Mac DeMarco opens ACL’s 44th taping season with soft jams

A new season of Austin City Limits begins, and we were happy to open Season 44 with a rising artist making his debut on our stage: singer and songwriter Mac DeMarco. Celebrating his acclaimed fourth LP This Old Dog, the Canadian-turned-Californian by way of Far Rockaway, Queens, graced his loyal fans with an interactive set of his distinctive soul-flavored soft rock, which we streamed live around the world.

Taking a stage artfully cluttered with fake fruit, real pound cake, plenty of red wine, a Michael Jackson mask and assorted bric-a-brac, DeMarco and his four-piece backing band launched into the smoothly flowing “On the Level,” from This Old Dog. Switching to acoustic guitar, DeMarco revisited his second LP Salad Days via the poppy title track. Then it was back to the new album, as the creamy sound of an electric grand piano signalled the drift into “For the First Time,” a very eighties-sounding soft rocker that thrilled the under twenty-something crowd and prompted livestream viewer Pierce Hannah to rave “Mac Daddy rocking the yacht rock vest with these smooth, smooth tunes.”  “We’ve never played this song as a band,” DeMarco noted, introducing the lightly rocking “One Another,” “but we’re gonna try to play it for you.” That successfully pulled off, he and the band cheekily kicked into its opposite number “Another One,” highlighted by a twangy guitar solo. Following a brief interlude in which the engaging rocker shared parmesan cheese (the powdered stuff, that is, not freshly grated) from one of the Italian restaurant-style tables adorning the stage, to the delight of the grateful front row, DeMarco essayed the title track of This Old Dog, a spell-binding dreamy pop tune.

“Now we’re gonna play a song we haven’t played in…four years?” DeMarco noted. “Fifteen years,” quipped guitarist Andy White. “The last time we played this song I was thirteen.” This was the intro to the easygoing “Brother,” from Salad Days. “So take it slow now, brother/Let it go,” the singer crooned over a languid, soul-influenced groove. Keeping it casual, DeMarco explained the next song was about his father, with the genial host again offering pound cake to his guests as the band went into a piano-heavy soft pop tune. He invited a couple of exuberant young fans to join him onstage, and after a quick lesson in shakers, the duo added to the percolating percussion. The band then reached back to his second album, the appropriately titled 2, for “Ode to Viceroy,” another easygoing pop song with harmony Stratocaster licks at the end. After sharing some red wine with another fan (whose ID he checked first), it was back to TOD, for the languorous “Dreams From Yesterday.”

One rendition of “Happy Birthday” to a fan later, DeMarco rode a jazzy, soul-pop vibe into “Chamber of Reflection,” powered by clapping from the crowd. He closed the show with the sugary romance of “Still Together,” on which he showed off a striking falsetto. Before the song was over, however, drummer Joe McMurray switched places with DeMarco to lead the crowd in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge.” Then DeMarco reclaimed the mic for another couple of choruses of “Still Together,” before quitting the stage. It was a refreshing ending to the show, letting the audience down easy instead of overwhelming them with bombast. We can’t wait for you to see it when his show airs this fall on your local PBS station.   

ACL to livestream Mac DeMarco taping on Feb. 27

Austin City Limits is excited to announce that we will be livestreaming our first taping of Season 44: the debut of singer/songwriter Mac DeMarco on Monday, February 27. We’ll be beaming live directly from the ACL stage at 8pm CT/9 pm ET on ACLTV’s YouTube channel.  

Called the “lovable laid-back prince of indie rock” by the New York Times, Mac DeMarco (aka 27-year old MacBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco) released This Old Dog, his third album and first full-length since 2014’s Salad Days, last year via indie label Captured Tracks. It was a little space—in time, location (he moved from Queens to Los Angeles), and method—that inspired the Canadian native while making This Old Dog. Arriving in California with a grip of demos he’d written in New York, he realized after a few months of setting up his new shop that the gap was giving him perspective. “I demoed a full album, and as I was moving to the West Coast I thought I’d get to finishing it quickly,” DeMarco says. “But then I realized that moving to a new city, and starting a new life takes time. Usually I just write, record, and put it out; no problem. But this time, I wrote them and they sat. When that happens, you really get to know the songs. It was a different vibe.” DeMarco wrote demos for This Old Dog on an acoustic guitar, an eye-opening method for him. “The majority of this album is acoustic guitar, synthesizer, some drum machine, and one song is electric guitar. So this is a new thing for me.”  This Old Dog is rooted more in a synth-base than any of his previous releases, but he is careful not to let that tactic overshadow the other instruments and overall “unplugged” mood of the work. “This is my acoustic album, but it’s not really an acoustic album at all. That’s just what it feels like, mostly. I’m Italian, so I guess this is an Italian rock record.”

