Encore: Band of Horses and Parker Millsap

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases modern roots rock with two American originals: indie favorites Band of Horses and acclaimed singer-songwriter Parker Millsap.

South Carolina indie-folk rockers Band of Horses made their ACL debut in 2010 and return to perform time-honed classics alongside new gems from their fifth studio album Why Are You Ok? The Charleston-based quintet, led by dynamic frontman Ben Bridwell, kick off the upbeat seven-song set with the classic, “Is There A Ghost” from their 2007 album Cease To Begin. The band strips down to an acoustic trio for the early career hit “Part One,” circling a single microphone to capture their lush three-part harmonies. New songs “Throw My Mess,” “Hag” and “In A Drawer,” showcase the band’s melodic range, and lead into the raucous set-closing anthem, fan favorite “The General Specific.”

Oklahoman singer-songwriter Parker Millsap has set the Americana world on fire with his songs, his voice and his impassioned live show. Raised in the Pentecostal church, Millsap is filled with a fire-and-brimstone fervor that fuels his gospel-tinged lyrics and gives way to Buddy Holly-esque rockabilly ravers. The 23-year-old rising star opens his ACL debut with the apocalyptic title track from his sophomore album The Very Last Day. Millsap’s “talent for bringing convincing, complex characters to life” (NPR) is evident in the set’s centerpiece, “Heaven Sent,” which has the singer taking on the role of a gay son searching for his preacher father’s acceptance. Millsap closes out the standout performance with a soaring, fiddle-accompanied take on the blues classic “You Gotta Move,” then concludes with a howling, impassioned performance of his own hard-hitting “Hades Pleads,” which gets the appreciative ACL audience on their feet for a well-deserved ovation.

photo by Scott Newton

“Their songs are at the heart of what makes both Band of Horses and Parker Millsap so special,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Band of Horses are at the top of their game, lyrically and melodically, and Parker Millsap’s songwriting is story-telling at its very best. This is a show you where you should turn off the lights and turn up the volume.”

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 encore episode from the one and only Cyndi Lauper.  

Encore: Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop ©KLRU 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 first-ever ACL appearance, with 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 forays 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. Join us next week for another encore episode, starring Band of Horses and Parker Millsap.

ACL’s 43rd season closes out with country rockers Chris Stapleton and Turnpike Troubadours

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits closes out Season 43 with a scorcher: country superstar Chris Stapleton, riding country’s hottest hand with a trio of acclaimed, chart-topping albums and a trio of newly-minted 2018 Grammy Awards, sharing an episode with one of roots music’s most revered acts, red-dirt country-rockers Turnpike Troubadours.

After years penning hits for some of Nashville’s biggest acts, singer, songwriter and guitarist Chris Stapleton took the country world by storm in 2015 with his multi-platinum, double Grammy-winning debut Traveller. Just three years later, Stapleton is the reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, and a five-time Grammy winner, taking a trio of top honors at this year’s ceremony, including Album of the Year for From A Room: Volume 1. The Kentucky native delivers a powerhouse ACL debut with a blistering six-song set fueled by his show-stopping voice, searing guitar and stellar songwriting. Opening with “Hard Livin’,” from his latest, the companion album From A Room: Volume 2, Stapleton follows with an early hit, the crowd-favorite folk-rambler “Traveller.” Joined by wife Morgane on harmony vocals, the couple wrap their voices around each other for the spellbinding gut-punch “Fire Away,” revealing a powerful onstage intimacy, and the pair dazzle on blowtorch stunner “Second One To Know.” Standing solo and acoustic for “Whiskey and You,” the country outlier brings the room to hushed silence pierced only by scattered whoops from the audience between verses. Stapleton closes out the masterful set with the breakout hit from his debut, Southern soul-burner “Tennessee Whiskey,” unleashing the full power of his scorching vocals and earning multiple standing ovations from the can’t-get-enough crowd.

