New taping: St. Vincent

St. Vincent

Austin City Limits is pleased to announce an exciting new taping for Season 44, featuring the groundbreaking St. Vincent on May 14, 2018.  First appearing on ACL in 2009, the singer, songwriter and guitarist–born Annie Clark–returns to our stage in support of her highly acclaimed fifth album MASSEDUCTION.  The release has earned some of the biggest raves of her career, with Jon Pareles of The New York Times naming it his #1 album of 2017, and Billboard hailing the record as “At once epic and intimate, fusing the myth of the legend-like St. Vincent with what it means to be simply Annie Clark.”

Following 2014’s Grammy-winning Alternative album of the year, MASSEDUCTION reaffirms St. Vincent’s standing as one of the most innovative presences in modern music. The mass seduction of the album’s title is a bold, emotional reckoning, largely themed around power—or as Clark specifies, “All the forces that can swallow you whole.” These include notoriety and beauty, as well as intoxicating distractions such as pills, sex, and sorrow. Richly melodic and vividly produced, MASSEDUCTION scales up from its predecessor, and marks her first collaboration with co-producer Jack Antonoff (Taylor Swift, Lorde, Sia, ACL alumni Fun). Their work occupies a fertile space between pop and art rock, with narratives that pivot from sentimental to savage. MASSEDUCTION is, most accurately, a mosaic of St. Vincent’s own experiences: “You can’t fact-check it, it’s not a diary entry, but if you want to know about my life, listen to this record.”

One of music’s most thrilling live acts, St. Vincent’s recent shows have wowed fans and critics alike, with Variety citing, “Annie Clark’s ownership of the stage felt like fearless evidence that rock’s future might actually be female… she’s got enough style, ambition, chops, and complications for a half-dozen rock auteurs.”

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 taping will also be livestreamed on the Austin City Limits YouTube channel. The broadcast version will air on PBS later this year as part of our Season 44.

Mac DeMarco opens ACL’s 44th taping season with soft jams

photo by Scott Newton

A new season of Austin City Limits begins, and we were happy to open Season 44 with a rising artist making his debut on our stage: singer and songwriter Mac DeMarco. Celebrating his acclaimed fourth LP This Old Dog, the Canadian-turned-Californian by way of Far Rockaway, Queens, graced his loyal fans with an interactive set of his distinctive soul-flavored soft rock, which we streamed live around the world.

Taking a stage artfully cluttered with fake fruit, real pound cake, plenty of red wine, a Michael Jackson mask and assorted bric-a-brac, DeMarco and his four-piece backing band launched into the smoothly flowing “On the Level,” from This Old Dog. Switching to acoustic guitar, DeMarco revisited his second LP Salad Days via the poppy title track. Then it was back to the new album, as the creamy sound of an electric grand piano signalled the drift into “For the First Time,” a very eighties-sounding soft rocker that thrilled the under twenty-something crowd and prompted livestream viewer Pierce Hannah to rave “Mac Daddy rocking the yacht rock vest with these smooth, smooth tunes.”  “We’ve never played this song as a band,” DeMarco noted, introducing the lightly rocking “One Another,” “but we’re gonna try to play it for you.” That successfully pulled off, he and the band cheekily kicked into its opposite number “Another One,” highlighted by a twangy guitar solo. Following a brief interlude in which the engaging rocker shared parmesan cheese (the powdered stuff, that is, not freshly grated) from one of the Italian restaurant-style tables adorning the stage, to the delight of the grateful front row, DeMarco essayed the title track of This Old Dog, a spell-binding dreamy pop tune.

“Now we’re gonna play a song we haven’t played in…four years?” DeMarco noted. “Fifteen years,” quipped guitarist Andy White. “The last time we played this song I was thirteen.” This was the intro to the easygoing “Brother,” from Salad Days. “So take it slow now, brother/Let it go,” the singer crooned over a languid, soul-influenced groove. Keeping it casual, DeMarco explained the next song was about his father, with the genial host again offering pound cake to his guests as the band went into a piano-heavy soft pop tune. He invited a couple of exuberant young fans to join him onstage, and after a quick lesson in shakers, the duo added to the percolating percussion. The band then reached back to his second album, the appropriately titled 2, for “Ode to Viceroy,” another easygoing pop song with harmony Stratocaster licks at the end. After sharing some red wine with another fan (whose ID he checked first), it was back to TOD, for the languorous “Dreams From Yesterday.”

