With one foot in the punk energy and political consciousness of alternative and the other in the big hooks and stage presence of classic rock, Pearl Jam is one of the titans of the rock landscape. So we were pleased to host the band in 2009, the day before its headlining appearance at the ACL Music Festival. Armed with a set of tunes from its then-new album Backspacer, plus back catalog gems, the Seattle quintet ripped through fierce rockers (“The Fixer,” “Porch”) and laid down tender ballads (“The End,” “Just Breathe”) with its legendary passion and power. The band invited a few friends along as well, including ACL vet Ben Harper for “Red Mosquito” and Austin’s own Will Taylor & Strings Attached, who provided some cool string arrangements. This is an episode that’s already become a favorite in ACL history, and we’re pleased to broadcast it once again.
It goes like this: Willie Nelson starred in the pilot for Austin City Limits in 1975 and has appeared many times since. Asleep at the Wheel kicked the first episode proper in 1976 and is also a multiple headliner. Amazingly, they’ve rarely collaborated, despite being buddies for 40 years. So when these great Texas artists came together to record 2009’s fantastic Western swing tribute Willie and the Wheel, we had to have this explosion of musical chemistry on the show – especially since it coincided with our 35th anniversary.
Featuring great old tunes like “Right Or Wrong, ‘“Hesitation Blues” and “Fan It,” as well as a handful of Willie classics, the resulting episode has since become one of our all-time favorites. It’s a special show to our beloved audience as well, and we’re happy to present this encore episode. Tune in to your local PBS station this weekend, and you might want to push the furniture against the wall in case you’ve the urge to dance.
Deeply influenced by grunge bands while growing up in North Carolina, The Avett Brothers had experimented in other bands before solidifying their bluegrass, country, and rock ‘n’ roll blend and harmonies. In this episode we hear a mix of songs from their various albums/EPs, including their biggest hit, “I And Love And You.” With six studio albums under their belt and four EPs, The Avett Brothers have proven that they are as dedicated as they are eclectic in their sound.
Ohio-to-Austin transplants Heartless Bastards have made waves in the indie world since their 2005 debut Stairs and Elevators. Though often described as blues rock or country grunge, this group cannot be pigeonholed as simply hype. With Erika Wennerstrom’s haunting voice and the band’s carefully-crafted yet simple hooks, Heartless Bastards create something that lasts and evolves. For this performance the group plays hits from their 2009 album, The Mountain.
If you’re a fan, please be sure to take a listen to Heartless Bastards’ latest album Arrow, that came out earlier this year. The Avett Brothers are also slated for a new album this year, but the release date is still to be announced.
This week’s encore episode features two Texas natives that are arguably two of the greatest singer-songwriters in American music: Steve Earle and Kris Kristofferson.
Both artists delivered remarkably intimate sets for our celebratory 35th season of Austin City Limits; Kristofferson played hits such as “Help Me Make It Through the Night” acoustically, while Earle performed tracks from his Townes Van Zandt tribute album, Townes. There’s no doubt that these classic performers have left their mark on the music industry with their expansive careers that stretch over several decades and expansive discography and collaborations.