ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2016

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 21: William Bell and Bonnie Raitt perform onstage at the Americana Honors & Awards 2016 at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music)

Austin City Limits returns to Nashville for a special broadcast featuring performance highlights from this year’s Americana Honors & Awards. ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2016 premieres November 19th on PBS and delivers dazzling performances that represent the genre’s diversity and excellence. The music-filled hour features many of the night’s award-winners and honorees, including buzzed about newcomers and icons who helped define the genre; among them: George Strait, Margo Price, Jason Isbell, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Weir, Alison Krauss, Steve Earle, Parker Millsap, Dwight Yoakam, William Bell and Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell.

Recorded live at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on September 21st, The Americana Music Association’s 15th Annual Honors & Awards ceremony is a celebration of music that is authentic, diverse and original from many genres, both traditional and contemporary. “If you can taste the dirt through your ears, that is Americana,” says Americana Music Association Executive Director Jed Hilly. “It is music that is derived or inspired by American roots traditions.”

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Jason Isbell, who took top honors for Album of the Year and Song of the Year, gives a captivating performance of his “If It Takes A Lifetime,” accompanied by his wife, fiddler Amanda Shires, and band The 400 Unit. Roots giants who died in 2016, Merle Haggard, Guy Clark and Ralph Stanley are honored with one-of-a-kind performances: the show opens with the night’s Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree for Performance, Grateful Dead founder Bob Weir, in tribute to Merle Haggard, performing a rendition of the country outlaw’s iconic “Mama Tried.”  Steve Earle delivers Guy Clark’s classic “Desperados Waiting For A Train,” calling out “See you when I get there, Maestro,” at the song’s close. Roots titan Alison Krauss performs a stunning a cappella version of bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley’s “Gloryland,” joined by stalwarts Buddy Miller, Melonie Cannon and Stuart Duncan.

NASHVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 21: Stuart Duncan, Melonie Cannon, Alison Krauss, and Buddy Miller perform onstage at the Americana Honors & Awards 2016 at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. at Ryman Auditorium on September 21, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music)

In true Americana style, the broadcast is loaded with musical moments and collaborations. Legendary duet partners Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, awarded Duo/Group of the year, perform a stirring “Bring It On Home.” Bonnie Raitt, a 2015 Lifetime Achievement honoree, offers a new track, “Gypsy in Me,” backed by gospel greats The McCrary Sisters. She returns to join Stax soul legend William Bell, the night’s Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree for Songwriting, on the slow-burn “The Three of Me,” accompanied by producer John Leventhal on guitar. Honky-tonk maverick Dwight Yoakam delivers a blistering gem from his acclaimed new release Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars… alongside Stuart Duncan on fiddle.

The genre’s breakout newcomers give show-stopping performances, including the Emerging Artist Award-winner, Nashville rebel Margo Price with her “Tennessee Song.” Americana sensation Parker Millsap performs a powerful “Heaven Sent” from his critically-acclaimed Album of the Year-nominated release, joined by standouts Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan on backing vocals.  Chart-toppers The Lumineers light up the stage with a new song, “Angela.” Emerging Artist nominees Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats perform “Wasting Time,” showing the full range of the Americana spectrum.  

King of country music George Strait, performs his signature, “King of Broken Hearts,” alongside the songwriter, Jim Lauderdale, for a thrilling close. The hourlong broadcast is hosted by Americana kingpin Lauderdale, and performers are backed by a first class house band led by Nashville mainstay Buddy Miller and featuring it-producer Dave Cobb, with Stuart Duncan, Fred Eltringham, Steve Fishell, Matt Rollings, Chris Wood and The McCrary Sisters.

The show was co-produced by High Five Entertainment and its President Martin Fischer and ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona.

My Morning Jacket and Ben Harper bring big rock to ACL’s Season 42

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases two of modern rock’s best live acts: My Morning Jacket and Ben Harper.  The longtime fan favorites make return appearances armed with new material in a must-see installment as part of ACL’s Season 42.

My Morning Jacket return for the first time in nearly a decade for their third Austin City Limits appearance, highlighting songs from their last two studio albums, The Waterfall and Circuital.  The Kentucky indie-rockers, five-time Grammy Award-winners, kick off a blissed-out 4-song set with the title track to 2011’s Circuital.  Charismatic leader Jim James dazzles in a colorful kimono and big sunglasses as the band builds their signature soundscapes, including a tune from The Waterfall, a 2016 Grammy nominee for Best Alternative Album.  Their psychedelic textures expand into a glorious wall of sound for the set-closer “Victory Dance,” as the shape-shifting James prowls the stage with a towel on his head and an electronic sampler around his neck for an epic close.

