New taping: TV on the Radio

photo by JUCO

Austin City Limits is proud to announce a new Season 41 taping – TV on the Radio on March 16th, making their ACL debut. The Brooklyn-based quartet has been called  ”one of the most compelling American rock and roll stories of the modern age” by the BBC, “the most innovative band on the planet” by AV Club and “the most vital, current band in America” by the Associated Press.  Their critically-acclaimed latest release Seeds topped 2014 Year-End Best lists including capturing the top spot on respected critic Jon Pareles’ New York Times’ Best Albums of 2014 list.  The influential band stole the hearts of fans and critics with its 2004 LP Desperate Hearts, Blood Thirsty Babes. By the time 2006’s Return to Cookie Mountain took Spin’s album of the year honors, the band’s eclectic musical spirit – encompassing rock, soul, psychedelia and electronica –  had made it one of the most esteemed acts in the world, with collaborations featuring David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on its resumé. With a live show described as  ”sexy nerdiness letting go in a controlled blast of unleashed energy” (The Boston Globe), TV on the Radio will give Austin City Limits a stunning show.

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.

 

Asleep at the Wheel’s all-star homecoming

photo by Scott Newton

It’s always a thrill to welcome back ACL alumni. It’s an even bigger thrill to re-open the stage to a band that was literally there from the beginning. Asleep at the Wheel appeared in ACL’s first official episode in 1976, joined by Bob Wills’ Original Texas Playboys. It’s now 40 years down the road, and Austin’s beloved Western swing institution returns for their tenth taping in salute to the Playboys’ vast catalog.

After opening with straightforward renditions of “Cherokee Maiden” and “Miles and Miles of Texas” (which is as much a Wheel standard at this point as a Playboys staple), bandleader Ray Benson welcomed 92-year-old saxophonist Billy Briggs, who was a 1950s-era Playboy, to the stage for a hopping take on “Route 66,” co-sung by pianist Emily Gimble, the granddaughter of former Playboy (and frequent ACL guest) Johnny Gimble. The band then took a skillful, joyful trip through Wills’ back catalog, hitting not only the obvious hits (“San Antonio Rose,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Faded Love”) but titles that ring bells only with hardcore Western swing fans (“Keeper of My Heart,” “It’s All Your Fault,” “A Good Man’s Hard to Find”). Ending the first half with the party-hearty “Big Balls in Cowtown,” the Wheel brought the crowd to their feet.

For the second half, the band brought out some special guests. The Quebe Sisters, a trio from Burleson, TX, brought triple harmonies to both their fiddles and their Andrews Sisters-styled vocals on “Navajo Trail” and “Across the Alley.” Amos Lee gave “I Hear Ya Talkin’” and “Sweet Pea” a bluesily soulful spin. The Avett Brothers and their band turned “Girl I Left Behind Me” and “Take Me Back to Tulsa” (the Wheel’s first song on their debut episode 40 years prior) into down-home folk songs as much as Western swing. Then came the night’s biggest coup, as former Playboys singer Leon Rausch, who played with Wills in the ‘50s and with the Playboys on ACL’s 10th anniversary episode in front of the Texas capitol, arrived onstage for a rousing “Milk Cow Blues.” Eighty-eight years young. Rausch hasn’t lost a step and the audience showed its appreciation.

The entire ensemble then took the stage for a nifty run through the “Texas Playboys Theme,” which used to open the Playboys’ radio show; the band interpolated “Happy Trails” into the old chestnut. The Wheel encored with another of its standards, the jumping “Choo Choo Ch-Boogie,” before closing things out with a crowd singalong on country superstar – and Western swing fanatic – George Strait’s “All My Exes Live in Texas.” We can’t imagine a better way to complete a circle that began in the mid-70s, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs later this year on PBS.

 

New Tapings: Asleep at the Wheel, Sturgill Simpson & The War on Drugs

photo by Crackerfarm

Austin City Limits announced the first round of new tapings for the series upcoming Season 41!

Feb. 24 sees the return of Austin City Limits veteran and new Hall of Fame inductee Asleep at the Wheel. The premier Western swing band not only of Texas but of the United States, the Wheel first appeared on the show in Season 1, way back in 1976, and most recently in Season 35 with Willie Nelson. Now leader Ray Benson and company return in support of the upcoming Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, with special guests Amos Lee and The Avett Brothers in tow. We’re happy to welcome Asleep at the Wheel back for its eleventh taping.

