Encore Broadcast News

ACL Encore: Kris Kristofferson & Steve Earle

This week’s encore episode features two Texas natives that are arguably two of the greatest singer-songwriters in American music: Steve Earle and Kris Kristofferson.

Both artists delivered remarkably intimate sets for our celebratory 35th season of Austin City Limits; Kristofferson played hits such as “Help Me Make It Through the Night” acoustically, while Earle performed tracks from his Townes Van Zandt  tribute album, Townes. There’s no doubt that these classic performers have left their mark on the music industry with their expansive careers that stretch over several decades and expansive discography and collaborations.

Check your local listings for showtimes and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr to keep up with updates on tapings and airings!

Featured Taping Recap

Radiohead’s ACL taping is a triumph

Radiohead taped Austin City Limits last night. It almost feels like that’s all we need to say. This was a highly anticipated show, not only amongst the fans, but for us as well. Radiohead has been highon our wish list for years, so that rush of “When’s it gonna happen? It’s gonna happen! Now it’s happening!” has been buzzing through all of our veins for a long time.

Needless to say, the band delivered. Not the hits, necessarily – Oxford’s favorite sons have never been the pandering kind. A progressive rock band in the purest sense, Radiohead is always pushing itself forward, deconstructing and reconstructing its own aethestic, experimenting with its sound and presenting its latest iteration, rather than falling back on old habits and familiarity.  In Thom Yorke’s words prior to launching into one of the several brand new songs played during the night: “This is why we press on.”

In that sense, Radiohead gave us one hell of a show. “My face was melted at @radiohead” remarked @zee_funk on Twitter. Drawing almost exclusively from their last three albums Hail to the Thief, In Rainbows and The King of Limbs, the band blazed through some of its most daring material, adding drummer Clive Deamer (last on our stage with Robert Plant, who was in the audience) for extra polyrhythmic emphasis. “Little By Little”  made perfect use of the band’s distinctive three-guitar attack, the interlocking six-string lines slithering in and out of the skittering rhythms. “Myxomatosis” and “Morning Mr. Magpie” were jittery rockers seemingly influenced as much by caffeine as the electronica the band weaves into its rock tapestry. “The Gloaming” hit a unique balance between dissonant and ethereal, the instrumental parts almost fighting each other while singer Thom Yorke floated over the top. “Arpeggi” and the new song “Identikit” built a generous amount of tension into their swirling arrangements, smartly ending before the anticipated Big Rock Climax could happen.

We love it when artists play brand new material, and Radiohead graced us with the atmospheric, rhythm-heavy “Staircase,” the piano-heavy “The Daily Mail” and the lovely “Skirting On the Surface,” as well as “Identikit.” The band also resurrected the odd, intriguing “The Amazing Sounds of Orgy,” an old B-side that Yorke described as having “disappeared like a wet fart in the wind.”

The band ended the main set with the bizarre “Feral,” a strange but compelling mix of dub and Latin rhythms, and the frenetic “Idioteque,” a Kid A gem that got a huge response from the crowd. But not as huge as the final song of the encore – the towering “Paranoid Android” still stands as one of modern rock’s greatest achievements, and everybody gave the band’s fiery performance the love it deserved.

“After Radiohead tonight, I don’t feel the need to RSVP to any more sxsw events,” claimed @chu16 on Twitter. “My experience has already peaked.” While we’d never claim that a single show summarized an entire concert-going career, once the rest of the world sees this performance on PBS in the fall they’ll understand the hyperbole. Radiohead’s show represents what can be achieved by an artist determined to dive deep into the heart of its muse. Or, as @HeatherCuriel put it more simply and breathlessly, “passion, life changing, beautiful. rock and roll is alive.”

But you don’t have to take our word for it – check out what, Austin Metblogs, KGSR, and Austin Bloggy Limits had to say about Radiohead’s ACL taping. And don’t forget to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages and let us know what you think.


Radiohead tickets on Craigslist

Diehard Radiohead fans who did not win passes to tonight’s ACL taping have no doubt noticed the ads on Craigslist offering to sell tickets to this show.

We have messaged this in the past, but due to the high volume of ticket requests for this taping we feel the need to reiterate: ACL taping passes are never for sale. Attempting to sell passes jeopardizes our relationships with our donors and trade partners and, mostly importantly, inhibits our ability to contract with artists.

Also, as those you who’ve attended tapings in the past year have noticed, physical tickets are now a thing of the past. If you win passes on the blog, you’re getting a spot on the guest list, not actual tickets, and those spots can only be redeemed by coming in person and showing us your ID. So anyone on Craigslist or elsewhere who tells you they have tickets on hand to sell is, to be blunt, scamming you. They are counterfeit tickets and will not be honored. You’ll have spent an enormous amount of money for nothing.

We wish we could accommodate every fan who wants to see our tapings. But attempting to buy and/or sell passes to ACL tapings hurts us and hurts you. Please don’t do it. Thank you for your continued support of ACL and KLRU.

Featured News

Radiohead poster artist for Amnesty International

You may not recognize the name Stanley Donwood, but if you’re a Radiohead fan, you’ve undoubtedly seen his work – he provided the cover art for the band’s latest LP The King of Limbs. He also, at the band’s request, designed the poster for Tuesday night’s ACL taping with Oxford’s favorite sons.

Here’s the extra cool part. In lieu of a fee, Mr. Donwood asked us to make a donation to Amnesty International in his name. We’d like to acknowledge his generosity and progressive spirit – it’s great to know that even in the music business there are still folks who use their talents for good. We encourage you to click on his link above to support his work, and if you’d like to join him in supporting Amnesty International, you can do so here.

