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Cage The Elephant and Tank and The Bangas galvanize ACL Season 45

Austin City Limits spotlights thrilling live bands in a new installment featuring rock giants Cage The Elephant, one of music’s biggest live acts. The hour also introduces a 2020 “Best New Artist” GRAMMY nominee, New Orleans breakout act Tank and the Bangas. 

Hailing from Kentucky, the Nashville-based six-piece Cage The Elephant perform tracks from their acclaimed fifth album Social Cues, alongside career highlights in a stellar, hit-filled set. Charismatic lead singer/live wire Matt Shultz takes the stage in a signature makeshift outfit: elbow-length blue gloves, blue tights adorned with women’s lace underwear, headphones and goggles. A wardrobe rack and a trunk filled with props sit onstage amidst the amplifiers, as the shape-shifting frontman changes outfits with each song. “It’s a lot of work wearing all these different personalities,” says Shultz, while seamlessly delivering a seven-song set of his ubiquitous alternative-rock hits. Opening with the new wave-heavy smash “Broken Boy,” Shultz, known for his wild antics, stalks the stage in a can’t-look-away performance. Reaching back to 2015’s GRAMMY-winning Tell Me I’m Pretty for “Cold Cold Cold,” Shultz changes into fluorescent yellow fishermen’s gear, and ventures into the audience, sprinting into the bleachers and sliding down the steps backward on his head. Without missing a beat, the hit parade continues with melodic charmer “Trouble,” as the crowd sings along with every word; an iconic slide guitar riff next signals the 2008 breakthrough hit “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” as Shultz dons a fishnet face mask and climbs onto the P.A. for the Cage classic. The band closes out with radio smash “Come a Little Closer,” turned into a raucous, audience participation anthem.

“Matt Shultz takes the prize for the most wardrobe changes in a single show in ACL history,” laughs ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Who knew? Nobody knows quite what to expect from Cage The Elephant, and that’s a big part of why their fans love them so much.”

photo by Scott Newton

New Orleans five-piece R&B, funk and hip-hop outfit Tank and the Bangas shine in a radiant ACL debut featuring songs from the 2019 major label debut Green Balloon. A unit where jazz meets hip-hop, soul meets rock, and funk is the heartbeat of all they do, this versatile act came together in 2011 at a NOLA open mic event, and got propelled into the national limelight when they unanimously won NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2017. The Big Easy band takes viewers on a handclapping, swaying, joyous ride through its world. Former slam poet and magnetic lead singer Tank Ball shifts from a lilting sing-song to deep and forceful rapping on set opener “Spaceships.” The Bangas keep the music rolling and solos flying as Tank unleashes her powerful vocal on “Ripperton Love,” in tribute to R&B legend Minnie Ripperton. On the soulful meditation “Hot Air Balloon,” Ball explores her elastic voice as the band provides an other-worldly soundscape building to a fiery sax solo. Set-closer “The Brady’s” has it all: sweet harmonies, crashing drums, rock guitar and relentless groove, anchored by Tank’s colorful vocal stylings.

“Tank and the Bangas radiate joy, and their set is nothing but a musical joy ride,” says Lickona. “The world needs Tank and the Bangas more now than ever.”

As always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook and Twitter pages or sign up for our newsletter for more ACL info. Join us next week for another new episode, featuring Grammy-nominated pop newcomer Billie Eilish. 

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Mitski and Rainbow Kitten Surprise bring fresh sounds to ACL 45

Austin City Limits showcases a pair of innovators in a captivating double bill: acclaimed indie songwriter and performer Mitski in a rare television performance and eclectic alt-rockers Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Critically acclaimed as the vanguard of indie rock, Japanese-born American Mitski Miyawaki performs songs from her stunning fifth album Be the Cowboy alongside career highlights in her ACL debut. The singer-songwriter pulls the curtain back on her emotionally raw songs in a spellbinding 8-song set backed by her 4-piece band. The innovative artist has a singular performance style that plays out like conceptual art; the stage is set with a white wooden table and chair, basic props that are repurposed as a platform, a screen and a shield as the show unfolds. Wearing black shorts, knee pads and dance shoes, and armed with a stone-cold stare, Mitski moves slowly, deliberately, opening with the passionate, throbbing “I Will,” from her 2014 debut Bury Me At Makeout Creek, climbing atop the prop table victoriously at the song’s climax. With velvety tones and incisive poetry, she raises her voice on love and loneliness, coaxing the rapt audience to enter the darkest parts of her mind, to swirl in her insecurities, to stand at her side as she vanquishes residual longing from love gone wrong. On her knees on the table as guitarist (and longtime producer) Patrick Hyland strums the chords to the anthem “Your Best American Girl,” from her 2016 breakout Puberty 2, Mitski rides the gorgeous swells of sound, whipping her hair, before delivering a gut-wrenching performance of “I Bet on Losing Dogs” that leaves her curled in a fetal position on top of the table. The performance is a meticulously detailed exercise in vulnerability and cathartic release, for one of the most compelling performances ever on the ACL stage.

