Austin City Limits fondly salutes a pair of American originals: Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver in an hour loaded with honky tonk charm. ACL tips our hat and celebrates these two Texas trailblazers, pioneers of Austin’s cosmic cowboy and outlaw country movement, who passed away within days of each other in October 2020. The hour-long installment features historic highlights from the influential troubadours’ multiple appearances on the ACL stage. The broadcast premieres Saturday, February 6 at 8pm CT/9pm ET, as part of the iconic series Season 46. The episode will be available to music fans everywhere to stream online beginning Sunday, February 7 @10am ET at pbs.org/austincitylimits. With live music on hold, ACL continues to provide viewers a front-row seat to the best in performance. The program airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings for times) and full episodes are made available online for a limited time at pbs.org/austincitylimits immediately following the initial broadcast. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding future tapings, episode schedules and select live stream updates.
Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver each appeared on ACL four times over the years. The hour captures standout performances from the two hard-livin’, freewheelin’, influential artists across the decades. Walker blazed a trail with his landmark 1973 live album Viva Terlingua!, and became a touchstone of the cosmic cowboy movement in the ‘70s. Jerry Jeff and his peers used their rowdy yet laid back sound to bring together both sides of the Texas cultural divide, with hippies and rednecks, liberals and conservatives, finding common ground through their love of good tunes and a good time. Walker helped pioneer a style of singing and songwriting that flavored its country with folk introspection and rock & roll energy. ACL dips into the archives for some primo vintage clips, including a 1986 performance of Walker’s boozing, brawling, signature anthem “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” showcasing his affable, singalong style. Jerry Jeff made his debut in the first season of ACL in 1976 and the appearance features the artist and his Lost Gonzo Band performing the classic “Mr. Bojangles,” a song Walker wrote, made famous by artists as far-ranging as Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Sammy Davis Jr. He showcases his inimitable storytelling style on ”Stoney,” before closing out with a breezy “Bye buckaroos,” to the Austin audience, adding “It’s been one of them high-flying days.”
One of the most revered country music singer-songwriters of the last century, Billy Joe Shaver helped launch the outlaw country uprising in Austin in the early 1970s and made his share of definitive Texas outlaw recordings over the course of his storied career. A larger-than-life figure, nobody wrote songs about hard living and redemption like Billy Joe Shaver. Whether he was talking about falling off the wagon or getting back on, the Texas native’s plain-spoken eloquence found beauty in the rough times, and expressed it with optimism for the future. Widely-respected by peers (among them: Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash), his breakthrough came after penning the majority of songs on Waylon Jennings’ classic 1973 album Honky Tonk Heroes.
ACL pays tribute to the down-to-earth icon and his remarkable legacy with a retrospective showcasing many of his greatest tunes starting with his ACL debut in 1980. A compelling, charismatic performer, Billy Joe performs catalog highlights including “Georgia On A Fast Train” (a song still featured in Willie Nelson’s repertoire), “Ride Me Down Easy” and “Black Rose” (featuring Shaver’s classic couplet “The Devil made me do it the first time/ The second time I done it on my own”). Accompanied by his beloved son, guitarist Eddy Shaver on all his ACL outings, the country songwriting giant performs “I’m Just An Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)” in 1985 and joins Waylon and Willie and the boys as part of a 1997 Songwriters Showcase with a moving acoustic performance of a signature tune, the gem “Live Forever,” with the line “‘Just like the songs I leave behind me/ I’m gonna live forever now.’” Ride on Cowboy.
“Far more than Willie or Waylon, Jerry Jeff and Billy Joe were the true outlaws of Country music – and they lived the lives to prove it,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Jerry Jeff had as much to do as Willie with putting Austin on the musical map, and Billy Joe pretty much launched Waylon’s career with his songs. They both carried the Outlaw tradition straight into the 21st century, and really didn’t give a damn what anybody else thought!”
Jerry Jeff Walker setlist:
Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother (1986)
L.A. Freeway (1976)
Mr. Bojangles (1976)
Gettin’ By (1976)
Billy Joe Shaver setlist:
Georgia On A Fast Train (1985)
Black Rose (1980)
Honky Tonk Heroes (1980)
Ragged Old Truck (1980)
Ride Me Down Easy (1985)
Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me (1985)
I’m Just An Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday) (1985)
Live Forever (1997)
You Asked Me To (1980)
Season 46 Broadcast Schedule:
January 9 Foo Fighters Rock Austin City Limits
January 16 The War And Treaty | Ruthie Foster
January 23 Ray Wylie Hubbard
January 30 The Best of Spoon
February 6 Texas Icons: Jerry Jeff Walker & Billy Joe Shaver
February 13 Allen Toussaint: New Orleans Legend
ACL’s Season 46 premiered in October with standout performances from 2021 Grammy nominee Rufus Wainwright, UK country-soul sensation Yola, rock and country trailblazers The Mavericks, acclaimed Austin standout Jackie Venson, salutes to late ACL legends John Prine and Stevie Ray Vaughan, a celebration of 50 years of Asleep at the Wheel and more.
Tune-in, log on, and let ACL be a trusted sidekick for entertainment during these challenging days. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding live streams, future tapings and episode schedules or by following ACL on Facebook, Twitter, IG and TikTok. Fans can also browse the ACL YouTube channel for exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes videos and full-length artist interviews.
About Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits (ACL) offers viewers unparalleled access to featured acts in an intimate setting that provides a platform for artists to deliver inspired, memorable, full-length performances. Now in its 46th Season, the program is taped live before a concert audience from The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in television history and remains the only TV series to ever be awarded the National Medal of Arts. Since its inception, the groundbreaking music series has become an institution that’s helped secure Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World. The historic KLRU Studio 6A, home to 36 years of ACL concerts, has been designated an official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark. In 2011, ACL moved to the new venue ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. ACL received a rare institutional Peabody Award for excellence and outstanding achievement in 2012.
Austin City Limits is produced by Austin PBS, KLRU-TV and funding is provided in part by Dell Technologies, RigUp, the Austin Convention Center Department and Cirrus Logic. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Austin City Limits. Learn more about Austin City Limits’ programming and history at acltv.com.