Miguel brings eclectic soul to the ACL stage

photo by Scott Newton

Standing proudly in the vanguard of contemporary R&B artists, Miguel has garnered massive critical acclaim since his emergence in 2011. The Los Angeles native describes his eclectic sound as  “fly, funkadelic, intergalactic-hip-hop-meets-sexy-orgasmic crazy, dope shit,” and that’s a fair approximation of the sonic waves Miguel brought to the Moody Theater stage for his debut ACL taping, which we streamed live around the world.

With his four-piece band (clad all in white), Miguel took the stage in a trench coat and launched into the rocking “Criminal,” from his latest album War & Leisure. He stepped back to his breakthrough LP Kaleidoscope Dream for the equally vibrant “The Thrill” and the bouncing “How Many Drinks?,” updating classic R&B sounds for the twenty-first century. Ditching his trenchcoat, he and the band went immediately into the poppy “Banana Clip,” keeping the groove and melody flowing. After that uninterrupted salvo, Miguel paused to hail ACL and the audience, who came out in force on a Sunday night. After explaining how his bi-ethnic heritage formed his perspective and how he writes songs about his experiences on the journey to his current success, he cheekily followed with the sardonic “Do You Like…” (drugs, that is), frosting it with reggae, his soaring falsetto and a quick snippet of Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie.” Then the singer jumped all the way back to the beginning with “Sure Thing,” from his first LP All I Want is You. That set the stage for the Grammy Award-winning “Adorn,” his anthemic breakthrough hit that became a dynamic call-and-response singalong.

Miguel kept the widescreen feel going with the power chord-driven “Simple Thing,” taken from his wildly extolled third record Wildheart. Most of the band exited the stage, leaving just Miguel with guitarist Josh J. strapping on his acoustic for the stripped-down “Now,” a politically-charged tune about cultivating positivity in troubled times. “Now back to our regularly scheduled programming,” he said as the band returned. With his musicians laying down some atmosphere, Miguel talked about growing up with a foot in two different cultures and the lessons he learned from it. After instructing the audience in the song’s interactivity, he ripped into the blazing “Waves,” encouraging everyone in the house and on the web to ride their own wave. After that explosion, the only thing to do was to bring things down with the sexy ballad “Come Through and Chill.” “Nasty,” he smiled after the audience indulged in some provocative call-and-response. Miguel followed that with “Pineapple Skies,” a clear audience favorite. But that was merely a scene-setter for his current smash hit “Skywalker.” You gotta stay up!” he exhorted the eager crowd, and they did through the course of this powerhouse, show-closing anthem. The audience went nuts by the end, chanting “One more song” – to no avail, alas. Still, it was a hell of a show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.  

Lukas Nelson expands on family tradition for his debut ACL

photo by Scott Newton

The great Willie Nelson has been a mainstay of Austin City Limits since the 1974 pilot  – indeed, many of us think of him as ACL’s patron saint. It was inevitable that some of Willie’s kids would follow in his footsteps, not only in music, but onto our storied stage. Lukas Nelson is not merely a chip off the old block, however. With his band Promise of the Real, the 28-year old singer, songwriter and guitar-slinger has regularly backed Neil Young and built his own legacy over the course of a decade with five albums and a handful of EPs. Nelson the younger recorded his debut ACL episode in support of his and POTR’s acclaimed 2017 eponymous album, which formed the heart of the show that we streamed live around the world.

“You ever watch that show Rick & Morty?” said Nelson as he strapped on his guitar. “I wrote a song after watching it and I want you to hear it.” With that, he and the five-piece Promise of the Real (plus special guest Micah Nelson, Lukas’ brother) launched into the unrecorded song “Entirely Different Stars,” a psychedelic anthem that included plenty of fireworks from Nelson and steel guitarist Jesse Siebenberg and a coda redolent of Nelson’s native Hawaii. The frisky country rocker “Die Alone” revved the engines back up, while “Fool Me Once” took the same tack with a choogling tempo and sardonic lyrics. Nelson and company visited the other side of the law with “Runnin’ Shine,” with the scion really showing off his vocal resemblance to the father. “Caroline” showed an affectionate debt to the Texas singer/songwriter tradition, while “Lil Girl” incorporated reggae into the band’s rocking Americana.

