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New tapings: Tyler Childers 3/24, Luke Combs 4/27 and the Avett Brothers 4/29

Austin City Limits is happy to announce new tapings featuring a trio of American originals: Luke Combs, Tyler Childers, as well as a returning fan favorite: The Avett Brothers. Following up his guest appearance with mentor John Prine in 2018, Tyler Childers makes his headlining debut on March 24, and chart-topper Luke Combs hits the ACL stage for the first time on April 27. The Avetts make their third headlining appearance – and fourth overall – on the ACL stage on April 29. 

Kentucky native and Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and musician Tyler Childers envisions his new album Country Squire as a “working man’s country album”—one that captures a relentless work ethic, a happy marriage, and a sly sense of humor. The album comes two years after his widely-acclaimed 2017 breakout debut Purgatory. For the new project, he reunited with Purgatory co-producers Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson, recording nine songs in just two days. “I don’t know how to explain it any other way but I wanted it to feel like an upper,” Childers says. “I was listening to a lot of Allen Toussaint’s Southern Nights and Jim & Jesse’s Diesel on My Tail. You listen to that album all the way through and it’s driving, it’s going, and it’s not stopping.” Childers isn’t stopping—Country Squire debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and scored a 2020 Grammy nomination for Best Country Solo Performance for the single “All Your’n.” Childers grew up in Lawrence County, Kentucky, with a father in the coal industry. As a boy, he sang for his Free Will Baptist Church congregation and learned a few chords on a guitar given to him by his grandfather. He absorbed the classic rock his father liked, along with country artists of the ‘80s, such as Alabama, Ricky Skaggs, and Hank Williams Jr. “I hope that I’m doing my people justice, and I hope that maybe someone from somewhere else can get a glimpse of the life of a Kentucky boy,” he says of Country Squire. Childers was named “Emerging Artist of the Year” at the 2018 Americana Music Association Honors & Awards. Garnering accolades for his powerful live performances, he’s toured extensively across the globe including over 130 sold-out headline shows as well as multiple dates supporting supporting Willie Nelson and John Prine. He has also performed at major festivals including ACL Fest, Bonnaroo, Merlefest, Newport Folk Festival, Stagecoach and countless other stages. Childers recently made his headline debut at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium with four special sold-out shows and will tour extensively throughout 2020 as part of Sturgill Simpson’s “A Good Look’n Tour.” 

photo by David Bergman

ACM, CMA, CMT and Billboard Award-winning artist Luke Combs is unquestionably country music’s biggest breakout star, riding country’s hottest hand with seven consecutive No. 1 singles, including his latest “Even Though I’m Leaving.” Combs’ critically acclaimed sophomore album, What You See Is What You Get, debuted at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart as well as Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. Combs holds steady on the sound that established him—a blend of modern country music with a throwback vibe to the ‘90s country of his childhood. There is no mistaking Combs when you hear that voice. He grew up in Asheville, NC to blue-collar parents who tried to encourage his raw musical talent. What you see with Luke Combs is an approachable North Carolina guy in a ball cap and jeans who’s admittedly not that different from his high school days. What you get, however, is an arena headliner, a Grand Ole Opry member, a Grammy nominee for Best New Artist, and the only country singer in history to reach No. 1 with his first seven singles. Combs’ 2017 debut album, This One’s For You, was recently certified triple platinum; the album has spent 50 non-consecutive weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart—tying the record for the longest reign atop the chart. This One’s For You was also the most-streamed country album of 2019. Leading up to the release of What You See Is What You Get, Combs topped the country countdowns with “Hurricane,” “When It Rains It Pours,” “One Number Away,” “She Got the Best of Me,” “Beautiful Crazy,” and “Beer Never Broke My Heart.” Combs insists that he owes everything to his fans. “I always want to be the best dude and I want to do what’s right for everybody. I want people to know that I’m still the same good dude that I was when I started.” Combs makes his ACL debut in the midst of a sold-out U.S. tour, including his first-ever stadium show. 

photo by Crackerfarm

The Avett Brothers made mainstream waves with their 2009 major label debut, I and Love and You, landing in the Top 20 on the Billboard Top 200 and garnering widespread critical acclaim. The debut success was soon followed by the release of 2012’s The Carpenter and 2013’s Magpie and the Dandelion, which both debuted Top 5 on the Billboard Top 200. 2016’s True Sadness achieved The Avett Brothers’ highest career debut to date, hitting No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Albums chart, topping both the Rock Albums and Digital Albums charts, landing No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200, and scoring two GRAMMY® nominations. The banner year also saw the North Carolina natives inducted into their home state’s esteemed Music Hall of Fame. In 2017, the band released the critically acclaimed documentary May It Last: A Portrait of The Avett Brothers, which was co-directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio. The film followed the band as they wrote their GRAMMY® nominated True Sadness and received rave reviews and critical acclaim. The band headlined 2018’s concert for Hurricane Florence Relief, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to help North Carolinians affected by the devastation of Hurricane Florence. The Avett Brothers’ latest album, Closer Than Together, hit No. 4 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart and No. 2 on the Top Folk Albums chart. Billboard notes, “Closer Than Together is the sound of a group sticking to what it does best — singing the truth about the world, pulling no punches and confronting listeners with music that stops you in your tracks.” In addition, a new musical inspired by and featuring the music of The Avett Brothers, Swept Away, will have its world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in June 2020. 