One rendition of “Happy Birthday” to a fan later, DeMarco rode a jazzy, soul-pop vibe into “Chamber of Reflection,” powered by clapping from the crowd. He closed the show with the sugary romance of “Still Together,” on which he showed off a striking falsetto. Before the song was over, however, drummer Joe McMurray switched places with DeMarco to lead the crowd in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge.” Then DeMarco reclaimed the mic for another couple of choruses of “Still Together,” before quitting the stage. It was a refreshing ending to the show, letting the audience down easy instead of overwhelming them with bombast. We can’t wait for you to see it when his show airs this fall on your local PBS station.   

New tapings: Mac DeMarco and Brandi Carlile

photo by Coley Brown

Austin City Limits is happy to announce the first new tapings for 2018’s Season 44, with the debut of fast-rising singer/songwriter Mac DeMarco on February 27 and the return of acclaimed singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile on April 10 at ACL Live at the Moody Theater. The DeMarco taping will also be livestreamed around the world.

Mac DeMarco (aka 27-year old MacBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco) released This Old Dog, his third album and first full-length since 2014’s Salad Days, on May 5th, 2017, via Captured Tracks. It was a little space—in time, location (he moved from Queens to Los Angeles), and method—that inspired the Canadian native while making This Old Dog. Arriving in California with a grip of demos he’d written in New York, he realized after a few months of setting up his new shop that the gap was giving him perspective. “I demoed a full album, and as I was moving to the West Coast I thought I’d get to finishing it quickly,” DeMarco says. “But then I realized that moving to a new city, and starting a new life takes time. Usually I just write, record, and put it out; no problem. But this time, I wrote them and they sat. When that happens, you really get to know the songs. It was a different vibe.” DeMarco wrote demos for This Old Dog on an acoustic guitar, an eye-opening method for him. “The majority of this album is acoustic guitar, synthesizer, some drum machine, and one song is electric guitar. So this is a new thing for me.”  This Old Dog is rooted more in a synth-base than any of his previous releases, but he is careful not to let that tactic overshadow the other instruments and overall “unplugged” mood of the work. “This is my acoustic album, but it’s not really an acoustic album at all. That’s just what it feels like, mostly. I’m Italian, so I guess this is an Italian rock record.”

photo by Alysse Gafkjenh

Having first appeared on ACL in 2010 and most recently paid tribute to Roy Orbison in the 2017 ACL Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve celebration, Brandi Carlile comes back in celebration of her seventh album, By The Way, I Forgive You, produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb and acclaimed musician Shooter Jennings. Already receiving widespread acclaim, NPR Music’s Ann Powers asserts, “By The Way, I Forgive You takes Carlile and her longtime bandmates, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, into a new space of risk-taking—as well as the emotional stratosphere. A country-rock aria dedicated to the delicate boys and striving girls born into—and, Carlile insists, destined to triumph over—this divisive time, ‘The Joke’ offers a stunning vocal performance from Carlile, swathed in warm piano, big drums and a perfect string arrangement.” Additionally, The New York Times praises, “Motherhood is disruptive, messy, inconvenient, enlightening and triumphant in ‘The Mother’…Its fingerpicking folk-rock unfurls from a blurry awakening to unabashed pride and joy,” while XPN The Key calls it, “an achingly heartfelt and quietly powerful track.” Recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, By The Way, I Forgive You includes ten new songs written by Carlile and longtime collaborators and bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth. Of their close relationship, Carlile comments, “The Twins and I have been in a band for so long now. And not just a band, we are literally a family. When you create art with twins, it becomes unclear when I end and where they begin.” Over the course of their acclaimed career, the band has released six albums, including 2015’s The Firewatcher’s Daughter, which garnered a Grammy nomination for “Best Americana Album.”

