Cyndi Lauper shines in ACL’s 42nd season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents an irresistible hour with the ever-entertaining Cyndi Lauper, as she performs her mega-hits alongside classic country covers from her recently released Detour, her acclaimed eleventh studio album.

The pink-haired Lauper charms one and all in a sparkling hour featuring some of her best-known songs and the story behind her current country-flavored Detour. “I know a lot of you are thinking: what does Queens, New York have to do with anything country?” says the native East Coaster as she explores her love of vintage country & western, putting her unique spin on Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love,” Skeeter Davis’ “The End of the World,” Patsy Montana’s “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” and Bob Montgomery’s “Misty Blue”.  Lauper knocks out numbers from her own back catalog including a fevered version of “Money Changes Everything,” from her 1983 breakthrough She’s So Unusual, with the energetic hitmaker bopping across the stage, fueled by the enthusiastic Austin crowd. She delivers a gorgeous take on the 1984 ballad “Time After Time,” her first No. 1 hit.  Her signature anthem, the buoyant “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” turns into a riotous audience sing-a-long as the dancing Lauper proclaims from the stage, “We’re all entitled to a joyful life!”  The colorful star closes out the masterful set with a breathtaking a cappella version of her enduring—and timely—anthem, “True Colors,” extolling the virtues of diversity, with Lauper imploring the crowd to “be brave and kind—we need each other.”

photo by Scott Newton

“With Cyndi Lauper, what you see is what you get,” said longtime ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “And what you get is a totally unabashed, uninhibited, full-throated performance by one of the most unique artists in show business. Who knew she had such a perfect voice for such great country music classics? My only regret is there wasn’t time to include more of her side-splitting sense of humor.”

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 a brand new episode featuring the ACL debut of rising star Margo Price and the return of Texas favorite Hayes Carll.

Encore: Ms Lauryn Hill

Ms. Lauryn Hill ©KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a fan-favorite encore broadcast of one of the most acclaimed episodes in ACL history.  A rare hour with hip-hop/R&B icon Ms. Lauryn Hill, which premiered in August 2016 as a preview of the PBS music series’ Season 42, will be rebroadcast this weekend (check local listings).  Music fans everywhere will have the opportunity to revisit this instant classic, a must-see Season 42 standout. The performance was Ms. Hill’s debut appearance on the series, and the episode premiered to rave reviews:

“Phenomenal…probably one of the best performances to have graced the ACL studios”

i-D Magazine

“Showstopping…Hill and her stacked band deliver an electrifying take” Rolling Stone

“One of the best in the show’s history” Hot New Hip-Hop

“Her performance makes clear why she’s one of the all-time greats…Hill and her band are on-a-dime perfect” Crave

“A masterful performance…electrifying” Stereogum

“Stunning” Vibe

“The songstress (and MC) displays her strongest gifts in one of her best performances in years” Ambrosia For Heads

“Fantastic” Slate

“Dazzling set” Consequence of Sound

“The year’s best hour of televised music” Indianapolis Star  

In a performance for the ages, the trailblazing Ms. Lauryn Hill dazzles the Austin crowd with a career-spanning  set culled from her landmark release The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and her pioneering work with the Fugees, one of the best-selling hip-hop acts in history. Opening the emotional set with her solo hit “Ex-Factor,” the multiple Grammy-winning singer and songwriter performs stunning versions of her biggest hits and fan favorites. One of the greatest MCs of all time, Hill has the crowd on their feet with the opening notes of “Fu-Gee-La” for an explosive take on the Fugees classic, weaving “Austin, I love you like no other before” into the lyric. Hill commands the stage, backed by a 12-piece band and performs a gorgeous cover of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” before closing out her unforgettable performance with the crowd-pleaser “Doo Wop (That Thing),” proving she’s still one of the most powerful artists in music today.  

photo by Scott Newton

“Every Lauryn Hill performance is special,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and an hour of Ms. Hill on the ACL stage is nothing less than historic. She pours her heart and soul and every ounce of energy into every minute, and it shows. There’s nobody else quite her!”

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 a brand new episode featuring the ACL debut of the one and only Cyndi Lauper.

Celebrate the new year with ACL’s Hall of Fame 2016

photo by Scott Hoffman

Austin City Limits rings in the new year with a star-studded evening, hosted by comedy duo Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, featuring one-of-a-kind performances and collaborations from the third annual ACL Hall of Fame Inductions and Celebration. ACL royalty Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Gary Clark Jr., Rodney Crowell, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and more share the stage for one epic night to perform in honor of the newest class of inductees: Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King. This special hour, taped October 12, 2016, honors the artists who’ve helped make the award-winning TV series an American music institution.  

