ACL to livestream My Morning Jacket taping on 5/2

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Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our third taping with My Morning Jacket live, powered by Dell, on May 2 at 8pm CT/9 pm ET. Fans around the world can watch the concert on  ACLTV’s  YouTube channel as it happens.

My Morning Jacket are old friends of Austin City Limits. Not only has the band been featured twice, in 2006 and 2008, but dynamic leader Jim James has appeared four additional times, as a solo headliner, with Monsters of Folk and as a special guest of Bright Eyes and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. For their first collective appearance in eight years, the eclectic Kentucky group focus both on material recorded for their most recent album The Waterfall, which the New York Times called “a consolidation of the band’s strengths” and Salon hailed as “the Louisville band’s best, most ambitious and most nuanced effort in more than a decade,” and previews of its upcoming 2016 LP.  

Please join us on May 2 on our ACLTV YouTube channel as we welcome back My Morning Jacket.

New taping: Paul Simon

photo by Mary Ellen Matthews

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the first-ever appearance by music legend Paul Simon, who is set to tape his ACL debut on Thursday, May 12th, 2016.

An artist whose work has had a profound effect on music and culture, Simon is one of the most successful and respected songwriters in popular music history.  Almost thirty years since the release of his landmark album Graceland, Simon continues his musical and sonic exploration on his highly anticipated 13th solo album, Stranger to Stranger, which is set for release via Concord Records on June 3rd, 2016. Produced by Simon and longtime musical partner Roy Halee, Stranger to Stranger is full of thrilling textures that feel fresh and modern, while still offering subtle and artful allusions to our shared musical past. “Its about making music that sounds old and new at the same time – music with a sense of mystery,” Simon explains of the new album, his first new studio recording since 2011’s widely acclaimed So Beautiful or So What.  “Sound is the theme of this album as much as it’s about the subjects of the individual songs. If people get that, I’ll be pleased.  The right song at the right time can live for generations. A beautiful sound – well, that’s forever.”

We can’t wait for this historic appearance, as we welcome Paul Simon to the ACL stage for the very first time.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

Rhiannon Giddens does it all on ACL debut

photo by Scott Newton

Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, interpreter – Rhiannon Giddens does it all on her acclaimed solo debut Tomorrow is My Turn. We were thrilled to host the Carolina Chocolate Drops member for her livestreamed debut ACL taping, and the NC native didn’t disappoint.

A barefoot Giddens and her seven-piece Americana orchestra took the stage to already enthusiastic applause. Donning her banjo, she and the band launched into the dramatic “Spanish Mary,” a Bob Dylan song Giddens finished for the all-star New Basement Tapes project. An accidentally muted fiddle meant an immediate retake – “Here’s a tune you may have heard before,” Giddens quipped – but the eager crowd clearly didn’t mind, and was rewarded with a tougher, grittier performance. She then moved to Tomorrow for the jaunty, fiddle-heavy “Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind” from the catalog of the great Dolly Parton, “one of the most feminist writers out there.” She stayed with classic country for a stirring take on Hank Cochran’s sad and beautiful “She’s Got You,” made famous by the iconic Patsy Cline, before turning to the catalog of folk singer Odetta for the African-American work song “Waterboy,” a powerful showcase for her classically-trained vocal chops. She closed out the Tomorrow portion of the evening with a rumbling version of the Geeshie Wiley blues “Last Kind Words” that spotlighted her Drops bandmate Hubby Jenkins on mandolin.

Giddens then dug into her own growing catalog of originals for “Julie.” Inspired by a book of slave narratives, the tune recounts a conversation between a slave and her mistress, a performance stripped down to Dirk Powell’s fiddle and her own banjo, which is a replica of a 19th-century instrument. The rest of the band rejoined them as Giddens switched to fiddle and Powell (a folk and traditional music star in his own right) picked up his accordion for the Creole tune “Dimanche Apres-Midi” (“Sunday Afternoon Waltz”). Giddens and the band rocked up the folk for “Louisiana Man,” a snarling romantic putdown from Giddens’ own pen that bore down thanks to the circle of her banjo, Powell’s fiddle, Jason Sypher’s bass and Chance McCoy’s electric guitar. Jenkins then stepped forward to join Giddens on vocals for the gospel song “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” which he brought to the Drops’ repertoire.