“Performance is as much a part of Mitski’s show as the songs are – maybe even more so,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “I guarantee that if you’re a longtime fan of ACL,  you’ve neve seen anything quite like this.”

Nashville-based five-piece Rainbow Kitten Surprise formed at Appalachian State University in 2013 and make their ACL debut drawing heavily from their acclaimed third album How To: Friend, Love, Freefall.  Opening with the fan-favorite “Hide,” the song is amplified by singer Sam Melo’s soulful vocals and bitter cries of “You better hide your love!” The high-spirited alt-rockers deliver a blissed-out free-for-all, with charismatic frontman Melo engaging in unpredictable bursts of physical expression, from high kicks to swirling twirls to near-leaps into the crowd and bassist/sparkplug Charlie Holt often mirroring his jumps and dips. This joyful vitality and powerful camaraderie infuse the music’s kaleidoscopic sonic palette with inventive arrangements and indelible melody. Set highlights include “Cocaine Jesus,” augmented by a cappella harmonies and “When It Lands,” an ambitious, multi-movement composition that showcases each member’s talents. Melo is behind the piano as he croons the intro to the dramatic “Holy War,” before retaking the mic at center stage for the tumbling folk of set-closer “Painkillers.” 

photo by Scott Newton

“If you haven’t experienced seeing Rainbow Kitten Surprise, you are missing something in your life,” said Lickona. “The combo of jump kicks, their original electro-folk sound and ghostly harmonies will carry you away to psychedelic Neverland.”

As always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook and Twitter pages or sign up for our newsletter for more ACL info. Join us next week for another new episode, featuring wild-eyed rockers Cage the Elephant and eclectic R&B ensemble Tank & The Bangas. 

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The Raconteurs and Black Pumas rock ACL Season 45

Austin City Limits presents a Season 45 highlight: the return of powerhouse rockers The Raconteurs, the supergroup featuring Jack White, Brendan Benson, Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence making their first appearance in over a decade in a must-see new installment. The hour also introduces one of the 2020 GRAMMY® “Best New Artist” nominees, Austin breakout duo Black Pumas

The Raconteurs return with a full-tilt romp featuring killer gems from the acclaimed HELP US STRANGER, their third studio LP and first album in more than a decade. Featuring both Jack White and Brendan Benson as lead singers/guitarists AND songwriters, with an ace rhythm section of Jack Lawrence (bass) and Patrick Keeler (drums), The Raconteurs deliver a love letter to classic rock in a performance for the ages. Fellow Detroit natives Benson and White trade-off lead vocals in a blistering six-song set of pure rock and roll. The hard-driving combo dip back into 2008’s GRAMMY®-winning Consolers of the Lonely for the searing “Top Yourself” anchored by White’s mighty guitar work, then a nod to the Sixties with an ecstatic cover of Donovan’s 1965 classic “Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)”. With dazzling showmanship and guitars shredding in harmony, the band tears into the number that introduced The Raconteurs to the world, “Steady, As She Goes,” from their 2006 debut Broken Boy Soldiers. White leads the crowd in call-and-response with the audience chanting “Are you steady now?” before the face-melting anthem erupts into an epic blitz of guitar bliss. 

“As usual, Jack White is doing what comes natural – reminding us that rock and roll is alive and well, and in his hands the power of the guitar has no match,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.

Fast-rising Austin act Black Pumas, a collaboration between former L.A. street musician Eric Burton and GRAMMY®-winning guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada, cap an explosive breakout year with a luminous debut on the ACL stage. Described as “Wu-Tang meets James Brown” by KCRW, the soul-funk duo locked down their reputation for thrilling live shows with non-stop gigs, winning Best New Band at the 2019 Austin Music Awards. Fresh off their nomination for the 2020 GRAMMY® Awards prestigious “Best New Artist” honor, Black Pumas showcase highlights from their acclaimed 2019 self-titled debut. Singer Burton radiates soul on scorching opener “Know You Better” and the singles “Colors” and “Black Moon Rising.” Accompanied by powerhouse back-up singers, and the smoking guitar of Quesada, the Pumas bring an irresistible, simmering groove to the Austin City Limits stage. 

photo by Scott Newton

“Black Pumas started as a fun idea in the studio, then took off like a rocket and spread their love and high-octane energy around the globe,” added Lickona. “They truly are Austin’s newest musical ambassadors to the rest of the world.”

