Join Austin City Limits when we ring in the new year with a special performance by Coldplay.

The first-ever ACL New Year’s Eve special – a rare 90-minute episode – will be aired on PBS on Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 11 p.m. (check local listings).  You can also view Coldplay New Year’s Eve: An Austin City Limits Special on starting at 11 p.m. ET on  December 31st.

“We decided to go big with Coldplay – really big. So we came up with the idea of celebrating New Year’s Eve with a 90-minute special. All the hits plus their brand new songs,” said  ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona. “It’ll be a great way to kick off 2012!”

MTV described the taping: “It was one of those special nights when a band with a major arsenal finds a way to take its giant energy and squeeze it down into a much smaller space, without losing any of their arena-packing magic.”

Playing in front of the neon-colored set they brought with them to enhance our iconic skyline, Coldplay electrified the crowd with old favorites and new songs including the first-time ever public performance of new song “Up in Flames.”

Tune-in on New Year’s Eve and count down with us …

ACL @ the Alamo

Reel Rarities: Loretta Lynn brings her classic country sound to the Alamo Ritz Nov. 28

Heads up, hardcore C&W fans. The next installment of our Reel Rarities series at the Alamo Drafthouse is coming your way, featuring the great Loretta Lynn. Head to the Alamo Ritz on Monday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 for this classic episode from Season 8. The Coal Miner’s Daughter  – “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin’,” “One’s On the Way,” “Thank God I’m a Country Girl” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (to Take My Man).” If you like your country music unfiltered, this episode will be a slice of Kentucky heaven. Click here for more details.

Reel Rarities: Handpicked Gems from the ACL Vault is an ongoing series at the Alamo Drafthouse. Tickets are $5 and the sales benefit our buddies at the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.

Episode Recap News

ACL Season 37 Special: – ACL Presents Highlights of the Americana Music Festival on Nov. 19

Here at ACL HQ, we don’t just stay within the borders of our (admittedly impressive) territory – we like to keep up with the interesting stuff our peers do as well. Case in point: the venerable Americana Music Association throws a four-day party in Nashville every year called the Americana Music Festival, sort of a more roots music-oriented version of Austin’s own SXSW. The highlight of a week of beer and bands is the annual Americana Music Association Honors and Awards ceremony – at which our own Terry Lickona received a lifetime achievement award in 2008. (You can see a list of every year’s winners here.)

We think this festival is a cool thing, so we’re proud to partner with the AMA and Nashville’s longstanding public television station WNPT for ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival, airing Saturday Nov. 19 on your local PBS station. ACLP:AMF (say that three times fast – or, um, at all)  taped on October 13, the night of the Awards and Honors show, and features a plethora of performances from that magical evening.

And who might be providing those performances, you might ask? You get everyone from ACL vets Robert Plant (recipient of Album of the Year for Band of Joy), Lucinda Williams (Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting) and the Avett Brothers (Duo/Group of the Year) to Justin Townes Earle (Song of the Year for “Harlem River Blues”), Candi Staton and the Civil Wars. Gregg Allman (who appeared on ACL with the Allman Brothers Band back in Season 21) celebrates his Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance by crooning the classic “Melissa,” and Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss lead a tribute to the film soundtrack of O Brother Where Art Thou. All this and Amos Lee, Elizabeth Cook, Jessica Lea Mayfield, bandleader Buddy Miller and host Jim Lauderdale as well.

For more info on the embarrassment of riches that is this show, head over to the episode page for pics, clips, the set list and more. And, of course, for more scuttlebutt on all things ACL, you should visit the Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr pages and sign up for our newsletter.

After ACLP: AMF, we’ll take a break from Season 37 for the holidays. But we have lots of excellent encore episodes coming your way, including a much-beloved classic from way back in Season 4. Stay tuned.

Episode Recap

ACL Season 37, Episode 7: An Evening with Randy Newman

It’s no secret that Austin City Limits makes a habit of showcasing musical legends. Merle Haggard, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Loretta Lynn, Jimmy Cliff – the archives are packed with the best of the best. This Saturday, November 12, we add another musician’s musician and songwriter’s songwriter to the ACL canon: the great Randy Newman.

Both a tender balladeer and a master satirist, Newman’s songs span the breadth of popular music for the past five decades. Three Dog Night took “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” into the top 10 in 1970, Newman scored his own #2 hit with the infamous “Short People” and hooked another, younger generation as the composer of Pixar film music, like Toy Story’s beloved “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” (Don’t even pretend you won’t be singing along with your kids to that song.) In between chart milestones he’s scattered brilliant tunes like “Sail Away,” “Feels Like Home,” “Harps and Angels,” “Political Science,” “You Can Leave Your Hat On” and “Lousiana 1927” across the pop culture landscape like a farmer planting seeds in the field. And you get all of these and more in this show.

