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”.
“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.