Road-tested country rockers Turnpike Troubadours topped the red-dirt touring circuit this past decade, earning legions of fans the old-fashioned way, through word-of-mouth for their rousing live shows anchored by frontman Evan Felker’s singular songwriting. Their acclaimed new release A Long Way From Your Heart has launched the Oklahoma sextet onto the national stage, and the band opens their ACL debut with the album’s lead song “The Housefire.” The Troubadours perform a six-song, career-spanning set with Felker’s trademark character-driven tunes exploding behind rowdy strings. Throughout their four albums, the band has used a running cast of characters to weave a narrative for their dedicated fans with songs that chronicle the highs, hangovers and heartbreaks of Middle America. “Tell everyone in Austin I love y’all to death” yells Felker during the blazing crowd-pleaser “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead.” Steel guitarist Hank Early switches to a Dobro for an acoustic duet with Felker on “Diamonds and Gasoline.” Felker calls out to bring the band back for set-closer “Something To Hold Onto,” as the ace musicians ignite in a three-way solo blaze of glory with Early, lead guitarist Ryan Engleman and fiddler Kyle Nix.

photo by Scott Newton

“We take pride in bringing the best of the best of every genre to our audience, and Chris Stapleton is at the top of his game right now,” said ACL executive producer, Terry Lickona. “Few bands on the scene, if any, deliver a better live experience than Turnpike Troubadours, and this show makes you feel like you’re right on the front line.”

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. Join us next week for a special encore episode, featuring Ms. Lauryn Hill.

Dan Auerbach and Shinyribs bring unique roots rock to ACL’s 43rd season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a feel-good hour featuring Black Keys superstar Dan Auerbach, performing songs from his acclaimed solo album and joined by a stellar band of legendary Nashville musicians, in a double-bill with Austin’s country-soul juggernaut Shinyribs.

Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach takes a break from his main outfit, the eight-time Grammy-winning Black Keys, and returns to the ACL stage to showcase songs from his radiant solo release Waiting On A Song. Conceived in his adopted hometown of Nashville with an all-star cast of Music Row’s finest musicians, NPR raves “Each track on Waiting On A Song sparkles like a long-lost gem of early-’70s AM radio.” The restless creative and his ace seven-piece backing crew, featuring many of the record’s legendary silver-haired sidemen, perform a blissed-out seven-song ACL set.  Highlights include a pair of timeless tunes co-written with songwriting icon John Prine: the buoyant set-opening title track and an unrecorded gem, “Somewhere Between Eau Claire and East Moline.” In old-school soul revue style, Auerbach introduces his own Easy Eye Sound label signee, 63-year old soul singer Robert Finley, who takes center stage to deliver a dose of his show-stopping “Medicine Woman.” Auerbach closes out the sparkling set with the sunny, melodic delight “Shine On Me” and the crowd is happy to sing-along.

Swamp-pop band Shinyribs keep the party going, delivering a high-energy, full-throttle four-song tour de force in one of the most entertaining performances on the ACL stage. Flamboyant frontman Kevin Russell, aka the “shaman of soul,” is no stranger to legions of music fans as the former leader of beloved Austin band The Gourds (who appeared on ACL in 2007). Russell has ramped up the showmanship in Shinyribs, and the East Texas rockers have become one of Austin’s favorite live acts since forming in 2010. The eight-piece outfit is a party machine, complete with horns, back-up singers and dancers. Performing songs from across their four albums, powerhouse singer Russell is a bigger-than-life force of nature with stage theatrics as lively as the music, delivering delightful repartee, guitar solos, enviable dance moves, call-and-response with back-up singers the Shiny Soul Sisters, all while whipping up a brew of Texas country soul with a side of hip-shaking swamp-funk. The band’s trio of onstage dancers –  dubbed the “Riblets” – drape the frontman in a glittery silver robe tricked-out with colorful flashing lights for the roof-raising set-closer “East Texas Rust” as Russell wails on electric guitar. You in Texas baby.

photo by Scott Newton

“You can’t not watch this show without feeling good afterwards,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Dan Auerbach has five times more creative energy than anyone with half his credits! And ‘seeing is believing’ with Shinyribs. Kevin Russell goes above-and-beyond to ‘Keep Austin Weird’!”

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. Join us next week for another brand new episode, featuring the ACL debut of country superstar Chris Stapleton and Americana powerhouse Turnpike Troubadours.

 

LCD Soundsystem thrills ACL’s 43rd season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits showcases one of today’s most thrilling live acts, LCD Soundsystem, for an electrifying hour. The dance-rock band make their first-ever appearance on the program with a victory lap of beloved hits alongside new classics.

