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Episode recap: Adrian Quesada’s “Boleros Psicodélicos”

Austin City Limits presents a Season 48 highlight with the first solo appearance of Grammy-winning producer/musician/bandleader Adrian Quesada, returning to the ACL stage to bring to life his acclaimed Spanish-language album, Boleros Psicodélicos, a love letter to the psychedelic Latin love songs or “baladas” of the 60s and 70s. Quesada performs with a nine-piece band joined by a hit parade of international guest vocalists from across the spectrum of contemporary Latin music, including Puerto Rico’s iconic iLe, Argentina’s Natalia Clavier, Mexico City’s Girl Ultra and Guatemala’s Tita. The new episode premieres January 21 at 7pm CT/8pm ET on PBS. The Peabody Award-winning program, recorded live at ACL’s studio home in Austin, Texas, continues its extraordinary run as the longest-running music television show in history. ACL gives viewers a front-row seat to the best in live performance as this American music institution nears its remarkable half-century milestone. ACL airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings) and full episodes are made available to stream online at pbs.org/austincitylimits following the initial broadcast.  

Multi-hyphenate and prolific multi-instrumentalist Adrian Quesada is known for his epic collaborations including the famed soul duo Black Pumas and Latin funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma. In a magical hour, restless creative Quesada returns with a labor of love, Boleros Psicodélicos, pouring his passion for the genre into an original tribute recreating the world of psychedelic Latin love songs with a set of Spanish-language gems of heartbreak, love and longing. The rare performance marks only the second time this music has been performed live, and Quesada is joined by multiple collaborators, eight of Latin music’s brightest stars, many hailing from Central and South America. These luminous performances celebrate the golden era of romantic bolero music and the psychedelic baladas that flourished beginning in the late 1960s, when Latin love songs began to sound even more grandiose than usual, bordering on the delirious. 

Mireya Ramos performs on Austin City Limits with Adrian Quesada, October 2023. Photo by Scott Newton.

With Quesada on lead guitar, accompanied by an ace band featuring string section and horns, the bandleader takes viewers on a journey of Boleros Psicodélicos, which features a mix of classics and new originals. Quesada welcomes guest vocalist Mireya Ramos, the leader of New York’s all-female mariachi Flor de Toloache, for “Tus Tormentas,” a ballad with a laidback hip-hop backbeat and impassioned vocals and violin from Ramos. Mexican-American singer Rudy De Anda takes the stage for the swaying, melodramatic bossa nova “El León.” Mexico City’s sultry Latin R&B singer Girl Ultra wows with velvety vocals on the stunning original ballad “El Payas0,” featuring a ringing vibraphone coda. Quesada welcomes magnetic singer Angelica Garcia for a soaring pair of songs, the opulent “Puedes Decir De Mi,” from the catalog of Cuban superstar La Lupe and the sweeping, sensual original song “Ídolo.” Carrying a colorful paraguas (umbrella), Monterrey, Mexico-to-Austin vocalist Clemente Castillo joins the band for “El Paraguas,” an acid-tinged ballad in waltz time featuring a dynamic Quesada guitar solo. Quesada introduces Argentinian singer and Thievery Corporation vocalist Natalia Clavier, who wows with her rendition of the boleros “Esclavo y Amo,” a drama-filled 1975 hit by the Peruvian combo Los Pasteles Verdes, and the song that first got Quesada hooked on this music. She delivers a sprightly, synth-frosted, rock-accented “¡Adios!” before leaving the stage to wild applause. Rising young Guatemalan singer Tita takes centerstage to perform the sentimental, seductive balada gem “El Muchacho De Los Ojos Tristes,” a cover of Spanish singer Jeanette’s 1982 hit and a crowd favorite. 

The hour closes with the final guest and collaborator, iLe, former frontwoman of Puerto Rican powerhouse group Calle 13. The iconic singer takes the stage in a dazzling emerald green dress to perform a pair of highlights, including a stirring take on Cuban singer and queen of bolero Olga Guillot’s 1967 hit ballad “Bravo” before closing the show with the opening track on Boleros Psicodélicos, “Mentiras Con Cariño,” featuring the return of Mireya Ramos with an emotional violin solo to rapturous applause. 

“Honestly, this is one of the most beautifully staged and emotionally charged shows we’ve ever presented,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “With Latin music’s popularity exploding around the globe, Austin’s own Adrian Quesada has curated a unique mix of singers reimagining one of the most classic genres of Latin music – the bolero. It’s a mesmerizing hour!”

Episode setlist:

STARRY NIGHTS Instrumental

TUS TORMENTAS Mireya Ramos

El LEÓN Rudy de Anda

EL PAYASO Girl Ultra

PUEDES DECIR DE MÍ Angélica Garcia

ÍDOLO Angélica Garcia

EL PARAGUAS Clemente Castillo

ESCLAVO Y AMO Natalia Clavier

¡ADIOS! Natalia Clavier

EL MUCHACHO DE LOS OJOS TRISTES Tita

BRAVO iLe

MENTIRAS CON CARIÑO iLe

Season 48 Broadcast Schedule (Second Half):

January 7   Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame Honors Sheryl Crow

January 14   Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats/ Adia Victoria

January 21   Adrian Quesada Boleros Psicodélicos

January 28   The War On Drugs

February 4   Pavement

February 11   Maren Morris

February 18   Spoon

February 25   Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame Honors Joe Ely

Watch live on PBS, or stream anytime. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding episode schedules, future tapings and select live stream updates or by following ACL on Facebook, Twitter and IG. Fans can also browse the ACL YouTube channel for exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes videos and full-length artist interviews.

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 48th 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 Austin PBS 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 and funding is provided in part by Dell Technologies, Workrise, the Austin Convention Center Department, Cirrus Logic and AXS Ticketing. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Austin City Limits. Learn more about Austin City Limits, programming and history at acltv.com.