Ben Harper reunites with his longtime backing band the Innocent Criminals after a seven-year hiatus for his first ACL appearance since Season 35.  Harper and crew deliver a powerful, six-song set featuring classics and new songs from 2016’s acclaimed Call It What It Is.  Opening with the ever-catchy “Steal My Kisses,” the frontman gets the crowd on its feet, then segues into soulful new gems, showcasing his trademark lap steel guitar bona fides.  The socially-charged title track from his latest release has Harper reciting the names of gone-too-soon young black men.  Harper’s show-stopping performance of the take-us-to-church gospel burner “Where Could I Go” leaves both singer and audience overcome from the power of the moment, exposing the painfully honest and self-reflective lyrics that have made Harper a fan-favorite for 20-plus years.

photo by Scott Newton

“Jim James has appeared on the ACL stage in many musical guises, as befits his wildly eclectic virtuosity,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “But My Morning Jacket brings him back to ground zero where he is most at home. He’s one of the best at engaging a live audience, and it shows.  Ben Harper is another perennial favorite, always in tune with the times, his fans and his musical muse.  It’s very much like a homecoming for both of them, but more akin to two old friends coming home from long musical journeys to show us what they’ve learned.”

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for an ACL Presents special, featuring the Americana Music Festival 2016.

ACL Season 42 brings Latin grooves with Natalia Lafourcade and Grupo Fantasma

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents the contemporary Latin sounds of two of music’s best in show, Natalia Lafourcade and Grupo Fantasma. Mexican superstar Lafourcade performs songs from her Grammy-winning album Hasta la Raíz and powerhouse Latin funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma deliver show-stopping grooves.  

As one of Mexico’s biggest music stars, Natalia Lafourcade’s infectious mix of pop, rock, folk and bossa nova has earned the singer-songwriter multiple international chart-topping albums.  In her Austin City Limits debut, Lafourcade and her backing quintet perform selections from her sixth studio album, the acclaimed Hasta La Raíz, which won universal accolades, culminating in four 2015 Latin Grammys, including top honors of song and record of the year for the title track, and a 2016 Grammy Award (her first) for Best Latin Rock album.  Opening with the title track, an intimate, melodic anthem about holding on to one’s roots, the set showcases her sweet, airy vocals.  Lafourcade reaches back to the catchy “En El 2000,” her 2003 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.”  She closes out the captivating set with the pretty, bossa nova-influenced gem “Para Qué Sufrir,” a clear fan favorite.   

“I was hooked as a fan when I saw Natalia Lafourcade perform at the Latin Grammys,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “She may seem an unlikely Latin superstar, but her sweet voice and personal songs have a way of connecting with her fans and the world around her.”

Austin originals Grupo Fantasma deliver a white-hot, delirious blend of big-band samba, merengue and Latin jams in a powerhouse five-song set.  Formed in 2000, the 9-piece funk outfit first-appeared on ACL in Season 33.  The Grammy-winning funksters continue their decade and a half of magic with danceable, irresistible songs from their new, acclaimed album Problemas, produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin.  Opening with the slow-burning cumbia “Nada,” the crowd is on its feet.  The band is joined by special guests Steve Berlin and renowned saxophonist Karl Denson for “Cayuco,” a sultry mambo torn from the horns and heat of Cuban dance halls.  The group welcomes Los Texmaniacs accordionist Josh Baca and former Grupo founding member Adrian Quesada for the conjunto-flavored “Esa Negra.”  Performing the title track of Problemas, Grupo’s charismatic bandleader Jose Galeano gives dance instructions to the front row.  For the final song, a tribute to the band’s late friend and champion Prince, the 9-piece orchestra swells to 17-pieces. Galeano, at a momentary loss for words, simply remarks “There’s not much we can say.  We’re just gonna play.”  And so they do, 17-strong across the stage, lighting the room aflame with the Purple One’s disco-fied early hit “Controversy.”

photo by Scott Newton

“Kick-ass Latin funk might not be a music genre, but it defines what Grupo Fantasma does,” says Lickona.  “There were 20 musicians blasting and riffing their way through the night, shaking the stage if not the balcony high above! Austin is not usually known for its Latin grooves, but Grupo could change that!”

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for another brand new episode featuring the return of longtime ACL friends My Morning Jacket and Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals.

