Tedeschi Trucks Band on fire for ACL debut

photo by Scott Newton

All good things come to an end, and so it is with our 41st taping season. But we went out with a flourish, courtesy of Tedeschi Trucks Band. Co-leader Susan Tedeschi is no stranger to these shores, of course, having appeared on Austin City Limits before in seasons 24 and 29. But this is the first appearance of TTB, the band she formed five years ago with husband/master guitarist Derek Trucks. Mixing new material from the forthcoming LP Let Me Get By with choice covers, many drawn from the twelve-piece’s recent tribute show to Joe Cocker’s legendary album Mad Dogs and Englishmen, TTB gave us a memorable performance that perfectly closed out the season while being streamed live around the world to an audience of thousands.

The set began with the funky “There’s a Break in the Road,” a tune originally found on Tedeschi’s solo LP Back to the River. The band then jumped into the first of the new songs – “Don’t Know What It Means” found the pair trading solos over a soulful groove, with a side of a capella singing and sax solos. With no pause, Tedeschi then put her guitar to the side in order to give full reign to her scorching voice on a cover of the Box Tops’ “The Letter,” via its rollicking arrangement from Englishmen. The group returned to Let Me Get By for “Laugh About It,” an infectious slice of soul/pop that took on the aura of a gospel revival. Dipping back into the Mad Dogs’ repertoire, TTB took Cocker’s version of the Leonard Cohen standard “Bird On a Wire” and made it their own by virtue of a sparse arrangement and a stunning Tedeschi vocal. “She is Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin’s love child,” remarked Darren Addy who was watching the livestream on our ACLTV YouTube channel.  

Eschewing classic rock nostalgia for a bit, the band gave the audience another pair of samples from Let Me Get By. The shuffling jazz/funk title track put the spotlight on keyboardist Kofi Burbridge, while the jumping “I Want More” put Motown through its jam band paces with a gentle jazz coda. The group then revisited its Grammy Award-winning debut album Revelator for the silky smooth “Midnight in Harlem,” preceded by a smoky-improvised intro that had the crowd applauding Trucks’ every lick. Having thoroughly established their prowess for original music, TTB jumped back to Mad Dogs and Englishmen for a New Orleans-influenced reinterpretation of the Ray Charles-associated R&B tune “Sticks and Stones,” sung by backup singer Mike Mattison. Mattison and Tedeschi then took on a cover of Derek & the Dominos’ “Keep On Growing,” as Trucks laid down licks that would make Eric Clapton proud.

The band then dug deep into the blues, taking Tedeschi back to her roots with a searing cover of Bobby Blue Bland’s “I Pity the Fool” – an appropriate choice, since Tedeschi shared her first ACL episode with Bland back in 1998, and one that allowed her to show off her own formidable six-string skills. Tedeschi Trucks Band ended the main set with “The Storm,” the centerpiece of second LP Made Up Mind. An extended intro gave Austin jazz king Ephraim Owens (last seen on our stage backing Mumford & Sons) plenty of space to bounce off of Trucks’ spurts of guitar, before Trucks and Tedeschi bashed out the blues-rocking main riff, the group locked into the 70s soul groove and there were solos all around. The crowd went wild – “They are on fire tonight!” enthused YouTube viewer LIZISHIELDS 1.

But of course, that wasn’t the end. As Tedeschi announced that it was their last show of the year, the band returned to the stage to close out the running themes. “Anyhow” was the final new song of the evening, and an easygoing, 70s-style soul groove it was. The show finally came to a climax with “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” the Ray Charles hit essayed by Cocker and his Mad Dogs and given new life by TTB via round robin vocal lines and a traditionalist bent to the original R&B arrangement. It was a slam-bang finish to a blazing set that both live and online audiences loved, and a fine way to bring our 41st taping season to a close. “Excellent direction,” commented YouTube viewer Stu Levitan. “Whole production excellent!” We can’t wait for you to see this performance when it airs as a full-hour episode on February 13th, 2016 on your local PBS station.

