New taping: Ryan Adams Oct. 22

photo by Julia Brokaw

Ryan Adams is no stranger to ACL, having appeared on the show in various phases of his career as far back as the late ‘90s and as recently as 2006. The multiple-Grammy-nominated singer / songwriter from Jacksonville, NC has released such critically acclaimed and commercially successful LPs as Heartbreaker (2000), Gold (2001), Love Is Hell (2004), Cold Roses (2005), Easy Tiger (2007), Ashes & Fire (2011) and his self-produced, self-titled 14th album, recently released on his own Pax Am label in cooperation with Blue Note. Adams returns to ACL in support of that eponymous disc, which has been generating arguably the best critical notices of his prolific career. Featuring the singles “Gimme Something Good” and “My Wrecking Ball,” Ryan Adams has moved Entertainment Weekly to hail its namesake as “one of the truly great roots-rock troubadours left.” On Oct. 22, the ACL TV audience will see why.

 

Eric Church livestream on 9/23

photo by John Peets

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce that we will be streaming our taping with Eric Church live on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 8pm CT/9pm ET. The taping will webcast in its entirety via our YouTube channel.

North Carolina native Church got his start playing Jimmy Buffett covers in hometown bars, but quickly transitioned to original material. After graduating from college with a marketing degree, Church moved to Nashville, recording demos and placing songs with other singers before releasing his debut Sinners Like Me in 2006. His second release Carolina included “Love to Love You the Most” and “Hell On the Heart,” his first top 10 country hits. That set the stage for the platinum-selling Chief, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart and boasted the massive hits “Drink in My Hand” and “Springsteen,” his first single to cross over to the pop chart. This year’s follow-up The Outsiders also debuted at No. 1, throwing “Give Me Back My Hometown” and the title track up the charts. Church’s distinctively hard-rocking brand of country, influenced as much by AC/DC and Metallica as Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings, has earned him a huge audience outside the confines of country radio, prompting him to tell CMT, “I think genres are dead. There’s good music. There’s bad music.” Eric Church does not play bad music, as you’ll find out at his debut ACL taping on 9/23.

The broadcast version of this show will air this fall on PBS as part of ACL’s 40th anniversary season. Join us for this live webcast of the Austin City Limits debut of Eric Church.

 

New tapings: Jenny Lewis, Sam Smith, The Avett Brothers and Spoon

photo by Autumn De Wilde

Austin City Limits is excited to announce new tapings for our landmark Season 40: Jenny Lewis on October 1, Sam Smith on October 2, The Avett Brothers on October 6 and Spoon on October 9th.

Jenny Lewis last appeared on our stage in 2005 as part of the now-defunct Rilo Kiley. Prior to her success with that band, she had been an actress from a young age, appearing in films and TV shows until 1998. That year she and Blake Sennett started indie rockers Rilo Kiley, who went on to success with four LPs, the last of which was 2007’s acclaimed Under the Blacklight. Lewis had already begun her solo career by that time, starting with 2006’s Rabbit Fur Coat, which found her working in a rootsier vein. The classy pop of Acid Tongue arrived in 2008, followed by 2010’s I’m Having Fun Now, a duet album with singer/songwriter Johnathan Rice under the name Jenny & Jonny. This year she released The Voyager, a Ryan Adams-produced LP about which Drowned in Sound remarked, “[The] balance of frothiness and fearless introspection make it something pretty special.” Join us Oct.1 as Lewis preps for her ACL Festival appearance with her solo ACL debut.

This year Sam Smith came seeming out of nowhere with his massive hit single “Stay With Me.” The London native is an alumnus of the program Youth Music Theatre UK, having studied under British jazz musician Joanna Eden. He made his musical and chart debut singing lead on electronic group Disclosure’s U.K. hit single “Latch,” following up with a featured appearance on English DJ/producer Naughty Boy’s “La La La,” which hit #1 on the British charts. In between those hits Smith launched his solo career with “Lay Me Down,” but it was his post-”La La La” followup “Money On My Mind” that pushed him to the #1 slot on his own. In the Lonely Hour, his debut LP of danceable pop/soul, arrived in the spring, along with his third single. “Stay With Me” broke Smith wide open on an international scale, earning him a third charttopper in the U.K. and a No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 200. Now, in anticipation of his debut at ACL Fest, Smith makes his debut Oct. 2 on our show as well.

