever-catchy “Steal My Kisses,” the frontman gets the crowd on its feet, then segues into soulful new gems, showcasing his trademark lap steel guitar bona fides.  The socially-charged title track from his latest release has Harper reciting the names of gone-too-soon young black men.  Harper’s show-stopping performance of the take-us-to-church gospel burner “Where Could I Go” leaves both singer and audience overcome from the power of the moment, exposing the painfully honest and self-reflective lyrics that have made Harper a fan-favorite for 20-plus years.

photo by Scott Newton

“Jim James has appeared on the ACL stage in many musical guises, as befits his wildly eclectic virtuosity,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “But My Morning Jacket brings him back to ground zero where he is most at home. He’s one of the best at engaging a live audience, and it shows.  Ben Harper is another perennial favorite, always in tune with the times, his fans and his musical muse.  It’s very much like a homecoming for both of them, but more akin to two old friends coming home from long musical journeys to show us what they’ve learned.”

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 an ACL Presents special, featuring the Americana Music Festival 2016.

Parker Millsap sets ACL on fire

Singer and songwriter Parker Millsap tears it up on our upcoming ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2016 special, airing November 19th, and that standout performance was enough for us to ask him to come do his own appearance on our show. The young Oklahoma native has set the Americana world on fire with his songs, his voice and his live show, and this taping – which we streamed live – showed exactly why.

Taking the stage with his backing trio, Millsap mentioned how he used to watch ACL with his father on Thursday nights on OETA in Oklahoma. He then launched into the title track of his latest album The Very Last Day, a jumpy tune about nuclear annihilation. The rocking, Steve Earle-esque “Hands Up” chronicled a gas station stick up, starring a robber more desperate than diabolical. Following band introductions, Millsap introduced the bluesy “Palisade,” the title tune from his 2012 debut and a showcase for Daniel Foulks’ gypsy fiddle. The quartet then dug into the repertoire of old-time banjoist Charlie Poole for a blues-soaked take on the classic “Hesitation Blues,” a great showcase of Millsap’s gritty howl. He followed with the Bo Diddley-beat of “Pining,” another tune from The Very Last Day. Then it was time for a show-stopper: the NPR favorite “Heaven Sent,” a heart-wrenching ballad about a young gay man in Oklahoma struggling for his Christian father’s acceptance.  The audience justifiably applauded wildly.

Millsap and company followed that heavy tune with “Truck Stop Gospel,” a frisky rocker that garnered cheers as soon as he announced it. His band then quit the stage as Millsap donned an acoustic guitar for “A Little Fire,” a folk ballad that showed off his fingerpicking skills. Another guitar switch and the return of his backup musicians led into “Your Water,” a new country-pop song he wrote with Wimberly native and ACL two-timer Sarah Jarosz. Millsap then gave us another brand new song, the midtempo 70s-style pop/rock tune “Other Arrangements.” which pushed his voice into a winsome falsetto. “Morning Blues” followed a similar, if bluesier, tack. “Quite Contrary,” however, added a shuffling rock beat as Millsap subverted nursery rhymes in telling the stories of Oklahoma meth addicts. Foulks then switched out his fiddle for a guitar on “Wherever You Are,” a bluesy folk rocker. Millsap and band ended the main set with a cover of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move,” the classic blues song that served as another showcase for both Foulks’ ragged lyricism and Millsap’s remarkable voice. That one-two punch brought the house down.

But of course it wasn’t over. Millsap and the trio returned to the stage for “Hades Pleads,” a choogling rocker in which Death tries to get laid via Millsap’s Plantesque wail. After that triumph, the band took its bows to well-deserved applause. It was a breakout performance by a young artist deserving of all the kudos coming his way, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs early next year as part of our Season 42 on your local PBS station.