ACL producer Terry Lickona chased the Oscar-winning Newman for nearly three decades, and this episode proves it was worth the wait. Is it too early to call it a classic? Nope – we’re callin’ it now. Click here for pics, bio info and the full set list, and don’t forget to tune in Saturday night to find out for yourself. Don’t worry – you can leave your hat on.

As always, check out our Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr pages for more ACL magic, and sign up for our newsletter for monthly missives from ACL HQ. Next week: an ACL Presents special featuring performances from this year’s Americana Music Festival!

Taping Recap

Taping Recap: Lykke Li Makes Us Move at Her Live-Streamed ACL Taping

November in Austin means Fun Fun Fun Fest, one of several amazing music festivals in our fair city. Among the many awesome acts at Fun Fun Fun was Swedish singer/songwriter Lykke Li, who taped her first episode of Austin City Limits last Friday. She also became the first artist on ACL to have her taping streamed around the world by our friends at PBS.

Sorry, folks, it was a live stream only – it’s not archived online anywhere. But you can see pictures of the show here and here. And you can watch the episode itself on January 28

Lykke Li has one of the more unique artistic visions around right now – she and her five-piece band wove threads of indie pop, torch song, electronica, girl group pop, folk and garage rock into a rich tapestry that couldn’t have come off anyone else’s wall. Combine all that with her demonstrative stage presence and expressive voice and she’s a compelling performer – dramatic but never melodramatic.

Fans were treated to every song from her acclaimed recent record Wounded Rhymes, including the iTunes-only anthem “Made You Move.”  She offered the eager crowd a plethora of tones and moods, from the stately, hymnlike balladry of “Possibility” and “I Know Place,” the rhythm-heavy grooves of “I Follow Rivers” and “I’m Good I’m Gone” and the pure pop of “Love Out of Lust” and “Sadness is a Blessing.” She obviously has a habit of saving the best for last – she ended her main set with the irresistibly hipshaking “Get Some” – nice subversion of the classic Bo Diddley beat! – and her encore with the gospel-like beauty of “Unrequited Love.”

The good times still weren’t over, however, as she came back for another run through “Sadness is a Blessing.” There wasn’t anything wrong with the first take to our ears, but the second version was indeed tighter, more atmospheric and more powerful. “Do you want to stay?” Li asked before she launched into the new take – the enthusiastic response indicated how much her audience loves her. 

“Thoroughly enjoyed @Lykkeliofficial @acltv. Very impressed by the staging, abundance of percussion & the kazoo. And of course Lykki’s voice,” noted @aplarue on Twitter. “Lykke Li. Great singer, excellent performer, captivating dancer,” said @BrionneVG. Perhaps @racerabbit put it best: “This Lykke Li show for @acltv is spellbinding!” See for yourself on January 28, when Li hits the ACL airwaves paired with Florence + the Machine. Don’t miss it!

Episode Recap

ACL Season 37, Episode 6: Kick Back with Miranda Lambert and Jeff Bridges

Thanksgiving approaches, Halloween recedes into the background and Season 37 of Austin City Limits keep on truckin’ right along. Tune in this weekend on Saturday, November 5 to kick back and enjoy a pair of modern-day country rockers with stories to tell: Miranda Lambert and Jeff Bridges.

Miranda Lambert has been kicking tuchis and taking names for the past few years now, scooping up awards and racking up hit singles like crazy. Before fame beckoned, though, she appeared on Austin City Limits back in Season 31, when her major label debut was new and she was still known for her stint on the reality competition Nashville Star. (She appeared on the first season and came in third.) She’s definitely blasted past the old days, though, as you’ll see when she rocks the stage with the fiery “Kerosene,” the funky “Baggage Claim” and the fierce “Gunpowder and Lead.”

As a special treat, Lambert’s also brought along her self-described “girl band” Pistol Annies.  This trio, with her buds Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, is “Hell On Heels,” to quote the song they perform on the show.

Lambert shares this episode with multi-talented actor/singer Jeff Bridges, who we all know from too many great movies to count – True Grit, Crazy Heart, The Big Lebowski, The Last Picture Show, Iron Man, Tron, etc, etc. You may not have known Bridges also leads a band in addition to acting. He’s pretty darn good at it too, starting at a young age and hooking up with super-producer T Bone Burnett and late Austin singer/songwriter Stephen Bruton in 1980 on the set of the notorious film Heaven’s Gate.

Bridges released the indie record Be Here Soon in 2000, but this year’s self-titled opus (produced by Burnett and featuring songs from Bruton) serves as his musical coming out party. Listen to him channel both Bad Blake and the Dude on “Fallin’ and Flyin’,” “The Quest” and “What a Little Bit of Love Can Do” and you’ll hear that this is no busman’s holiday – Jeff Bridges makes serious music.

As usual, you should head over to the episode page for more info, photos and clips. Be sure to chat it up with us on Facebook and Twitter during the episode, and check out our Tumblr and newsletter too, just because they’re awesome.

Check back with us next week for the skinny on the next all-new episode of ACL featuring the one and only Randy Newman.