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 as part of our Season 44.

Taping recap: The Turnpike Troubadours

photo by Scott Newton

The final taping of a season is always the setting for a blowout, and that’s what we got with the Austin City Limits debut from Turnpike Troubadours. The Oklahoma country rockers hit our stage in support of their highly acclaimed fifth LP A Long Way From Your Heart – a title that proved ironic, as there’s obviously a short distance to that organ in their devoted fans’ chests.

The Americana stars took the stage to huge applause, launching into “The Housefire,” the opener of A Long Way. The band then started mining its extensive back catalog with the rocking “Every Girl,” a song co-written by guest keyboardist John Fullbright, the danceable “Kansas City Southern” and passionate “1968,” all from the 2010 album Diamonds and Gasoline. The Troubadours then reached all the way back to their 2007 debut album, with the Cajun-flavored dancefloor filler “Bossier City,” before returning to the new album for the electric folk of “The Winding Stair Mountain Blues,” inspired by a true story from singer/songwriter Evan Felker’s Southeast Oklahoma past. After six skillet-lickers in a row, the band slowed down a tad for “Pay No Rent,” an earnest ballad in tribute to a friend of Felker who passed away. “Good Lord Lorrie” worked a similar groove to even more anthemic effect.

The red-dirt anthems continued with the widescreen rocker “A Tornado Warning.” Felker then strapped on a banjo for the folk-rocker “Gin Smoke & Lies,” its melody a clever variant on the old folk song “Shady Grove.” That led into the blazing “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead,” which had the buzzing audience clapping along from the start. Steel guitarist Hank Early switched to a Dobro for an acoustic duet with Felker on “Diamonds and Gasoline,” much to the crowd’s delight. The band returned for a romp through “Whole Damn Town,” before the penultimate, lighter waving waltz “The Bird Hunter. The Troubadours closed the show with “Something to Hold On To,” a track co-written by Kevin Russell, beloved leader of Austin’s own Shinyribs and the Gourds. The song ended in a three-way solo frenzy from Early, lead guitarist Ryan Engleman and fiddler Kyle Nix, which made the audience go wild.

The show wasn’t quite over yet, however. As is an artist’s prerogative, the Troubadours decided to redo a few numbers, starting with “The Housefire.” The band ripped through another take on “The Winding Stair Mountain Blues” before finishing with a new version of “A Tornado Warning.” Fortunately, the audience were perfectly happy to enjoy those songs again. It was a great show and a nice way to close out the season, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs early next year as part of our Season 43 on your local PBS station.  

Taping recap: Dan Auerbach

photo by Scott Newton

Singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Dan Auerbach is no stranger to the ACL stage – his band The Black Keys have appeared twice on the show. This was his debut solo taping, performed with his Easy Eye Sound band and special guest Robert Finley, in support of his first solo album in eight years, the acclaimed Waiting on a Song. The record’s bright, countrified pop/rock contrasts nicely with the Keys’ grungy blues rock, and the show, which we streamed live around the world, followed suit.

Wielding an acoustic guitar, Auerbach and his band of legendary Nashville session players opened with the title track, a folk rocking welcome to a night of music. “Livin’ in Sin” followed, its country rock groove highlighted by the harmony guitars of Russ Pahl (who last appeared on ACL in 1993 with Great Plains) and Cage the Elephant’s Nick Bockrath. Auerbach switched to a Telecaster and Pahl to an electric sitar for “Malibu Man,” a soul-inflected tune with prominent harmonies from mandolinist Pat McLaughlin, another ACL vet, having visited in 2005 as a member of John Prine’s band. The frontman introduced members of the band, specifically “Memphis boys” Gene Chrisman (drums) and Bobby Wood (electric piano), both of whom have Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin on their extensive resumés. The group then romped through the darkly funny pop tune “Stand By My Girl” (“because she’ll kill me if I don’t”). Auerbach noted that many of the bandmembers had also played on songwriting god John Prine’s first album, before going into the sweet country rock of the unreleased “Somewhere Between Eau Claire and East Moline,” a song Auerbach co-wrote with Prine. Next up, the grooving “Pull Me Under Love” is another unreleased song that featured a Pahl/Auerbach duel on guitar. Auerbach introed the rest of the band before launching into the psychedelic swamp rock of “Cherry Bomb.”

