Encore: Esperanza Spalding

photo by Scott Newton

Triple Grammy-winning artist Esperanza Spalding makes her return to Austin City Limits  this weekend with a mesmerizing performance that transcends jazz. In a touching tribute Spalding dedicates the episode to legendary guitarist Jef Lee Johnson, who passed away January 28, 2013. The appearance marks their final performance together.

Joined by a stellar 11-piece band, Spalding performs songs from her latest release Radio Music Society, which scored two 2013 Grammy Awards, including Best Jazz Vocal Album. The album represents a celebratory vision of the artists who helped cultivate and inspire Spalding’s career throughout the years. Radio Music Society has received high praise from critics, who hail the album’s “journey through soul, gospel, balladry and big-band swing” [The New York Times] and “torchy swaggers, world-jazzy guitar grooves propelling smoky saxes, and political songs with only a Hammond organ for company” [The Guardian].

Spalding made her ACL debut back in Season 35, performing tracks from her 2008 breakthrough Esperanza, and wowed an audience largely unfamiliar with her music. Her appearance continues to be one of ACL’s most popular encore episodes. She has since gone on to capture the attention of audiences around the globe, leading to her stunning 2011 Grammy win as the first jazz musician to win for Best New Artist. Spalding’s dynamic relationship with her acoustic double bass has cemented her presence in musical history as a modern jazz virtuoso with “a light, fizzy, optimistic drive that’s in her melodic bass playing and her elastic, small-voiced singing” [The Times].

photo by Scott Newton

“The first time Esperanza appeared on ACL, she was a best-kept secret,” admits ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “But now the word is out, and the world is her stage. This time she also brings a stage full of incredible jazz musicians, and an hour full of new music. People will be writing about this show 50 years from now.”

Check out the episode page for more information. Don’t forget to keep up with ACL goings-on on our Facebook and Twitter pages, or via our newsletter. Next week: Nine Inch Nails.

Encore: Bon Iver

photo by Scott Newton

In a few short years, the world watched Bon Iver’s progression from the “bare boned” yet profound debut For Emma, Forever Ago in 2007, to 2011’s lush self-titled LP. Justin Vernon came a long way from writing in total seclusion in a cabin in the mountains to collaborating with artists such as Kanye West and winning Grammys. When the group recorded this episode in April 2012, we were eager to see how this progression and critical acclaim would manifest in the performance. The result is a passionate, meticulously layered display of talent and musical tranquility.

In this episode, Bon Iver draws mostly from the eponymous album, starting with the opening track, “Perth,” and seamlessly leading into the next tune, “Minnesota, WI.” From there we get “Brackett, WI,” a beautifully-written track that appeared on the 2009 Dark Was the Night compilation album that raised funds and awareness about HIV and AIDS. Audience favorites included a more fleshed-out version of “Blood Bank,” complete with various horns, and of course the hits from For Emma, “Skinny Love” and “For Emma.”

photo by Scott Newton

Go here for more information on this episode, and check here to see where/when you can catch it. Be sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest ACL update, and subscribe to our newsletter for even more info. Next week: The Lumineers and Shovels & Rope.

 

Encore: Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples

Bonnie Raitt on ACL 38

This weekend, ACL brings you Mavis Staples and Bonnie Raitt, two legends and soul sisters with the perfect combination of soul, R&B, blues, and gospel. “We come this evening to bring you some joy, some happiness, inspiration and some positive vibrations,” declared Miss Staples back in June 2012 during the taping, and boy, did they deliver! This was a night full of smoky voices, sassy guitar playing, audience hooplah and ardent exhibition.

This episode marks Bonnie Raitt’s third appearance on Austin City Limits. The audience greets the nine-time Grammy Award-winner and bestselling artist with much love and admiration. She predominantly plays off of her 2012 album Slipstream, including “Down to You,” “Used to Rule the World” and a bluesy take on the Bob Dylan song “One Million Miles.” She finally exclaims, “Awww man! I love John Hiatt!” before ending with her Nick of Time hit “Thing Called Love.”

photo by Scott Newton

Mavis Staples is a clearly a legend. This lady has seen it all from singing songs on the forefront of the Civil Rights movement to being inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Joined onstage with three backup singers and a backing band, Mavis’ energy and famous low register voice charm the audience like we’ve never seen on classics like “Creep Along Moses” and “Freedom Highway.” At the end of the set, Mavis invites her lovingly coined “baby sister” Bonnie Raitt onstage for a couple of songs. On the emotional duet “Losing You,” dedicated to their fathers, Mavis and Bonnie share a moment where they hold hands and look at each other – it’s one of the incredibly touching moments of the evening. They end the night with a rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” that had the entire audience clapping and dancing.

photo by Scott Newton

Don’t miss this inspiring and heartfelt episode – you won’t regret it. To find out when and where you can catch this episode check here for local listings. Also, don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or sign up for our newsletter, for more ACL news and info. Next week: Bon Iver.