ACL artists at the 2016 Grammys

photo by Scott Newton

The nominations for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards are out now, and we’re pleased to see that a number of Austin City Limits’ distinguished guests have received top honors. Congratulations to Kendrick Lamar with eleven nominations: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song (twice), Best Rap Album, Best Pop/Sung Collaboration, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Dance Recording and Best Music Video (twice!). Also shout-outs to a number of Season 41 performers receiving well-deserved nominations, including Alabama Shakes, nominated for Album of the Year, Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Alternative Music Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical; Courtney Barnett, for Best New Artist, Angélique Kidjo, for Best World Music Album, Leon Bridges, for Best R&B Album, Don Henley, for Best American Roots Song and James Taylor, for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Kudos as well to the following ACL veterans who landed nominations: Florence + the Machine, John Legend, Ed Sheeran, Punch Brothers, Foo Fighters, Buddy Guy, Bela Fleck, the Mavericks, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Jason Isbell, Death Cab For Cutie, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Keith Urban, Kacey Musgraves, The Milk Carton Kids, Mavis Staples, Brandi Carlile, Lee Ann Womack, Hayes Carll, Ralph Stanley, Shemekia Copeland, Bettye LaVette, Patty Griffin, Glen Hansard of the Swell Season, Rhiannon Giddens and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Congratulations to them all.

Go here to see in what categories all these artists are nominated, as well as all the nominees.

Stay tuned to ACL to catch stellar performances from some of these fine folks in action in the coming weeks – Alabama Shakes kick off the second half of our Season 41 with a return appearance on January 2, Kendrick Lamar on January 9, Angélique Kidjo on January 23, Leon Bridges on February 6 and Ed Sheeran on February 27.

And don’t forget – our own executive producer Terry Lickona is also co-producer of the Grammy telecast, as well as the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy, the Grammys’ parent organization. The Grammy Awards broadcast on February 15th – Good luck to Terry and all the nominees!

Giveaway: Tedeschi Trucks Band 12/14

Tedeschi Trucks Band Featured photo

UPDATE: Giveaway is now over

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Tedeschi Trucks Band on Monday, Dec. 14th, 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, Dec. 10th. 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 or recording devices allowed in venue.

ACL to stream Tedeschi Trucks Band performance live on 12/14

Tedeschi Trucks Band Featured photo

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our final taping of Season 41, featuring roots rock giants Tedeschi Trucks Band live on Monday, Dec. 14, 8pm CT/9pm ET. The taping will webcast in its entirety via our YouTube channel, powered by Dell. 

TTB makes their ACL headlining debut on the eve of the release of their third full-length LP, Let Me Get By, on January 29th, 2016.  Led by the husband-and-wife team of singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi (who appeared twice on ACL as a solo artist) and guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks, the 12-piece outfit—one of the most deeply skilled and admired musical ensembles in the world—has quickly become the vanguard of modern roots music.  

Combining inspired Memphis soul, electric rhythm & blues, country, rock and classic song craft, Tedeschi Trucks Band has captured the admiration of both concert audiences and critics worldwide. Since their inception in 2010, TTB have seen both of their albums debut in the top 15 of the Billboard Top 200 album chart, and won a GRAMMY for their debut album Revelator, which was hailed by Rolling Stone as a “masterpiece.” They tour over 200 days a year, with such 2015 highlights as headlining their first Wheels of Soul amphitheater tour this past summer, four consecutive sold-out shows at the Beacon Theatre in NYC this fall, and a surprise appearance on the debut episode of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  In studio and on stage, TTB continue to flourish and surprise, and their highly-anticipated release, Let Me Get By, marks the beginning of another exciting chapter in the band’s storied tale.  

Let Me Get By is an album of firsts – in addition to being the first TTB record Trucks produced on his own, and the first on which he and Tedeschi wrote all the songs within the TTB family, it’s Trucks’ first album since his 15-year run as a member of the Allman Brothers concluded when the group disbanded last year. In Trucks’ own words, “That’s what I hear in the music on this new album – this feeling that we’re now putting 100% of what we have into this band, not going back to anything else, everyone giving it their all.”

The broadcast version of this show will air as our full-hour Season 41 finale February 13th, 2016 on PBS.  Join us for this highly-anticipated live webcast of the Austin City Limits debut of Tedeschi Trucks Band.

ACL announces second half of Season 41

photo by Scott Newton

The landmark television music series Austin City Limits announces the second half of Season 41, with seven brand-new shows to begin airing in January 2016. ACL has featured some of the most iconic performances in live music for over four decades, and continues with an ever more diverse line-up showcasing the most original and relevant music of today.  The program returns on Saturday, January 2nd at 8pm CT/9pm ET, ringing in the new year with a new installment featuring the return of powerhouse rockers Alabama Shakes and the debut of soul revivalists Vintage Trouble.  