“Four Letter Word” married clever wordplay with an expanded Nelson guitar solo, including a quick snippet of the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The band brought the rock back for “Something Real,” including more six-string magic. Then the Real quit the stage, leaving the Austin-born Nelson alone with an acoustic guitar for the crowd-pleasing “Just Outside of Austin,” a song destined to be a mainstay in his set for decades. Nelson underscored the Austin connection by soulfully covering Willie’s “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” garnering an audience reaction as loud ‘n’ proud as that for “Austin.” Nelson then sang Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold,” paying tribute to his sometime employer, for whom he and the rest of Promise of the Real have provided backup for the last few years. He wasn’t done with other folks’ tunes yet, though, as he then went into Tom Petty’s “Breakdown,” connecting his father’s distinctive vocal style with the late classic rocker’s.

P of the R returned to the stage for “Forget About Georgia,” a melancholy country song that bespeaks driving all night and thinking too much about the love left behind. Nelson left heartbreak behind for the skanking kiss-off “Find Yourself,” which became an enthusiastic crowd singalong. A faithful cover, complete with a cappella intro, of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes” was a surprise, giving bassist Corey McCormick and percussionist Tato Melgar chances to show their stuff. The spotlight then turned to steel guitarist Jesse Siebenberg, who provided an extended intro to “Set Me Down On a Cloud,” returning the band to the kind of elegiac anthemry with which they began. Nelson reclaimed his acoustic guitar for the gentle ballad “Turn Off the News,” before sending the appreciative audience into the night with the Southern rock singalong “The Awakening.” It was a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs in ACL’s forty-fourth, only on your local PBS station.       

ACL to live stream R&B star Miguel’s July 8 taping

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Austin City Limits is excited to announce that we will be live streaming the upcoming debut taping from R&B singer/songwriter Miguel on July 8 here on the ACL TV YouTube channel.  

Over the last decade, Miguel has established himself as one of R&B’s most sonic fabulists, a consummate artist unafraid to follow his impulses wherever they lead him. The Los Angeles native’s mix of funk, rock, hip-hop and electronica has garnered him frequent comparisons to Prince and Babyface. Miguel’s fourth studio full-length, War & Leisure, is his most ambitious and stunning project yet, a perfect blend of forward-thinking production and melodic delights that more than embody the duality hinted at in the album’s title. Miguel conceived these twelve pop gems as perfectly blending the skyward pop of 2012’s Kaleidoscope Dream (which netted him a Best R&B Song Grammy win in 2013 for its astounding single “Adorn”) and the restless, moody vibes of 2015’s Wildheart—reflecting the true Miguel experience for both listeners and the album’s creator. “On every project, I’m trying to paint a picture for my future self to go back, listen, and remember my experiences and how I was perceiving the world through music,” he states on the mercurial meeting point that War & Leisure reaches. “Kaleidoscope Dream and Wildheart are two sides of the same coin, and this is me taking those sounds and applying all the energy I’m feeling most from those two contrasts.” This is Miguel fusing the two halves of his creative id—the restless experimentalist and the crowd-pleasing hitmaker that millions of fans adore—to reach a new peak in artistic achievement.

Join us on July 8 for this full set live stream of Miguel’s debut taping here on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air on PBS this fall as part of our upcoming Season 44.

Alessia Cara 8/2

photo by superduperbrick

Austin City Limits welcomes the 2018 Grammy Award-winner for Best New Artist: acclaimed singer/songwriter Alessia Cara, who will hit the stage in her debut taping on August 2, showcasing songs from her highly-anticipated new album alongside chart-topping career highlights. read more

New taping: Alessia Cara

photo by superduperbrick

Austin City Limits welcomes the 2018 Grammy Award-winner for Best New Artist: acclaimed singer/songwriter Alessia Cara, who will hit the stage in her debut taping on August 2, showcasing songs from her highly-anticipated new album alongside chart-topping career highlights.