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. Join us next week for another new episode, featuring the sophisticated art pop of singer/songwriter Mitski and the exuberant indie rock of Rainbow Kitten Surprise.

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Welcome Shawn Colvin, Buddy Guy and Lyle Lovett to the ACL Hall of Fame Dec. 28

Austin City Limits celebrates its newest class of Hall of Fame inductees: blues great Buddy Guy, and acclaimed singer-songwriters Shawn Colvin and Lyle Lovett, with a special broadcast featuring best-in-class performances and collaborations from the Austin City Limits 6th Annual Hall of Fame Honors. Recorded live in Austin, TX on October 24, 2019 at ACL’s studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater, this all-star salute features music luminaries and special guests sharing the stage for one epic night, honoring three beacons of American music who have played an instrumental role in making the iconic series a music institution. Performers include (in order of appearance): Jackson BrowneSarah JaroszJimmie VaughanShemekia CopelandChristone “Kingfish” IngramWillis Alan Ramsey and Edie Brickell joined by special guest, Oscar-winning actor, filmmaker and best-selling author Sean Penn, with the evening hosted by Robert Earl Keen.

The hour-long broadcast is sponsored by AXS and American Airlines with additional support from Cousins Properties Incorporated, Keller Williams, Stratus Properties and Texas Monthly. The broadcast airs Saturday, December 28 at 8pm ET on PBS. Check local PBS listings for times.

Master of ceremonies, Texas troubadour Robert Earl Keen, opens the hour introducing the legendary Jackson Browne to salute the night’s first honoree, Shawn Colvin. In a heartfelt induction speech, Browne praises Colvin for songs that “get in your head and influence your way of looking at the world” before joining his friend for an acoustic rendition of the title track from her 2006 album These Four Walls. Colvin performs a spellbinding take on her GRAMMY® Award-winning smash “Sunny Came Home” from her landmark 1996 album A Few Small Repairs, accompanied by standout Sarah Jarosz on mandolin and harmony. Fellow honoree Lyle Lovett shows his appreciation by joining Colvin for a gorgeous spin on early gem “Diamond in the Rough,” from her 1989 debut Steady On, as the two Texas singer-songwriters share the stage, with Jarosz and world-class musicians Larry Klein (bass) and Steuart Smith (guitar).

Guitar hero Jimmie Vaughan inducts living legend Buddy Guy, calling him “his musical hero and mentor.” Vaughan fondly recalls how as kids he and his brother Stevie discovered the Chicago bluesman’s recordings on Chess Records and loved how Guy “played so mean.” The 83-year old showman accepts the honor with his signature wit, proclaiming “Better late than never,” then proceeds to light up the stage with a trio of classics. Vaughan joins Guy and his four-piece band for an electrifying take on his signature “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues”; acclaimed blues singer Shemekia Copeland steps onstage for a playful, swaggering duet on “Cognac” from Guy’s 2019 GRAMMY® Award-winning album The Blues Is Alive And Well; next-generation blues phenom, 20-year-old Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, joins forces with Vaughan and Copeland in a musical salute as Guy thrills the crowd with his show-stopping anthem “Skin Deep.”

photo by Gary Miller

Finally, Sean Penn takes the stage to induct longtime friend Lyle Lovett. Calling Lovett a “humble maestro,” and “the storytelling heir to Faulkner, Rogers and Twain,” Penn humorously characterizes the Texan’s arrival on the LA music scene in the early ‘90s: “ Was he Buddy Holly reborn? Hank Williams evolved? Benny Goodman on acid? And where oh where did he get his hair?”  Lovett accepts the honor, recounting his long musical kinship with Austin City Limits, from watching the program since it’s 1975 debut to having the distinction of appearing on the program more than any artist second to Willie Nelson. Lovett welcomes a key early influence, seminal Texas singer-songwriter Willis Alan Ramsey, for a solo version of Lovett’s beloved “If I Had A Boat,” from his 1987 breakthrough Pontiac.  Singer-songwriter Edie Brickell sparkles on the tart ballad “I Loved You Yesterday,” joined by Lovett’s trademark Large Band.  Lovett steps up to the microphone for the finale, backed by the 13-piece Large Band and joined by the night’s performers and fellow honorees, closing the hour with a Texas-sized smile and a spirited take on the Lone Star classic “That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas (But Texas Wants You Anyway).”