A season highlight is multiple Grammy Award-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar making his first-ever appearance on the ACL stage. The hip-hop superstar dazzles in an epic hour with an explosive career-spanning set. Rock troubadour Ryan Adams, an ACL veteran who appeared in the milestone Season 40, returns with a special all-acoustic set, sharing an episode with acclaimed Austin indie-folk rocker Shakey Graves.  The extended line-up features a number of artists making ACL debuts, among them soul phenom Leon Bridges and breakout rock ‘n soul sensations Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats in a scorching double-bill. African music queen Angélique Kidjo captivates in a stunning hour of world music. Influential indie-rock trio Sleater-Kinney make their ACL debut sharing an episode with Austin’s own garage rockers Heartless Bastards, who return in their first appearance since their arresting 2009 debut. Roots rock giants Tedeschi Trucks Band close out the season in a must-see full-hour season finale.  

“With Grammy season heating up, we offer our own taste of some of ‘the best of the best’ in the year of music,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Kendrick Lamar showcases his hip-hop masterpiece, To Pimp A Butterfly; Angelique Kidjo is a world music superstar; and the rest of the season offers up everything from R&B to folk and indie rock.  This is one of our most diverse seasons ever.”

ACL’s Season 41 premiered in October with unforgettable performances from Sturgill Simpson, Asleep at the Wheel, Cassandra Wilson, Courtney Barnett, Gary Clark Jr., TV On The Radio, The War on Drugs, Don Henley, James Taylor and more. The award-winning series will continue to broadcast fan-favorite encore episodes through the end of 2015. In what has become an ACL holiday tradition, the program will encore Tom Waits’ legendary December 1978 performance, one of the most requested episodes in ACL’s 40+ year archive. Tune-in on December 19th to see this classic Christmas episode.

Season 41 | 2016 Broadcast Schedule

January 2 Alabama Shakes / Vintage Trouble

January 9 Kendrick Lamar

January 16 Ryan Adams / Shakey Graves

January 23 Angélique Kidjo

January 30 Sleater-Kinney / Heartless Bastards

February 6 Leon Bridges / Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

February 13 Tedeschi Trucks Band

Heartless Bastards return to ACL stage

photo by Scott Newton

Austin’s own Heartless Bastards first appeared on ACL in Season 35, showcasing the band’s critically-acclaimed first trio of LPs. For Erika Wennerstrom and company’s return to our stage, the group elected not to repeat itself, instead giving us a rocking program dedicated to its most recent albums Arrow and this year’s Restless Ones, in a taping that was streamed live around the world.

The band began with “Gates of Dawn,” a midtempo folk rocker with a perfect mix of acoustic and electric guitars.The propulsive “Got to Have Rock and Roll” followed, its title a hint of what was to come. Wennerstrom put her guitar down for “Wind Up Bird,” the ambitious opener of Restless Ones, title inspired by Haruki Murakami’s novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and featuring bird-like arm gestures buttressing the song’s lyrics. Wennerstrom donned her Les Paul for “Black Cloud,” pushing the song hard into the rock zone without coming close to bombast.   

Wennerstrom paused to reminisce about the last time the Bastards taped the show in 2009, before launching into “Journey,” a Restless tune inspired by author Dan Eldon’s The Journey is the Destination. The gentle “Pocket Full of Thirst” smoothed out the mood, as did the cosmic folk-pop of “The Fool” and the 70s-style country rock of “Skin and Bone.” The band stayed in the same vein for the lovely “Hi Line,” a different take on a song they did for a film soundtrack. The volume went back up, though, for the piano ‘n’ power rock stomper “Into the Light.”

After concentrating so much on Restless Ones, the Bastards shifted gears to predecessor Arrow for the last three songs of the main set. “Down in the Canyon” moved from heavy blues rock to something more expansive and back again for one of the show’s most poignant performances. Penultimate tune “The Arrow Killed the Beast” was soaked in the dusty atmosphere of the West Texas desert in which it was written. The groovy twang of “Only For You” brought the set to a crowd-pleasing close.