Auerbach noted that he and his Easy Eye crew also make records for other people, bringing on one of those folks: Louisiana soul singer Robert Finley. Resplendent in his black leather cowboy hat and shades, the silver-haired, smoky-voiced Finley wasted no time going into the slinky “Medicine Woman.” “Let’s do one more with Robert,” said Auerbach, which cued the Southern soul of “Get It While You Can,” a classic in waiting. That was unfortunately all the time we had with Finley, but Auerbach made up for his absence with the lovely ballad “Never in My Wildest Dreams.” The band stayed with the easygoing vibe for “Tangled Love,” yet another unreleased song, and the album’s breezy “Show Me.” Auerbach ended the show with “Shine On Me,” the sprightly pop song that’s the first single from Waiting on a Song. The audience loved it, dancing along from the first bar. It was a sharp, memorable end to a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs in early 2018 as part of our Season 43 on your local PBS station.

New taping and livestreams: Turnpike Troubadours and Dan Auerbach

photo by David McClister

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce our final taping of Season 43 with Oklahoma country rockers Turnpike Troubadours. The breakout band will hit the ACL stage on December 5 for a debut taping that will also be streamed live around the world. Speaking of livestreams, we’re also stoked to say that we’ll be doing the same for Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach’s taping on November 27. Auerbach will also be joined during the set by a very special guest, Louisiana soul singer Robert Finley, the first signing to his Easy Eye Sound record label.  Both tapings will stream at 8pm CT/9 pm ET, Dan Auerbach here on November 27 and Turnpike Troubadours here on December 5, powered by Dell.  

Called “the greatest country music band in the world right now” by Saving Country Music, the Turnpike Troubadours make their ACL debut in support of their fourth album A Long Way From Your Heart. Produced by Grammy winner Ryan Hewitt (The Avett Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers), Heart is a rare triumph––an album that hooks immediately but then rewards listeners willing to dig deeper. “I love what we as a band have turned into and how we treat songs,” says lead singer and chief songwriter Evan Felker. “That’s something we’ve grown into––adding some sort of oddly theatrical element to the musicianship to help the story along, to sum up where or who the character is to give him a little bit of landscape. It’s not just an acoustic guitar and a guy telling you what somebody’s doing.” Born in Okemah, Oklahoma, birthplace of Woody Guthrie and Troubadours pal John Fullbright, Felker founded his band of virtuosic country-rock road dogs in 2005. Since then, the Troubadours have delivered punch after punch of smart rock & roll that sells out huge venues throughout the Midwest and South and packs legendary haunts like the Troubadour in Los Angeles. “Felker has evolved into a Red Dirt Springsteen, deftly blending autobiographical elements with complex, hardscrabble characters,” raves Garden & Gun. Narratives put to music are nothing new, but Felker and his bandmates have upped the ante, creating a web of unforgettable characters that show up on album after album in songs that are both catchy and musically complex: men and women with their backs against their wall, represented realistically but also imbued with dignity. “It feels like going home to see that those characters are still alive in a way that movies and literary writers have always done,” Felker says. “It feels good.”

