R.I.P. Bee Spears, Willie Nelson’s long-serving bass player

We here at ACL TV were saddened to learn that longtime Willie Nelson bassist Bee Spears passed away this weekend. You can find more details here.

Here he is with Willie from the pilot episode of Austin City Limits.


Watch Pilot Performance: Willie Nelson “Bloody Mary Morning” on PBS. See more from AUSTIN CITY LIMITS.

ACL @ the Alamo

Reel Rarities: The Decemberists and Explosions in the Sky

Thus far our screenings in the Reel Rarities series have been classic episodes featuring iconic artist like Tom Waits, Loretta Lynn, B.B. King and Neil Young. But on Dec. 19 at the Alamo Ritz, our latest installment moves forward in time to just a few years ago, as we run the great Season 33 episode featuring the Decemberists and Explosions in the Sky. Folk rockers and recent Grammy nominees the Decemberists recorded their second ACL episode early this year, while the Austin-based EitS won raves for its 2011 LP Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. In this show you’ll hear them supporting their excellent records The Crane Wife and All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, respecitvely. It’ll be a great night of indie rock at the Ritz.

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

Watch The Decemberists “Down by the Water” on PBS. See more from AUSTIN CITY LIMITS.


ACL Christmas list

Music is a great present to give! The holidays bring out the music fan in all of us here at Austin City Limits as we make our lists for Santa. Here are some of the things we’re hoping to find in their stockings this Christmas. Feel free to share your list in the comments.

Leonard Cohen’s new album and tickets to see him live.
Joanna Newsom concert tickets
Screaming Females tickets
New R.E.M. retrospective.
Jeff Peterson, Producer

I want a piano so I can pick up where I left off at age 12. Also I would  like tickets and a driver to the annual Polyphonic Spree Holiday Extravaganza on 12/10 in Dallas.
Leslie Nichols, Associate Producer

A Very She & Him Christmas
Tickets to see Radiohead @ the Erwin Center
The Smiths Complete (box set)
New albums from The Black Keys, The Roots
Emily Joyce, Associate Producer / Digital & Interactive Director

The Stone Roses Limited Edition 20th Anniversary Boxed Set
The Unforgettable Fire Super Deluxe Edition
The Black Keys El Camino
The Rolling Stones Some Girls – Live in Texas ’78
Tom Gimbel, General Manager Austin City Limits

Leonard Cohen – the complete studio albums collection
The Roots – Undun
Olafur Arnalds – ….And They Have Escaped The Weight of Darkness
EPMD – There’s No Business Like Showbusiness (coming out in 2012!!!)
Real Estate – Days
Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
Herman Dune – Mas Cambios
Alex Cline Ensemble – Continuation
Maury Sullivan, Publicist

Black Keys’ El Camino and Nick Lowe’s Jesus of Cool on vinyl.
Lauren Burton, Production Coordinator

Slayer Soundtrack To The Apocalypse
JJ Weber, Production Manager

Gorillaz The Singles Collection: 2001-2011
Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures
The Black Keys El Camino
This Is A Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl by Paul Brannigan
Tickets to The Kills @ Stubbs Jan. 25th
Tamra Wilson, Project Manager

The Black Keys, El Camino
SuperHeavy SuperHeavy a
KGSR Broadcasts – Volume 19  (for a little bit everything to reminisce all the great music that made it through Austin in 2011)
Cake Concert at Stubbs on 12/4
Willie & Friends Family New Year Concert at ACL Live on 12/30 & 12/31
Hayes Carll’s Burlesque Circus and Sideshow Freakout at La Zona Rosa on 12/31
Tori Amos Concert at Bass Concert Hall on 12/21
Big Head Todd and the Monsters at Stubbs on 3/3
Amanda Hutchins, Manager Friends of Austin City Limits

I am lusting for Pristine Audio’s newly restored version of Wilhelm Furtwangler conducting Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” from 1952. Furtwangler is thought by many to have been the greatest conductor of the 20th century, and he lives up to that reputation in this amazing performance. I also covet their restoration of Artur Schnabel’s Beethoven sonata cycle from the 1930s. This was the first complete recording of the Beethoven piano sonatas, and Schnabel’s playing, while technically flawed, is intensely musical. This company does amazing work with historical recordings, and you should check them out just for that, even if you’re not interested in the music.
Paul Sweeney, Videotape Operator

Randy Newman – Live in London
Gorillaz – The Singles Collection: 2001-2011
Giant Sand – Chore of Enchantment (25th Anniversary Edition)
The Wagoneers – The Essential Wagoneers
Various Artists – Fire in My Bones: Raw, Rare & Otherworldly African-American
Gospel, 1944-2007 and This May Be My Last Time Singing: Raw African-American
Gospel on 45 RPM, 1957-1982
Had Me a Real Good Time: The Faces Before, During & After by Andy Neil
Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath by Tony Iommi
Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal and the Music of New Orleans by Keith Spera
Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever by Will Hermes
Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles Bk. 1 by Colin Meloy
Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage DVD
Stones in Exile DVD
The Secret to a Happy Ending DVD
Ballad of Mott the Hoople DVD
Lemmy: 49% Motherf*cker, 51% Son of a Bitch DVD
The Who – Quadrophrenia: The Director’s Cut box set
Orange Juice – Coals to Newcastle box set
The Smiths – Complete box set
Richard Thompson – Live at the BBC box set
Robert Plant – Nine Lives box set
Michael Toland, National Productions Manager


Season 37 ACL Artists Honored by The Grammys

Congratulations from Austin City Limits to all the Grammy nominees this year, especially to the 15 artists featured this season on our show – nice job racking up 24 total nods. We’ll find out who won on February 12 when the Grammy Awards hit the airwaves. Good luck, everybody!

