Austin City Limits announces lineup for Season 44

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits announces a new season premiering October 6 with an an epic hour featuring innovative art-rock performer St. Vincent. ACL, officially the longest-running music program in television history, has provided viewers with a front-row seat to the best in performance for over 40 years, and continues its legendary run showcasing more stars, innovators and highly-anticipated debuts. The series airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide and full episodes are made available online for a limited time at pbs.org/austincitylimits immediately following the initial broadcast.

Austin City Limits returns to PBS on Saturday, October 6 at 9pm ET/8pm CT (check local listings) beginning Season 44 with the promise of another year of musical trailblazers and vanguards. This season features—among many—the amazing St. Vincent, in a visually and sonically stunning hour, and songwriting legend John Prine—making his eighth ACL appearance —showcasing his acclaimed new release and gems from his catalogue. A number of artists return including singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, who delivers a crowd-pleasing performance in a radiant hour; worldwide superstar Sam Smith who brings along mega-hits and some new songs from his sophomore release; and boundary-pushing country artist Kacey Musgraves, who shines while sharing the stories behind her songs. Austin City Limits continues its legacy of spotlighting music’s finest with debut appearances from Grammy-winning R&B star Miguel alongside the 2018 Grammy Awards Best New Artist Alessia Cara, along with standout singer-songwriters: soul/R&B singer Anderson East and roots rocker Lukas Nelson.

“The key to ACL’s marathon success story is our commitment to the best, most original music being created,” says longtime ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “No matter what gender, genre, style or era, we have always delivered a remarkable mix of compelling, heartfelt, and groundbreaking performers. Season 44 delivers on that promise once again.”

Season 44 Fall Broadcast Schedule (additional episodes to be announced):

Oct. 6   St. Vincent

Oct. 13 John Prine

Oct. 20 Sam Smith / Anderson East

Oct. 27 Brandi Carlile

Nov. 3   Miguel / Alessia Cara

Nov. 10 Kacey Musgraves / Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real

The complete line-up for the full 14-week season, including eight new episodes to air beginning December 31, 2018, will be announced at a later date. Austin City Limits continues to offer its popular livestreams of select performances for fans worldwide on ACL’s YouTube Channel. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding livestreams, future tapings and episode schedules.

Alessia Cara shines on debut ACL performance

photo by Scott Newton

Canadian singer/songwriter Alessia Cara shot to fame while still a teenager, scoring smash hits with collaborations with producer Zedd and rapper Logic as well as on her own, earning a coveted Best New Artist Grammy win earlier this year. The 22-year-old hit our stage not only to perform her hits, but also to preview songs from her much anticipated second LP The Pains of Growing.

Cara’s three piece band and trio of backup singers took the stage first for a mix of pre-recorded ambience and band warm-ups, before a voice offstage said “ACL, what’s up?” Wearing a loose suit that would make David Byrne proud, the Brampton, Ontario native arrived onstage singing the devotional pop tune “I’m Yours.” A freestanding tom appeared onstage for her to pound along with the band, the tribal rumble leading into the anthemic “Wild Things.” A funkier beat backed her as she sang “Four Pink Walls,” a tune about overcoming self-doubt and fulfilling dreams. Donning an acoustic guitar, Cara essayed the dramatic mid-tempo “Overdose,” then switched to a Les Paul for the soulful “Outlaws.” Once again axe-less, she recruited the audience on call-and-response for the beat-heavy “Seventeen,” a request the crowd was happy to fulfill.

Cara shifted gears for “Best Part,” a folky love song written by a fellow Toronto artist named Daniel Caesar. Her band quit the stage as she strapped on a guitar for “A Little More,” a new single from her forthcoming record that she mentioned having played only three or four times before. The crowd loved it, but that was nothing compared to the reaction to the next number. Her smash from the hit Disney film Moana, “How Far I’ll Go,” had the audience singing along from the first note. She followed that with her breakthrough hit, “Here,” her very first single and a song for everyone who doesn’t need to be part of the in crowd to feel alive – with a special bonus extra verse for a version distinct from what we’ve heard on the radio. Then came “Growing Pains,” the introspective but upbeat first single from the upcoming second LP due out this fall.

Cara’s second-to-last song carried a message about loving oneself and rejecting society’s attempts to disrupt that. “You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are,” she asserted in the pop anthem “Scars to Your Beautiful,” a huge hit and a song that really resonates. Then it was on to the final song “Stay,” another massive hit she shared with producer Zedd which erupted into an instant crowd singalong. Smoke bombs and streamers brought the tune and show to a close. It was a great debut, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall as part of our upcoming Season 44 on your local PBS station.

Trombone Shorty 9/26

photo by Mathieu Bitton

Part Jimi Hendrix, part James Brown and all New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is the bandleader and frontman of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, a hard-edged funk band that employs brass-band beats, rock dynamics and improvisation in a jazz tradition. read more

Buddy Guy 9/17

photo by Paul Natkin

Buddy Guy’s astounding career spans over fifty years with just as many albums released. read more

New tapings: Buddy Guy and Trombone Shorty

photo by Paul Natkin

Austin City Limits welcomes back a pair of singular artists with their own spins on traditional American musical forms: legendary blues guitarist/singer Buddy Guy on September 17, making his fifth appearance on the ACL stage, and soul/funk singer/horn player Trombone Shorty on September 26, making his third.