On April 1st, we welcome acclaimed country singer Sturgill Simpson to the Austin City Limits stage. The Kentucky native released his first album High Top Mountain in 2013, establishing his philosophical brand of outlaw country. He broke out with his second LP Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, which earned Simpson national press coverage and the Emerging Artist of the Year Award at the 2014 Americana Music Awards & Honors. We’re proud to welcome Simpson for his ACL debut.

photo by Dusdin Condren

April also brings another Austin City Limits debut for the much-lauded rock band The War On Drugs. Following the Philadelphia group’s breakout with 2011’s Slave Ambient and two years of non-stop touring, TWOD – led by singer, songwriter and guitarist Adam Granduciel – reached a new peak with the celebrated Lost in the Dream. Pitchfork calls it a record “loaded with songs whose greatness is revealed slowly, where the simplest, most understated chord change can blow a track wide open and elevate it from simply pretty to absolutely devastating.” We’re thrilled to bring the shimmering indie rock of The War On Drugs to the ACL stage for the first time on April 6th.

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.

Austin City Limits announces 2015 Hall of Fame inductees

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the newest class of Austin City Limits Hall of Fame inductees with five legendary artists being honored: Western swing institution Asleep at the Wheel, country trailblazer Loretta Lynn, songwriting legend Guy Clark, master Tex-Mex accordionist Flaco Jiménez and Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt. The announcement was made January 29 by ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona at Austin’s Rattle Inn.  The 2015 ACL Hall of Fame inductees will be celebrated at a ceremony highlighted by all-star music performances to be held in June at ACL’s studio home, Austin’s ACL Live at The Moody Theater. The event will be open to the public and ticket onsale information will be announced at a later date.

The newest class of inductees features artists who have all graced the ACL stage multiple times, setting the standard for excellence and contributing to four decades of incredible performances. This year’s class also recognizes in the non-performer category the original ACL crew, who played an important role in the launch and continuing success of the influential series and some of whom are still part of the crew today.

“I am truly honored to be included in this year’s ACL Hall of Fame,” said Asleep at the Wheel founder Ray Benson who was on hand for the announcement.  “After Willie did the pilot in 1974-5, Asleep at the Wheel was selected to do the first regular episode of ACL.  Joe Gracey and I were roommates then, and he was booking the show.  He asked who we wanted to share the bill with and I said, ‘The Texas Playboys, Bob Wills’ great band!’  That episode is now housed at the Smithsonian.  Over the years I have appeared in numerous episodes both as a featured performer and a guest performer, and I cannot imagine our 45-year career without the exposure that ACL afforded us. Many thanks to the great staff who make the show what it is!”

ACL also announced the first round of new tapings for the series upcoming Season 41: breakout country rebel and Grammy-nominated Sturgill Simpson, acclaimed rock outfit The War on Drugs, and, in a special Bob Wills’ tribute, new Hall of Fame inductees Asleep at the Wheel, joined by guest stars including The Avett Brothers and Amos Lee.

photo by Crackerfarm

New episodes of ACL are currently airing as part of the series’ milestone Season 40, with upcoming premieres featuring The Black Keys (Jan. 31) and the Foo Fighters (Feb. 7). Foo Fighters recently immortalized ACL in an episode of their HBO series Sonic Highways, even recording a song, “What Did I Do?/God As My Witness,” in ACL’s historic Studio 6A.  ACL closes out this triumphant season with a special installment premiering Feb. 14, featuring inductions and performance highlights from the first-ever Austin City Limits Hall of Fame presentation.

The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame was established in 2014 in conjunction with the iconic television series’ 40th Anniversary to celebrate the legacy of legendary artists and key individuals who have been instrumental in the landmark series’ remarkable 40 years as an American music institution. The invitation-only inaugural induction ceremony took place April 26, 2014 at ACL’s original Studio 6A. Hosted by Oscar-winning actor and Texas native Matthew McConaughey, the historic evening honored the first class of inductees, featuring American music icon Willie Nelson who starred on the original ACL pilot program, Austin blues rock giants Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and legendary steel guitarist and Grammy Award-winning music producer Lloyd Maines, in addition to non-performers who played a key role in the evolution of the program: original show creator Bill Arhos and longtime ACL supporter, Texas Longhorns football head coach Darrell Royal. A star-studded line-up paid tribute with incredible music performances, including: Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph, Doyle Bramhall II and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

About the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Honorees:

Asleep at the Wheel

Based in Austin, TX, Asleep at the Wheel formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia in 1970. Since their inception, the venerable Texas swing band lead by founder Ray Benson has won nine GRAMMY awards, released more than 20 studio albums and charted more than 20 singles on the Billboard country charts. In 1972, the band signed their first record deal after Van Morrison mentioned they “play great country music” in an interview in Rolling Stone. They have appeared on Austin City Limits ten times, including the program’s first official episode in 1976 along with The Texas Playboys.  Asleep at the Wheel’s star-studded upcoming release Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys features guest appearances by ACL veterans Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, The Avett Brothers, George Strait, Kat Edmonson and Merle Haggard.

