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.

Ms. Lauryn Hill’s ACL debut and a Season 42 preview

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a rare hour of television with hip-hop/R&B icon Ms. Lauryn Hill.  The special broadcast airs as a preview of the iconic PBS music series’ upcoming Season 42, which premieres October 1st with an hourlong episode featuring the legendary Paul Simon in his ACL debut. Ms. Lauryn Hill’s episode will encore in January during the second half of ACL’s new broadcast season.  

In a performance for the ages, the trailblazing Ms. Lauryn Hill dazzles the Austin crowd with a career-spanning  set culled from her landmark release The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and her pioneering work with the Fugees, one of the best-selling hip-hop acts of all time. Opening the emotional set with her solo hit “Ex-Factor,” the multiple Grammy-winning singer and songwriter performs stunning versions of her biggest hits and fan favorites. One of the greatest MCs of all time, Hill has the crowd on their feet with the opening notes of “Fu-Gee-La” for an explosive take on the Fugees classic, weaving “Austin, I love you like no other before” into the lyric. Hill commands the stage, backed by a 12-piece band and performs a gorgeous cover of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” before closing out her unforgettable performance with the crowd-pleaser “Doo Wop (That Thing),” proving she’s still one of the most powerful artists in music today.  

“Every Lauryn Hill performance is special,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and an hour of Ms. Hill on the ACL stage is nothing less than historic. She pours her heart and soul and every ounce of energy into every minute, and it shows. There’s nobody else quite her!”

photo by Scott Newton

The upcoming Season 42 is filled with musical highlights, including the first-ever appearance by punk icon Iggy Pop, ACL debuts from acclaimed singer-songwriters James Bay, Rhiannon Giddens, Andra Day and Latin Grammy-winner Natalia Lafourcade and highly-anticipated return appearances from music giant Robert Plant, My Morning Jacket, Florence + The Machine, Ben Harper and Latin funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma.  

Ms. Lauryn Hill Episode Setlist:

EX-FACTOR

FINAL HOUR

LOST ONES

FU-GEE-LA

HOW MANY MICS

READY OR NOT

KILLING ME SOFTLY

FEELING GOOD

DOO WOP (THAT THING)

 

Season 42 | 2016 Fall Broadcast Schedule (seven additional shows to be announced)

Oct. 1   Paul Simon

Oct. 8   James Bay / Rhiannon Giddens

Oct. 15    Robert Plant

Oct. 22   Florence + The Machine / Andra Day

Oct. 29    Iggy Pop

Nov. 5     Natalia Lafourcade / Grupo Fantasma

Nov. 12   My Morning Jacket / Ben Harper

The complete line-up for the full 14-week season, including seven new episodes to air beginning January 2017, will be announced at a later date. Check the news section of acltv.com for additional episode updates.

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 featuring Los Lobos and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down.

Encore: Jim James and The Black Angels

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits explores new sonic directions in a double bill with Jim James and Austin’s own Black Angels. My Morning Jacket leader Jim James plays songs from his acclaimed debut solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God while Texas psych-rockers The Black Angels highlight songs from their latest release Indigo Meadow.

The versatile Jim James commands a spellbinding set in his first-ever solo outing on ACL, marking his sixth appearance on the program—having performed twice with his main outfit My Morning Jacket, in addition to appearances with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Bright Eyes and Monsters of Folk. Declaring his solo project a “new adventure,” James invites the Austin audience to come on the journey with him, and they are more than happy to oblige. He reaches into new territory in an intimate and hypnotic performance that combines hints of old school R&B, flickers of hip hop, operatic pop and delicate instrumentation. James and his four-piece band open with the 70s soul of “State of the Art” and “Know Til Now” and segue into the spiritual love song “A New Life” and the atmospheric “Actress.” It’s a captivating and completely danceable set, with James himself getting in the groove while holding a bronze panda up and adding his own sliding dance steps.