photo by Alyssa Gafkjen

Dan Auerbach has performed on ACL twice before with his band The Black Keys, and this will be his first time performing solo on the program where he will be backed by some of Nashville’s finest musicians—Bobby Wood, Gene “Bubba” Chrisman, Pat McLaughlin, Dave Roe, Russ Pahl, Ray Jacildo, Ashley Wilcoxson, Leisa Hans, Nick Bockrath from Cage the Elephant—as well as featuring legendary bluesman Robert Finley.  The eight-time Grammy winning superstar will perform songs from his acclaimed new solo release Waiting On A Song.  NPR calls the album “a batch of sparkling pop songs that’s sweet, breezy, and primed for summer.” The album is Auerbach’s follow-up to 2009’s Keep It Hid and is his love letter to Nashville. As such, he recruited some of Na­shville’s most respected players to write and record his latest. “Living in Nashville has definitely changed the way I think about music and the way that I record it,” he says about working with his heroes. “I didn’t have all of these resources before. I am working with some of the greatest musicians that ever lived.” The always-understated musician is happy to have his own version of the Wrecking Crew at his Easy Eye Studio in south Nashville. “Sometimes I feel I created my own Field of Dreams. I built the studio to accommodate live musicians playing, and then all of a sudden the best musicians in Nashville show up, and it’s happening. This is the sound I was looking for, and now there really is an Easy Eye sound. It’s a factory—but in the way that Motown or Stax or American Studios was a factory. Anything can happen, any day.” He pauses a long minute, as if to let it all sink in. “Even with the success I’ve had, it’s only just now that I’m finally finding myself,” Auerbach says. “I called the album Waiting On A Song because I’ve been waiting my whole life to be able to do this. And now I have. And none of us ever want it to stop.”

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. Or you can join us online for Dan Auerbach here on November 27 and Turnpike Troubadours here on December 5 for these full-set livestreams. The broadcast versions will air on PBS early next year as part of our Season 43.


Taping recap: LCD Soundsystem

photo by Scott Newton

The return of LCD Soundsystem to action after a five-year layoff is one of 2017’s biggest success stories. So we were thrilled to welcome James Murphy and his cohorts for the group’s debut Austin City Limits taping. The band lived up to every expectation and delivered a career-spanning set that rocked the packed house.

The octet took the stage casually before a lone synth pulse signalled the beginning of “Oh Baby,” the synth-popping opening track of the band’s latest album American Dream, their first career #1. Murphy thanked the audience for coming and expressed excitement for being on the show, noting that they’d never done anything like this before. Then it was on to “Call the Police,” the rocking first single from Dream. Assuring the fans that the show wouldn’t consist solely of new songs, Murphy reached back to This is Happening, formerly the group’s final LP, for the bouncy “I Can Change,” perfectly balancing romantic woe, disco rhythm and pop melody. The dance rhythms continued for the cheeky, percussion-heavy “Get Innocuous!”  and the groovily defiant  “You Wanted a Hit.” The propulsive powerhouse “Tribulations” followed, making the crowd a roiling mass of dance moves. Before anyone could catch breath, the synths led into “Someone Great,” a soaring pop tune that featured close harmonies between Murphy and keyboardist Nancy Whang.

In order to let band and audience have a moment, Murphy introduced the musicians. But the reprieve didn’t last long, as it was off into the noisy hipshaker “Change Yr Mind,” its relentless groove and anthemic vocals contrasted by six-string skronk. The guitar clangor continued, ornamenting the pulsing, playful, percussion-soaked “Yr City’s a Sucker.” The band’s penchant for mixing rock anthems with dance rhythms asserted itself in a big way for “Tonite,” which segued directly into the aggressively danceable pop song “Home.” The electropulse continued without pause as Murphy moved to a piano, Al Doyle started a chicken scratch on guitar and Nancy Whang took the mic for a driving cover of Chic’s immortal disco classic “I Want Your Love,” which made an already wildly dancing audience thrash even harder. After that breathless rush, the main set ended with “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” which started out mellow before ending in a power waltz that drove the crowd mad.  

A brief pause later, the band returned to the stage, Murphy explaining that he had to pee. Before anyone could divine whether or not he was kidding, Doyle banged out the big riff that kicks off “Emotional Haircut,” one of the combo’s wittiest tunes. The show ended with the pop anthem “All My Friends,” Murphy embracing the title by hopping offstage to shake hands with the front row. It was a perfect ending to a phenomenal show, one we can’t wait to show you when it airs early next year on your local PBS station as part of our season 43.