Join us on February 27 for this full-set livestream on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air on PBS later this as part of our Season 44.

ACL’s 43rd season closes out with country rockers Chris Stapleton and Turnpike Troubadours

Austin City Limits closes out Season 43 with a scorcher: country superstar Chris Stapleton, riding country’s hottest hand with a trio of acclaimed, chart-topping albums and a trio of newly-minted 2018 Grammy Awards, sharing an episode with one of roots music’s most revered acts, red-dirt country-rockers Turnpike Troubadours.

After years penning hits for some of Nashville’s biggest acts, singer, songwriter and guitarist Chris Stapleton took the country world by storm in 2015 with his multi-platinum, double Grammy-winning debut Traveller. Just three years later, Stapleton is the reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, and a five-time Grammy winner, taking a trio of top honors at this year’s ceremony, including Album of the Year for From A Room: Volume 1. The Kentucky native delivers a powerhouse ACL debut with a blistering six-song set fueled by his show-stopping voice, searing guitar and stellar songwriting. Opening with “Hard Livin’,” from his latest, the companion album From A Room: Volume 2, Stapleton follows with an early hit, the crowd-favorite folk-rambler “Traveller.” Joined by wife Morgane on harmony vocals, the couple wrap their voices around each other for the spellbinding gut-punch “Fire Away,” revealing a powerful onstage intimacy, and the pair dazzle on blowtorch stunner “Second One To Know.” Standing solo and acoustic for “Whiskey and You,” the country outlier brings the room to hushed silence pierced only by scattered whoops from the audience between verses. Stapleton closes out the masterful set with the breakout hit from his debut, Southern soul-burner “Tennessee Whiskey,” unleashing the full power of his scorching vocals and earning multiple standing ovations from the can’t-get-enough crowd.

Road-tested country rockers Turnpike Troubadours topped the red-dirt touring circuit this past decade, earning legions of fans the old-fashioned way, through word-of-mouth for their rousing live shows anchored by frontman Evan Felker’s singular songwriting. Their acclaimed new release A Long Way From Your Heart has launched the Oklahoma sextet onto the national stage, and the band opens their ACL debut with the album’s lead song “The Housefire.” The Troubadours perform a six-song, career-spanning set with Felker’s trademark character-driven tunes exploding behind rowdy strings. Throughout their four albums, the band has used a running cast of characters to weave a narrative for their dedicated fans with songs that chronicle the highs, hangovers and heartbreaks of Middle America. “Tell everyone in Austin I love y’all to death” yells Felker during the blazing crowd-pleaser “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead.” Steel guitarist Hank Early switches to a Dobro for an acoustic duet with Felker on “Diamonds and Gasoline.” Felker calls out to bring the band back for set-closer “Something To Hold Onto,” as the ace musicians ignite in a three-way solo blaze of glory with Early, lead guitarist Ryan Engleman and fiddler Kyle Nix.

photo by Scott Newton

“We take pride in bringing the best of the best of every genre to our audience, and Chris Stapleton is at the top of his game right now,” said ACL executive producer, Terry Lickona. “Few bands on the scene, if any, deliver a better live experience than Turnpike Troubadours, and this show makes you feel like you’re right on the front line.”

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. Join us next week for a special encore episode, featuring Ms. Lauryn Hill.

Dan Auerbach and Shinyribs bring unique roots rock to ACL’s 43rd season

Austin City Limits presents a feel-good hour featuring Black Keys superstar Dan Auerbach, performing songs from his acclaimed solo album and joined by a stellar band of legendary Nashville musicians, in a double-bill with Austin’s country-soul juggernaut Shinyribs.

Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach takes a break from his main outfit, the eight-time Grammy-winning Black Keys, and returns to the ACL stage to showcase songs from his radiant solo release Waiting On A Song. Conceived in his adopted hometown of Nashville with an all-star cast of Music Row’s finest musicians, NPR raves “Each track on Waiting On A Song sparkles like a long-lost gem of early-’70s AM radio.” The restless creative and his ace seven-piece backing crew, featuring many of the record’s legendary silver-haired sidemen, perform a blissed-out seven-song ACL set.  Highlights include a pair of timeless tunes co-written with songwriting icon John Prine: the buoyant set-opening title track and an unrecorded gem, “Somewhere Between Eau Claire and East Moline.” In old-school soul revue style, Auerbach introduces his own Easy Eye Sound label signee, 63-year old soul singer Robert Finley, who takes center stage to deliver a dose of his show-stopping “Medicine Woman.” Auerbach closes out the sparkling set with the sunny, melodic delight “Shine On Me” and the crowd is happy to sing-along.