Buddy Guy’s astounding career spans over fifty years with just as many albums released. Career highlights include the 2015 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, seven Grammy Awards, 37 Blues Music Awards, Kennedy Center Honors, Billboard Music Awards’ Century Award, Presidential National Medal of Arts, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to name a few. The blues titan recently released his eighteenth solo LP, The Blues is Alive and Well, the acclaimed follow-up to his 2015 album Born To Play Guitar, which received “Best Blues Album” honors at the 2016 Grammy Awards, and debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Blues Album charts.  Produced by Guy’s longtime partner Tom Hambridge and featuring special guests Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck and James Bay, the new album is hailed “a heart-warming set from a cultural treasure” by Mojo. Rolling Stone raves, “Buddy Guy proves blues is alive and well,” while Uncut notes, “[Guy] stretches out into these songs, inhabiting them comfortably and casually, almost always finding a way to make the familiar sound fresh.” Guy will be the recipient of this year’s Americana Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Honor, and at 82 years young, proves unstoppable as he continues to record and tour around the world.

photo by Mathieu Bitton

Part Jimi Hendrix, part James Brown and all New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is the bandleader and frontman of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, a hard-edged funk band that employs brass-band beats, rock dynamics and improvisation in a jazz tradition. NPR hailed him as “New Orleans’ brightest new star in a generation,” and New York Magazine wrote that “Trombone Shorty takes in a century-plus worth of sounds—ragtime and jazz and gospel and soul and R&B and hip-hop—and attacks everything he plays with festive fervor.” His 2017 Blue Note Records debut Parking Lot Symphony contains multitudes of sound—from brass band blare and deep-groove funk to bluesy beauty and hip-hop/pop swagger—and plenty of emotion all anchored by stellar playing and the idea that, even in the toughest of times, as Shorty says, “Music brings unity.” OffBeat wrote that “Parking Lot Symphony continues Trombone Shorty’s personal tradition of stunningly good musicianship, crowd-pleasing good material and just plain good fun,” adding that “Andrews keeps the music close to his heart and his hometown.” To celebrate that hometown’s 300th birthday, its rich cultural heritage, and the bright future of its music, Trombone Shorty, Orleans Avenue and handpicked special guests are touring the nation as Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown. “New Orleans is the best place in the world,” says Shorty. “With this show, my friends and I want to spotlight New Orleans, bring joy and fun and partying to the nation, because that’s what New Orleans creates. That’s what our music is about.”

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 later this year as part of our upcoming Season 44.

Giveaway: Alessia Cara 8/2

photo by superduperbrick

UPDATE: Giveaway is now over

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Alessia Cara on August 2nd 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 July 31st.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pick up 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.

Sam Smith tops his previous ACL performance

photo by Scott Newton

When British sensation Sam Smith first visited the ACL stage in 2014 he was just beginning his U.S. rise, having already conquered his homeland. The soulful singer/songwriter returned as a fully-established worldwide superstar, showcasing his acclaimed sophomore LP The Thrill of It All and a hit parade of highlights in a dazzling, entertaining set.

As his five piece band hit the first notes, Smith, nattily-attired in a slim tan suit, and his quartet of backup singers took the stage for the doo-wopping “One Last Song.” The London native strode out onto the uniquely extended stage and had the rapt crowd sing the intro of the soulful “I’m Not the Only One,” letting the song become a call-and-response number by the end. After reminiscing about his first ACL appearance, which he called one of his favorite shows ever, he asked, “Can we beat that show?” The audience enthusiastically replied in the affirmative, leading into a standout “Lay Me Down,” the epic he described as the first song he wrote with longtime collaborator Jimmy Napes. Then most of the band members left the stage, leaving Smith with only piano and cello in support of the showstopping “Latch,” his hit collaboration with electronica duo Disclosure. The band and singers returned in full force for the sly gem “Money On My Mind,” followed by musician intros and a romp through “Like I Can,” which became a massive crowd sing- and clap-along. The charming and effervescent Smith wasn’t done with the audience yet, encouraging them to dance and sing with the sparkling pop/soul of “Restart.” “You guys, much love – that was amazing!” he smiled after the song concluded.

For the loping soul tune “Baby, You Make Me Crazy,” Smith generously threw the spotlight to his singers, letting them finish the tune. He returned for “Say It First,” a crowd-pleasing, widescreen pop tune about devotion. Smith and company went from romance to breakup, reclaiming the soul vibe for the heartbreak of “Midnight Train.” That was simply a warm-up, however, for “Him,” a stirring anthem for anyone refusing to be marginalized for being who they are. After that exhilarating emotional ride, he ended the main set with “Too Good at Goodbyes,” the jazzy top five single from Thrill that once again welcomed audience participation. The crowd went wild, unready for the show to end. Luckily, it wasn’t the end, as the band returned for the new album’s “Palace,” and Smith harmonized in an exquisite duet with knockout backup singer Lucy Jules. “It’s been four-and-a-half years since I released this song,” he grinned for the follow-up,” and I still love singing it as much as I ever have.” He meant the Grammy-winning breakthrough smash “Stay With Me,” of course, a perfect showcase for his massive vocals.  The audience accompaniment on the chorus worked the tune’s gospel feel and brought the house down.

You might think that’s how the show ended, but you’d be wrong. “I have to say – you’ve beaten my last Austin City Limits,” Smith remarked about the crowd’s enthusiasm. “That was incredible!” He ended the show with “Pray,” another gospel-flavored anthem that celebrated inclusion and the power of connection. Smith left the stage to a well-deserved standing ovation. It was a magnificent show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall as part of our Season 44 on your local PBS station.  

 

Giveaway: Sam Smith 7/23

Sam Smith 44 for blog

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Sam Smith on 7/23 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 July 19th.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pick up 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.