“Jim James has found many ways to pursue his musical muse, and it’s amazing that this is his very first solo album,” notes ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “What better way to bring it to his legions of fans than ACL?”

photo by Scott Newton

Carrying on the long Texas tradition of psychedelia, Austin’s Black Angels round out the episode, making their long-awaited ACL debut with their unique brand of psychedelic music for the 21st century. It’s a fitting showcase for ACL, as the psych rock movement has its roots in the Lone Star State thanks to 60s acid-rock heroes the 13th Floor Elevators, who were the first band to apply the term psychedelic to rock & roll. Named in tribute to the Velvet Underground number “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” The Black Angels found themselves the spearhead of a new psychedelic revival soon after their formation in 2004. The band’s carefully crafted blend of melody and noise won over fans of both modern indie rock and old school acid rock, and established it as a major force in underground rock & roll, even starting its own festival in 2008, Austin Psych Fest (now known as Levitation). Opening with the heavy duty headbanger “Evil Things,” the Angels create a dark, brooding mood with their trademark vocal reverb and fuzzy, distorted guitars on a stage complete with fun-house optic, psychedelic images swirling on projection screens. The Black Angels take the Austin crowd into the psychedelic heart of darkness and back out into the light, proving why they have become one of the foremost acts in the psych and garage rock revival.

“Whether you remember 60’s acid-rock first-hand or this is your first ‘psych’ experience, The Black Angels have taken a classic rock form and turned it into their own,” Lickona says. “It’s got an other-worldly vibe but at the same time it’s totally accessible.”

Check out the episode page here and tune in this Saturday to see the show for yourself. Click over to our Facebook and Twitter pages or our newsletter for the latest ACL skinny. Next week: Vampire Weekend and Grizzly Bear.

 

Encore: Ed Sheeran and Valerie June

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents two innovative singer-songwriters: UK sensation Ed Sheeran and rising star Valerie June. Ed Sheeran makes his ACL debut in a must-see episode that features the breakout star performing his entire set solo. Sheeran exudes the raw talent that has made him a worldwide superstar, with charged versions of hits from his landmark debut and new songs from the chart-topping follow-up release. Acclaimed Southern singer-songwriter Valerie June shares the bill, making a captivating ACL debut with her starry-eyed roots music.  

Ed Sheeran brings his A-game in his ACL debut, with a remarkable one-man solo performance that demonstrates why he’s one of music’s most popular live performers.  Clad in an ACL t-shirt, the 23 year-old three-time Grammy nominee performs his  breakthrough hits “The A Team,” “Lego House” and songs from his new release x.  With an acoustic guitar and a loop pedal as his only accompaniment, Sheeran creates a perfectly balanced mix of hip-hop and acoustic balladry. He showcases the honest songwriting and vocals that have earned him legions of fans across the globe.  Closing out the crowd-pleasing set, Sheeran leads the rapturous audience in an epic sing-along of his hit “Sing,” with the Austin crowd still chanting as Sheeran leaves the stage.

Striking Southern singer-songwriter Valerie June makes her first appearance on the ACL stage performing songs from her luminous debut Pushin’ Against a Stone. The Washington Post raves of the release: “Shades of Nina Simone, Dolly Parton and blueswomen of decades past flicker throughout; you can easily picture it crackling out from a timeworn record player.” The Tennessee native’s heartfelt sound and beautifully timeless voice have earned her critical raves and a 2014 Americana Awards nomination for emerging artist. With one foot in country blues, the other in mountain folk music and her head in the stars, June and her band conjure a distinctive brand of genre-blending that she calls “organic moonshine roots music” for a memorable ACL debut.

photo by Scott Newton

“In some ways, Ed Sheeran and Valerie June are as different as night and day,” says ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona, “but they are both distinctly original in their music. Through their intimately personal songs and unique onstage personas, they represent everything that Austin City Limits is all about.”

Tune in this Saturday 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 goodies. Next week: Jim James and The Black Angels.

Encore: ACL Hall of Fame 2015

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents a special encore featuring musical highlights and tributes from the 2015 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame. Hosted by Dwight Yoakam on June 18, 2015, this unique special showcases one-of-a-kind performances and collaborations from the ACL Hall of Fame celebration, honoring the artists who’ve helped make the award-winning tv series an American music institution.  An all-star line-up including Lyle Lovett, Jason Isbell, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakam, Gillian Welch and more come together for one night to perform in honor of the newest class of inductees: Asleep at the Wheel, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez, Loretta Lynn and Townes Van Zandt.   

