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Season 38 goes acoustic with The Civil Wars and Punch Brothers

Join us this weekend for a night of intimate and supremely talented performances from The Civil Wars and Punch Brothers. With zero percussion assistance for each performance, one acquires a clear picture of the depth of musicianship and delicately crafted songs that both of these artists brought to our stage earlier this year. What you’ll find from both artists is nothing short of moving, inspiring, and wildly intriguing.

With open arms and a bare stage, we welcomed the Civil Wars back in February to open Season 38. The Grammy Award-winners proved to be a perfect start to the newest season on so many levels. Their minimalist set with the ever-so perpetual Austin skyline in the background highlighted the voices of Joy Williams and John Paul White as they played hits off their Grammy-winning 2011 release Barton Hollow. Included in this performance are two very intense, but true to the original spirit, renditions of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and Smashing Pumpkins’ “Disarm.” At one moment you realize that Williams and White had the entire audience in their hand when Williams remarked about how quiet and attentive the audience was reacting. It’s true – at many points during this episode you become so captivated by Joy’s sashaying and John’s guitar playing that you forget where you are and immediately realize why these two are garnering the much deserved appraisal they’ve gotten in the last year.

photo by Scott Newton

“When you start a band this is all you ever really want to do…play Austin City Limits.” mentioned Chris Thile in the middle of their set. Thile, who is no stranger to the ACL stage (this is his third appearance on the show), debuts his all-star band that formed back in 2006 in this episode. Again there is no percussion, but unlike the simple quietness that we get from The Civil Wars earlier, we get an influx of sound from the mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, and bass. The progressive rock stars of the bluegrass world take us through their 2012 release of Who’s Feeling Young Now? with a few sprinkles of the 2010 album Antifogmatic. This group’s genre jumping and incredible musicianship will have you tapping your toes and wishing you had taken up banjo back in 10th grade.

For those of you in Austin that are attending Fun Fun Fun Fest this weekend, this episode will be an alternative to the chaotic excitement on the Black, Orange, and Blue stages. For those in other parts of the country, this is something you will not want to miss, but don’t take our word for it – see it for yourself! You can check here for local listings and times in your area. Also, be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr for all things Austin City Limits.

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Episode Recap New Broadcast News

Season 38 continues with the Shins and Dr. Dog

After a magnificent celebration of soul with Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples, we’re shifting gears this week to give you some of the best the indie rock world has to offer. In this all-new episode, the Shins return for their second ACL episode, while Dr. Dog makes its debut appearance on our stage.

The last time Albuquerque-to-Portland band the Shins appeared on ACL was in 2004 (Season 30). Eight years later, singer/songwriter James Mercer brings a brand new crew in support of the group’s acclaimed fourth LP Port of Morrow. The quintet samples the latest record with “September,” “It’s Only LIfe,” “The Rifle’s Spiral” and the appropriately catchy single “Simple Song,” hitting a real sweet spot between rich, melodic hooks and Mercer’s clever, literate lyrics. But the band also digs deep into the Shins catalog, bouncing through “So Says I,” from breakthrough record Chutes Too Narrow, and reaching all the way back to its debut by closing the set with “New Slang.” It’s a masterful performance by a band hitting the peak of its powers.

For its first appearance on ACL, Dr. Dog proves why it’s a favorite on the live circuit. Adding a dash of jam band spice to its psychedelic indie rock batter, the Philadelphia sextet knows how to have a good time playing, while still keeping its songs catchy and concise. The band opens this episode with “Lonesome,” the tune that begins its much-heralded seventh LP Be the Void, kicking off the show to rollicking effect. “Jackie Wants a Black Eye” and “Vampire” keep the party going, and by the time the Dog hits a trio of tunes from its fan-favorite LP Fate, ending with “The Rabbit, the Bat and the Reindeer,” Dr. Dog lets us know just why it’s been such a popular concert draw in its decade of existence. As executive producer Terry Lickona says at the beginning of the show, “Great songs and live energy make for a winning combination.”

photo by Scott Newton

To get info on when and where to tune in to this excellent episode, check here for local listings. Also, don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or Tumblr for more updates about tapings, giveaways, and sneak peeks. Tune in next week for another Season 38 debut with the Civil Wars and Punch Brothers.

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Episode Recap New Broadcast News

Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples keep ACL’s new season rolling

So far this season we’ve brought you two groups (Radiohead & Bon Iver) that we’ve looked forward to having on our stage for years, this weekend is no exception. For the first time ever we bring you both Mavis Staples and Bonnie Raitt, two legends and soul sisters for the perfect combination of soul, R&B, blues, and gospel.  “We come this evening to bring you some joy, some happiness, inspiration and some positive vibrations,” declared Miss Staples back in June for our soul sister duel, and boy, did they deliver! This was a night full of smoky voices, sassy guitar playing, audience hooplah, and ardent exhibition.