 

Encore: Jack White

photo by Scott Newton

As a bandleader, Jack White has visited the Austin City Limits studio before, ripping it up with the Raconteurs back in 2006. Here White returns to our stage as a solo artist to demonstrate exactly why he’s one of today’s most exciting musicians.

Ever the risk-taker, White hits the stage bathed in blue light and accompanied by not one but two bands comprised of Nashville’s best musicians. Working without a net, White eschews a set list and draws from nearly every project of his prolific career. So this episode treats you to some White Stripes (“I’m Slowly Turning Into You,” “We’re Going to Be Friends,” “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”), a little Raconteurs (“Top Yourself”), a pinch of Dead Weather (“Blue Blood Blues”), a blues cover (Blind Willie Johnson’s “John the Revelator”) and White’s contribution (“You Know That I Know”) to The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams, a collection of Williams lyrics set to music by contemporary songwriters.

Of course, much of the show is dedicated to songs from Blunderbuss, White’s much-acclaimed solo debut. Watch him burn through “Freedom at 21” and “Missing Pieces” with his all-male group the Buzzards, then blaze through “Hypocritical Kiss” and “Love Interruption” with his all-female band the Peacocks. The mostly acoustic title tune serves as the transition point, as Buzzards give way to Peacocks before the guitars finish feeding back and “Love Interruption” begins.

photo by Scott Newtong

See more about the show here, then check your local PBS listings to find out when to tune in to see for yourself. Keep up with ACL news and happenings on our Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as our news page, or sign up for our newsletter. Next week: Beck.

Encore: The Shins and Dr. Dog

photo by Scott Newton

This week ACL gives you some of the best the indie rock world has to offer with the second appearance of The Shins and the first by Dr. Dog.

The first time Albuquerque-to-Portland band the Shins appeared on ACL was in 2004. This week singer/songwriter James Mercer brings a brand new crew in support of the group’s acclaimed fourth LP Ports of Morrow. The quintet samples the latest record with “September,” “It’s Only LIfe,” “The Rifle’s Spiral” and the appropriately catchy single “Simple Song,” hitting a real sweet spot between rich, melodic hooks and Mercer’s clever, literate lyrics. But the band also digs deep into the Shins catalog, bouncing through “So Says I,” from breakthrough record Chutes Too Narrow, and reaching all the way back to its debut by closing the set with “New Slang.” It’s a masterful performance by a band hitting the peak of its powers.

For its first appearance on ACL, Dr. Dog proves why it’s a favorite on the live circuit. Adding a dash of jam band spice to its psychedelic indie rock batter, the Philadelphia sextet knows how to have a good time playing, while still keeping its songs catchy and concise. The band opens this episode with “Lonesome,” the tune that begins its much-heralded seventh LP Be the Void, kicking off the show to rollicking effect. “Jackie Wants a Black Eye” and “Vampire” keep the party going, and by the time the Dog hits a trio of tunes from its fan-favorite LP Fate, ending with “The Rabbit, the Bat and the Reindeer,” Dr. Dog lets us know just why it’s been such a popular concert draw in its decade of existence. As executive producer Terry Lickona says at the beginning of the show, “Great songs and live energy make for a winning combination.”

photo by Scott Newton

To get info on when and where to tune in to this excellent episode, check here for local listings. Also, don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter orsign up for our newsletter for more updates. Next week: Jack White.

 

Encore: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros/tUnE-yArDs

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits is proud to present the encore of an inspired double-bill featuring the experimental sounds of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and tUnE-yArDs.

The psychedelic folk troupe Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros bring their shared spirit to the ACL stage in their debut appearance on the show. Equipped with infectious melodies, catchy sing-a-longs and a free-spirited frontman, the 12-piece ensemble have gained fans all over the world. With two critically-acclaimed albums and a widespread reputation for energetic performances, the down-home outfit create what NPR calls a “gloriously uplifting ruckus.” The Los Angeles-based group draws inspiration from the communal musical communities that peppered Southern California with positive vibrations during the ’60s and early ’70s. The gang of animated musicians perform their bright music and homespun harmonies on ACL complete with spontaneous dancing, bare feet and bared souls.

“This is a band that loves to make music, pure and simple,” says ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “They may look and sound like they came straight out of the 60’s, but there is a joy to their music that is infectious – onstage or off. In fact, frontman Alex Ebert had a hard time staying ON our stage during the show, and to everyone’s delight he plunged into the crowd more than once.”