Swamp-pop band Shinyribs keep the party going, delivering a high-energy, full-throttle four-song tour de force in one of the most entertaining performances on the ACL stage. Flamboyant frontman Kevin Russell, aka the “shaman of soul,” is no stranger to legions of music fans as the former leader of beloved Austin band The Gourds (who appeared on ACL in 2007). Russell has ramped up the showmanship in Shinyribs, and the East Texas rockers have become one of Austin’s favorite live acts since forming in 2010. The eight-piece outfit is a party machine, complete with horns, back-up singers and dancers. Performing songs from across their four albums, powerhouse singer Russell is a bigger-than-life force of nature with stage theatrics as lively as the music, delivering delightful repartee, guitar solos, enviable dance moves, call-and-response with back-up singers the Shiny Soul Sisters, all while whipping up a brew of Texas country soul with a side of hip-shaking swamp-funk. The band’s trio of onstage dancers –  dubbed the “Riblets” – drape the frontman in a glittery silver robe tricked-out with colorful flashing lights for the roof-raising set-closer “East Texas Rust” as Russell wails on electric guitar. You in Texas baby.

photo by Scott Newton

“You can’t not watch this show without feeling good afterwards,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Dan Auerbach has five times more creative energy than anyone with half his credits! And ‘seeing is believing’ with Shinyribs. Kevin Russell goes above-and-beyond to ‘Keep Austin Weird’!”

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. Join us next week for another brand new episode, featuring the ACL debut of country superstar Chris Stapleton and Americana powerhouse Turnpike Troubadours.

 

Giveaway: Mac DeMarco 2/27

UPDATE: Giveaway is now over

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Mac DeMarco on Tuesday, Feb. 27th at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We will be giving away a limited number of space available passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by noon on Thursday, Feb. 15th

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pickup tickets. Winners will be notified by email. Passes are not transferable and cannot be sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras computers or recording devices allowed in venue.

New tapings: Mac DeMarco and Brandi Carlile

Austin City Limits is happy to announce the first new tapings for 2018’s Season 44, with the debut of fast-rising singer/songwriter Mac DeMarco on February 27 and the return of acclaimed singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile on April 10 at ACL Live at the Moody Theater. The DeMarco taping will also be livestreamed around the world.

Mac DeMarco (aka 27-year old MacBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco) released This Old Dog, his third album and first full-length since 2014’s Salad Days, on May 5th, 2017, via Captured Tracks. It was a little space—in time, location (he moved from Queens to Los Angeles), and method—that inspired the Canadian native while making This Old Dog. Arriving in California with a grip of demos he’d written in New York, he realized after a few months of setting up his new shop that the gap was giving him perspective. “I demoed a full album, and as I was moving to the West Coast I thought I’d get to finishing it quickly,” DeMarco says. “But then I realized that moving to a new city, and starting a new life takes time. Usually I just write, record, and put it out; no problem. But this time, I wrote them and they sat. When that happens, you really get to know the songs. It was a different vibe.” DeMarco wrote demos for This Old Dog on an acoustic guitar, an eye-opening method for him. “The majority of this album is acoustic guitar, synthesizer, some drum machine, and one song is electric guitar. So this is a new thing for me.”  This Old Dog is rooted more in a synth-base than any of his previous releases, but he is careful not to let that tactic overshadow the other instruments and overall “unplugged” mood of the work. “This is my acoustic album, but it’s not really an acoustic album at all. That’s just what it feels like, mostly. I’m Italian, so I guess this is an Italian rock record.”