Austin City Limits 6th Annual Hall of Fame Honors setlist:

Shawn Colvin & Jackson Browne “These Four Walls”

Shawn Colvin & Sarah Jarosz “Sunny Came Home”

Shawn Colvin with Larry Klein, Steuart Smith, Sarah Jarosz, and Lyle Lovett “Diamond in the Rough”

Buddy Guy & Jimmie Vaughan “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues”

Buddy Guy & Shemekia Copeland “Cognac”

Buddy Guy, Jimmy Vaughan, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Shemekia Copeland “Skin Deep”

Willis Alan Ramsey with The Large Band “If I Had a Boat”

Edie Brickell with The Large Band “I Loved You Yesterday”

Finale: Lyle Lovett & The Large Band with all guests “That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas (But Texas Wants You Anyway)”

Tune in December 28 for this special 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 FacebookTwitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Join us on January 4 for a brand new episode featuring two of indie rock’s finest singer/songwriters: Sharon Van Etten and Lucy Dacus

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ACL Presents: Americana music’s biggest night

Austin City Limits returns to Nashville for a special broadcast offering performance highlights from the 18th Annual Americana Honors. For nearly two decades, the prestigious ceremony has celebrated the best and brightest musicians in Americana music while showcasing one-of-a-kind performances. The program is filled with musical highlights from many of the night’s award-winners and honorees, among them (in order of appearance): Our Native Daughters, Mumford & Sons, Yola, Brandi Carlile, Mark Erelli & friends, Mavis Staples, Joe Henry & Rodney Crowell, Rhiannon Giddens, The War and Treaty, I’m With Her, The Milk Carton Kids, Bonnie Raitt & John Prine, Elvis Costello & Jim Lauderdale

Recorded live at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on September 11, 2019, The Americana Music Association’s 18th Annual Americana Honors & Awards ceremony is a celebration of the diverse sounds of roots music, from folk, bluegrass and country to R&B and the blues. For the ninth consecutive year, the producers of Austin City Limits, in conjunction with producers Martin Fischer, Michelle Aquilato, Edie Hoback and the Americana Music Association, proudly deliver a special ACL Presents. 

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – SEPTEMBER 11: (L-R) Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount of The War and Treaty perform onstage during the 2019 Americana Honors & Awards at Ryman Auditorium on September 11, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music Association)

A generation-bridging group of Americana standouts perform: Brandi Carlile caps a milestone year following her 2019 GRAMMY®-winning By the Way, I Forgive You, with the Americana Artist of the Year honor and gives a stellar performance of that record’s “The Mother.” Beloved songwriter John Prine, the night’s two-time honoree for Album of the Year and Song of the Year, teams with Bonnie Raitt for a show-stopping performance of the timeless “Angel From Montgomery,” which Prine penned and Raitt popularized. Soul legend Mavis Staples, who received the Honors’ inaugural Inspiration Award, performs stirring new song “Change” from her acclaimed 2019 release We Get By. Duo/Group of the Year honorees I’m With Her, the all-star trio of Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan and Sara Watkins, perform a gorgeous new track, “Call My Name.” Singer-songwriter Mark Erelli performs his Song of the Year nominated “By Degrees,” joined by friends Josh Ritter, Lori McKenna, Shawn Colvin and J.S. Ondara trading verses on the potent anti-gun violence anthem. 

Rhiannon Giddens, the recipient of the Honors’ inaugural Legacy of Americana Award, opens the hour with her all-female combo Our Native Daughters, a Group/Duo nominee, and returns for a solo performance with a stunning rendition of the folk-gospel classic “Wayfaring Stranger.” The show’s hosts, acoustic duo The Milk Carton Kids, perform the classic Felice and Boudleaux Bryant-penned “Sleepless Nights” and also join Mumford & Sons for a stripped-down rendition of “Forever” from the band’s recent album, Delta. Joe Henry and Rodney Crowell deliver a memorable salute with their stirring take on “Girl From the North Country,” a tribute to five decades of Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline album. 