Giddens went back to her own catalog for the chilling “At the Purchaser’s Option,” a dark tune inspired by a 19th century advertisement for a slave and her baby and frosted by Malcolm Parson’s scraping cello. After ten songs chronicling American folk, she crossed the ocean for one of the musical strains at its root, closing the set with a stunning performance of traditional Gaelic “Mouth Music” that brought the house down. A standing ovation brought Giddens and the band back, wherein she explained that this was the band’s last show of the year and how thankful she was for her band and the paths on which her music has taken her. Following hugs all around for the musicians, Gidden and friends launched into a medley of “That Lonesome Road” and “Up Above My Head” from the catalog of pioneering gospel singer/proto rock & roll guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe – a rollicking call-and-response closer with solos all around. The crowd sent the band out with wild cheers and applause, all well-deserved. It was a rousing closer to a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall as part of our Season 42 on your local PBS station.    

ACL to livestream Rhiannon Giddens’ taping debut

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Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our taping with Americana sensation Rhiannon Giddens live on April 25 at 8pm CT/9 pm ET. Fans around the world can watch the concert on  ACLTV’s  YouTube channel as it happens.

Rhiannon Giddens makes her highly-anticipated ACL debut performing tracks from her release Tomorrow Is My Turn, a 2016 Grammy nominee for Best Folk Album. The widely acclaimed album, produced by T Bone Burnett, marks Giddens’ solo debut after a decade as a founding member and leader of the Grammy-winning string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  Rolling Stone calls the debut “a spiritual archaeology of American racial and economic struggle via sublime covers of songs identified with Nina Simone, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Elizabeth Cotten.”  The Piedmont, NC native and classically trained singer has chosen from a broad array of songs associated with the female artists who are her musical and spiritual forebears for an album that serves both as patchwork autobiography and as a tribute to these artists and their legacies. “The strength of American music is in bringing all these things together—Celtic, gospel, jazz, folk—all these things that make American music great,” she says. “Putting them side by side and having a production that pulls it all into a cohesive whole shows how related all these things are.”  

Giddens’ showcased her powerful vocals at the White House this past year and gave a show-stopping performance in our own 2015 Americana Music Festival special, and we’re thrilled to follow her journey for her ACL debut.

Please join us on April 25 on our ACLTV YouTube channel as we welcome Rhiannon Giddens.

James Bay brings Chaos & the Calm to ACL debut

photo by Scott Newton

UK singer/songwriter sensation James Bay became the latest British invader to win over the U.S. with his Grammy-nominated breakthrough hit “Hold Back the River.” We were pleased to welcome the Hertfordshire native to our studio for his debut taping as he showcased his acclaimed debut LP Chaos and the Calm.

Adorned in his trademark black hat, Bay and his four-piece band opened the show on a high energy note with the bluesy, rocking “Collide.” He followed that slam-bang with “Craving,” a catchy slice of what would have been called heartland rock back in the ‘80s. “When We Were On Fire” kept the faith, adding a soulful edge thanks to Bay’s elastic vocals. After donning an acoustic 12-string guitar, Bay explained how he and the band “geeked out” on ACL, before launching into the folk rock charmer “If You Ever Want to Be in Love.” Switching to a six-string, Bay got soulful and romantic on the midtempo beauty “Need the Sun to Break,” which generated applause with just the opening riff.

Breaking from Chaos, the singer/songwriter slowed things down with the widescreen ballad “Running,” from his UK breakout EP Other Sides.  Then it was back to the LP, as a harmony guitar riff between Bay and guitarist Andy Cortes garnered cheers for the opening of his massive hit serenade “Let It Go,” featuring a bluesy Bay solo and the audience on backing vocals. He then surprised us with a brief, instrumental excerpt of the immortal Elvis Presley classic “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” used as an intro for the lighter-waver “Scars,” a clear crowd favorite. The band then let pianist Jack Duxbury stretch out on an extended intro to “Move Together,” another lush ballad.

A switch to a Gibson SG heralded a switch in tone, as a chunky guitar riff and Bay’s demand to “see some hands” powered up the gnarly rocker “Best Fake Smile.” Bay and his band kept the energy level high with the crunchy “Get Out While You Can,” which made the crowd into hand-clappin’ fools and ended the main set with a bang. The time between the band leaving the stage and returning was short, however, and they started their encore with a song familiar to all: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s immortal “Proud Mary,” which morphed halfway through into Tina Turner’s powerhouse version, both halves punctuated by steely guitar solos. Bay ended the performance with the fan-favorite anthem “Hold Back the River,” likely to be his own contribution to the classic rock canon. The show ended with the requisite big rock flourish, to the delight of the passionate crowd. It was a memorable ACL debut, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it broadcasts as part of Season 42 on PBS.