The band took advantage of the opportunity of the encore to re-do “Wind Up Bird” and “Black Cloud.” Remakes over, the Bastards treated the audience to the straightforward rock of “Parted Ways” before ending the show with the dreamy, enigmatic “Tristessa,” Wennerstrom alone onstage singing against looped feedback. The rest of the band rejoined her for a bow, and this remarkable show was brought to a close. We can’t wait for you to see it when it airs in January as part of our Season 41 on your local PBS station.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats’ explosive debut

photo by Scott Newton

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats seemingly exploded onto the scene with the infectious gospel-charged hit “S.O.B.” While the tune’s quick rise in popularity belies the Denver-based Rateliff’s years of hard work, it’s only the tip of the iceberg for this talented band. For its debut ACL taping, Stax/Volt met singer/songwriter craft for a searing set of tunes guaranteed to make your body move.

The seven-piece Night Sweats took the stage first, using horns and Hammond organ to establish an old-fashioned 60s R&B groove. Rateliff followed, donned his Telecaster and launched into “I Need Never Get Old,” a rousing mixture of pleading and obstinance. “Intro” delved deeper into that Southern soul groove, showcasing the band and Rateliff’s dancing skills. “Look It Here” dialed the tempo down to mid-, while still keeping the energy level high. The themes took a turn for the introspective on “I’ve Been Failing,” but the song’s self-criticism was still driven by funky grooves and a defiant “Don’t you weep/Don’t you worry” refrain. “Howling at Nothing” sounded like a couples’ swing on the dancefloor, spiced by Rateliff’s reverb-soaked guitar solo.

The band followed up with “Parlour,” a Muscle Shoals-soaked slice of soul-pop that would do Dan Penn proud. The rhythm ramped up for the rocking “Out On the Weekend,” which added a Van Morrisonesque feel to Rateliff’s gritty singing. “Mellow Out” moved back to the Sam Cooke era of soul music, while “Shake” added a late-night vibe with stinging lead guitar, juicy organ and a smoky groove. After giving a shout-out to his mom, who taught him how to dance and was present, Rateliff essayed the finger-popping “Thank You” and the rocking “Trying So Hard Not to Know.” The descending melody of “Wasting Time” gave the audience a chance to catch its breath, followed by band introductions. Then it was time for the breakout hit. The crowd immediately clapped along with the gospel fervor of “S.O.B.,” the irresistible hooks and singalong chorus raising the roof in fine style.

The band then left the stage, but the music didn’t: the audience continued “S.O.B.”’s “whoa-ohs” until the group returned. The Night Sweats joined the crowd’s groove, segueing into a soulful cover of The Band’s funky “The Shape I’m In” that garnered immediate cheers. Then it was back to “S.O.B.” for a coda highlighting the gospel call-and-response of the chorus. After that frenzy, Rateliff and the Night Sweats elected to send us out into the night via “What I Need,” an old-fashioned R&B ballad of the type that makes you want to hold your baby tight as the lights go down. It was a fitting end to the Night Sweats’ southern soul inspired show, and we’re excited for you to see it when it airs early next year as part of our Season 41 on your local PBS station.

Heartless Bastards taping livestreams on 11/23

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Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our taping with Heartless Bastards live on Monday, Nov. 23, 8pm CT/9pm ET. Powered by Dell, the taping will webcast in its entirety via our YouTube channel.

Heartless Bastards have spent the past decade in motion, boldly pushing their unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll into new shapes over four acclaimed albums and nearly non-stop roadwork. Now, with Restless Ones, the band sets out once again, blazing a path to a place of shifting moods, seasoned songcraft, and unbridled spontaneity. The Austin-based band’s fifth studio recording finds singer/songwriter Erika Wennerstrom exploring as-yet-unvisited avenues of sound and sensation, her bravery and ambition readily apparent in the emotional timbre and the sheer physicality of her songs. “We took a lot of chances,” Wennerstrom says, “taking the sounds in different directions in order to grow. I don’t ever want to make the same album twice.” Tracked in August 2014 during a 10-day session at El Paso’s renowned Sonic Ranch, Restless Onesis a statement of collective confidence and ambitious vision,” says Magnet. “These songs capture an outstanding band hitting its stride,” says AllMusic, “and growing more comfortable with the craft of record-making along with singing and playing great, passionate music.” Rich with purpose, passion, and commanding musicianship, Restless Ones captures an idiosyncratic band exploring their craft and soul in an effort to reach a place that’s both true and transcendent. Heartless Bastards continue to drive their monumental music ever forward, towards hidden vistas and horizons still unseen. Follow their journey with us.

The broadcast version of this show will air as part of our Season 41 on PBS.  Join us for this live webcast of the Austin City Limits return of Heartless Bastards.