Gear Blog News

Gear Blog: Cheap Trick

The Gear Blog is a behind-the-scenes look at the instruments and equipment that graces the Austin City Limits’ stage. Our Audio Engineer Kevin Cochran goes in-depth to give our audiophiles their fix.

I hate deadlines. So much so that it’s been 2+ years since I’ve done my last gear blog, so let’s just jump in. We filmed Cheap Trick during the 2010 South By Southwest when we were both celebrating the beginning of our 36th year in business.

Rick Nielsen’s guitar tech is a busy, busy man. Rick changed guitars on every song. There was no point in the set that he played the same guitar twice. Rick is well known for his association with Hamer guitars, but his touring rig also has vintage Les Pauls.

Above, we have two Bo Diddley inspired guitars. One is a Hamer having the box like shape Bo was known and a red Gretsch Billy-Bo. On the far left is 50’s Fender Telecaster once owned by Jeff Beck himself.

Rick’s onstage amp setup is just as ostentatious as his guitars. Seen here are three Fuchs Train 45 heads. At the time, I noted that there is only one set of speakers in the center of the cabinets. Every other speaker cabinet actually contained head lights.

Off stage is a pair Mr. Nielsen’s original 70’s Deluxe Reverbs. As memory serves they were modded by Paul Rivera, by taking the heads out of the combo chassis and putting them into a roll-around rack. Above is Nielsen’s wireless system and only effect: a Dunlop Crybaby.

Hamer custom double neck. One has a Kahler vibrato system and one has a hard tail. Note the custom inlay.

If any guitar is associated with Rick, other than the Explorer style guitar, it’s this Hamer 5 neck. In addition to 12-string and fretless necks, there is also a Telecaster-style pickup configuration and two double humbucker configurations, one with a locking tremolo.  Mr. Nielsen was kind enough to let anyone on the ACL crew pick it up, play it, or get their picture taken with it. It’s not as heavy as it looks, and except for one neck, it’s not in tune. Since Rick plays only one song with it, why bother?

Note the banjo style tuning pegs.

As you might have noticed, Rick favors a checkerboard motif on much of his guitars and equipment. Even his iPhone case had a checkerboard design.

We kept finding picks for months after the Cheap Trick taping. Mr. Nielsen is fond of flinging them into the audience and his stand will almost be completely bare by the end of the set. Surprisingly, for a man with so many picks, he likes to play with his fingers a lot.

Daxx Nielsen played drums for CT’s taping. This Ludwig drum kit has the same finish as one of Rick’s Explorers and a couple of Tom Petersson’s basses.

Tom Petersson’s road rig is just as exotic as Nielsen’s. Here is his signature Waterstone 12-string bass. It’s tuned like a regular bass, but with additional strings one and two octaves higher above the traditional bass note.

In addition to a couple of 12-string backups, Tom has a traditional 4-string Fender Precision bass in beautiful pink and a Gibson Explorer bass, to compliment Nielsen’s own Explorer fetish. And yes, that strange finish pops up once again on not one but two of Tom’s own basses.

Petersson splits his bass signal into a Reeves cabinet for the low end and a Vox amp for the higher register strings.

Robin Zander brought a smattering of Tele’s, a Rickenbacker, and a couple of Gibson electrics with him. My favorite was a 12-string telecaster.

The only acoustic of the entire bunch was this Bedell. To the right, clipped out of frame is a Mark Sandman-inspired Waterstone electric. I’m a sucker for gold.



Cheap Trick brought along two guest keyboardists to help along, Magic Cristian and the great Roger Manning Jr.

Finally, the set list for that night. Please note we have not used actual tape for years – it’s just that we did for 30 of our 38 seasons and calling it that is old habit. It does get quite embarrassing when we have to stop for a “tape change” and the band members or tour managers and asks, “You guys still use tape?”

Encore Broadcast Episode Recap News

This weekend: Cheap Trick

It’s one thing to be a band that is cited to be a heavy influence for both rock and alt rock bands alike during the late 80s and early 90s such as Guns N’ Roses, Pearl Jam, Weezer, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, and countless others. It’s an entirely different argument to continue to be a relevant band that still tours (39 years and counting) while simultaneously being one of the most covered bands all time. Hits such as “I Want You to Want Me” and “Surrender” have been featured on many commercials and soundtracks and played countless times, yet every time we hear Robin Zander sing out some of the most recognized song lyrics of our time, we can’t help but stop and give it our full attention.

Cheap Trick could have easily slid into the land where bands go to retire and after a stagnant period of time (and with the right monetary offer) return for a reunion tour, but that has never been an option for this group. They simply don’t see the need to quit. Rick Nielsen once likened their music to a coffee table book in the way that it seems to have an immediate impact for each person who comes in contact with it. Every album they have adds to the diversity of this “book” in a way that can connect with many different types of people on several levels. This couldn’t have developed had they quit years ago and it’s a process that gets better with time.

Speaking of time, it seems to have barely touched their live performance. You won’t see four aging men playing stale hits when you tune in to this Saturday’s encore episode. Whether it’s Tom Petersson rocking out on a 12-string bass with a bedazzled peacock adorning the body or Nielsen throwing out at least 100 picks into the audience all while dancing in front of black and white checkered amps, the group made sure to put a dent on their Austin City Limits debut in 2010.

Be sure to check your local listings for show times and you can find more clips and information about their taping here. This is an encore episode you won’t want to miss.