Featured Live Stream News

Live stream announcement: Allison Russell

Austin City Limits is excited to announce we will live stream the debut taping of acclaimed singer and songwriter Allison Russell on May 25 at 8 p.m. CT. This truly is one for the record books – the 1000th taping of Austin City Limits! We are thrilled to welcome this exceptional artist to the ACL stage for this historic milestone. ACL offers fans worldwide the unique opportunity to watch the taping live in its entirety via our ACLTV YouTube Channel. The broadcast episode will air this fall on PBS as part of our upcoming Season 48.  

After years of collaborations with like-minded artists, Allison Russell’s first-ever solo project Outside Child was released in 2021 to critical acclaim and earned a trio of 2022 Grammy nominations, including Best Americana Album. Russell, a self-taught singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and co-founder of folk collective Our Native Daughters and duo Birds of Chicago, unpacks her youth in searing detail. Rolling Stone raves, “Russell turned her brutally tough childhood into stunning art.” Raised in Montreal, Russell imbues her music with the colors of her city – the light, the landscape, the language – but also the trauma that she suffered there. It is a heartbreaking reflection on a childhood no one should have to endure, and at the same time a powerful reclamation – asserted from a place of healing, of motherhood, of partnership – and from a new home made in Nashville. The record features many of the artistic family members she has found there including Yola, Erin Rae, The McCrary Sisters, Ruth Moody, Jamie Dick, Dan Knobler and her partner JT Nero. Outside Child, says Russell “is about resilience, survival, transcendence, the redemptive power of art, community, connection, and chosen family.” Singing about this on the double Grammy-nominated “Nightflyer,” Russell ponders the healing power of motherhood, using the track’s wide-open expanse to convey the strength she didn’t know she had. Here, the line “I am the mother of the evening star / I am the love that conquers all” is “the most defiantly triumphant, hopeful line I’ve ever written,” says Russell. “That’s about the birth of my daughter and how that transformed me.” Though she endured a fraught relationship with her own mother, Russell remembers how she’d crawl underneath the piano and listen to her mother play. “I would hum along with her,” Russell recalls. “She said I was humming before I could talk. I was able to feel some kind of comfort or love or connection in a way that she couldn’t verbally or physically express – but I could feel in her music that there was love in her.” Ultimately, Outside Child is not only a radical reclamation of a traumatic childhood and lost home, it is a lantern light for survivors of all stripes – a fervent reminder of the eleventh hour, resuscitative power of art. Fellow songwriter and poet Joe Henry raves, “Outside Child draws water from the dark well of a violent past. The songs themselves ––though iron-hard in their concerns–– are exultant: exercising haunted dream-like clean bedsheets snapped and hung out into broad daylight, and with the romantic poet’s lust for living and audacity of endurance.” Russell’s work has also been recognized with three nominations at this year’s 2022 Americana Music Awards: Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year. We’re thrilled to bring Russell to the ACL stage as we celebrate a landmark occasion with our milestone 1K taping moment.

Join us here on May 25 at 8 p.m. CT for Allison Russell. Join us this fall on PBS for the broadcast premiere of Austin City Limits’ upcoming Season 48.  

Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: Sylvan Esso

The combination of electropop mechanics and human soul has been a feature of rock and pop music for decades, but there are still few combos who just get it right. The Durham, NC duo of singer Amelia Meath and electronics guru Nick Sanborn, AKA Grammy-winning act Sylvan Esso, are definitely one of those, as they’ve proven for three albums of minimalist indie pop, hits like “Ferris Wheel,” and a great deal of acclaim. They proved it again for their debut appearance on the Austin City Limits stage. 

Surrounded by a circle of lights like one of the rings of Saturn, the pair opened with What If, the robotic ballad from the band’s Grammy-feted third LP Free Love. That was followed immediately by “Ferris Wheel,” the groovy pop song that’s reiterated their place on the map. “Give me a ticket to ride that train!” the distinctively-dressed Meath demanded next on “Train,” a tribute to the pop that inspires them, filtered through their own twenty-first century sensibilities, followed immediately by the epic “Dress.” The electronics burbled in the background as Meath greeted the crowd, before upping the rhythm component for “Die Young,” a showcase for the singer’s emotionally raw singing and undulating moves. The angular “Sunburn” was as much a showcase for partner Sanborn’s animated manipulation of his electronics setup, triggering beats and sounds live as he also fingered his synthesizer. “That’s the first time we ever played that song to anybody,” Meath enthusiastically noted. 