LCD Soundsystem perform songs from American Dream, its first new release after a five-year hiatus and the first #1 album in their decade-long run. Called “a party album for the end of the world or an apocalypse album for the end of the party,” by Rolling Stone, the album earned wide acclaim and landed on many “best of 2017” lists. The New York City band, formed by leader James Murphy in 2002, launches a spectral Austin City Limits set with a pair of songs from their acclaimed comeback: the synth-popping beat of album-opener “Oh Baby” and charging bass and cathartic guitar of dance-floor magnet “Call the Police.” Murphy clutches his signature retro mic and promises the audience a mix of songs old and new as they kick into fan-favorite “I Can Change,” a perfect balance of romantic woe, disco rhythm and pop melody from 2010’s This Is Happening. Murphy’s lyrical wit and soaring vocal is the band’s trademarks and together they dive into the wry melancholy of “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” from 2007’s Sound Of Silver.  LCD’s penchant for mixing rock anthems with dance rhythms is in full force on the rock ‘n’ roll disco opus “Tonite,” the newly-minted 2018 Grammy-winner for Best Dance Recording, the band’s first career Grammy win. The fascinating hour allows viewers an immersive glimpse into LCD’s artistry, with seven band members onstage to recreate the electronic-based parts of their catalog, layering a potent mix of sounds with free-wheeling electro-pulse synth. A staccato piano riff signals “All My Friends,” an endorphin rush ode to slowing down time that closes out the hour as Murphy gets into the spirit, stepping into the crowd to shake hands with all his new best friends in the front row.

“When LCD played their ‘last show’ at Madison Square Garden in 2011, I thought we’d missed our chance,” explained ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Then I was excited to hear James had decided to revive the band, make a new record and hit the road again. They were a must-get for ACL! LCD’s sound has a way of washing over you and carrying you away. They make music like nobody else can!”

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. Join us next week for another brand new episode, featuring the solo ACL debut of Black Keys singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and the debut of former Gourds member Kevin Russell’s party favorite Shinyribs.

 

Run The Jewels rocks Austin City Limits’ Season 43

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a groundbreaking hour of hip-hop as powerhouse rap duo Run the Jewels make their first appearance on the ACL stage. The pair perform a 14-track set in a rapid-fire, riveting showcase filled with greatest hits and choice cuts from their acclaimed release Run the Jewels 3.

Two veteran rappers, Killer Mike (from Atlanta) and El-P (from Brooklyn), formed Run the Jewels in 2013 to runaway success and much critical acclaim. XXL Magazine calls the unlikely collaborators “partners in rhyme and reason…perhaps the most consistently enthralling duo in all of hip-hop.” Blasting onto the ACL stage, Killer Mike announces, “We’re gonna light this s**t on fire like Willie Nelson would light a joint,” as they break into a titanic rendition of “Talk To Me” from their latest album Run the Jewels 3. The charismatic duo, joined by bandmate DJ Trackstar on turntables, power through the entire hour at a breakneck pace, unleashing furious rhymes without pausing to breathe, backed by a relentless pulse of menacing beats. Run the Jewels’ back and forth is dazzling, spitting out showstopping verses on racism, inner city reality and scathing sociopolitical commentary cut with gallows humor. “I don’t care about what they say about watching TV – I am definitely smarter because of PBS,” declares Mike as the two MCs drop thrilling lyrical smartbombs inspiring the hooked crowd to chant R-T-J! R-T-J!

“Austin City Limits opened the door to hip hop almost 10 years ago when Mos Def performed, and has continued to present groundbreaking rappers like Kendrick Lamar ever since,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “It arguably represents the most popular and relevant musical culture in the world today. Run the Jewels proves you can have fun, entertain, and deliver a compelling message at the same time.”

photo by Scott Newton

A hallmark of Run the Jewels is visceral, expletive-laden performances and El-P cheerfully apologizes to broadcast censors, with Killer Mike admitting “We curse like goddamn sailors, kids!” The performance is edited for broadcast, but an uncensored version will be available for fans on the ACLTV YouTube Channel January 28, following the program’s initial broadcast premiere.

Viewers will also have a chance to go behind the scenes with Run the Jewels in a new installment of ACL: Backstage premiering January 25 on ACLTV’s YouTube Channel. The new 10-part 360-degree VR documentary series offers fans immersive only-in-VR moments straight from the current season. The series, created by SubVRsive and ACL in partnership with Google and sponsored by Apple Music, gives an up-close look at some of Season 43’s most iconic performances and takes viewers backstage to hear from the artists before they step under the lights at Austin City Limits’ famed studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas and join them onstage with closer-than-front-row seats. ACL: Backstage previously released four episodes featuring Ed Sheeran, Zac Brown Band, Father John Misty, and the Austin City Limits crew in “Unsung Heroes,” and five additional episodes will be released through March. The videos offer a full 360º view that lets fans look up, down, and all around. Completely surrounded by sight and sound, all it takes is the turn of a head, tilt of a phone, or a drag of the mouse to explore the story from every angle. Viewers can watch exclusively on YouTube via web, mobile, or for the best experience, with a Google Daydream View headset via the YouTube VR app. (Note: some language may be NSFW.)

