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Featured News Taping Recap

Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall bring Marfa to ACL

There’s nothing like starting a new Austin City Limits taping season with something special. Singer/songwriters Jack Ingram and Miranda Lambert have spent time on our stage before, but not quite like this. Coming together with friend and fellow tunesmith Jon Randall, the Texas natives hit the small West Texas town of Marfa to create The Marfa Tapes, a stripped-down and intimate set of songs generated around a campfire (“to let the dust get in ‘em,” said Lambert) that could only come from a band of pals with time to kill and talent to burn. Now the trio has chosen to perform these songs in our studio, in their first-ever full-length show, a week prior to the record’s release, for a season kickoff like no other we’ve had. 

“Welcome to Marfa!” said Ingram as Randall broke into the Western swing rhythm of “Two Step Down to Texas,” a jovial celebration of Austin with Lambert on lead vocals and Ingram on whistle solo. Atop their stools and under their cowboy hats, the trio shifted to waltz time for “Am I Right or Amarillo,” a Randall-led tune that sounds like a honky-tonk classic you haven’t heard in ages. “We’re so happy to be the first show back at ACL,” noted Lambert from the stage. “It’s a dream to be here. Thank you for enjoying the campfire – we hope you laugh a little, cry a little and drink a lot!” The tune “Ghost” followed, its nod to one of Lambert’s ex-paramours carried by the threesome’s stirring harmonies. Ingram took the spotlight next with the metaphorical “Anchor,” remarking that “these guys are the only ones who’d write a song with me about drowning…and love.” After elucidating some of the twenty years of history the three friends have shared, Lambert introduced the lovely single “In His Arms,” written, she said, while staring into the Marfa sunset. 

The atmosphere moved from sunset to starlight, as Ingram and Lambert told the story of the group’s first night in Marfa. That resulted in Lambert’s award-winning hit “Tin Man,” which the trio then performed with round robin vocals, Randall to Lambert to Ingram. “Let’s give Jon a big hand,” said Ingram about his session ace friend. “He’s carrying a lot of these guitar parts.” The man who got his start playing guitar for Emmylou Harris in her eighties band the Nash Ramblers then explained how The Marfa Tapes was recorded: three microphones, some guitars, and a few drinks. That led into the song “Waxahachie,” a ditty that grew out of an argument over which Texas highway leads to it – an argument settled by Lambert’s mom. (For the record: it’s IH 35.) Randall then knocked out the bluesy riff for “Geraldene,” a snarky shot across the bow of a would-be predator. The trio immediately shifted gears with “The Wind’s Gonna Blow,” a close-harmony ballad that was the first tune written for the project. That led to “Amazing Grace (West Texas),” a sparse, heartfelt tribute to the locale in which the record was made.  

Ingram told a story about fading into the night merely by walking away from the campfire the threesome shared, which prompted Lambert to remark, “I don’t like it when he disappears like that.” That was the genesis of “I Don’t Like It,” turning the songstress’ casual complaint into a meditation of the fragility of love. “We’re putting these songs down just the way we did in Marfa,” Lambert noted about the performance’s raw and unfiltered nature. Nobody complained, especially when Ingram led the trio into the closing time ode “We’ll Always Have the Blues.” The next song paid loving, if irreverent, tribute to the late Guy Clark by citing his classic “Homegrown Tomatoes” in a song by the same name. “We were not drinkin’ when we wrote this song,” Lambert insisted (to Ingram’s casual denial), before launching into the cheeky “Tequila Does,” a song that first appeared on Lambert’s most recent album Wildcard before finding its second home on its writers’ LP. 

For the final number, the trio raised a glass to another lost legend – Austin music pioneer Jerry Jeff Walker, who passed away in 2020. That meant, of course, closing the show with “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” penned by Ray Wylie Hubbard, made famous by Walker and sung by the three friends in their best outlaw style – with a little help on the chorus from the crowd. With that rowdy exit, Ingram, Lambert and Randall left the stage, leaving behind a performance other seasons will be hard-pressed to match as kickoffs go. We can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station as part of our Season 47.

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Featured News

Denny Freeman 1944-2021

Austin-based guitarist, keyboardist and songwriter Denny Freeman passed away Sunday, April 25th, from cancer at the age of 76. Freeman was an integral part of Austin’s seminal blues scene, coming up alongside the Vaughan Brothers, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and more. 