ACL reaches back to its roots with a show-opening tribute to country trailblazer Loretta Lynn, who first appeared on the series in 1983. Country singer Patty Loveless, also a coal miner’s daughter, pays tribute to the living legend, and is joined by Vince Gill for a spirited duet of the Conway Twitty/Loretta Lynn classic “After the Fire Is Gone.” Lynn accepts her honor saying “Texas has always been so good to me. They fed me when my kids was hungry. They fed me when I was hungry.” Lyle Lovett takes the stage to honor Texas songwriting legend Guy Clark, saying “He is my friend.  He is my hero,” with a stunning reading of the first song Clark ever wrote: “Step Inside This House.” Acclaimed singer-songwriter  Jason Isbell performs a moving solo rendition of a Clark classic, “Desperados Waiting For A Train.”  

Superstar Tex-Mex accordionist Flaco Jiménez makes a joyous show-stopping cameo during his own tribute, joining Dwight Yoakam, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and conjunto masters Los Texmaniacs to show off his nimble accordion style. The late, great Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt, who first appeared in ACL’s debut season in 1975, is honored beautifully in acoustic performances by roots outfit Gillian Welch and British singer-songwriter Laura Marling. Austin’s own Asleep at the Wheel, who performed on the very first episode of ACL in 1975, are inducted by longtime fan Vince Gill, who joins the Western swing institution for a lively take on their early recording “Take Me Back to Tulsa.”

The special comes to a perfect close with the night’s entire cast returning to the ACL stage for a grand finale, trading verses on a Townes Van Zandt classic, “White Freightliner Blues.”

photo by Gary Miller

“We created our own Hall of Fame as part of our 40th anniversary last year to recognize and celebrate those artists who were there in the beginning and helped make Austin City Limits what it is today,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “The annual event is a unique showcase for some amazing performances and emotional moments, and we’re thrilled to be able to capture it all to bring to our fans at home.”

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 with Ed Sheeran and Valerie June.

Tedeschi Trucks Band closes out ACL Season 41

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits caps a standout Season 41 with a sensational hour of music from American roots superstars Tedeschi Trucks Band in their ACL debut.   

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Susan Tedeschi, a three-time ACL veteran who first appeared on the program in 1999, and her guitar hero husband Derek Trucks merged their solo careers to form the Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2010.  The now 12-piece strong powerhouse—one of music’s most talented and admired ensembles—lights up the ACL stage in their debut, arriving at the top of their game and presenting gems from their newly-released third studio album, Let Me Get By.  Opening with the uplifting new track “Don’t Know What It Means,” the virtuoso outfit, complete with horns and back-up singers, perform a thrilling seven-song set combining their distinctive hybrid of Memphis soul, R&B, blues, rock and classic song craft.  Tedeschi puts down her guitar to let her powerful vocals shine on several standout covers including a Joe Cocker-inspired version of the Box Tops’ hit, “The Letter,” and the Leonard Cohen classic “Bird On A Wire.”  As they close out the stellar set with a highlight, “Midnight in Harlem” (from their Grammy-winning 2011 debut Revelator), featuring Trucks’ mesmerizing slide-guitar solo, TTB turn the soulful ballad into a gorgeous wall of sound for a perfect close to a thrilling performance and an outstanding season.  The transcendent set has the Austin crowd walking on air inspired by the undeniable power of great music.

“Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks are a match made in blues-rock heaven, and are proof-positive of the old maxim that the whole is greater than the sum of these musical partners,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “Together they show how their new songs are a big leap forward for these road veterans.”

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 an encore of our 2015 Hall of fame special.

Leon Bridges and Nathaniel Rateliff bring soul to ACL’s 41st season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits gives you the best seat in the house for two of today’s hottest soul sensations: Leon Bridges sharing the bill with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.  

Rising retro-soul singer-songwriter Leon Bridges makes his first appearance on the ACL stage performing tracks from his breakthrough 2015 debut Coming Home, a current Grammy nominee for Best R&B Album. “My name is Leon Bridges and I am straight out of Fort Worth Texas, baby,” says the 26-year old phenom by way of introduction. It’s been a near meteoric rise for the golden-voiced young singer who has taken the music world by storm with a silky smooth delivery rooted in ‘50s and ‘60s R&B and a classic style that sounds brand new. Rolling Stone described him as “the second coming of Sam Cooke” saying he’s “staked out his own identity as the new voice of gospel and soul music.” Bridges and his band, which includes ACL alumni, White Denim’s Austin Jenkins and Joshua Block (the pair also co-produced Coming Home), deliver an irresistible six-song set filled with genuine heart and feeling, with the stylish soul man “twistin’ & groovin’” throughout for a stunning ACL debut.