The special kicks off with a tribute to songwriting great Kris Kristofferson, who first appeared on the series in 1982, as Rodney Crowell honors the legend with a powerful reading of his classic “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” Willie Nelson salutes his longtime friend and collaborator with a moving version of  Kristofferson’s signature “Me and Bobby McGee.” Mavis Staples takes the stage to toast Bonnie Raitt, calling her “my sister,” and the two icons perform a spirited duet of Bob Dylan’s call for social change, “Well Well Well,” before teaming with blues legend Taj Mahal for the Raitt smash “Thing Called Love.”  ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons honors his friend and mentor B.B. King with a fiery take on the blues giant’s “You Upset Me, Baby” backed by King’s longtime band.  Blues-soul sensation Gary Clark Jr. then joins Raitt for an electrifying “The Thrill Is Gone,” as the two guitar slingers trade verses and solos on the late, great bluesman’s anthem, bringing the house down.  “I know B.B. is smiling down on us,” says Raitt.  “This one’s for him.”

The entire cast takes the ACL stage for a grand finale featuring the blues classic, “Every Day I Have The Blues,” a song B.B. King performed on his iconic 1983 Austin City Limits debut.  The celebration of music comes to an epic close complete with fireworks, and the two-dozen strong ensemble ringing in the new year with the holiday classic “Auld Lang Syne.”

photo by Scott Newton

“We created the Hall of Fame as a way to celebrate our 40th anniversary, and since then it’s really taken on a life of its own,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “The artists feel truly honored, and it gives us a chance to recognize their contributions to our legacy. And beyond that it’s a magical night of music and unique collaborations.”

Tune in this weekend for this special, 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 encore of our landmark episode featuring R&B superstar Ms. Lauryn Hill.

ACL Announces Complete Season 42 Broadcast Schedule

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits announces the second half of Season 42, with seven all-new shows to begin airing New Year’s Eve as part of the program’s fourteen-episode season. Providing viewers with a front-row seat to the best in music performance for over 40 years,  the series continues the legendary run showcasing more icons, innovators and highly-anticipated debuts.  

The program returns to new episodes on Saturday, December 31 with a special broadcast, Austin City Limits Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve. Austin City Limits rings in the new year with the star-studded celebration, hosted by comedy super-couple Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, featuring one-of-a-kind performances and collaborations from the 2016 ACL Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. Performers include ACL royalty Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Kris Kristofferson and Gary Clark Jr.

photo by Scott Newton

The season continues with hip-hop/R&B trailblazer Ms. Lauryn Hill in a towering performance that previewed this summer to critical acclaim. Hitmaker Cyndi Lauper debuts on the ACL stage in an entertaining hour of classic hit songs and the stories behind them. The extended line-up features Nashville rebels Margo Price and Hayes Carll in a powerhouse double-bill that forecasts country’s future. Indie rockers Band of Horses return for their second appearance, sharing an episode with Americana breakout singer/songwriter Parker Millsap. Gospel legend CeCe Winans shines in a stunning ACL debut, paired with acclaimed soul sensations St. Paul & The Broken Bones. The season finale features U.K. alt.rock phenom Foals and the fifth appearance by rock troubadour Alejandro Escovedo, who first-appeared on the series in 1983 and is joined by R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck.

“The secret to becoming the longest-running music series in television history is to capture one-of-a-kind performances from legendary artists and newcomers alike, and share them with an audience of diehard music fans everywhere,” said long-time executive producer Terry Lickona. “As usual, Season 42 wraps up with a little something for everybody, from megastars and legends to indie originals, and with a nod to our rich past.”

Season 42 | 2017 Broadcast Schedule

December 31 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve

January 7 Ms. Lauryn Hill

January 14 Cyndi Lauper

January 21 Margo Price | Hayes Carll

January 28 Band of Horses | Parker Millsap

February 4 CeCe Winans | St. Paul & The Broken Bones

February 11 Foals | Alejandro Escovedo

photo by Scott Newton

ACL’s Season 42 premiered in October with unforgettable performances from Iggy Pop, Paul Simon, Robert Plant, Florence + The Machine, My Morning Jacket, Rhiannon Giddens, Andra Day, Ben Harper, James Bay, Grupo Fantasma and more. The award-winning series will continue to broadcast fan-favorite encore episodes through the end of 2016. 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 24th to see this classic Christmas episode.