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, click over to YouTube for the related episode of ACL Backstage, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Join us next week for another brand new episode, featuring reunited alt.rock champs LCD Soundsystem.

 

Herbie Hancock brings jazz mastery to ACL Season 43

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a series highlight: a career-spanning hour with one of the world’s most celebrated artists, jazz legend Herbie Hancock, in his first-ever appearance on the program.  

Hancock opens the hour with an early gem, “Cantaloupe Island,” from his 1964 album Empyrean Isles.  Originally composed during his time in Miles Davis’ second great quintet of the Sixties, Hancock thrills with a new take on a modern standard, showcasing his remarkable touch on the piano, anchored by the number’s iconic riffs.  Playing with a palpable pure joy, the Grammy-lauded giant is exhilarating to watch, ageless six decades into an extraordinary career.  The bandleader shares the ACL stage with a seasoned jazz combo comprised of bassist James Genus, saxophonist/keyboardist Terrace Martin, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.  Hancock pivots to his Korg Kronos synthesizer for the futuristic, ambient opening of “Overture,” before spotlighting his band of aces as each player answers the call with elastic, playful chemistry. He takes the mic to say, “We like to go a little crazy up here sometimes,” to the crowd’s delight, before launching into “Secret Sauce,” a new composition that begins with him on vocoder and a thrusting synth and bass groove, breaks down to near-silence, then slowly simmers to a boil, with  Hancock masterfully commanding his synth and piano simultaneously. The band closes out the stunning set with the funk classic “Chameleon,” from 1973’s landmark album Head Hunters, as Hancock takes center stage with his white keytar, dazzling with jaw-dropping solos as the crowd responds in rapt appreciation.

photo by Scott Newton

“Jazz doesn’t often find its way onto the ACL stage, so when it does it’s always something special,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “In my humble opinion, this is one of the most historic shows we’ve ever done, so that – among many other reasons – makes it must-see TV!”

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. Join us next week for another brand new episode, featuring hip-hop superstars Run the Jewels.

Episode recap: Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents an hour with two extraordinary singer-songwriters, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires. The husband and wife duo unite for a special double-bill as Americana star Isbell returns to the ACL stage to share an episode with his partner and collaborator Shires as she makes her solo ACL debut.

One of the finest American songwriters today, Jason Isbell returns with songs from his sixth studio album The Nashville Sound, which topped critics’ year-end best lists and is nominated for two 2018 Grammy Awards, including Best Americana Album. The Alabama native, already a two-time Grammy honoree, is joined by his band The 400 Unit for a masterful 6-song set that captures the artist at the peak of his creative powers. Kicking things off with the anthemic “Hope the High Road,” a set highlight follows with an exquisite version of the Grammy-nominated track “If We Were Vampires,” a haunting love song inspired by partner Shires, who joins him in close harmony. The ace songsmith displays his storytelling gifts, inhabiting his characters’ interior lives in the social gut-punch “White Man’s World” and detailing the tale of a homesick southerner in “Last of My Kind.” 

A musical marvel from Nashville by way of Texas, Amanda Shires has been a fixture on the circuit since she began her career as a teenaged fiddler with renowned Western swing institution the Texas Playboys and has toured and recorded with outlaw country maverick Billy Joe Shaver, John Prine and most recently as a member of Isbell’s band The 400 Unit. She makes her ACL debut performing cuts from her acclaimed solo release My Piece of Land, showcasing intimate, confessional songs augmented by her powerful playing. Shires commands the spotlight on her own with rousing set-opener “My Love (The Storm)” wielding her fiddle to fiery effect. Isbell joins Shires for a duet on the crowd-pleasing rocker “Wasted and Rollin’,” a song she wrote about the early stages of their relationship, and the pair close out the set in beautiful harmony on the heartfelt duet “Pale Fire.”

photo by Scott Newton

“Jason Isbell is the finest American songwriter today, IMHO,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “He has the uncanny ability to write songs that are at the same time deeply personal and universal. Amanda Shires defies the traditional stereotype of male-dominated Texas songwriters with her own beautifully personal songs. Together they are a unique force in popular music of any genre.”

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. Join us next week for another brand new episode, featuring jazz legend Herbie Hancock.