Next up is the bold, uncompromising music of tUnE-yArDs, performing tracks from the critically-acclaimed opus whokill. The brainchild of indie singer-songwriter Merrill Garbus, tUnE-yArDs have fashioned an expansive sound incorporating layered ukulele, voice, electric bass and drum loops into an eclectic DIY aesthetic. Technology meets primal in the music of Garbus, who The New York Times describes as “somewhere between Aretha Franklin and Yoko Ono.” She showcases her striking sound for her first appearance on the ACL stage. With a bassist and two sax players joining Garbus’ frontline of drums, amplified ukelele and looping technology, tUnE-yArDs put on a show unlike any other.

photo by Scott Newton

“I don’t think we’ve ever had an act quite like Merrill Garbus and tUnE-yArDs on ACL,” says Lickona. “But don’t be fooled…just when her music seems to veer off in a strange direction, Merrill brings it all back home with the raw power of her voice and those loopy rhythms.”

Check out the episode page for more details on this remarkable show. We also hope you’ll visit us on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for our newsletter. Next week: Ed Sheeran and Valerie June.

 

Encore: Tim McGraw

photo by Scott Newton

“This is a special night for us. We’re very excited!” ” proclaims Tim McGraw during his debut ACL performance. So are we to welcome one of contemporary country’s biggest stars.

In a dynamic performance, McGraw takes the ACL stage armed with both his greatest hits and brand new songs. Performing tracks from his 2013 record Two Lanes of Freedom, McGraw blazes through an hour-long set of his distinctive brand of rockin’ country music.

Launching into a set that has the audience on its feet from the first note, the country kingpin has his engines revving and thrills the crowd in a visceral, moving performance. From his hard-driving new single “One of Those Nights” to the feel-good hangover of “Mexicoma,” the energy level is at 11 when McGraw sings his massive career-defining anthem “Live Like You Were Dying.” He brings the show to a close and a smile to every face with the good-natured hillbilly humor of his recent huge hit “Truck Yeah,” a singalong anthem if there ever was one.

“Country Music has plenty of superstars to go around, but Tim has that special ability to make an emotional connection with his audience that is rare in any genre,” says ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “His first ACL appearance meant a lot to him – he told me it made him feel ‘like a real musician – not just sort of smoke and mirrors.’”

photo by Scott Newton

Check out the episode page for more info on this exciting show. Keep up with other ACL goings-on through our Facebook and Twitter pages and our newsletter. Next week: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and tUnE-yArDs.

 

Encore: The Civil Wars and Punch Brothers

photo by Scott Newton

Join us this weekend for a night of intimate and supremely talented performances from The Civil Wars and Punch Brothers. With zero percussion assistance for each performance, one acquires a clear picture of the depth of musicianship and delicately crafted songs that both of these artists brought to our stage. What you’ll find from both artists is nothing short of moving, inspiring, and wildly intriguing.

With open arms and a bare stage, we welcomed The Civil Wars back in February 2012 as the first taping that year. The Grammy Award-winners proved to be a perfect start to the newest season on so many levels. Their minimalist set with the ever-so perpetual Austin skyline in the background highlighted the voices of Joy Williams and John Paul White as they played hits off their 2011 release Barton Hollow. Included in this performance are two very intense, but true to the original spirit, renditions of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and Smashing Pumpkins’ “Disarm.” At one moment you realize that Williams and White had the entire audience in their hand when Williams remarked about how quiet and attentive the audience was reacting. It’s true – at many points during this episode you become so captivated by Joy’s sashaying and John’s guitar playing that you forget where you are and immediately realize why these two have garnered their much-deserved praise.

“When you start a band, this is all you ever really want to do – play Austin City Limits,” mentioned Chris Thile in the middle of Punch Brothers’ set. Thile, who is no stranger to ACL (this is his third appearance), brings his all-star band that formed back in 2006 to the show. Again there is no percussion, but unlike the simple quietness that we get from The Civil Wars earlier, we get an influx of sound from the mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, and bass. The progressive rock stars of the bluegrass world take us through their 2012 release of Who’s Feeling Young Now? with a few sprinkles of the 2010 album Antifogmatic. This group’s genre-jumping and incredible musicianship will have you tapping your toes and wishing you had taken up banjo back in 10th grade.

photo by Scott Newton

This is something you will not want to miss, but don’t take our word for it – see it for yourself! You can preview the episode and get more information here; check here for local listings and times in your area. Also, be sure to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for all things Austin City Limits, and sign up for our newsletter for further info. Next week: Tim McGraw.