Taping recap: Shinyribs

photo by Scott Newton

Kevin Russell is no stranger to our stage. The leader of Shinyribs last hit Austin City Limits in 2007 while a member of Austin’s beloved Gourds. Since that group’s breakup, Russell has taken his vision of roots rock in a more soulful, danceable and theatrical direction with Shinyribs. Four albums and countless live performances later, he and the band finally came back home for an ACL taping that was a celebration of all things Shiny, livestreamed worldwide in all its glory.  Livestream viewer Brenda Walker raved of the riotous East Texas frontman, “Kevin really IS the Pavarotti of the Pineywoods” and Priscilla Promises chimed in “U in Austin bAaBeE.”

Introduced by hype man Trey Worth as “the Shakespeare of swamp pop” and “the shiniest man in show business,” patriarch Kevin Russell took the stage to brag about being “Country Cool,” allowing each member to show off his instrument during this slice of soul pop. The swamp to which Worth alluded earlier bubbled up in “Don’t Leave It a Lie,” a muddy groove accompanied by the Riblets, a trio of female dancers acting as Russell’s own Ikettes. Wielding a mean ukulele, Russell indulged in some call-and-response with ace backup vocalists Alice Spencer and Kelley Mickwee for the tropical soul of “I Got Your Medicine,” the title track to the band’s fourth and latest LP. The ‘ribs gleefully blended swamp rock, funk, c&w and yodeling for the epic “Song of Lime Juice & Despair,” complete with a Riblets ‘n’ Russell dance routine. The band then pulled out an inspired cover of David Bowie’s “Golden Years,” set to a double-timed rhythm (borrowed from the Drifters’ “On Broadway”) that allowed Russell to indulge in vocalese lifted from various R&B hits.

Russell took the mood from party-hearty to wistful by dedicating the slow-burn soul song “Who Built The Moon” to much beloved local bassist George Reiff, recently passed from cancer. The group then dropped in for a quick New Orleans visit, covering Allen Toussaint’s finger-popping R&B tune “A Certain Girl,” first recorded in 1961 by Ernie K-Doe and boasting cracking solos from Russell, keyboardist Winfield Cheek, saxist Mark Wilson and trumpeter Tiger Anaya. Doubling as a possible name for Shinyribs’ musical gumbo, “Tub Gut Stomp & Red-Eyed Soul” followed, reminiscent of key Russell influence Doug Sahm. Continuing his musical tour of Texas, Russell guided the band to the Lone Star/Louisiana border for the soulful “Take Me Lake Charles.”  After the frisky pop and roll of “Walt Disney,” Russell dug deep for “I Gave Up All I Had,” a powerful cover from the catalogue of the late soul man Ted Hawkins.

While Russell crawled back up from the floor, bassist Jeff Brown and drummer Keith Langford (a fellow ex-Gourd) started up a roiling groove that signalled the frisky funk of “Baby, What’s Wrong?” which also included a mock fight between Russell and the Riblets. Shinyribs concluded the main set with the jungle pop of “Poor People’s Store,” which generated the band’s traditional conga line on the floor – joined, of course, by Russell himself. The audience couldn’t let the night end just yet, though. The band came back for an encore, starting with a song “about my favorite root vegetable.” The ballad “Sweet Potato” doubled as an excuse to introduce the band, Russell noting each member’s root veggie preference rather than his or her hometown. Russell crawled to the edge of the stage and back in mock fatigue, before a Riblet draped a sparkling robe over his shoulders—what Russell called “a luminous cloak”—his very own technicolor dreamcoat with light-up lining in ever-changing colors. As the song drifted wistfully to an end, Russell picked up his guitar, cranked up the volume and grunged his way into the rock ‘n’ soul of “East TX Rust,” the robe making him look like a glam rock Jawa. “Let’s get it on now!” he demanded as he put his axe through its paces, and there wasn’t a soul in the crowd who would disagree. The song ended in a riot of guitar, horns and an audience going wild. It was a fantastic show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs early next year as part of our Season 43 on your local PBS station.