After growing up in the Dallas area, he landed in Austin in 1970, where he became a staple on the town’s blues stages and played with many ACL favorites. He shared lead guitar duties with Stevie Ray Vaughan in the Cobras, founded Southern Feeling with ATX blues mentor W.C. Clark and Angela Strehli, and became a member of the Antone’s house band, backing the likes of Buddy Guy, Albert Collins and Lazy Lester. He worked closely with Austin blues siren Lou Ann Barton, and recorded and toured with Jimmie Vaughan. After moving to Los Angeles in the early 90s, he became a mainstay in Taj Mahal’s touring band. 

Before moving back to Austin in 2011, Freeman landed his most high-profile gig yet as lead guitarist for Bob Dylan. His five-year tenure in Dylan’s Never-Ending Tour band included a headlining spot at the Austin City Limits Music Festival and the recording of the singer/songwriter’s acclaimed LP Modern Times. He also made records with soul singer Percy Sledge, Stevie Ray Vaughan co-writer Doyle Bramhall, and L.A. scene keyboard veteran Barry Goldberg. Along the way he released six mostly instrumental solo records of his own. 

As a key member of Austin’s blues mafia, Freeman appeared on Austin City Limits three times: in Season 15 with W.C. Clark, in Season 20 with Jimmie Vaughan, and in Season 26 with Double Trouble and Friends. Here’s Freeman in 1990 tearing up his Stratocaster with Clark and Angela Strehli on “Big Town Playboy.” 

Denny Freeman on Austin City Limits, 1990.
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Featured News Taping Announcement Uncategorized

TAPING: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall’s The Marfa Tapes on 4/28 – limited audience

Austin City Limits welcomes Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall as they present their upcoming album The Marfa Tapes on April 28 at ACL Live at the Moody Theater.

Deep in the heart of the Trans-Pecos lies a little town with an outsized grip on the American imagination: Marfa, Texas. For decades Marfa has attracted artists and wanderers, visionaries and misfits, loners and oddballs. The desolate meeting of high desert and rugged mountains is a filmmaker’s dream (see No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood, both of which were filmed here), and the infinite, empty sky leaves you with little doubt as to your place in the universe. Marfa is the perfect place to lose—or find—yourself. For singer/songwriters Miranda Lambert (who has visited the ACL stage three times),  Jack Ingram (who last appeared 25 years ago in Season 22) and Jon Randall (who makes his ACL debut), it was both. 

Writing retreats to Marfa became a regular tradition for Lambert, Randall, and Ingram, one that yielded both massive hits and profound personal growth. When the trio returned for five days this past November though, they came not to write, but to record, capturing a captivating new album inspired by the stark beauty of west Texas and the deep, lasting bonds the three have forged there. Recorded raw and loose with just a pair of microphones and an acoustic guitar, The Marfa Tapes is a work of audio verité, an intimate, unadorned snapshot of a moment in time fueled by love, trust, and friendship. The trio recorded much of the album outdoors, inviting the ambient sounds of the desert to seep into their live, bare bones performances, and the atmosphere is utterly transportive. While a few of the tracks here may already be familiar to country listeners—ACM Song of the Year “Tin Man” turns up in its original, stripped-down state, as does fan favorite “Tequila Does”—the vast majority of the material has never been heard outside of Marfa, and the result is a rare glimpse inside the creative process of three of the genre’s most accomplished writers and performers, a candid, unvarnished look at Lambert, Randall, and Ingram’s undeniable chemistry in its purest, most honest form.

The songs on this album would sound great anywhere, but there’s something about these recordings, about the rustling of the wind and the crackling of the fire, that brings the music to life in a way no band arrangement or studio production ever could. The spaciousness here leaves plenty of room for the imagination to roam, and the desert, mountains, and sky are all just as integral to the sound as Lambert, Randall, and Ingram themselves. In the end, Marfa isn’t just the setting for this album; it’s the soul. 

Due to implemented safety measures and the ongoing uncertainty from COVID-19, there will be no giveaway for access to attend upcoming ACL tapings. With the safety of the artists, crew and guests top of mind, the limited studio audience will be prioritized to our donors who make Austin City Limits possible and who have continued to support the show during this challenging time and beyond. We will expand the audience as safety measures allow and will post giveaway opportunities on ACLTV.com as available. Thank you for your patience as we work to reopen safely. We can’t wait to get back to the music with our supporters and fans. 

