Capitol recording artist Don Henley makes his first-ever appearance on Austin City Limits showcasing Cass County, Henley’s first solo release in fifteen years and first No. 1 album of his 33-year solo career. The iconic singer-songwriter and founding member of the Eagles performs a mix of solo hits and future classics in a special hour, joined by many of the all-star guest vocalists featured on this acclaimed record.
Named for the East Texas region where Henley grew up, the country-leaning Cass County debuted at No. 1 on both Billboard’s top albums and country albums charts and features new originals written by the music superstar and longtime collaborators Stan Lynch and Steuart Smith. Rolling Stone raves in a four-star review, “Henley has made an album of quietly defiant pure-country modernism…Everything in the music serves the sting and solace in the tales.” USA Today notes, “the emotional but unsentimental album draws on the music and the land of Henley’s youth, but it doesn’t dwell there.”
Henley opens the masterful eleven-song ACL set with the radio classic “Dirty Laundry,” before taking viewers on a journey through Cass County, a musical return to his roots. He shines in an immaculate performance filled with highlights and duet partners featuring a parade of special guests: breakout country star Ashley Monroe, chart-toppers Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood, country rebel Jamey Johnson and sisters Emily Robison Strayer and Martie Maguire of Dixie Chicks and Court Yard Hounds fame. Henley makes a few detours to perform select fan-favorites including “The Heart Of The Matter” before the entire cast returns to the ACL stage for the powerfully evocative new ballad, “Praying for Rain”. Familiar opening chords signal his smash “The Boys of Summer” as Henley and his band launch into the signature tune for a sublime set-closer.
“Don Henley has been on my wish list for 40 years, and I always knew he would come when he was ready,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “He’s one of the best songwriters of his generation, and these new songs are some of the best he’s ever written. He’s at the top of his game right now, and it’s an honor to have him showcase his new songs and classics on the ACL stage.
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 the return of Gary Clark Jr. and the ACL debut of Courtney Barnett.