ACL 42 rocks on with the one and only Iggy Pop

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a Season 42 highlight: an hour with the one and only Iggy Pop. The larger than life icon gives a king-sized performance in his ACL debut, performing a mix of classics and songs from his acclaimed 2016 release Post Pop Depression, his first career solo #1 album.

Bringing new songs to life alongside classics that bookend his storied career, Iggy is joined by the all-star team behind Post Pop Depression: Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Dean Fertita and the Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders, augmented for the stage with Queens’ Troy Van Leeuwen and indie-rock mainstay Matt Sweeney. Hurtling onstage to open the eleven-song set with “Lust For Life,” the godfather of punk bares his soul and torso in this memorable hour. Shirtless by the second song, the Detroit native performs selections from his first two solo albums, the late 1970s pair of collaborations with David Bowie, The Idiot and Lust for Life, including rarely performed gems “Some Weird Sin” and “China Girl”. A raucous “Funtime” features Josh Homme taking the vocal sung by co-writer Bowie on the original version. Iggy launches into new classics fitting perfectly into his solo catalog, featuring tight, punchy marvels that embellish his earlier work. Displaying his uniquely animated stage presence, the veteran rock ‘n’ roll warrior thrills with several trips deep into the crowd, saying “This is a pretty good job.”

“There’s never been another show quite like this one, and that’s saying a lot!” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Iggy is an ageless, timeless, human dynamo, and he took command of the stage, the cameras, the whole building. This show captures the essence of what makes Iggy Pop the godfather of punk rockers.”

photo by Scott Newton

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for another brand new episode featuring Latin rock and pop powerhouses Natalia Lafourcade and Grupo Fantasma.

Florence + the Machine and Andra Day’s breathtaking hour of ACL Season 42

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a breathtaking hour with two of today’s most inspirational acts: Florence + the Machine in their return appearance and Andra Day in a standout ACL debut.

It’s been over five years since UK hitmakers Florence + the Machine first-appeared on the ACL stage. Now international superstars and one of rock’s biggest live acts, the unstoppable band make a triumphant return with a high-energy, buoyant five-song set. Dynamic leader Florence Welch dances barefoot across the stage performing songs from their recent, chart-topping LP How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Her knockout vocals and remarkable rapport with fans captivate throughout as she enlists the crowd as a “hungover choir of angels” for the Grammy-nominated “Shake It Out” from 2011’s Ceremonials, closing with a rapturous performance of the band’s 2009 breakthrough smash, the anthemic “Dog Days Are Over.”

“Florence brings a unique performance art to all of her shows, and she took it to a new level this night,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “She went out of her way to establish a real connection with her audience, and at times the fans seemed to be as much a part of the show as she was. It’s very magical to watch it happen in real time.”

Rising star Andra Day dazzles with her unique mix of R&B, soul and jazz in her first ACL outing, performing songs from her Grammy-nominated debut Cheers to the Fall. A singer with astounding vocal range, she showcases her powerhouse vocals in a stellar, four-song set. The performance turns topical as Day addresses the events of the Orlando tragedy (her taping was the same day) and dedicates her anthem of resilience “Rise Up” to the victims and their families. In a raw, emotionally cathartic moment, she asks the audience to join her in song sending healing energy in the hopes that the families might feel some comfort. Closing with a cover of Queen’s “I Want It All,” altering the original’s rock arrangement into a pleading blues ballad, the song brings the singer to her knees and the audience to their feet.

photo by Scott Newton

“It was the day of the Orlando tragedy, and emotions were already running high,” says Lickona. “Andra’s powerful performance reminded us all that music can be a universal healer and a force for good. When she sang ‘Rise Up,’ there was hardly a dry eye in the house.”

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for another brand new episode featuring the ACL debut of Iggy Pop.

Robert Plant returns to Austin City Limits for Season 42

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a thrilling hour with Robert Plant in an unforgettable performance marking the legendary frontman’s return to the ACL stage for the first time in more than a decade. The career-spanning set features Led Zeppelin classics alongside more recent songs in an episode that will delight die-hard fans and music fans everywhere.  

From the opening riffs of Led Zeppelin staple “The Lemon Song,” Plant commands the stage with his dynamic presence and iconic vocals. Backed by his world-class six-piece band the Sensational Shape Shifters, the rock superstar performs Zeppelin classics, including “Black Dog,” and an electrifying version of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” Plant artfully mixes new and old, captivating the audience with songs from throughout his fascinating musical journey, including the blissed-out reverie of early solo smash “In The Mood” and recent standout “Rainbow” from 2014’s acclaimed lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar. With his multi-cultural, diverse band, the icon explores the connection between rock ‘n’ roll and traditional African music, revitalizing fan favorites with West African instruments to glorious effect. Closing out the set with an explosive performance of the face-melter “Whole Lotta Love,” Plant weaves blues standards “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and “Hey! Bo Diddley” into the classic, demonstrating the epic scope of his illustrious career.