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week prior to the taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast episodes will air this fall on PBS as part of our upcoming Season 46.

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R.I.P. Paul English, longtime drummer for Willie Nelson

We here at Austin City Limits were shocked to learn of the death of Paul English, Willie Nelson’s longtime drummer and best friend, after a bout with pneumonia.  He was 87. 

Born in Vernon, the North Texan grew up in Fort Worth, living the kind of outlaw life usually only glimpsed in the movies, a life that led him to be (proudly) listed in the Fort Worth Press’s “Ten Most Unwanted Criminals” for five years straight. (His son Paul, Jr. noted in the Oxford American: “If you’re writing songs about shooting people, it’s nice to have a guy who’s shot people up there onstage with you.” Read the whole compelling piece here.) He first played with Willie in 1955, becoming his regular drummer in 1966. From then on, English was the rock in Willie’s band – not only the Family’s heartbeat, but its road manager, tour accountant, collector, and, if need be, muscle. The subject of Willie’s fan favorite tune “Me and Paul,” English was also Willie’s running buddy for five decades, the man who watched his boss’s back, literally and figuratively, gun in boot, ready to take on anyone who showed his pal – or anyone in the Willie organization – any disrespect. English slowed down in recent years, having already been joined on drums by his younger brother Billy for many moons, but his larger-than-life persona, closeness to his employer, and de facto leadership of the Family Band kept him the heart and soul of Willie Nelson’s music. 

Due to his long tenure, English appeared in every episode featuring Willie as headliner, from the first in 1974 to the most recent in 2018. Here he is in the pilot, in his signature hat and cape, accompanying Willie & Family on “Devil in a Sleeping Bag” – a song about life on the road in which he figures as the titular Devil. 


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ACL Season 45 Streaming Bonus: Epic Hour with Rock Supergroup The Raconteurs

Steady now: Austin City Limits turns up the volume with a fan-favorite highlight from this season: a streaming-only bonus installment of The Raconteurs’ acclaimed appearance, back by popular demand and amplified by previously unseen performances for a full, hour-long set. The return of powerhouse rockers The Raconteurs, the supergroup featuring Jack White, Brendan Benson, Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence, in their first appearance in over a decade was one of the most-watched broadcasts of Season 45.  The free webisode offers double The Raconteurs and will be available to music fans everywhere to stream online here beginning Wednesday, February 12, 3 pm CT at pbs.org/austincitylimits

The Raconteurs’ electrifying Season 45 broadcast earned raves from viewers and critics alike: “The Raconteurs Cut Loose with Face-Melting Austin City Limits Performance”Spin; “The Raconteurs Rock the Fuck Out on ACL TV”Consequence of Sound. The 11-song enhanced performance includes five additional songs from their 2019 Austin City Limits taping—more of the incomparable Jack White and his partners-in-crime, more blazing guitar solos, more iconic riffs and more swaggering hooks.

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), and augmented by multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) for this appearance, 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 11-song set of pure rock and roll. Tearing into back-to-back STRANGER highlights including “Bored and Razed,” “Only Child,” “Sunday Driver” and “Help Me Stranger,” the energy is pushed to 11, as the band adds new classics to rock’s canon. The hard-driving combo dip back into 2008’s GRAMMY-winning Consolers of the Lonely for the searing “Old Enough” and “Top Yourself” anchored by White and Benson’s mighty guitar work, then 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 rips 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. Tying it all off is an extended version of “Carolina Drama,” The Raconteurs’ gothic American murder ballad. “If you want to know the truth of the tale,” howls White, with the Austin audience chanting the final, dramatic “Go and ask the milkman” line for a storybook ending and a standing ovation.

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

THE RACONTEURS SETLIST: *(additional songs not in original broadcast)

BORED AND RAZED*

ONLY CHILD*

NOW THAT YOU’RE GONE

SUNDAY DRIVER

HELP ME STRANGER

THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS*

OLD ENOUGH*

TOP YOURSELF

HEY GYP (DIG THE SLOWNESS)

STEADY, AS SHE GOES

CAROLINA DRAMA*

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R.I.P. Lyle Mays of the Pat Metheny Group

Austin City Limits is disheartened to learn of the death of Pat Metheny Group keyboardist Lyle Mays, who died at age 66 in Los Angeles on Feb. 10 after a recurring illness. 