Following a groundbreaking run of six global platinum hits, the 21-year old Canadian recently released “Growing Pains,” the debut single from her forthcoming sophomore album, out later this year.  The entire LP was written solely by Cara and features two songs self-produced by the Grammy Award winning artist. “I really thought it’d be cool to have a nice challenge to see if I can write something, like a whole project, on my own,” she tells Rolling Stone.  “It’s something that I wanted to see if I could do.”  

Cara catapulted onto the charts in late 2015 with her spellbinding, multi-platinum smash “Here,” from her breakout platinum debut album KNOW-IT-ALL, which also spawned the chart-topping global hit “Scars To Your Beautiful.” For Alessia’s legions of die-hard fans, “Growing Pains” is the long-awaited follow-up to the 4x-platinum “1-800-273-8255,” her hit collab­o­­­ration with fellow Def Jam artist Logic, one of 2017’s landmark singles with over 1.5 billion streams worldwide. Along with “Stay”—her Grammy-nominated double-platinum #1 pop collaboration with Zedd—and a parade of hits, Alessia has generated over 7 billion global streams to date, becoming the most-streamed new female artist of 2017.

Known for stripped down, powerful live shows, Cara closed out this year’s Grammy broadcast joined by collaborators Logic and Khalid, in a show-stopping, emotional performance of  the Grammy-nominated anti suicide song “1-800-273-8255”. Still at the beginning of what promises to be a remarkable career, we’re thrilled to showcase this stunning new artist on the ACL stage.

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.

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real’s debut taping to live stream July 2

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Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce that we will be live streaming the upcoming debut taping from Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real on July 2 here on the ACL TV YouTube channel.  

After more than a decade on the road barnstorming across the U.S and around the world, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real have developed into one of America’s most dazzling live acts, attracting a dedicated, ever expanding following.  

Still, with a bounty of invaluable experience under their belts, nothing foretold the artistic leap of their latest album, the self-titled Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, a mesmerizing, emotionally genuine, endlessly rewarding slice of cosmic country soul.  Released via Fantasy Records last summer, the widely acclaimed album draws on many of Lukas’ country and rock influences including literate Texas songsmiths like his dad, Willie Nelson, ‘uncles’ Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings, and iconoclasts such as J.J. Cale, The Band, Clapton-era Delaney & Bonnie and of course, the band’s mentor Neil Young, for whom the young devotees have toured and recorded with the past few years.   

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real features Lukas Nelson (guitar, vocals), Tato Melgar (percussion), Anthony LoGerfo (drums), Corey McCormick (bass, vocals) and Jesse Siebenberg (steel guitars, Farfisa organ, vocals) along with back-up vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Lessig of the indie-pop group Lucius, and Lady Gaga who added stirring vocals to two of the album’s 12 tracks.  The album’s lilting, Glen Campbell inspired gem, “Just Outside of Austin” also features a classic Willie Nelson guitar solo, and piano from Lukas’ 86-year-old Aunt Bobbi.

“Their latest displays a newfound confidence, brokering country-soul, Southern rock and R&B with some panache,” proclaimed Uncut.  “The band’s best work, the record is a huge leap forward for Nelson,” raved Entertainment Weekly, and American Songwriter declared, “Ultimately, Lukas is carrying on Willie’s tradition, pushing the outlaw boundaries his famous father established in the ’70s and proving that the musical apple truly does not fall far from the tree.”

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real were recently honored with a 2018 Americana Music Awards nomination for Group of the Year.

Join us on July 2 for this full set live stream of Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real’s debut taping here on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air on PBS this fall as part of our upcoming Season 44.

Anderson East brings heavy soul to his debut ACL taping

photo by Scott Newton

Singer/songwriter Anderson East hails from Alabama and resides in Nashville, and he brings serious firepower to every note he sings. Armed with his acclaimed new album Encore (produced by Dave Cobb, who’s helmed records by Zac Brown Band, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, John Prine, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and others who’ve been on the show in the last two years), East gave the audience a strong shot of soul on his debut Austin City Limits taping, which we streamed live around the world.