“Robert Plant is one of the few artists from any generation who can stand the test of time while always exploring, experimenting, and expanding his musical horizons,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Yet there’s a common thread of genius through all his music, from the earliest Zeppelin tunes to his newest work. Then there’s that voice! We are truly honored to have such a legend return to our stage for a second time.”

photo by Scott Newton

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for another brand new episode featuring the return of Florence + the Machine and the debut of Andra Day.

James Bay and Rhiannon Giddens debut in ACL Season 42

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits features two breakout talents making their ACL debuts—James Bay and Rhiannon Giddens—in a highly-anticipated new installment.  

UK sensation James Bay opens the hour with a stunning, soulful performance featuring songs from his global chart-topping debut Chaos and the Calm.  The 26-year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist has had a banner year earning multiple 2016 Grammy nominations, a BRIT Award win for Best Male Solo Artist, and landing on festival stages including Glastonbury, Lollapalooza and namesake ACL Festival.  In his Austin City Limits debut Bay proves why he is one of today’s biggest live acts, delivering a stellar four-song set highlighted by a powerfully acoustic, stirring rendition of his standout “Let It Go,” and breakthough smash “Hold Back the River.”

Americana sensation Rhiannon Giddens gives a spellbinding performance in her ACL debut, with selections from her widely-acclaimed 2016 Grammy-nominated release Tomorrow Is My Turn.  The album marks Giddens’ solo debut after a decade as a founding member and leader of the award-winning string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops.   Taking the stage barefoot, Giddens dons a banjo to open her dazzling set with “Spanish Mary” (lyrics by Bob Dylan).  The North Carolina native’s canon includes songs that deal with the struggles of slaves in the 19th century, including the Odetta classic “Waterboy” and the chilling “At the Purchaser’s Option,” a Giddens-penned number inspired by a 19th century advertisement for a slave and her baby.  She then enlists guitarist and fellow Drops’ bandmate Hubby Jenkins to join her on vocals for the gospel classic “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” before closing out the powerful set playfully with the romantic putdown “Louisiana Man.”

photo by Scott Newton

“Fans have been telling us for years they love to tune in to discover new talent they’ve never seen or heard before,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “This show offers a double-bonus for fans of deeply personal, heartfelt songs and singers who possess a distinctive voice.  James and Rhiannon may come from cultures an ocean apart, but their music resonates with audiences worldwide.”

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for another brand new episode featuring the return of Robert Plant.

Paul Simon shines in first episode of ACL Season 42

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits launches a new season of must-see performances from music’s finest with an icon of American popular music, Paul Simon, in his first-ever appearance on the ACL stage. The living legend shines in a sublime, career-spanning hour featuring beloved classics and new songs from his acclaimed recent album, Stranger to Stranger.

Making a rare television appearance, Simon sparkles in an irresistible performance filled with career highlights from his over five-decade strong musical legacy. Backed by a world-class nine-piece band, the music legend opens an eleven-song set with selections from Graceland, his landmark 1986 album that brought African rhythms to mainstream American radio. A lifelong sonic adventurer, Simon takes viewers to Louisiana Cajun country for a joyful performance of “That Was Your Mother.” Simon also showcases new classics from 2016’s acclaimed Stranger to Stranger, his 13th solo album, including standouts “Wristband” and “The Werewolf.” Simon’s showmanship is on full display throughout as he dazzles the ACL audience with non-stop gems from his extensive catalog, including early solo hit “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and a stripped-down, countrified “Homeward Bound.” He dips back into his Graceland songbook for “Diamonds On the Soles Of Her Shoes,” and a show-stopping “You Can Call Me Al,” engaging the crowd in hand-clapped rhythm. Simon closes with one last classic, “The Sound of Silence,” in a potent solo acoustic rendition of the Simon & Garfunkel standard that first introduced his immense talent to the world a half-century ago.

“Paul Simon is one of those rarities among the icons of contemporary music: he just keeps getting better,” says Austin City Limits executive producer Terry Lickona. “He continues to amaze with new songs that display his musical curiosity and sense of adventure, while bringing a fresh energy to songs that have been such a big part of the American songbook for so many decades. As an admitted long-time ACL fan, he was perfectly at home on our stage, and it shows!”

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for another brand new episode featuring James Bay and Rhiannon Giddens.