Natalia Lafourcade dazzles with ACL debut

photo by Scott Newton

Natalia Lafourcade isn’t a household name to a lot of Americans. A superstar in Mexico, a  2016 Grammy winner and multiple Latin Grammy Award-winner, the indie pop singer/songwriter has the goods to conquer the world outside her home, as she proved on her debut ACL taping, which was streamed live around the world.

Lafourcade and her backing quintet began with a set of songs from her latest album Hasta La Raíz, a platinum-selling, number one LP in Mexico and Grammy-winner for Best Latin Rock album here. Following a pre-taped ambient intro, “Vámonos Negrito”- sitting somewhere between romantic balladry and modern pop – kicked the show off in fine style. She followed with her acclaimed two-time Latin Grammy-winning title track, an intimate, melodic anthem about holding on to one’s roots, which showcased her sweet, airy vocals. Seguing into “Lo Que Construimos,” a jazzy pop confection featuring complementary guitar and trumpet solos, “Ya No Te Puedo Querer” moved back toward anthem territory, the breakup message of the lyrics couched in a tastefully dramatic rock arrangement. “Nunca Es Suficiente” set its lyrics of romantic disappointment to a wistful cumbia.

Lafourcade then announced a special treat – she would sing in English for the first time, just for our audience, nailing Nina Simone’s challenging ballad “Lilac Wine.” Still in tribute mode, she moved to the piano for the sweeping love song “Amore De Mis Amores,” from her tribute album to the classic Mexican singer and songwriter Agustín Lara. She went back to original material for the 70s pop of “Casa,” the title track to her bestselling 2005 album of the same name. She then reached even further back to the catchy “En El 2000,” her breakthrough radio hit and a song she explained that she’d come to hate due to constant requests for it, but now “we’re friends again.” The audience enhanced the rhythm with their own handclaps.

Lafourcade went back to Raíz for “Mi Lugar Favorito,” paying tribute to her “favorite place” with an infectious melody, a dazzling trumpet solo from Alfredo Pino, syncopated band dancing and crowd participation. Then she presented another song rendered especially for ACL – a lovely voice and guitar version of Elvis Presley’s immortal “Love Me Tender” that earned her enthusiastic applause. Her band rejoined her for the equally pretty, bossa nova-influenced gem “Para Qué Sufrir,” a clear fan favorite.

Lafourcade took a moment to express how excited she and the band were to be on our stage, which she kneeled to touch. She then moved back to her piano for the closing song “Palomas Blancas,” a grand pop ballad about being connected to the world. She and the band took well-deserved bows as the audience called out for more. Their enthusiasm was rewarded when Lafourcade and the band returned for “Estoy Lista,” a confident slice of melody-rich piano pop. It was a perfect closer to a remarkable ACL debut, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it broadcasts during Season 42 this fall on your local PBS station.

 

New tapings: James Bay and Andra Day

Courtesy of Republic Records

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce a pair of new tapings: British folk-rock sensation James Bay on April 12 and soul singer Andra Day on June 12.

Coming off three 2016 Grammy nominations and a recent BRIT Award win for Best Male Solo Artist, singer-songwriter-guitarist James Bay is busily conquering the States with his debut LP Chaos and the Calm. Recorded in Nashville with producer Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, R.E.M.), the album went to #1 in the U.K and top 15 in the U.S. and produced the breakout hits “Let It Go” and “Hold Back the River.” The 25-year-old began playing music at age 11, growing up in the London suburb of Hitchin, strumming along to his parents’ Van Morrison and Derek & the Dominos records. At 18, Bay moved to the seaside city of Brighton to study music and hit every open mic night he could. When a fan recorded one of his performances it caught the attention of Republic Records, who signed him in 2013. Since then Bay has gone on to perform at iconic festivals including Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, Sasquatch, Outside Lands, Austin City Limits Festival and more. Internationally, Chaos And The Calm has gone on to become one of the “Biggest New Artist Album Releases of 2015” and has been certified Gold in Australia & Switzerland, double platinum in the UK and has sold one over million albums worldwide. Currently in the midst of a sold-out Stateside headlining tour, Bay makes his Austin City Limits debut on April 12. You can enter our drawing for passes to this taping here

photo by Myriam Santos

Singer and songwriter Andra Day also turned heads at this year’s Grammys, performing her uplifting song “Rise Up” from her Grammy-nominated debut album Cheers to the Fall.  With a vintage flair and a voice for the ages, Day proved she’s ready to take her place in the pantheon of soulful vocalists and deliver her truth to the world. Her acclaimed debut, Cheers to the Fall, produced by heavyweight soul man Raphael Saadiq, is self-described as “a biography told in the form of music,” with themes centered on truth, fearlessness, vulnerability, forgiveness and love. The Boston Globe says, “This confident, stylish pop R&B record ushers in a sophisticated vocalist who faithfully reflects past influences while remaining contemporary and relevant,” and Vibe raves, “The beauty in Andra’s art is that the message applies to all. All we need to do is listen.” Singing in the church choir and studying, dance, theater and music at San Diego’s School of Creative and Performing Arts, Day always knew she wanted to sing professionally. She was performing in local nightclubs when none other than Stevie Wonder discovered her.