Unfortunately, there will not be a public live stream of this taping. As always, the performances captured in our current tapings will broadcast this fall in ACL’s 47th season, and we encourage you to catch our encore episodes on your local PBS station. 

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Featured News

ACL salutes the 2021 Grammy winners

Austin City Limits extends our congratulations to our distinguished ACL alumni for their big wins at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards. 

For the second year in a row, Billie Eilish won the top prize Record of the Year, this year for her single “Everything I Wanted,” as well as picking up the Best Song Written For Visual Media trophy for “No Time to Die,” the title track for the upcoming James Bond film. H.E.R. collected wins for Song of the Year for her single “I Can’t Breathe” (featured on the Judas and the Black Messiah soundtrack) and Best R&B Song for “Better Than I Imagine,” her collaboration with Robert Glasper (also of August Greene) and Meshell Ndegeocello. Our beloved John Prine picked up two awards for his posthumous single “I Remember Everything,” including Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song. 

Other ACL performers that need to make space on their trophy shelves this year include: James Taylor, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, John Legend, Vince Gill, Brandi Carlile (as part of the Highwomen), Miranda Lambert, Dolly Parton, Natalia Lafourcade, Sarah Jarosz, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, and Beck

We’re thrilled to feature many of the recent Grammy-winners on ACL’s upcoming Season 47. Miranda Lambert launches the new season with an April taping showcasing her newest collaborative project and later this season we’ll be showcasing Brittany Howard in her solo ACL debut and looking forward to hosting Sarah Jarosz in her third ACL outing. Stay tuned for more. 

You can see the full list of winners here. Congratulations to all. 

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Featured News Taping Announcement

ACL announces Season 47 tapings

Austin City Limits proudly announces Season 47 will return in spades this year with a stellar slate of artists onboard to record new appearances, including a number of 2021 Grammy Award nominees.

ACL is thrilled to announce the first taping of Season 47, on April 28, will feature Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram and Jon Randall debuting their just-announced, highly-anticipated album The Marfa Tapes. The country superstar and her celebrated songwriting partners open the new season showcasing the new release, out May 7, a collection of beautifully intimate and raw songs written and recorded together in Marfa, Texas. 

Season 47 will feature five-time 2021 Grammy nominee and four-time Grammy Award-winner Brittany Howard making her solo ACL debut; and multiple 2021 double Grammy nominees including singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz, in her third headlining appearance, and the ACL debuts of jazz/soul maverick (and recent Golden Globe award-winner) Jon Batiste and acclaimed country standout Brandy Clark. Music great Jackson Browne returns for his first taping in two decades (showcasing his first new album in six years); Grammy-winning (and four-time nominated) R&B phenom Leon Bridges makes a highly-anticipated return to the ACL stage; Austin indie sensation Dayglow makes his ACL debut, and a Texas icon, singer/songwriter Terry Allen returns for the first time in almost 25 years. Taping dates will be announced at a later date and may be subject to change as we navigate the new landscape.

“Austin City Limits is excited to bring live music back (with a live audience!),” says executive producer Terry Lickona. “Along with the rest of the world, we hope to slowly but surely (and safely) get back to normal this year, and it’s obvious many artists do, too. We have a diverse mix of headliners, up-and-comers, and groundbreaking singers, songwriters and musicians ready to take the stage.”

Jon Batiste. Courtesy UMG.

ACL is uniquely thrilled to launch the new season with a trio of Texas natives: Miranda Lambert (in her third ACL appearance) alongside her longtime songwriting partners Jack Ingram (who last appeared 25 years ago in Season 22) and Jon Randall (in his ACL debut), showcasing The Marfa Tapes, a stripped-down project conceived in the Texas high desert. A tiny, middle-of-nowhere town with an outsized grip on the American imagination, Marfa is an eccentric outpost in the midst of a vast expanse of nothingness, the perfect place to lose – or find – yourself. For Lambert, Randall, and Ingram, it’s both. Over the past several years, the desolate location has become a songwriting haven for the trio, yielding both massive hits and profound personal growth. When they returned for five days this past November though, they came not to write, but to record, capturing a captivating new album inspired by the stark beauty of west Texas and the deep, lasting bonds the three have forged there. Recorded raw and loose with just a pair of microphones and an acoustic guitar, The Marfa Tapes is a stunning work of audio verité; an intimate, unadorned snapshot of a moment in time fueled by love, trust, and friendship.