The Avett Brothers last joined us in 2010, appearing in support of their breakthrough album I and Love and You. The North Carolina roots rockers haven’t been idle in the five years between slots, however. In 2012 the quartet released its Rick Rubin-produced The Carpenter, which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The LP found the Avetts expanding their sound beyond their folk and bluegrass roots, with Rolling Stone calling it the “sound of a band pushing past an old identity and toward something bigger.” The band quickly followed The Carpenter with 2013’s Magpie and the Dandelion, a record made mostly of songs recorded during the previous LP’s sessions that hit No. 5 on the Billboard charts. Under the Radar wrote that the band “have filled Magpie and the Dandelion with taut, unaffected verses that dredge the past, weigh damage against possibility, and seek emergence through selflessness and emotional responsibility,” while American Songwriter remarked, “The Avett Brothers are (very wisely) growing their sound, while remaining true to their core principles and what listeners like about them to begin with.” Join us on Oct. 6 as we welcome back The Avett Brothers.

photo by Tom Hines

The Austin band Spoon is certainly no unknown quantity for Austin City Limits – the modern rock act has been on the show three times, in 2003, 2005 and 2010. The last time they were here was in support of their hit album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and its hit single “The Underdog.” The band followed up with the equally popular Transference, after which Spoon took an extended break, allowing leader Britt Daniel to work with the group Divine Fits and drummer Jim Eno to produce albums for the Heartless Bastards, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears and Phosphorescent. But now Spoon is back with They Want My Soul, a record that proves the extended time off did nothing to diminish their power. Rolling Stone described it as “an immediate grabber on par with the group’s best work to date,” while Exclaim called it “a bold and swaggering declaration that Spoon have undoubtedly still got it – in spades.” We’re thrilled to welcome Spoon back to the ACL stage Oct. 9.

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.

 

J. Roddy and the Business rock ACL

photo by Scott Newton

The amazing evolution of popular music over the last few decades has been a fascinating and necessary process – where would we be without constant change? That said, sometimes you just gotta rock. That’s a situation which J. Roddy Walston and the Business are more than familiar with, as evidenced by their latest LP Essential Tremors, and it was in that spirit that the quartet turned our theater into that hip bar downtown that always features the sweatiest, ballsiest rock & roll. The band’s debut ACL taping was also livestreamed on the Austin City Limits YouTube channel.

The longhaired, leather-jacketed Walston looks like he should be rocking a Les Paul/Marshall combination, but instead he sits at the piano. Though “sits” isn’t quite accurate – instead he bounces, slides and jumps off and on the bench as the music moves him. And no wonder – as he and his homeboys roared into “Sweat Shock,” guitar chugging and piano banging, the energy level shot through the roof. Imagine Jerry Lee Lewis fronting Black Oak Arkansas and you’re in the ballpark.

From then on, rocking out was the priority. That’s not to say the band is a one-note proposition – far from it. They pull from several different strains, from punk to hard rock to classic pop. “Take It As It Comes,” “Midnight Cry” (with its audience singalong “Eye-yi-yi” chorus) and “Full Growing Man” drew from melodic piano pop, with the latter in particular sounding like an Elton John tune taken behind the barn and roughed up. “Marigold” and “Don’t Break the Needle” worked a loud, Stonesy groove, while “Heavy Bells” updated the bluesy hard rock of Led Zeppelin. “Boys Can Never Tell” eschewed drums and bass for acoustic guitar and a surprisingly pretty ballad. It was all a warm-up, though, for the colossal closer “Used to Did,” on which the band pulled out all the stops for a piano-pounding, guitar-wailing, hair-whipping finish. It was a climax that encouraged online viewer joel brown to enthusiastically comment that the band is “The best thing to happen to rock n roll in a long time!”

Viewer johnnYYac said “Hard to believe it was less than a year ago these guys were playing to me and fewer than 20 people in a little club in Iowa, on the Miss. River. They deserve this, but I’ll miss those intimate shows.” For our money, Walston and the Business brought that rock club intimacy in the most widescreen way. We can’t wait for you to see it this fall on PBS.