Americana’s next-generation of stars showcase their bona fides: dynamic husband-and-wife duo The War and Treaty, Emerging Act of the Year honorees, raise the Ryman roof with the thrilling “Love Like There’s No Tomorrow”; Emerging Act nominee Yola, the U.K. singer-songwriter sensation, gives a towering performance with “Faraway Look,” from her Album of the Year-nominated and Dan Auerbach-produced Walk Through Fire

The show closes with Elvis Costello, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting (joined by Americana stalwart Jim Lauderdale) displaying his multi-genre range with a fiery “Red Cotton” from his 2009 Secret, Profane and Sugarcane album alongside “Blame It On Cain” from his 1977 debut My Aim Is True.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – SEPTEMBER 11: (L-R) Allison Russell, Amythyst Kiah, Rhiannon Giddens and Leyla McCalla attend the 2019 Americana Honors & Awards at Ryman Auditorium on September 11, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music Association)

Broadcast Setlist:

Our Native Daughters “Black Myself”

Mumford & Sons (f. The Milk Carton Kids) “Forever”

Yola “Faraway Look”

Brandi Carlile “The Mother”

Mark Erelli (f. Josh Ritter, Lori McKenna, J.S. Ondara, Shawn Colvin) “By Degrees”

Mavis Staples “Change”

Joe Henry & Rodney Crowell “Girl From the North Country”

Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi “Wayfaring Stranger”

The War and Treaty “Love Like There’s No Tomorrow”

I’m With Her (f. Sarah Jarosz, Sara Watkins, Aoife O’Donovan) “Call My Name”

The Milk Carton Kids “Sleepless Nights”

Bonnie Raitt & John Prine “Angel From Montgomery”

Elvis Costello with Jim Lauderdale “Red Cotton/Blame it on Cain”

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. Join us next week for a special encore from one of the most enduring bands of the twentieth century: the Pretenders

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Kane Brown and Colter Wall: two sides of country music on ACL’s 45 season

Austin City Limits spotlights next-generation country representing the genre’s expansive range in a new installment featuring chart-topping sensation Kane Brown sharing the hour with breakout Country-and-Western artist Colter Wall

One of country music’s brightest new stars, boundary-pushing artist Kane Brown is having a banner year, dominating the charts with his low, soulful voice and earning multiple nominations for Country Artist of the Year. The 26-year-old hitmaker makes his ACL debut performing highlights from Experiment, his chart-topping sophomore album which debuted at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200. Born and raised near the rural North Georgia-Tennessee border, the singer makes country music for a modern audience, blending elements of pop, rock, rap and R&B into a traditional country formula. Brown showcases his bona fides as the future of the genre, opening his seven-song set with his breakthrough “What Ifs,” the 4X Platinum love song from his self-titled 2016 debut. He details his personal challenges growing up biracial on “Learning” and tackles the topic of school shootings in the dark, powerful standout “American Bad Dream.” Brown closes out the crowd-pleasing set with a victory lap, performing the No. 1, platinum-selling come-hither smash “Lose It.”

Western Canadian folksinger Colter Wall draws on the stories of his native Saskatchewan for his ACL debut. The talented, 24-year-old artist possesses a rich, resonant baritone that belies his age. Accompanied by his four-piece band, Wall performs the modern-day Western numbers from his acclaimed sophomore release Songs of the Plains, produced by Nashville ace Dave Cobb. A set highlight is a pair of new, unrecorded numbers, “Happy Reunion” and the solo acoustic “Hoolihans at the Holiday Inn,” a 21st-century cowboy’s lament about roping practice in hotel parking lots. Wall delivers traditional classics that fit right into his wheelhouse: an inspired rendition of Marty Robbins’ gunfighter-ballad “Big Iron” and the ‘50’s yodel-spiked “Cowpoke,” before reaching back to his 2017 self-titled debut for the fan-favorite set-closer “Motorcycle.”

photo by Scott Newton

“Kane Brown is on the front line bringing country music into the 21st century,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “His personal story and the subjects he sings about set him apart from the mainstream, yet he’s very much a part of the tradition of country mavericks who aren’t afraid to break the mold.

“Colter Wall is the first artist in a generation to put the ‘western’ back in country-and-western music. His songs about wide-open spaces and the loneliness and isolation resonate with fans feeling the pressure of the modern world.”

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. Join us next week for a special program, as ACL Presents: Americana 18th annual Awards and Honors, featuring Brandi Carlile, John Prine, Our Native Daughters, I’m With Her and more.