Sometimes you just have to say: it’s about damn time. It took a while, but singer, songwriter, and opera composer Rufus Wainwright finally made his long-awaited debut on Austin City Limits. Performing songs from his highly acclaimed tenth studio album Unfollow the Rules, and backed for this occasion by Denton, TX psych rock outfit Midlake (and their alter-ego the Texas Gentlemen), Wainwright delivered an incredible performance – a history-making, first-ever no-audience ACL taping in accordance with Covid-19 protocols.
Son of fellow bards Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, Wainwright remarked “My dad did this show twice,” after nailing set opener “Trouble in Paradise,” the sparkling, witty pop tune that opens Unfollow the Rules. “I am now officially an adult.” The newly minted (47-year-old) grown-up leaned into the new record’s Laurel Canyon influence with “Damsel in Distress,” a wonderfully melodic song inspired by his friend and neighbor Joni Mitchell. Then it was time for the self-described “deep end” of the album, in particular the title track, a dramatic ballad inspired by his young daughter Viva. That amazing performance was followed by the country funk of “You Ain’t Big,” a lively poke at Middle America. Wainwright then moved to the piano for an older tune – the pretty title track of his second album Poses.
Strapping on a guitar (“I’m gay, so guitars kind of scare me”), Wainwright performed a pair of folky tunes: “Peaceful Afternoon” (written for his husband) and “Only the People That Love.” He pulled out the stops while getting overtly political for “Sword of Damocles,” a lush ballad aimed at promoting responsible presidential leadership, before shifting gears completely with “My Little You,” a solo piano “little ditty” dedicated to his daughter. He stayed at the keyboard for the powerful “Early Morning Madness,” an anthemic tune that really showed off his vocal and piano skills. He followed with the Nilsson-esque rocker “Devils and Angels (Hatred)” which included a backing track featuring strings and vocals by his sister Martha Wainwright.
“This one I really didn’t practice for,” Wainwright said at the piano, but you’d never know it from his beautiful take on Unfollow the Rules closer “Alone Time.” The band ended their portion of the show with “another uptempo number about how everything is so terrible,” the acerbic “Going To a Town,” from Wainwright’s 2007 album Release the Stars. The troubadour closed the performance alone at the piano with a gorgeous pair of tunes: the jaunty mash note “The Art Teacher” and a stunning rendition of Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah.” It was a simply spectacular performance, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall as part of our upcoming Season 46 on your local PBS station.
Despite the challenges we’ve faced this year, plans for Austin City Limits Season 46 remain – the 13-episode season Austin PBS will deliver to PBS stations nationwide this fall will be a mix of new, already-taped episodes and selections from our archives. The new season will premiere October 3 and will provide a rare opportunity to go back to our early ACL roots with an emphasis on local Austin and Texan acts.
Our reopening task force and partners at ACL Live at The Moody Theater remain vigilant in working toward safely gathering in the venue for music; however, the local increase in Covid-19 cases, along with state and local ordinances, have inhibited plans to bring in a studio audience for the near future. While we can’t wait to have fans back with us safely in the studio again, in the interim we are pleased to announce that we are on track to resume production with four confirmed tapings, and will do so with a limited production crew and heightened safety measures in place. The artists include the ACL debut of singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright on Sept. 10, the third taping for rock and country trailblazers The Mavericks (supporting their first all-Spanish album En Espanol) on Sept. 22, and the debut of Austin singer/guitar slinger Jackie Venson on Oct. 1.
To mark these historic times, acknowledging the challenges local Austin and Texan acts have faced during the pandemic, we have created a new opening sequence that will air during Season 46. The opening features Austin’s Black Pumas’ hit “Colors,” and showcases many of Austin’s own homegrown talents captured at their homes and front porches, including Ruthie Foster, Ray Wylie Hubbard, White Denim, Jackie Venson, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin and more.
We thank you for your loyal support during this challenging time and we can’t wait to be back in the studio with y’all again!
Austin City Limits and Austin PBS are deeply disappointed to announce, after careful consideration, the 2020 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Induction & Celebration event will no longer take place in October 2020 as previously planned.
We are already looking ahead and will be back next year – October 28, 2021. We hope you will save the date and join us for this annual celebration and Austin PBS fundraiser.
The broadcast Season 46 of Austin City Limits will return this fall. In the meantime, we are working on a special episode, TheBest of Austin City Limits Hall of Fame, featuring highlights from the past 6 years of unforgettable music performances from the Hall of Fame stage to air this winter on PBS.
Live music beacon Austin City Limits is extending access to its archives through June 30 as a gift to music fans during the current live music void. The perennial television series is making fan-favorite episodes from the recently broadcast Season 45 and choice vintage gems available for streaming during these stay-at-home days, in addition to the entire slate of programs from the previous two seasons of the acclaimed concert showcase. Over 40 ACL installments are available to stream free online at https://www.pbs.org/show/austin-city-limits/ offering a wide variety of music’s finest from every genre. Cited by USA Today as the lead option for streaming live music, Austin City Limits has offered viewers a front-row seat to the best in performance for an incredible four-and-a-half decades from the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin, Texas; the series is the flagship of the popular ACL Music Festival.