To watch other Austin City Limits videos and catch livestreams of upcoming tapings subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Nickel Creek’s new gems and old favorites

photo by Scott Newton

We always love seeing old friends and so it is we welcomed back Nickel Creek to our stage for their third taping, which we also livestreamed on our ACLTV YouTube channel. The California combo last visited us in 2003 – recording their debut in 2001, while mandolin master Chris Thile performed with Punch Brothers in 2012 and fiddler Sara Watkins supported the Decemberists in 2011. But now the trio is back in toto, virtuoso instrumentation and tight harmonies intact, celebrating not only our 40th anniversary but also their own musical return after a nine-year absence with the reunion record A Dotted Line.

Defying the stereotype, the band opened with a ballad, “Rest of My Life,” featuring harmony arco lines from Sara and bassist Mark Schatz. The tempo picked up with “Scotch and Chocolate,” an instrumental that combined fluctuating bridges with Sara’s Celtic-flavored lines. The rest of the set alternated between pieces from the new record and well-known tunes from their popular repertoire. “Destination” and “When in Rome” were perfect examples of the band’s ability to create indie pop songs using bluegrass instrumentation. “Reasons Why” and “Where is Love Now” essayed the beauty of the band’s way with ballads. Fan-favorite instrumentals like “Smoothie Song,” “Ode to a Butterfly” and the new “Elephant in the Corn” raised the roof. The group’s wry sense of humor bubbled up throughout, especially in the twisted gospelgrass of “21st of May,” the stalker folk of “Anthony” and the aggressive bitterness of “You Don’t Know What’s Going On,” for which Thile teased the crowd to unleash their buried anger. The band ended with its popular adaptation of the children’s tune “The Fox,” which drove the audience wild.

A well-deserved encore brought redos of “Where is Love Now” and “You Don’t Know What’s Going On,” before the Creek flowed through the driving ballad “Helena” and into the traditional fiddle tune “Cuckoo’s Nest,” which featured not only expert musicianship (“They make it look soooooo easy,” noted stream viewer Take a Hike) but also Schatz tapdancing. It was an undeniably fun show – noted by viewer Mathew Cussen as “one of the best shows I’ve ever seen” – and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs in early 2015. And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified of future livestreams of ACL tapings!

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down a joy to see and hear

photo by Scott Newton

When ACL is in an anniversary season, it’s tempting for us to concentrate on booking the biggest artists we can find. That would deny, however, one of our core missions: to expose our audience to new artists. Of course, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down aren’t exactly new – the San Francisco-based act has been working for a decade. But Thao Nguyen and her intrepid band have begun to explode far past their underground origins, making it the perfect time to for us to invite them on the show for their debut taping.

After the brief, gospel-style open of “The Clap,” Thao and the band launched into “City,” a patented example of their patented funky folk rock. The group’s blend of groovy rhythms and Thao’s folk-influenced fingerpicking give the band a distinctive sound that truly makes it stand out from the pack, as “Cool Yourself,” “Beat” and “Every Body” easily proved. But she and her quintet hardly stick to one groove. The band also hopped jauntily through the jazzy piano pop of “The Feeling Kind,” complete with Dixieland trumpet solo, skipped energetically through the ska/soul hybrid “Swimming Pools,” moved through the crescendoing dynamics of the waltz “Age of Ice” and pounded through the percussion-heavy “Squareneck,” with Thao getting down and dirty on her lap steel guitar. Thao also demonstrated imaginative versatility with her instruments, playing her banjo like a guitar on the reggae-tinged rocker “Holy Roller” and her archtop guitar like a clawhammer banjo on the bluegrassy “Kindness Be Conceived.” The band ended the main set with the singalong folk pop of “We the Common,” a tribute to Thao’s volunteer work with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners.

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down encored with “Body,” another fine example of their patented unpredictable pop that included an audience participation section of handclapping, and “Bag of Hammers,” more of the same, enhanced with Thao’s tropical guitar lick. Thao’s natural exuberance and wide-ranging songwriting acumen made the show a joy to see and hear. We can’t wait for you to see it when it airs on PBS this fall.