The shimmering “Frequency” returned SE to its latest record, before they returned to the land of new tunes with “Look At Me,” probably the most overtly poppy tune so far, even as it ends with Sanborn live remixing his partner’s vocal excursions. Surrounded by her own ethereal voices, Meath led the synths into “Rooftop Dancing,” the contemplative song that’s a highlight of Free Love and a clear crowd favorite. The band dipped into their self-titled debut for “Hey Mami” before leaping into What Now’s sizzling “Radio,” the ever-escalating energy of which drove the audience wild. After that dynamic performance, the pair set the beats aside for “Free,” a heart-on-sleeve ballad that may have been quiet, but didn’t stint on intensity. The synths drifted into the air before being brought back down by the throbbing bass pule of “Coffee,” another audience favorite that found them singing the Tommy James & the Shandells lyric Meath borrows, “My baby does the hanky panky,” back to her. Meath then got down to some dancing of her own with “Numb,” her energetic moves giving the crowd a buzz. 

Sanborn thanked the crowd and the show, before the rhythms once again kicked in for “Echo Party,” another new song. The band ended the main set with the debut’s “Play It Right,” a vigorous clap-along that earned Esso hearty huzzahs and demands for more. Which the audience got, as the duo retook the stage with a “Gee whiz,” before launching into “H.S.K.T.,” a clever recasting of the children’s rhyme about “head, shoulders, knees and toes” into a pulsating dance tune. The band’s love of melody came back strong for “Rewind,” garnering prolonged cheering and Meath thumping her hand over her heart. Sylvan Esso ended the show with Free Love’s “Make It Easy,” a gentle ushering back into that good night. It was a thrilling show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station as part of our Season 48. 

Featured Live Stream News

Live stream announcement: Sylvan Esso

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce we will live stream the debut taping with acclaimed indie pop duo Sylvan Esso on May 9 at 8 p.m. CT. ACL offers fans worldwide the unique opportunity to watch the taping live in its entirety on our ACLTV YouTube Channel. The broadcast episode will air this fall on PBS as part of our upcoming Season 48.  

Sitting in a Wisconsin deli in 2012, Amelia Meath told her new friend Nick Sanborn she wanted to start a pop band. She proposed a simple division of labor: She’d write and sing their emotionally multivalent songs, wrapped around seemingly effortless hooks. And he’d make the beats that drove them, slightly slippery instrumentals that winked at his abstract electronic inclinations. For a time, that was the premise of Sylvan Esso. But during the last decade, those responsibilities have morphed. Meath and Sanborn’s roles have become so intertwined that every moment of any new Sylvan Esso song feels rigorously conceptual but completely rapturous, their compelling central paradox. “Making music now looks like both of us sitting in a room together and having small arguments,” Meath quips. That dynamic thumps at the heart of Free Love, Sylvan Esso’s instantly endearing third album and a charming but provocative testament to the duo’s long-term tension. “We’re trying to make pop songs that aren’t on the radio, because they’re too weird,” says Meath. You could frame Free Love in a dozen different ways. You could, for instance, declare it their undeniable pop triumph, thanks to the summertime incandescence of “Ferris Wheel” or the handclap kinetics of “Train.” You might, on the other hand, call it their most delicate work yet, owing to Meath’s triptych of gently subversive anthems—“What If,” “Free,” and “Make It Easy”—that begin, end, and split the record into sides. You could label Free Love their modular synthesis album, since Sanborn’s explorations of those infinite systems shape so many of these daring songs. You might even call it their marriage record, as it’s the first LP Meath and Sanborn have made since trading vows. Instead, the thread that binds together every scintillating moment of Free Love may seem surprising for a duo that has already netted a 2022 Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album for the record , made some of their generation’s sharpest pop daggers, and generally approached their work with an anything-goes esprit: Finding confidence. An album that implores us to consider that our assumptions about our world might be wrong, Free Love asks major questions about self-image, self-righteousness, friendship, romance, and environmental calamity with enough warmth, playfulness, and magnetism to make you consider an alternate reality. These are Sylvan Esso’s most nuanced and undeniable songs—bold enough to say how they feel, big enough to make you join in that feeling. The Durham, NC-based duo is currently on a U.S. headline tour with high-profile upcoming summer dates at Wilco’s Solid Sound and Rothbury’s Electric Forest Festival.

Join us here on May 9 at 8 p.m. CT for this exciting performance by Sylvan Esso. Join us this fall on PBS for the broadcast premiere of Austin City Limits’ upcoming Season 48. 

Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: Cimafunk

One of the hottest artists in Latin music, Cimafunk – Erik Alejandro Iglesias Rodríguez to his mother – became a major star in his native Cuba with his sizzling blend of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean music with American funk and hip-hop sounds as found on acclaimed albums Terapia and El Alimento. It was inevitable that he and his stellar band would translate their rock stardom Northward, with successful tours, critical acclaim, collaborations with George Clinton, Lupe Fiasco and Cee-Lo Green, and an appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. So we were thrilled when he accepted our invitation to make his Austin City Limits debut, and what an amazing performance it was as he turned the Moody Theater into a full-on dance floor. 