In addition, the long-running series has delivered classics from its catalog for recent high-profile events: In honor of Willie Nelson’s 87th birthday, ACL showcased an historic 1976 live performance of Red Headed Stranger, which also marked the 45th anniversary of that classic album’s release; UK hitmaker Ed Sheeran’s stunning 2017 hourlong solo acoustic performance recently opened the virtual 3-day PlayOn Fest to benefit the COVID-19 response. ACL is also offering fans the ability to appear on the legendary ACL stage, complete with the iconic Austin skyline, with new virtual backgrounds for Zoom and smartphones free for fans to use here. Custom ACL face masks are also available for fans, and with every mask purchase one will be distributed to someone in need shop.acltv.com.
While live music is grounded and with the postponement and cancellation of countless tours and music festivals, ACL aims to keep its spirit alive and fill the void, providing new viewing options for cooped-up music fans. The program has fast-tracked popular episodes to stream at home, and the show goes on with a generous helping of performances to choose from. Favorites from ACL’s recent Season 45 and the entire slate of Seasons 43 and 44 are available to stream at https://www.pbs.org/show/austin-city-limits/. ACL unlocks two classic fan-favorite vintage installments: the late blues giant B.B. King’s classic 1983 debut and Tom Waits’ legendary 1978 appearance. There’s something for everyone in the extended line-up: highlights include a golden hour with late singer-songwriter giant John Prine (the 2018 performance is one of ACL’s most-requested episodes of all time); an epic stage journey with 2020’s Grammy-winning global pop phenom Billie Eilish; songs for uncertain times with indie-rock provocateur Father John Misty (backed by a 16-piece orchestra); Willie Nelson’s 2018 return to “the house that Willie built” in a career-spanning performance for the ages; a sparkling hour with country superstar Miranda Lambert; a dazzling, career-spanning hour with celebrated jazz legend Herbie Hancock; supergroup The Raconteurs, featuring Jack White and Brendan Benson, in an all-out hour of pure rock and roll; a show-stopping hour with visionary funk songstress Janelle Monáe; rock legends the Pretenders in a shining hit-filled hour of career highlights; a thrilling hour with blues legend Buddy Guy; a radiant hour with acclaimed singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile; powerhouse rap duo Run the Jewels; rock stars Cage The Elephant; an electrifying hour with guitar hero Gary Clark Jr.; a captivating performance from indie original Sharon Van Etten; an endorphin rush set from dance floor magnets LCD Soundsystem; a euphoric hour with New Orleans funk phenom Trombone Shorty and his 10-piece band; standout Austin progressive soul act Black Pumas; innovative art-rock performer St. Vincent; acclaimed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell; stripped-down roots music with Patty Griffin; R&B phenom Miguel; fan-favorite Norah Jones; a rare television performance from acclaimed indie-rock innovator Mitski; next-generation country with chart-topper Kane Brown; and a thrilling hour with celebrated Flamenco-fusion artist Rosalía. ACL’s renowned production is an industry leader, making it a required stopping point for legendary artists and innovators of all genres. Featuring unparalleled audio, and dynamic camerawork, ACL captures all the artistry and energy of live performance.
The series has also created an upcoming encore broadcast programming block with highly-requested episodes from recent ACL archives to air weekly on PBS stations, beginning on May 16 with a buoyant hour with breakout singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers. The programming slate again offers something for all and continues through the end of June: choices include left-of-center country queen Kacey Musgraves; an unforgettable hour of stories and songs with Americana icon Steve Earle saluting the songwriting legacy of the legendary Guy Clark; UK modern rock superstars Arctic Monkeys; country superstar Chris Stapleton; powerhouse R&B sensation H.E.R.; indie rock titans Vampire Weekend; breakout R&B/pop star Khalid; laid-back indie rocker Mac DeMarco; road-tested red-dirt country-rockers Turnpike Troubadours and Austin favorites, indie-folk band Wild Child. Check local PBS listings for times. These broadcast episodes will also be available to stream at https://www.pbs.org/show/austin-city-limits/.
Tune-in, log on, and let ACL be a trusted sidekick for entertainment during these challenging days. The power of music has sustained people in difficult times throughout history and ACL encourages fans and folks to please enjoy these gifts from their archives. And, if you need to freshen up your video calls, we’ve created backgrounds for your calls. Click on the images below to and download:
Austin City Limits was greatly saddened to learn of the death of singer and songwriter John Prine, who died April 7 from complications due to the coronavirus. John Prine’s last Austin City Limits performance is scheduled to broadcast again on PBS on April 18th. Check your local listings or stream it online in its entirety below.
What can we say about John Prine? It’s no secret that he was one of the greatest songwriters to ever pick up a guitar – everyone from Kris Kristofferson (who discovered him) to Elvis Costello to Bonnie Raitt to Johnny Cash to Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters to Bob Dylan would agree. Even film critic Roger Ebert, stumbling upon Prine at a Chicago open mic in 1970 after a movie, lavished rapturous praise on the Illinois mail carrier, shifting his piece that night from covering the film to covering Prine’s set. (It was Prine’s first review.) His work’s plainspoken eloquence, keen intelligence, sly wit, and singalong melodies make lifelong friends with anyone who chances upon them.
