We here at Austin City Limits were saddened to learn of the death of Texan singer/songwriter Eric Taylor on Monday, March 9, after months of ill health. He was 70.
Though born in Georgia, Taylor was a key figure in the Texas singer/songwriter scene of the early 1970s. Having stranded himself in Houston in 1970 on the way to California by running out of money, he integrated himself into the folk clubs, honing his craft in thrall to Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. In turn, he inspired the next generation, bridging the gap between the Clark/Van Zandt era and that of Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett, on whom he had a particularly deep influence.
After making his recording debut in 1976 on the Houston songwriters compilation Through the Dark Nightly, Taylor released his first album Shameless Love in 1981. It would be another fourteen years before his second, eponymous LP, released in 1995 on Austin label Watermelon Records. Seven more records followed, including 2001’s Scuffletown, which occasioned his first headlining appearance on Austin City Limits. His songs were covered by Lovett and Nanci Griffith, who called him “the William Faulkner of songwriting in our time.”
“Taylor’s great gift was characters who he’d enliven with enough mythology to where the real and the fictional could be indistinguishable,” wrote Andrew Dansby in the Houston Chronicle. “The reality of a given name didn’t matter: the themes of searching and endurance mattered.” Taylor first appeared on Austin City Limits as a guest on Lyle Lovett’s twenty-fifth season episode in 2000, in which the latter paid tribute to the Texas songwriters who inspired him. Here are Taylor and Lovett doing “Hemingway’s Shotgun.”
Austin PBS, KLRU-TV is thrilled to announce that Garth Brooks will bid a final goodbye to legendary Studio 6A, longtime home to iconic music series Austin City Limits, with an intimate performance on May 24, 2020. Austin PBS’s Farewell to Studio 6A: An Evening with Garth Brooks will be a once-in-a-lifetime event celebrating an iconic institution.
“Thirty years ago, Garth made history when he stepped onto the Austin City Limits stage for the first time, and since then he has become one of the biggest worldwide stars in music history,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “We are thrilled and honored to have him return and make history once again, with the final performance ever on a stage that was the original home for what’s become the longest-running music series on television.”
After more than 50 years on the University of Texas Austin campus, Austin PBS is moving to a brand new home on the Austin Community College Highland Campus in Fall of 2020. The larger facility will be a modern, state-of-the-art broadcast studio as well as a community space that will allow Austin PBS to create new initiatives. The public television station will celebrate the move with one final musical salute in the historic Studio 6A. The intimate soundstage was the birthplace of the Peabody Award-winning series Austin City Limits, hosting the now-infamous 1974 debut taping with Willie Nelson, as well as the setting for history-making performances for 36 years, hosting hundreds of legendary artists and music innovators, including Ray Charles, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Leonard Cohen, Pearl Jam, B. B. King, Foo Fighters, Dixie Chicks and more. Studio 6A was officially designated a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark in 2009 and was the featured location for the Austin installment of the Foo Fighters’ 2014 documentary series Sonic Highways. The final Austin City Limits episode in Studio 6A was taped in 2010, when the program moved to its current studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater, in downtown Austin, where it will continue to be taped and is now in its 46th Season. Studio 6A has been used consistently throughout the years for community events, town hall discussions and many other Austin PBS programs including ATX Together, Central Texas Gardenerand Overheard with Evan Smith. The studio also hosted tapings for the TNN/CMT programs Legends of Country Music and The Texas Connection, as well as CBS’s Willie Nelson: The Big Six-0 60th birthday special.
A limited number of event packages are available to attend this historic evening. All proceeds from the event will benefit Austin PBS’s Moving Forward capital campaign to support funding for the new facilities. To find out more go to austinpbs.org/farewell. Individual seat packages start at $2,500.
Garth Brooks has made two legendary Austin City Limits appearances in Studio 6A. He first appeared on the program in 1990, during Season 15. Just beginning his ascent to superstardom, Brooks performed his early hits “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)” and “The Dance.” The hitmaker returned a decade later to both open and close ACL’s milestone 25th anniversary season with two hourlong episodes, performing career highlights and fan favorites, including “The Thunder Rolls,” “Two of a Kind (Workin’ On a Full House),” and leading a massive crowd singalong to “Friends in Low Places.” Brooks’ relationship with Austin City Limits goes beyond that of a performer. He is also a longtime fan. “Buddy, this is ACL, ok?” he said during a post-show interview after his 2000 return appearance. “If we’re baseball players, this is the World Series.” He continued: “The thing I like about Austin City Limits is that it hasn’t changed, it’s still like getting around your family in your living room and playing music. I think that’s what I love most about it.”
Garth Brooks, the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, is the first-ever seven-time recipient of the honor. Brooks is the first and only artist in history to receive eight Diamond Awards for eight diamond-certified albums at over 10 million album sales each. He remains the #1-selling solo artist in U.S. history, certified by the RIAA with 156 million album sales. He has received every accolade the recording industry can bestow on an artist. In March 2020, Brooks will be awarded the esteemed Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, becoming the youngest-ever recipient of the honor. In April, Brooks receives Billboard’s Icon Award, joining only eight other artists to ever receive the honor. Brooks’ 2017 tour with Tricia Yearwood sold over 6.3 million tickets, making it the biggest North American tour in history and the biggest American tour in the world. In 2019, Brooks launched the Garth Brooks Stadium Tour, which has broken stadium attendance records and which Pollstar named the bestselling country music tour of the year.
You have likely heard the news that the City of Austin has cancelled all SXSW events for March, 2020.
While we were looking forward to enjoying another great “Bloody Mary Morning” with you, we must follow the lead of the City and cancel our event for this year. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, partners, and the artists who were scheduled to perform.
We look forward to seeing you next year!
All the best,
Tom Gimbel General Manager Austin City Limits
Join Austin City Limits and Austin PBS, KLRU-TV at the 9th Annual Bloody Mary Morning during SXSW on Thursday, March 19 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m in the GSD&M backyard.
We’re thrilled to be presenting music from some of music’s most buzzed-about acts from the U.S. and beyond: Nashville soul singer Devon Gilfillian, British country rock band Honey Harper, L.A. tapping guitar virtuoso and Tiny Desk Concert contest winner Naia Izumi, Kalamazoo rising indie pop star Michigander, Cuban alternative rockers Sweet Lizzy Project and veteran indie pop rockers and Indiana natives Houndmouth.
As always, we’ll be serving free (while supplies last!) bloody marys from Tito’s Vodka and Bloody Revolution, and craft beer courtesy of Brown Distributing. This year Tacodeli will be vending and various food trucks will be on site. Stop by the Austin PBS booth for a chance to score some swag and more! Bloody Mary Morning is brought to you by our friends at AXS and Music.com.
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 musicianTyler 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 Albumschart 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 historicRyman Auditorium with four special sold-out shows and will tour extensively throughout 2020 as part of Sturgill Simpson’s “A Good Look’n Tour.”
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.
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 Magpieand 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.
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.
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)