Looking sharp in sunglasses and star-covered shirt, Cimafunk and his eight-piece band the Tribe took to the stage and began with the piano-led power ballad “Salvaje,” keyboardist Arthurito El “Wao” framing the leader’s soulful powerhouse of a voice, and serving as a clearing of the air before the rhythmfest to come. Pump thus primed, the band leapt into the irresistibly funky “Rómpelo,” bringing the heat. The group leaned more directly into its Cuban heritage with the fiery rhumba “Te Quema La Bemba,” getting the Cuban motion going for all of the dancers. Just to make sure all settings were on boil, Cimafunk followed with “Caramelo,” which took the best of Cuban rhythms and American funk and distilled it down to its inescapably danceable essence. There was no time for any breathcatching, though, as the groove-soaked “La Papa” kept the hot streak, well, hot, with a perfect blend of Afro-Cuban and American funks, a spotlight on horn women Hilaria and Kay Cacao, and Cima’s rapid-fire vocals adding their own spice to the percolating breakdown. 

The heat continued sizzling from there. The funky mambo of “Cocinarte,” with its rap bridge, call-and-response backing vocals, and instrumental firepower, turned up the flame, while the spirited, tongue-twisting Latin funk of “ El Regalao Se Acabó” felt the burn and shared it with the crowd. The band incorporated hip-hop influences more overtly in the single “Beat Con Flow,” with Cima bringing most of the musicians to center stage, the Cacaos once again up front, dominating with sharp riffs and lively dance moves. Without a pause, the band dug straight down into bassist’s Caramelo’s dirty funk riff for “Apretado,” a ravishing groove topped off with Bejuco’s muscular guitar solo. Cimafunk and crew then exploded into a spectacular James Brown rhythm for the monstrously funky “Relajao,” a blazer taking in dance showcases for percussionists Big Happy and Machete, a finger-busting bass solo, more love for/from the horns, and an absolutely merciless groove from drummer Dr. Zapa. 

Driving the already frenzied crowd even further off the rails, Cimafunk concluded the set with a feverish “Me Voy,” his star-making Cuban hit. Cima chose members of the audience to join the band onstage and shake their groove things. How the band (or the audience!) had anything left after that is a mystery, but they did, as everyone returned to the stage for the groove-approved “Funk Aspirin,” the opening cut on El Alimentio featuring (on record, at least) legendary funk wizard George Clinton – he wasn’t here, but the funky-ass tune didn’t suffer in his absence. “Put your hands up!” Cimafunk and Big Happy insisted, and how could anyone resist? “Never forget,” Cimafunk noted at the end, “Shake that booty!” We can’t wait for you to see this monster performance when it airs this fall on your local PBS station as part of our Season 48. 

Ticket Giveaway

Giveaway: Sylvan Esso 5/9

UPDATE giveaway is now over. Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Sylvan Esso on Monday, May 9th at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We will be giving away a limited number of space available passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by 2 pm on Thursday, May 5th.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pick up tickets. Winners will be notified by email. Passes are not transferable and cannot be sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras computers or recording devices allowed in venue.

For entry to Austin City Limits tapings, you agree to abide by the Taping Health & Safety Protocols based on the current COVID-19 Community Risk Stage in effect at the time of the event. By attending the ACL tapings, you agree to the Terms & Conditions.


R.I.P. Naomi Judd

Austin City Limits was surprised and saddened to learn of the death of Naomi Judd, one half of the superstar country act the Judds. She passed away on April 30, a day before the Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and just after announcing a final tour. No official cause of death was given. 

With her daughter Wynonna, Naomi scored six gold and platinum albums and fourteen #1 singles on the country charts during the late eighties and early nineties, becoming one of the most successful C&W duos of all time. The Judds appeared on Austin City Limits only once, in the tenth anniversary season, fresh off the success of their debut album Why Not Me. But the family’s Austin experience goes deeper than that. As a single mom, Naomi moved her daughters to the city in 1974, at the peak of the progressive country movement and right as the seeds for ACL had been planted, becoming friends with Asleep at the Wheel and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. This was their introduction to country music, so their appearance on ACL a decade later was more than just the introduction of the next superstar act – it was the closing of a circle. 

Our hearts go out to Wynonna and Ashley Judd during this difficult time. As we say goodbye, we present the Judds opening their ACL segment with their joyous, celebratory #1 hit “Girls’ Night Out.” 

The Judds sing “Girls’ Night Out” on Austin City Limits, 1985.