Here’s our list, along with the next date of broadcast:

Coldplay – 12/31/11

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Best Rock Performance

Best Rock Song


Fleet Foxes – 1/21/12

Best Folk Album

Wilco – 2/4/12

Best Rock Album

Raphael Saadiq – 4/7/12

Best Traditional R&B Performance

The Decemberists – 5/12/12

Best Rock Performance

Best Rock Song

Gillian Welch – 5/12/12

Best Folk Album

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical

Mumford & Sons – 5/26/12

Record of the Year

Song of the Year

Best Rock Performance

Best Rock Song

The Del McCoury Band (with Preservation Hall Jazz Band) – 6/9/12

Best Bluegrass Album

My Morning Jacket (Yim Yames with Preservation Hall Jazz Band) – 6/9/12

Best Alternative Music Album

Greg Allman (ACL Presents Americana Music Awards)

Best Blues Album

Lucinda Williams (ACL Presents Americana Music Awards)

Best Americana Album

Emmylou Harris (ACL Presents Americana Music Awards)

Best Americana Album

Alison Krauss (ACL Presents Americana Music Awards)

Best Bluegrass Album

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical

Jim Lauderdale (ACL Presents Americana Music Awards)

Best Bluegrass Album

The Civil Wars (ACL Presents Americana Music Awards)

Best Country Duo / Group Performance

Best Folk Album

Taping Recap

Wilco gives us The Whole Love

There’s no better way to wrap up taping a new season of Austin City Limits than to do it with old friends. In that spirit, Wilco took the stage for the first time at ACL Live at The Moody Theater and fourth time overall with a two-hour, 22-song set that ranged far and wide across their 17-year career. Dubbed by the Austin Chronicle’s Austin Powell “an amazing evening,” the edited show will broadcast on Feb. 4, 2012. You can see some great photos from Brooklyn Vegan here and a nice wrap-up from the Austinist here.

Naturally, the set list concentrated on the Chicago band’s latest LP The Whole Love – nine of that album’s twelve songs were included. Opening with the quiet, mellow “One Sunday Morning” (the new record’s closing track, oddly enough), the band also graced the Moody with sharp pop rockers “I Might,” “Born Alone” and “Dawned On Me,” as well as the country waltz “Open Mind,” the noisy anthem “Art of Almost” and the deceptively frothy pop tune “Capitol City,” which bandleader Jeff Tweedy introduced thusly: “This is for you, Austin. This is one of the most divisive songs in the Wilco repertoire. Enjoy.” Divisive? How? It’s a great tune.

But the band didn’t just highlight the latest record – they also peppered the set with gems plucked from nearly every LP in their back catalog. From the tension-filled rocker “Bull Black Nova,” the concise tribute “The Late Greats” and the psychedelic ballad “Radio Cure” to the lovely folk song “Far Far Away,” the no-frills rocker “Shouldn’t Be Ashamed” (from their debut album A.M.) and their quintessential song “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” Wilco touched on nearly every era of its existence, leaving out only cuts from Summerteeth and its Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie collaborations.

“This is a song, if you’ve ever seen Wilco play, you’ve seen us play this song. And yet, it never made it on television,” remarked Tweedy before launching into the fan fave “Jesus, Etc.’ At the song’s conclusion, a fan called out “Well done!” much to Tweedy’s amusement. “Impossible Germany” featured a jaw-dropping solo from guitarist Nels Cline, performed on the late Duane Allman’s Les Paul Goldtop. “He’s only the 82nd greatest guitar player of all time,” Tweedy proudly informed the adoring crowd, referring to his abashed bandmate’s showing in Rolling Stone’s recent list of 100 Greatest Guitarists. “Nels Cline just gave maybe the greatest guitar solo in ACL history,” claimed @timbasham on Twitter.

The band ended its long set with the much-beloved “Heavy Metal Drummer,” one of its warmest, funniest, catchiest and most touching tunes. But the evening wasn’t quite over yet. Wilco closed out the night by inviting tour opener Nick Lowe – “our hero” – to front a smashing cover of Lowe’s hit “Cruel to Be Kind,” conjuring the spirit of the original recording for an absolute treat. “Dear @Wilco: You blew my mind tonight. Sincerely, me,” commented @nakia on Twitter.” For real… a two hour #acltv taping with Nick Lowe!?!?” Andrew Pacetti wrote on Facebook, “Awesome show…first rock show for my 3yo son…can’t think of any better way to introduce him to live music in Austin.” Jenny Hurta Douglas put it more succinctly: “That. Was. Awesome.”

It remains to be seen what will make it into the televised episode – we don’t envy the band, the editors or Terry Lickona having to whittle these excellent performances down to an hour’s worth. But it’ll be an amazing hour, as you’ll discover when the show broadcasts on February 4th next year – check with your local PBS station for the exact showtime. “Wilco..and Austin City Limits..does it get any better than that?” commented Toby Holcomb on Facebook. No, it doesn’t.



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 …