photo by

Flaco Jiménez

San Antonio, TX born conjunto musician Flaco Jiménez has enjoyed a career that has spanned more than six decades, throughout which, he has collaborated with artists such as Willie Nelson, the Texas Tornados, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, Doug Sahm, and The Rolling Stones. Jiménez is a five-time ACL guest, first appearing in the program’s debut season. A five-time GRAMMY winner who is also a 2015 recipient of a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award, Jiménez maintains a huge influence on the Tex-Mex genre by continuing to record and tour, as he upholds his status as the definitive Tex-Mex accordionist.

photo by Scott Newton

Loretta Lynn

An American music treasure with a storied career, Loretta Lynn is a living legend with over seventy chart hits, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award and a Kennedy Center Honor. She appeared on two classic episodes of ACL in 1983 and 1998. As her most famous song says, she is a proud Kentucky-born coal miner’s daughter, who went on to become one of the most influential women in the history of American music.

photo by Scott Newton

Townes Van Zandt

One of the Lone Star state’s greatest songwriters, the Fort Worth native set the standard for legions of Texas troubadours and made two memorable appearances on ACL. Van Zandt appeared in the very first season in 1976, in addition to joining Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock and David Halley for a renowned ACL songwriters special in 1983. ACL aired a tribute show in 1998 led by longtime friend Guy Clark and Townes’ son J.T. that was so popular it encored in 2000 as an ACL Classic. Called “one of the best songwriters that ever lived” by many, Van Zandt left behind an inestimable legacy – a few of his classics include “Pancho & Lefty,” “To Live is To Fly,” “If I Needed You,” “Tecumseh Valley,” “Waitin’ Round to Die,” “Lungs” and “A Song For.”

photo by Scott Newton

Guy Clark

A West Texas native, Guy Clark has built a career of writing starkly honest story-songs. He’s one of the finest living songwriters in American folk music, holding up the legacy of his late friend Townes Van Zandt. NPR raves “If you want to learn how to write a song — one that’s built to last, with vivid characters and images that plant you squarely inside a scene — listen to Guy Clark.” Bob Dylan counts Clark among his handful of favorite songwriters. His first album Old No. 1 came out in 1975 and the revered songwriter has made seven stunning appearances on ACL.

photo by Scott Newton

 

Foo Fighters conquer the ACL stage

photo by Scott Newton

When our good pals the Foo Fighters returned to Austin City Limits, it was not only as stage-conquering rock superstars-it was also as filmmakers of the much-acclaimed HBO series Sonic Highways, which chronicles the making of the band’s latest LP of the same name. Episode four of Sonic Highways, centered around that song and our town, was rapturously received, and on its heels we were thrilled to welcome them to our current studio in the Moody Theater for the band’s second ACLTV appearance.

The Foos opened with the moody, spacy epic “Aurora” before slamming into the raging “The Feast and the Famine.” Once the needle hit red it stayed there, as Dave Grohl and the band pumped out anthem after fan-favorite anthem: “Learn to Fly,” “Times Like These,” which featured the first of Grohl’s many trips into the audience, “Rope,” “The Pretender,” “My Hero,” “Monkey Wrench,” deep cuts “Arlandria” and “Hey, Johnny Park!” The Foos barrelled back down the Sonic Highways with the blazing “Congregation,” before launching into the album’s two part Austin-based song. The melodic “What Did I Do” garnered immediate audience approval, but that enthusiasm turned into fervor when album guest and ACL alumnus Gary Clark Jr. took the stage to perform his elegiac solo on the second half, “God As My Witness.” The fervor didn’t stop there, as not only did Clark stay for the next song, but Grohl welcomed ATX blues legend (and co-star of the Austin episode) Jimmie Vaughan for a spirited run through the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ “Tuff Enuff,” with Vaughan replicating his distinctive solos.

After that, the band could do no wrong, digging into its catalog for the rocking “Cold Day in the Sun,” sung by drummer Taylor Hawkins, before another series of back-to-back-to-back killers with “In the Clear,” “I’ll Stick Around,” “Walk,” “Outside” and the punky “All My Life.” Then things took an epic turn. Grohl took off his guitar and headed back into the audience with a bottle of champagne to share with the delirious crowd as the rest of the group launched into the Rolling Stones’ disco rock hybrid “Miss You,” sung by Hawkins (who admitted he didn’t know the words). Grohl then took over the kit so Hawkins could come up front for a punked-up take on Cheap Trick’s “Stiff Competition.” The Foos’ living jukebox didn’t stop there, though – next up was “Under Pressure,” the Queen/David Bowie classic done as a duet between Grohl and Hawkins, then Tom Petty’s “Breakdown,” with an extended electric piano solo from keyboardist Rami Jaffee, and finally a roaring bash through Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love.”