The trio recorded much of the album outdoors, inviting the ambient sounds of the desert to seep into their live, bare bones performances, and the atmosphere is utterly transportive. While a couple of the tracks may already be familiar to listeners – ACM Song of the Year “Tin Man” as well as fan favorite “Tequila Does” – the vast majority of these songs have never been heard outside of Marfa. The result is a rare glimpse inside the creative process of three of the genre’s most accomplished writers and performers; a candid, unvarnished look at Lambert, Randall, and Ingram’s undeniable chemistry in its purest, most honest form.

“There’s something singular that happens in that moment of collaboration and creation, something you can never really recreate in the studio,” says Ingram. “Our hope with this album was to share a little bit of that magic with people.”

ACL is excited to share the magic of our upcoming Season 47 with our loyal fans and viewers. Stay tuned to acltv for further details on upcoming tapings.

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Featured News

Austin City Limits and Time Life present Austin City Limits Country box set

For the first time ever, iconic country music performances from Austin City Limits, the longest-running music show in television history, are together in one deluxe DVD collection. Time Life and Austin City Limits have captured five decades of uncut performances from country music’s biggest stars in Austin City Limits Country. This one-of-a-kind 10-DVD collection features the best performances from over 40 years of legendary music shows and is available only at TimeLife.com/ACL.

Since its launch in 1974, Austin City Limits has held a special connection to country music. Beloved by artists and fans alike, the show is known for authentic music presented in live and uncut performances. The collection has been hand-selected from countless episodes in the Austin City Limits archives to highlight the greatest country performances from artists who have made history on the ACL stage. 

“This collection represents not only some of the best singers in modern country music, but the songs that we will never forget,” said Austin City Limits Executive Producer Terry Lickona, who has booked the show for over four decades. “What has always made country music special to me is the song. Despite popular trends and production gimmicks, the song is still the heart and soul of the music. A great song is timeless.”

Austin City Limits Country includes performances by country’s finest from legends like Loretta Lynn, Marty Robbins, Charley Pride and Waylon Jennings to superstars like Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, and Garth Brooks, plus today’s greats including Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Chris Stapleton. The collection includes a special free bonus disc: The original Austin City Limits 1974 pilot episode featuring a complete Willie Nelson concert.

Time Life cordially invites country music fans everywhere to experience these wonderful performances, collaborations, bonus interviews, and more. Available now exclusively at TimeLife.com/ACL, this hand selected 10-DVD country music treasure includes: 

  • 164 live, uncut performances from 1974 –2018 featuring country legends and superstars performing their biggest hits including Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain,” Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning,” Reba McEntire’s “Whoever’s In New England,” Vince Gill’s “Whenever You Come Around,” Alan Jackson’s “Livin’ On Love,” and Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.”
  • Unforgettable collaborations including Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson performing “Crazy,” Vince Gill and Patty Loveless singing “After The Fire Is Gone,” and Sheryl Crow and Kris Kristofferson performing “Me And Bobby McGee.”
  • Special moments including Roger Miller singing “Old Friends” with Willie Nelson, Vince Gill singing “Amie” with Pure Prairie League, and Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens singing “Streets of Bakersfield.”
  • Bonus interviews with the stars including Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Keith Urban, and more!
  • FREE Bonus DVD: The Austin City Limits 1974 pilot episode featuring a complete Willie Nelson concert!
  • PLUS, an exclusive collectible memory book!

About Time Life

Time Life is one of the world’s pre-eminent creators and direct marketers of unique music and video/DVD products, specializing in distinctive multi-media collections that evoke memories of yesterday, capture the spirit of today, and can be enjoyed for a lifetime. TIME LIFE and the TIME LIFE logo are registered trademarks of Time Warner Inc. and affiliated companies used under license by Direct Holdings Americas Inc., which is not affiliated with Time Warner Inc. or Time Inc.

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, Workrise, 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.