Day then filmed a series of popular YouTube clips, including a mashup of Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse, which caught the attention of Warner Bros. Records and led to a record deal. Known for her standout live performances, Day is currently on a U.S. tour, including upcoming dates with ACL alum Leon Bridges and a performance at this year’s Bonnaroo on deck.  Join us in welcoming Andra Day in her ACL debut on June 12.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings.

Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters tape new show for the ages

photo by Scott Newton

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters are a class act. Few rockers of Plant’s generation have matured as well and kept as open a musical mind as he has, as evidenced by the eclectic material he’s recorded in the decades since Led Zeppelin ceased, as well as the diverse skills of his multi-cultural band. The last time Plant appeared on ACL in 2002, he gave us a show for the ages that’s still talked about and referenced. Fourteen years later, he and his six-piece band (a variation on the one that accompanied him last time) did it again, this time livestreamed for fans everywhere.

Plant grabbed the audience by the heart immediately by playing a recording of the song “Twine Time” in tribute to Austin’s late blues/soul/jazz DJ Paul Ray. He and the Shifters then launched into his former band’s “The Lemon Song,” re-imagined as a shuffle that emphasizes the classic blues lyrics Zep borrowed when it was first recorded. Sending a clear signal that he wasn’t living in the past, he followed up with the spacy, bendir-and-eBow-enhanced anthem “Rainbow,” from his most recent album Lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar. Then it was back to the Zep catalog for the immortal “Black Dog,” given a roiling tempo, electronic frosting, an extended coda featuring Gambian musician Juldeh Camera’s ritti (a West African bowed instrument) and enthusiastic call and response from the crowd. Plant then Roared back with the groovy powerhouse “Turn It Up,” a song he explained was inspired by his years living in Austin.

Plant followed that slice of modern rock by taking on Howlin’ Wolf’s classic “Spoonful,” giving it a crawling Afro-psychedelic makeover and a duet between Camara’s ritti and guitarist Justin Adams’ tehardant, a West African lute. He then revisited one of his earliest solo hits, the atmospheric, incomparable “In the Mood,” given an acoustic guitar/banjo/piano reading here. Plant went back to the well of the mighty Wolf, taking the heavy blues “No Place to Go” (AKA “How Many More Years”) into spacier, more exotic territory thanks to Camara’s bowing and keyboardist John Baggot’s exotic sounds. He continued his trip through the past by seguing directly into the classic “Dazed and Confused” and following it with that band’s mighty rearrangement of “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” – both staples of Zeppelin’s repertoire. “Can you feel it?” Plant asked, and the answer was a definite affirmative, with “Babe” earning a standing ovation.      .

Plant and the Shifters stayed with music history, but given a 21st century update: the Ralph Stanley-popularized folk song “Little Maggie” became a droning worldbeat tour-de-force, while Bukka White’s “Fixin’ to Die” became the freight-train rhythmed anthem they performed the last time they were here. The main set crashed to a close as Plant and the Shifters gave the audience a treat, running Muddy Waters’ “I Just Want to Make Love to You” into the titanic “Whole Lotta Love,” which itself incorporated an Africanized “Hey Bo Diddley.” The audience sang the chorus back to them in ecstasy.

There was no way that didn’t leave us hungry for more, of course, and the band soon returned. First up for the encore was a redo of “Rainbow.” Then the Shifters and Plant essayed a brooding version of the traditional gospel blues “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down,” which Plant recorded for Band of Joy. Plant and the Shifters left us with a major crowdpleaser: the “old English folk song” most of us know as the immortal “Rock and Roll,” taken into a new, groovy place via Baggot’s keyboards, Camara’s ritti and some more audience call-and-response. Plant and the Shifters took a well-deserved bow to a standing ovation. It was a sensational show from a music giant never content to rest on his laurels, and we can’t wait for you to see the broadcast episode when it airs this fall as part of our Season 42 on your local PBS station.