This is Bonnie’s third appearance on Austin City Limits and although it’s been ten years since we’ve seen her last, she couldn’t have been welcomed more warmly. The audience greets the nine-time Grammy Award winner and bestselling artist with much love and admiration. She predominantly plays off of her 2012 album Slipstream, including “Down to You,” “Used to Rule the World” and a bluesy take on the Bob Dylan song “One Million Miles.” She finally exclaims, “Awww man! I love John Hiatt!” before ending with her Nick of Time hit “Thing Called Love.”

Mavis Staples is a clearly a legend. This lady has seen it all from singing songs on the forefront of the Civil Rights movement to being inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Joined onstage with her three backup singers and backing band, Mavis’ energy and famous low register voice charm the audience like we’ve never seen on classics like “Creep Along Moses” and “Freedom Highway.” At the end of the set, Mavis invites her lovingly coined “baby sister” Bonnie Raitt onstage for a couple of songs. On the emotional duet “Losing You,” dedicated to their fathers, Mavis and Bonnie share a moment where they hold hands and look at each othe – it’s one of the incredibly touching moments of the evening. They end the night with a rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” a version that had the entire audience clapping and dancing.

Don’t miss this inspiring and heartfelt episode – you won’t regret it. To find out when and where you can catch this episode check here for local listings. Also, don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or Tumblr for more updates about tapings, giveaways, and sneak peeks! Tune in next week for the The Shins and Dr. Dog!

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Episode Recap New Broadcast News

Bon Iver continues ACL’s new season this weekend

In a few short years, the world has watched Bon Iver’s progression from the “bare boned” yet profound debut For Emma, Forever Ago in 2008, to the latest self-titled release with anticipation. Justin Vernon has come a long way from once writing in total seclusion in a cabin in the mountains to collaborating with artists such as Kanye West and winning Grammys. When the group recorded this episode this past April, we were eager to see how this progression and critical acclaim would manifest in the performance. The result was a passionate, meticulously layered display of talent and musical tranquility.

In this episode, Bon Iver draws mostly from the 2011 self-titled album, starting with the opening track, “Perth,” and seamlessly leading into the next tune, “Minnesota, WI.” From there we get “Brackett, WI,” a beautifully-written track that appeared on the 2009 Dark Was the Night compilation album that raised funds and awareness about HIV and AIDS. Audience favorites included a more fleshed-out version of “Blood Bank,” complete with various horns, and of course the hits from For Emma, “Skinny Love” and “For Emma.”

We hope you’re enjoying Season 38 so far! Check here to see where/when you can catch this Bon Iver episode. Be sure to follow our Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages for updates on ticket giveaways for upcoming tapings! Tune in next week for a “soul sister extravaganza” featuring Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples!

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Episode Recap New Broadcast News

Radiohead kicks off Austin City Limits’ new season this weekend!

The day after we recorded Radiohead  back in March, our reaction was, “Radiohead taped Austin City Limits last night. It almost feels like that’s all we need to say.” Even now, months later with the Season 38 premiere upon on us, we still feel the same sense of met anticipation. It was a happening that fans and we had personally been waiting for and it finally came to fruition. A band like Radiohead, (well, let’s be honest – there really isn’t a band out there like Radiohead) that can constantly challenge themselves and evolve to change their sound to continue to make beautiful and inspiring music is a rare gift. We are incredibly grateful to open up our 38th season with such progressive rock icons and modern day musical legends.

Radiohead opened their set with “Bloom,” the busy and fitting song for the occasion that opens their 2011 self-released album The King of Limbs. From there the group goes to the piano-heavy and melodic “Daily Mail,” another new song from last year. The rest of the set features a collective mix of tracks from TKOL, Hail to the Thief, Kid A, OK Computer, and new singles. One highlight of the night is when they played a forgotten B-side, “The Amazing Sounds of Orgy.” Of course the essence of the night was captured at the very end when the band played the big hits and crowd favorites, “Idioteque” and “Paranoid Android.”

For those that missed seeing the taping live, this is your opportunity to see what many described as being a passionate and “life-changing” performance. You can truly feel the energy of the band and the audience in this episode, and Thom Yorke’s dancing may even inspire you to flail around in your living room. (Seriously, if you don’t dance during “Idioteque” then there may be something wrong with your well-being.)

Don’t miss the premiere of Season 38 this weekend featuring Radiohead! Check your local listings for times and stations here. Also, don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, if we get to 90,000 likes (we’re really close!) we’ll post an interview with Ed O’Brien and Thom Yorke. You can also follow us on Twitter and Tumblr for updates about tapings. Tune in next week for Bon Iver!