Taking the stage in a snakeskin jacket, East and his eight-piece band immediately paid tribute to the ACL legacy by opening with Willie Nelson’s “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces,” giving it a funky soul ballad reading. Putting his acoustic guitar aside, East dug into the songbook of the late, great Ted Hawkins for the raucous stomper “Sorry You’re Sick.” That Southern soul energy kept running for “Surrender,” featuring fireworks from East and singers Whitney Coleman and Kristen Rogers. Donning his guitar and welcoming a four-piece string section (led by Nashville’s Kristin Wilkinson, here a couple of months ago with Brandi Carlile), East sang a song “about how I feel tonight” – the mid-tempo charmer “King For a Day.” Guitarist Scotty Murray donned an electric dobro for the lighter-waving ballad “Devil in Me,” while keyboardist Philip Towns powered the gospel groover “Learning” with some seriously funky organ.  

After that tour-de-force, East went back to ballad territory for “If You Keep Leaving Me,” which sounded like a vintage Otis Redding cover. The strings returned for “Without You,” another heartbreaker that filled the room with sound. The musicians revved up again for the swaggering “Girlfriend,” which segued directly into the funky “All On My Mind,” both of which showed off the band as much as East’s prodigious pipes. The singer went back to his Southern soul roots for his hit “Satisfy Me,” which could have been a long-lost gem from the Stax catalog of the sixties and was a clear crowd favorite.

“I’ve been watching this show for a long time, and I never thought I’d be on it,” remarked East, before launching into the set-closing “This Too Shall Last,” a widescreen ballad highlighted by Murray and East trading guitar solos that brought the cheering crowd to its feet. After that reaction, more was required, and East, band and strings returned for “House is a Building” (“then home is a feeling”), which built on Towns’ jazzy piano to East’s powerhouse vocal climaxes. “Thanks for making us feel at home tonight,” East said, and the audience made sure he knew the feeling was mutual. It was a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs as part of our forty-fourth season on PBS.

Wild Child brings upbeat energy to the ACL stage

photo by Scott Newton

When Austin City Limits first hit the air in the mid-70s, it was all about showcasing the burgeoning Austin music scene. So it always makes us happy to welcome another rising star from our own backyard. In support of this year’s fourth album Expectations, Wild Child hit our stage with youthful energy and an eclectic, genre-spanning performance, which we streamed live around the world.

Taking the stage to pre-recorded disco, the band went into “Fools,” a midtempo folk popper. Perpetually smiling singer/violinist Kelsey Wilson and cellist Sadie Wolfe brought their instruments forcefully to bear on “The Tale of You & Me,” a more rocking tune. Wilson and co-writer/singer/ukelele player Alexander Beggins brought their voices close on the playful “Alex,” before the tempo dropped and the emotion rose for the lush ballad “Eggshells.” Wilson welcomed a three-piece horn section and her singing younger sister Skylar to the stage for another ballad, the undulating “Rillo Talk.” The sibling harmony continued on the sweetly rolling “Break You Down” and the peppy “1996.” Beggins took the lead vocals for “Stitches,” a tune inspired by too much time away from home.

The band and the horn section quit the stage, leaving Wilson and Beggins by themselves onstage to duet on the sweet ‘n’ sour, asides-filled romance of “The One.” Beggins then moved to the piano for “Break Bones,” the best showcase yet for Wilson’s pretty voice. The rest of the duo’s compadres returned for “My Town” and “Follow Me,” more ballads for Wilson to make her own. “Take It” brought the energy level back up, and the funky “Back & Forth” rode the wave. The energized piano pop of “Crazy Bird” set the stage for the radio hit “Think It Over,” as sweet a tune as the airwaves can receive.  

The band stripped down to guitars and vocals for the harmony-laden, shimmering fan favorite “Sinking Ship.” Beggin switched from uke to guitar for the closing “Expectations,” a funky, melodic charmer that got the crowd roaring. The group quit the stage, but of course, that didn’t mean it was over. Wild Child returned to the stage for “Bad Girl,” a frisky folk/pop number dedicated to Wilson’s niece, who was in the house. It was a nicely upbeat way to end the show, which we can’t wait for you to see when it airs in our 44th season on your local PBS station.