Denver-based soul rockers Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nights Sweats make their ACL debut performing tracks from their 2015 self-titled breakout album on Stax Records. You’ll hear both Sam & Dave and The Band in their sound, with what Rateliff describes as “a bit of honkytonk and a bit of working class soul.” NPR raves of the front man, “The born again spirit of vintage soul music poured out of the man, measurable mostly in gallons.” The road-tested, acclaimed live outfit is performing at some of the year’s biggest music festivals, including Coachella and Bonnaroo. Charismatic belter Rateliff tells the Austin crowd, “We’re all out here risking our marriages and our lives to play music for you guys, so we hope you enjoy it!” Fueled by a rocket-powered three-piece horn section, Hammond organ and Rateliff’s scorching tenor voice, the hard-driving band perform a soul-stirring six-song set filled with take-us-to-church choruses that has the Austin audience on their feet from the first notes of the opener “I Need Never Get Old” to their set-closing, crowd-pleasing breakout hit “S.O.B”.

photo by Scott Newton

“Great soul singers and bands have been a recurring theme this season, and Leon Bridges and Nathaniel Rateliff cover both sides of the spectrum – from smooth to raucous,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Leon proves why he’s a serious contender to pick up a couple of Grammy trophies, and you’d have to live under a rock not to have heard Nathaniel Rateliff’s sing-along favorite, ‘S.O.B.'”

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 our Season 41 finale, featuring the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Sleater-Kinney and Heartless Bastards rock ACL’s 41st season

photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits presents two of indie-rock’s finest in a must-see new installment featuring Sleater-Kinney splitting the episode with Heartless Bastards.

Legendary punk group Sleater-Kinney make their inaugural appearance on the ACL stage armed with songs from their first new album in a decade, No Cities To Love. The surprise release landed on top of many 2015 year-end best lists including the New York Times’ Jon Pareles, who raved “Reunited for its first album in 10 years, Sleater-Kinney returns as joyfully rigorous as ever, sinewy and ready to grapple.” Consisting of guitarists/vocalists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein (also the co-creator/star of IFC’s Portlandia), and drummer Janet Weiss, the powerhouse trio came crashing out of the Pacific Northwest in the mid-90s, setting a new bar for punk’s political awareness and emotional impact. The seminal band perform a searing, musically thrilling, career-wide seven-song set with ferocious new material alongside classic anthems including “Dig Me Out,” the title track from their 1997 breakthrough, and songs from 2005’s The Woods.

Austin-based Heartless Bastards, fronted by dynamic vocalist Erika Wennerstrom, return for their second ACL appearance since their Season 35 debut, focusing on their acclaimed new release Restless Ones. Heartless Bastards have spent the past decade in motion, bolding pushing their unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll into new shapes over four albums and nearly non-stop touring. Rich with purpose, passion, seasoned songwriting and commanding musicianship, Restless Ones, their fifth studio album, captures the idiosyncratic band exploring their craft and soul in an effort to reach a place that’s both real and transcendent. With a voice NPR describes as “warm yet gritty, throaty yet sweet, gigantic yet intimate,” singer-songwriter-guitarist Wennerstrom opens the set with the effervescent country rocker “Hi-Line.” As she switches from acoustic to electric guitar for the garage rock gem “Black Cloud,” the rockers hit their stride, juxtaposing dark subject matter with up-tempo style. The band reach back to 2012’s Arrow for “Parted Ways,” closing out the sublime set on a pitch perfect note.

photo by Scott Newton

“This show is all about women who rock, not to mention awesome singers!” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “It took a decade for Sleater-Kinney to bring us new music, but it was worth the wait. They’re living proof that a band can keep getting better and better. Same goes for Heartless Bastards. Always hometown favorites, Erika’s voice is one-of-a-kind – raw and polished at the same time!”

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 new episode, featuring the ACL debuts of soul revivalists Leon Bridges and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.