“I guess we better play one more Foo Fighters song,” chuckled Grohl, cueing up “Best of You,” with its “whoa-ohs” taken over by the audience. The band ended the show with “Everlong,” another hit and crowd favorite, and then, almost three hours from when it started, the show was over. It was a monster of a performance, one that Grohl described as “the weirdest f-g show we’ve ever played.” We can’t wait for you to see it when it broadcasts early next year as a highlight of our milestone Season 40. Stay tuned.

 

The Black Keys deliver a knockout show

photo by Scott Newton

Here at ACL we’re always pleased to see our alumni come back bigger and better than before, and that is certainly the case with the Black Keys, who returned to our stage for a knockout show. Since the Akron duo’s last visit in 2010, they’ve added a staggering number of radio hits, Grammy awards and arena tours to its arsenal.  Thus energized, the band delivered a charged performance that we also streamed live around the world.

Augmented by keyboardist John Clement Wood and bassist Richard Swift (last seen on our stage playing keyboards for the Shins), the powerhouse pair of guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney launched into “Next Girl” with a squeal of feedback. The riffy rocker set the tone for the rest of the evening, as the band rarely let up. From the ripping “Strange Times” and the rumbling “She’s Long Gone” to the countrified “Gotta Get Away” and the stomping “Gold On the Ceiling,” the Keys kept the hooks flowing and the energy level burning. The band dipped into its first album for the rawboned “Leavin’ Trunk” and covered Scottish pop pioneer Edwin Collins’ hit “A Girl Like You.” The bluesy ballad “Too Afraid to Love You” provided slight respite, but it was just the pause to refresh. Soulful riffs and memorable rockers ruled, especially when the band essayed its patented blues/glam hybrids a la the devilishly catchy “Money Maker” and the smash hit “Lonely Boy,” which had the crowd dancing in the aisles.

Declining to leave the stage, the Keys went straight into the encore with a pair of psychedelic soul tunes from its latest LP Turn Blue. “Weight of Love” boasted a dreamy feel reminiscent of Pink Floyd, while “Turn Blue” itself could easily have fit onto a Philly soul comp. But the band really brought the house down with its final number. Auerbach provided an extended resonator guitar intro to “LIttle Black Submarines” before launching into the first verse, on which the audience joined him. Once the tune kicked into its electric half the place exploded, providing a perfect, powerful end.

The Black Keys have become rock stars the old-fashioned way: by earning it show by show. We can’t wait for you to see this one when it airs early next year as part of our milestone 40th season. Stay tuned.

New taping: Foo Fighters 11/20

photo by Steve Gullick

UPDATED POST:
Due to a family matter, Foo Fighters regrettably must postpone Friday’s appearance in Austin for their Sonic Highways screening and Austin City Limits taping.

The band sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience and promises to make it up when they return to Austin on Thursday, November 20th, 2014.  All passes for the original engagement will be honored.

Tonight’s Sonic Highways preview screening will go on as scheduled. 

Note: post is updated with new date

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce a new taping for Season 40, featuring the return of the Foo Fighters on Thursday, November 20th.

Foo Fighters have been busy since they last appeared on ACL in Season 34. Releasing the still-charting Greatest Hits in 2009, the band recorded and released the international #1 album Wasting Light in 2011, featuring the hits “Rope,” “Walk” and “These Days” and earning five Grammy Awards, including their fourth for Best Rock Album. FF founder Dave Grohl followed up that triumph by directing the acclaimed documentary Sound City. For the band’s eighth album, Sonic Highways, the band’s music and Grohl’s directorial skills resulted in both an amazing new album and the acclaimed HBO series, Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways, each episode featuring Grohl and bandmates Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear recording a song in one of eight U.S. music capitals and featuring luminaries from each city’s music scene. Austin was one of the cities, of course, with the Foos recording a track in ACL’s original Studio 6A (also the source of “Two Headed Dog [Red Temple Prayer],” the Roky Erickson cover the band contributed to our 40th anniversary special). We’re sure to hear new highlights from Sonic Highways and more when the Foo Fighters return to ACL once again.

As a special treat, we’ll present a preview screening of the Austin episode of Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways, which premiers this week on HBO, before the taping begins.

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New taping: The Black Keys

photo by Danny Clinch

Austin City Limits is proud to welcome back The Black Keys for our 40th anniversary season. The powerhouse rock duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney make their second appearance on the ACL stage on the heels of their recent release Turn Blue, which debuted at #1 on Billboard‘s album chart. The acclaimed rockers made an epic ACL debut in Season 36 around the release of their 2010 breakout album Brothers. The six-time Grammy winners have since gone on to achieve worldwide critical and commercial success with the landmark 2011 release El Camino and have been unstoppable ever since.

Currently in the midst of a North American tour, including an ATX date on December 19 at Frank Erwin Center, we’re thrilled to have The Black Keys join us on November 17 for the final taping of our milestone season.

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.