Born in Wisconsin to musician parents, Mays studied piano and organ from an early age. After graduating from the University of North Texas, where he’d composed and arranged for the college’s famous One O’Clock Lab Band, Mays joined clarinetist Woody Herman’s group on the road. He met Pat Metheny in 1974, recording the guitarist’s second album Watercolors with him in 1977 and forming the Pat Metheny Group that same year. As co-writer, producer and arranger, Mays recorded fourteen albums with the band over the course of thirty-plus years, winning eleven Grammy awards along the way. He also performed as a sideman for artists ranging from Joni Mitchell to Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as composing music for theater and children’s records. Mays released five solo albums, including 1993’s Fictionary, a trio record with fellow North Texas alumnus Marc Johnson. After retiring from music following the Metheny Group’s final tour in 2010, the self-taught computer programmer followed his other passion and became a software manager. 

Here is Mays performing “Proof” in 2003 with the Pat Metheny Group on Austin City Limits


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R.I.P. Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo

We here at Austin City Limits are saddened to learn of the death of singer and teacher Joseph Shabalala, founder of South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who appeared on ACL in 2006. He was 78.

He was born Bhekizizwe Joseph Siphatimandla Mxoveni Mshengu Bigboy Shabalala in 1941 in the town of Ladysmith (eMnambithi district) in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. In the late fifties he joined the Durban Choir, leaving them two years later when they refused to perform his original songs. He founded his own isicathamiya group the Blacks in 1959, renaming them Ladysmith Black Mambazo in 1960. The group signed a recording contract in 1972, selling 40,000 copies of their first album Amabutho, making it South Africa’s first gold-selling record. Ladysmith Black Mambazo continued to be popular in its home country, but gained international fame after appearing on singer/songwriter Paul Simon’s Grammy-winning 1986 LP Graceland, specifically the songs “Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes” and “Homeless,” which Shabalala co-wrote. The group won its first Grammy in 1988 for its album Shaka Zulu, winning four more over the course of a long – and ongoing – international career. Shabalala retired from performance with Ladysmith Black Mambazo in 2014, continuing to teach choral music until his death. 

Here is Shabalala on Austin City Limits in 2006, closing out the night’s performance with “Phansi.”  

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Rosalía invigorates ACL’s season 45 finale

Austin City Limits closes out Season 45 with a spectacular full-hour performance showcasing celebrated Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalía in her ACL debut. The globally praised Flamenco-fusion artist has taken the music world by storm, winning her first Grammy Award and five Latin Grammys while also garnering the first-ever Best New Artist Grammy nomination for a principally Spanish language artist.

Catapulted to global stardom with chart-topping Spanish language hits, Rosalía lights up the ACL stage in an irresistible hour, filled with songs from her acclaimed 2020 Grammy-winning El Mal Querer album, which also led the field of winners at this year’s Latin Grammy Awards—including the first “Album of the Year” recognition in 13 years for a solo female artist. She dazzles in a stellar 16-song set that showcases her trailblazing fusion of classic flamenco, reggaetón, hip-hop and electronic beats. The captivating red-clad singer, flanked by dancers in sheer red outfits, opens the hour with “Pienso En Tu Mirá,” her emotive vocals augmented by double-time flamenco handclaps and exciting choreography. The 26-year-old Catalan, Spain native puts her hand to her heart as she reacts to enthusiastic cheers from the Austin audience, saying “It means so much to me to be here because I’m very far from where I am from.” Rosalía has revolutionized flamenco, making it accessible for a new generation, and thrills the rapt audience with a passionate, goosebump-inducing a capella version of an early 20th century flamenco classic, “Catalina.” A gifted, expressive singer and dancer, she tilts her head back to unleash her powerful vocal amid rhythmic handclaps and the audience erupts. Rosalía closes out a stunning set with back-to-back showstoppers including the smash international single, “Con Altura,” her chart-topping collaboration with reggaetón star J Balvin (which has racked up more than 1.2 billion views on YouTube, making it 2019’s most-viewed music video by a female artist) and the breakout single “Malamente” that started it all, earning six 2018 Latin Grammy nods, propelling Rosalía from Spanish pop star to international sensation.

“‘Original’ is often a cliché when it’s applied to new music, but there’s no better way to describe Rosalía,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Her impact is profound – blurring all the boundaries between cultures, genres, and generations. She is the future, here today.”

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 a special encore episode, featuring Americana superstar Brandi Carlile. 

ROSALÍA setlist:

PIENSO EN TU MIRÁ

BAREFOOT IN THE PARK

DE MADRUGÁ

CATALINA (a cappella)

DIO$ NO$ LIBRE DEL DINERO

A NINGÚN HOMBRE

DE AQUI NO SALES (PREGÓN)

DI MI NOMBRE

BAGDAD

BRILLO

PARRITA REMIX

SANTERÍA

YO X TI, TU X MI

CON ALTURA

AUTE CUTURE

MALAMENTE