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Taping recap: ACL Hall of Fame 2023

On the heels of wrapping tapings for our 49th season, Austin City Limits presented our biggest evening of the year: the Austin City Limits Annual Hall of Fame Honors.  For our ninth annual celebration, we were thrilled to induct country superstar Trisha Yearwood and the late, legendary singer/songwriter John Prine. Friends and fans of both artists joined us at the Moody Theater to pay tribute to these music greats, both of whom clocked multiple episodes of the show. 

Following remarks from Austin PBS CEO Luis Patiño and longtime ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, the celebration of Trisha Yearwood kicked off the evening. “I was a fan of Trisha Yearwood the minute I heard that voice coming out of the radio,” proclaimed Don Henley, on hand to induct his longtime friend. “You can’t really wear out a CD, but I tried.” Yearwood riposted “To hear this singer talking about my singing is surreal!” She spoke about growing up watching the show: “It’s all about the music here, and that’s why I’m honored to be a part of it.” 

Jo Dee Messina was the first of Yearwood’s all-star guests to salute, belting out a rousing, audience-enhanced version of “She’s in Love With the Boy,” her buddy’s chart-topping signature tune. The honoree herself took the stage, asking for a round of applause for Lloyd Maines & the ACL All-Stars, our longtime HOF house band. Yearwood teamed with country great Ronnie Dunn for the beautiful duet “I’ll Carry You Home,” a gospel-soaked anthem which allowed both singer’s powerful voices to soar to the heavens for which the song reaches. Singer/songwriter Brandy Clark gave a moving intro, saying Trisha’s voice is in the lineage of “Patsy Cline, Linda Ronstadt and Karen Carpenter,” and delivered a stunning rendition of Yearwood’s classic ballad “The Song Remembers When.” Celebrated duo Brothers Osborne hit the stage to rock “Wrong Side of Memphis,” a song chosen for them by Yearwood herself. She returned to thank Clark and the Brothers, as well as her producer and song-picker Garth Fundis. She then brought Henley back up for a poignant performance of their fan-favorite hit “Walkaway Joe,” the duo sounding just as strong and soulful now as they did when they recorded the song in the early nineties. Yearwood and all of her pals then took one final bow together. 

When Terry Lickona returned to introduce John Prine, he noted that we intended to induct the songwriter’s songwriter in 2020, but the pandemic intervened. We were finally able to to do it in 2023, sadly two years after he passed; however, It didn’t diminish the joy of tonight’s celebration, as made clear by inductor Ethan Hawke. “To love John Prine and his songs is to be part of one of the greatest conversations in the world,” the actor said. “Say it with me – hello up there!” Prine’s widow Fiona, joined by sons Jack, Tommy, and Jody, accepted the award on the late songwriter’s behalf. “John considered Austin City Limits an important part of his career,” Fiona said. “Getting that call was a thrill every single time.” His youngest son Tommy followed in the tradition by taking center stage and singing “Souvenirs,” his favorite song by his dad. “Miss you, daddy,” he said as left the stage. Playing solo, Philadelphia indie rocker Kurt Vile performed “How Lucky,” a Prine deep cut he was lucky enough to record with its writer, just a few days before New Year’s 2020. Banjo in hand, singer/songwriter Allison Russell performed a moving take on “Storm Windows,” her daughter’s favorite John Prine cut. 

Recounting a story of a wild night when Prine met rockabilly wild man Ronnie Hawkins, singer Nathaniel Rateliff joined the party to sing the only slightly sardonic “All the Best.” Singer/songwriter Tyler Childers, who appeared with Prine on his final ACL appearance in 2019, reminded us all of the master’s ability to write a great honky-tonker, singing the wry “Yes, I Guess They Oughta Name a Drink After You.” Singular singer Valerie June arrived to tell a story about being asked to open for Prine on the The Tree of Forgiveness tour, calling her tourmate “an angel.” Broad hint conveyed, she put her heart and soul into “Angel From Montgomery,” making it a joyful celebration of gospel intensity, to the audience’s delight. June then gathered the extended family around her, with Rateliff, Childers, Russell, Vile, and Tommy Prine each taking a verse on the honoree’s classic song “Paradise.” Appropriately, Tommy sang the last lines solo in tribute to his father, and a big bow from the second half cast brought to a close a memorable ACL Hall of Fame. 

Part 1:

She’s in Love With the Boy – Jo Dee Messina

I’ll Carry You Home – Trisha Yearwood and Ronnie Dunn

The Song Remembers When – Brandy Clark

Wrong Side of Memphis – Brothers Osborne

Walkaway Joe – Trisha Yearwood and Don Henley

Part 2: 

Souvenirs – Tommy Prine

How Lucky – Kurt Vile

Storm Windows – Allison Russell

All the Best – Nathaniel Rateliff

Yes, I Guess They Oughta Name a Drink After You – Tyler Childers

Angel From Montgomery – Valerie June

Paradise – cast

Trisha Yearwood – vocals

Jo Dee Messina – vocals

Ronnie Dunn – vocals

Brandy Clark – vocals

T.J. Osborne – vocals, guitar

John Osborne – guitar, vocals

Don Henley – vocals

Tommy Prine – vocals, guitar

Kurt Vile – vocals, guitar

Allison Russell – vocals, banjo

Nathaniel Rateliff – vocals, guitar

Tyler Childers – vocals, guitar

Valerie June – vocals

The ACL All-Stars: 

Lloyd Maines – steel guitar, guitar

David Grissom – guitar

Chris Gage – keyboards, accordion

Bill Whitbeck – bass, vocals

Tom Van Schaik – drums