Alejandro Escovedo rocks ACL Season 42 to a close

photo by Scott Newton

When we wrap production of a season of Austin City Limits, it’s always nice to do it with an old friend – in this case, singer/songwriter Alejandro Escovedo, a beloved staple of the Austin music scene since the early 80s and four-time ACL champ.  Joining fans around the world via our livestream, Escovedo hit our stage for a rockin’ show in support of his highly acclaimed new album Burn Something Beautiful.

He was joined for the occasion by the album’s stellar band: guitarist Peter Buck (R.E.M., season 34), bassist Scott McCaughey (R.E.M., The Minus 5), lead guitarist Kurt Bloch (the Fastbacks), drummer John Moen (the Decemberists, seasons 33 and 37) and singer Kelly Hogan (Neko Case, seasons 29 and 39), as well as his stalwart harmony singer Karla Manzur.  Performing nearly the entire album, Escovedo and company brought a perfect end to Season 42.

The three-guitar army blazing at full force, the band hit the stage with “Heartbeat Smile,” the kind of neo-classic rocker Escovedo is so good at. He followed with the more wistful “Sunday Morning Feeling,” which still encouraged waving lighters. Escovedo slowed things down literally and figuratively with “I Don’t Want to Play Guitar Anymore,” a contemplation of mortality and retirement that never felt sad. The blood pumped again via the brash “Beauty of Your Smile,” Bloch and McCaughey pogoing during the verses, before the band roared into the thumping Escovedo hit “Castanets,” highlighted by a fiery Bloch solo.

After band introductions, Escovedo donned his acoustic guitar for a pair of ballads, beginning with the lovely “Suit of Lights,” featuring Hogan’s dulcet tones on one verse. “Sensitive Boys,” Escovedo’s tribute to the folks who make rock & roll their world, kept the mellow but soulful vibe going, as did the midtempo “Farewell to the Good Times,” another look at the aging rock star life. Dedicated to the late U.K.-to-Austin expatriates Ronnie Lane and Ian McLagen, “Beauty and the Buzz” scanned wistful, reflective and beautiful.

Switching out his acoustic for his electric, Escovedo and band brought a party vibe to the rock with “Shave the Cat,” keeping the volume up for the rolling, dreamy “Johnny Volume” and its gnarly Bloch leads. The main set ended with a one-two punch: the thumping “Luna De Miel” and the anthemic “Horizontal,” which brought the proceedings to a close with a howl of feedback. Unsurprisingly, the crowd went wild.

Escovedo and the band returned, welcoming the Burn Something Beautiful Girls Choir to the stage. McCaughey took to the piano and Buck the ebow for the shimmering ballad “Thought I’d Let You Know,” featuring a free jazz piano solo. Then the musicians blasted into “Always a Friend,” the singalong rocker that’s become Escovedo’s signature tune. One re-do of “Beauty and the Buzz” later, Escovedo and his band of merry men and women sent the satiated audience out into the night. “I’ll always come back to Austin,” the local music scene vet enthused at the end. It was a great show, 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.

Giveaway: ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO 11/30

photo by Nancy Rankin Escovedo

UPDATE: Giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping performances by ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO on Wednesday, Nov. 30th, 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 9 am on Monday, Nov. 28th.

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 livestream Alejandro Escovedo taping

Alejandro-Escovedo_square

Austin City Limits closes out a banner Season 42 with something beautiful: a livestream of Austin legend and four-time ACL veteran Alejandro Escovedo on November 30. The taping will be streamed live in its entirety directly from the Austin City Limits stage.  Fans everywhere can watch the concert November 30 at 8pm CT/9 pm ET on ACLTV’s YouTube channel as it happens.  

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Escovedo returns to our stage in support of Burn Something Beautiful, his twelfth solo album. Recorded in Portland, OR with R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and the Minus 5’s Scott McCaughey as co-writers and producers, Burn Something Beautiful is at once a celebration of the rock & roll life, a contemplation of mortality and a tribute to the healing power of love. The project coalesced beautifully with the help of an esteemed group of musicians who give the album a band feel, including ACL vets Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Kelly Hogan (Neko Case), John Moen (the Decemberists) and Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney). Connecting repeatedly with his soulful heart and voice at its core, Burn Something Beautiful is Alejandro Escovedo at his very best. The San Antonio native is, of course, no stranger to ACL – he has been on the show four times previously, starting as a member of Austin cowpunk legends Rank and File when they debuted on the show in 1983. For this appearance he’ll be joined by Buck, McCaughey, the Fastbacks’ Kurt Bloch, the Decemberists’ John Moen and Neko Case backup singer Kelly Hogan. We’re thrilled to welcome him back.

Please join us November 30 for this full-set livestream on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air early next year as part of our current Season 42 on PBS.

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

photo by Scott Newton

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.