We certainly felt he was in the upper echelon of tunesmithing greats. Prine appeared on the show eight times – headlining his own episodes in 1978, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2005 and 2018, joining a songwriters special in 1983, and appearing as a guest of Bonnie Raitt in 2002, duetting on his classic “Angel From Montgomery,” in a performance Raitt called one of the highlights of her career.
We were stunned and thrilled by Prine’s most recent appearance two years ago in Season 44, when he was supporting his wildly acclaimed album Tree of Forgiveness. This was a man who hadn’t lost a step in the progression of his talent over the years, writing songs as smart and funny and powerful as he ever had. Quite simply, he was one of the best.
“This one really hurts, like a dagger to the heart. John Prine was so integral to the essence of Austin City Limits, and few artists graced the ACL stage over the years and decades more than he did,” says executive producer Terry Lickona. “The last time I saw him and his sweet wife Fiona was at this year’s Grammy Awards for his Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was as charming and self-effacing as usual, brushing off all the fuss. He leaves a void that no one else can fill.”
John Prine was one of the brightest stars in the galaxy of American songwriting. He will be missed.
Live music beacon Austin City Limits (ACL) is opening its archives as a gift to music fans during the current live music moratorium. Starting March 23, the perennial television series will make fan-favorite episodes from the recently broadcast Season 45 available for streaming, in addition to the entire slate of programs from the previous two seasons of the acclaimed concert showcase. Over 35 ACL installments will be available to stream free online at https://www.pbs.org/show/austin-city-limits/ offering a wide variety of music’s finest from every genre. The series has also created an upcoming broadcast programming block with highly-requested episodes from recent ACL archives to air weekly on PBS stations (check local listings for times) beginning March 28.
Cited by USA Today as the lead option for streaming live music, Austin City Limits has offered viewers a front-row seat to the best in performance for an incredible four-and-a-half decades from the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin, Texas; the series is the flagship of the popular ACL Music Festival.
While live music is grounded and with the postponement and cancellation of countless tours and music festivals, ACL aims to keep its spirit alive, providing new viewing options for the house-bound. The program has fast-tracked popular episodes to stream at home, and the show goes on with a generous helping of performances to choose from. Favorites from ACL’s recent Season 45 will be available to stream beginning Monday, March 23 at https://www.pbs.org/show/austin-city-limits/. There’s something for everyone: an electrifying hour with guitar hero Gary Clark Jr.; an epic stage journey with 2020’s Grammy-winning global pop phenom Billie Eilish; supergroup The Raconteurs, featuring Jack White and Brendan Benson, in an all-out hour of pure rock and roll. The line-up also features many recent Grammy winners and nominees including powerhouse R&B sensation H.E.R.; breakout singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers; indie rock titans Vampire Weekend; standout Austin progressive soul act Black Pumas and a thrilling hour with celebrated Flamenco-fusion artist Rosalía. ACL’s renowned production is an industry leader, making it a required stopping point for legendary artists and innovators of all genres. Featuring unparalleled audio, and dynamic camerawork, ACL captures all the artistry and energy of live performance.
ACL has also assembled an encore broadcast block featuring some of the most popular installments from recent ACL archives, set to air consecutively in the upcoming weeks, beginning on March 28 with an endorphin rush set from dance floor magnets LCD Soundsystem; the programming slate again offers something for all and continues through the end of June: choices include the euphoric funk of Janelle Monáe; country superstar Chris Stapleton; UK modern rock superstars Arctic Monkeys; celebrated jazz legend Herbie Hancock; folk hero John Prine; breakout R&B/pop star Khalid; left-of-center country queen Kacey Musgraves; Americana icon Steve Earle; laid-back indie rocker Mac DeMarco; and stripped-down roots music with Patty Griffin. These broadcast episodes will also be available to stream at https://www.pbs.org/show/austin-city-limits/.
Tune-in, log on, and let ACL be a trusted sidekick for entertainment during these challenging days. The power of music has sustained people in difficult times throughout history and ACL encourages fans and folks to please enjoy these gifts from their archives.
ACL Encore Broadcast Schedule
March 28 LCD Soundsystem
April 4 Patty Griffin / The Revivalists
April 11 Janelle Monae
April 18 John Prine
April 25 Kacey Musgraves / Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
May 2 Gary Clark Jr.
May 9 Herbie Hancock
May 16 Maggie Rogers
May 23 Khalid / Mac DeMarco
May 30 Steve Earle & The Dukes: A Tribute to Guy Clark
June 6 H.E.R.
June 13 Vampire Weekend
June 20 Chris Stapleton / Turnpike Troubadours
June 27 Arctic Monkeys / Wild Child
You can also browse the ACL YouTube channel for exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes videos and full-length interviews with our artists.