photo by Alysse Gafkjenh

Having first appeared on ACL in 2010 and most recently paid tribute to Roy Orbison in the 2017 ACL Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve celebration, Brandi Carlile comes back in celebration of her seventh album, By The Way, I Forgive You, produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and acclaimed musician Shooter Jennings. Already receiving widespread acclaim, NPR Music’s Ann Powers asserts, “By The Way, I Forgive You takes Carlile and her longtime bandmates, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, into a new space of risk-taking—as well as the emotional stratosphere. A country-rock aria dedicated to the delicate boys and striving girls born into—and, Carlile insists, destined to triumph over—this divisive time, ‘The Joke’ offers a stunning vocal performance from Carlile, swathed in warm piano, big drums and a perfect string arrangement.” Additionally, The New York Times praises, “Motherhood is disruptive, messy, inconvenient, enlightening and triumphant in ‘The Mother’…Its fingerpicking folk-rock unfurls from a blurry awakening to unabashed pride and joy,” while XPN The Key calls it, “an achingly heartfelt and quietly powerful track.” Recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, By The Way, I Forgive You includes ten new songs written by Carlile and longtime collaborators and bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth. Of their close relationship, Carlile comments, “The Twins and I have been in a band for so long now. And not just a band, we are literally a family. When you create art with twins, it becomes unclear when I end and where they begin.” Over the course of their acclaimed career, the band has released six albums, including 2015’s The Firewatcher’s Daughter, which garnered a Grammy nomination for “Best Americana Album.”

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast version will air on PBS as part of our Season 44.

LCD Soundsystem thrills ACL’s 43rd season

Austin City Limits showcases one of today’s most thrilling live acts, LCD Soundsystem, for an electrifying hour. The dance-rock band make their first-ever appearance on the program with a victory lap of beloved hits alongside new classics.

LCD Soundsystem perform songs from American Dream, its first new release after a five-year hiatus and the first #1 album in their decade-long run. Called “a party album for the end of the world or an apocalypse album for the end of the party,” by Rolling Stone, the album earned wide acclaim and landed on many “best of 2017” lists. The New York City band, formed by leader James Murphy in 2002, launches a spectral Austin City Limits set with a pair of songs from their acclaimed comeback: the synth-popping beat of album-opener “Oh Baby” and charging bass and cathartic guitar of dance-floor magnet “Call the Police.” Murphy clutches his signature retro mic and promises the audience a mix of songs old and new as they kick into fan-favorite “I Can Change,” a perfect balance of romantic woe, disco rhythm and pop melody from 2010’s This Is Happening. Murphy’s lyrical wit and soaring vocal is the band’s trademarks and together they dive into the wry melancholy of “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” from 2007’s Sound Of Silver.  LCD’s penchant for mixing rock anthems with dance rhythms is in full force on the rock ‘n’ roll disco opus “Tonite,” the newly-minted 2018 Grammy-winner for Best Dance Recording, the band’s first career Grammy win. The fascinating hour allows viewers an immersive glimpse into LCD’s artistry, with seven band members onstage to recreate the electronic-based parts of their catalog, layering a potent mix of sounds with free-wheeling electro-pulse synth. A staccato piano riff signals “All My Friends,” an endorphin rush ode to slowing down time that closes out the hour as Murphy gets into the spirit, stepping into the crowd to shake hands with all his new best friends in the front row.

“When LCD played their ‘last show’ at Madison Square Garden in 2011, I thought we’d missed our chance,” explained ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Then I was excited to hear James had decided to revive the band, make a new record and hit the road again. They were a must-get for ACL! LCD’s sound has a way of washing over you and carrying you away. They make music like nobody else can!”

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. Join us next week for another brand new episode, featuring the solo ACL debut of Black Keys singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and the debut of former Gourds member Kevin Russell’s party favorite Shinyribs.

 

Austin City Limits artists win big at the 2018 Grammy Awards

Austin City Limits sends out our hearty congratulations to our distinguished alumni on their wins at the 2018 Grammy awards.

Country sensation Chris Stapleton, who makes his ACL debut in an upcoming episode premiering Feb. 17, swept the country categories, taking top honors for Best Country Solo Performance (“Either Way”), Best Country Song (“Broken Halos”) and Best Country Album (From a Room: Vol. 1). This weekend’s featured artist LCD Soundsystem won Best Dance Recording for “Tonite” which will be featured in their career-spanning set as they make their ACL debut in a new episode airing Feb. 3.  Other season 43 winners include Ed Sheeran for Best Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit for Best American Roots Song and Best Americana Album and Father John Misty for Best Recording Packaging.

photo by Scott Newton

Plenty of past season’s guests dominated as well. Kendrick Lamar owned the Rap categories, with five awards, while CeCe Winans earned two Gospel awards. Other winners who’ve graced the ACL stage include Foo Fighters, Alabama Shakes, Randy Newman, The War On Drugs, The National, Reba McEntire, Aimee Mann, Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Portugal. The Man, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Lisa Loeb. You can see the full-length list of winners here. Congratulations to them all!