Featured News Taping Recap

Jon Batiste celebrates soul on debut ACL taping

Jon Batiste may be best known to millions as the bandleader for Stephen Colbert’s late night talk show, but the full spectrum of his talents has to be seen in his own shows to be believed. The New Orleans native has a long career as a jazz and soul musician, having released his debut album in 2003 at 17. The Juilliard-educated singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has performed all over the world in dozens of contexts, streamlining down to this year’s stunning eighth studio album We Are. Thus we were understandably excited to finally have this remarkable musical polymath make his ACL debut, and Batiste rewarded everybody’s anticipation with a performance for the ages.

The cowboy-hatted ten-piece band hit the stage with a Caribbean groove before Batiste himself arrived in his own Stetson, leading the ensemble into the title track of We Are, the leader’s funky, celebratory anthem of the African diaspora, with Batiste even flexing a verse from Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy”. The high energy onstage and off signaled that this would be a show that started cranked up to eleven, and would just get higher from there. Batiste sat at the piano (briefly) to kick off the amped-up single “I Need You,” bringing gospel fervor, New Orleans funk and the leader’s cameo on saxophone together. The crowd barely had a chance to catch its breath before the unmistakable sound of a New Orleans second line floated in the air, heralding the arrival of that city’s Hot 8 Brass Band from the back of the hall. The melodica-wielding Batiste left the stage to join the band in the middle of the crowd for the Love Riot chant – “I feel good/I feel free/I feel fine just being me!” – and had the crowd in his pocket as he cued them to wave the white handkerchiefs distributed before the show began. 

Batiste came back onstage for “Boy Hood,” a tribute to his youth in the Big Easy that mixed rap, soul balladry, a trombone solo from the Hot 8, and portions of Bob Marley’s “One Love,” Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” and Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me,” which Batiste made into both a reminder that all people are in it together and into choir practice for the crowd. Batiste paced the stage, waiting for the next tune, which was “Whatchutalkinbout,” a seamless blend of rap and rock that let guitarists Brandon Niederaruer and Ari O’Neal cut loose with duelling solos. As the Hot 8 rejoined the proceedings, Batiste picked up his Bo Diddley-style axe for “Tell the Truth,” a soulful raveup that spotlighted firebrand percussionist Négah Santos. Batiste took the opportunity to preach positivity to the people, before tossing his guitar aside, adding a piano solo, and commanding the mic once again. “This is not a concert for me,” Batiste asserted after the song concluded. “This is not a concert. This is a spiritual practice. I play music to be with y’all.” 

The Hot 8 once again started a second line groove, letting the leader get in some dancing time, before he turned over the vocals to singers Tamara Jade, Desiree “DesZ” Washington and Susan Carol (playfully dubbed the Jonettes). Batiste then had the crowd go as low down as they could – “quad workout, baby!” – before, naturally, a massive audience jumpfest for the coda of “Tell the Truth.” Batiste and the horns snuck off the stage during the celebration, leaving the band to jam on some serious funk that showcased every member, including bassist Thad Tribbett, keyboardist David Grant, drummers Joe Saylor and Lunar RAE, Santos, and the two six-stringers. 

Having exchanged his red suit for a blue striped ensemble, Batiste returned, dazzling at the piano on a variety of jazz, classical and ragtime pieces, including Chopin’s “Minute Waltz,” “Chopsticks,” Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer,” Bach’s “Partita No. 1 in B-Flat Major,” and New Orleans standard  “St. James Infirmary Blues,” among many others, some lasting no more than a phrase. That last piece concluded with Batiste and the Jonettes back on vocals, leading a Cab Calloway-style call-and-response with the crowd. He finished his medley with some boogie woogie that transitioned into Jerry Lee Lewis pound. Batiste then revisited his recent Oscar-winning soundtrack for the animated film Soul with “It’s All Right,” turning it into a medley by recasting the Isley Brothers’ “Shout” in Soul’s image, before returning to “It’s All Right,” driving the audience wild. 

Then it was time for a surprise guest, as Austin favorite son Gary Clark Jr. casually walked up onstage, picked up his guitar, and traded solos with Batiste on the slinky soul tune “Cry.” “Y’all ready to get free?” Batiste asked the crowd, to off-the-charts applause. Naturally, that exchange was a harbinger for “Freedom,” a classic feel-good anthem that got band and crowd dancing with abandon. Then it was back to the second line, as the white handkerchiefs came back out, the Hot 8 Brass Band returned, and Batiste joined the fans on the floor, leading the entire room in the joyful catharsis of a reprise of “I Need You.” The Hot 8 took us out, as the crowd went wild once again. 

Amazingly, Batiste returned to stage after the finale, sitting at the piano for a captivating take on his ballad “Don’t Stop,” from 2018’s Hollywood Africans – a mic drop if we’ve ever heard one. It was an incredible show destined to be a Season 47 highlight and we can’t wait for you to see it when it hits your local PBS airwaves this fall. 

Featured News

Own a piece of ACL history

As Austin PBS prepares for a farewell salute to Studio 6A, the original home of storied music television program Austin City Limits, a piece of music history is being dismantled and made available for auction. Austin PBS, the public television station that produces the series, will auction panels from the historic Studio 6A Austin skyline backdrop, featured in every episode of the Peabody Award-winning series from Season 7 in 1982 to Season 36 in 2010. Legends from Willie Nelson to the Foo Fighters played to millions of PBS viewers with that skyline beaming light behind them. The iconic original skyline consists of 20 panels that will each be a separate item up for auction. Bidding starts Monday, July 12, at 10 a.m. CT and closes on July 22 at 10 a.m. CT. Proceeds raised from this online auction will support Austin PBS as it relocates operations to a new home in 2022, ushering in a new generation of public media with expanded community engagement. Register to bid at:

This unique opportunity offers music fans a chance to own panel sections featuring the familiar images of the infamous skyline, including Austin’s Capitol building and the University of Texas tower. Images and dimensions of each panel will be included in the item description. Country superstar Garth Brooks’ sold-out pair of intimate benefit performances for Austin PBS on July 20 and July 21, 2021, Farewell to Studio 6A, will be the final performances featuring this original skyline backdrop.      

The small Studio 6A soundstage on the UT campus was the birthplace of Austin City Limits, hosting the now-infamous 1974 debut taping with Willie Nelson, as well as the setting for history-making performances for its first 36 seasons, spotlighting 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 and more. Studio 6A was officially designated a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark in 2009. The final Austin City Limits episode in Studio 6A was taped in 2010, when the program moved to its current studio home for the last decade, ACL Live at The Moody Theater, in downtown Austin, where it will continue to be taped and is now in its 47th Season.  

Austin PBS

Austin PBS, KLRU-TV is dedicated to telling stories that entertain, inspire and change lives. This community-supported public television station highlights what makes Austin unique — whether music, arts or public issues — by creating and distributing award-winning original content. Austin PBS produces Austin City Limits, Arts In Context, Central Texas Gardener, Overheard with Evan Smith and more for PBS stations across the nation. We also create online-first projects like Decibel, a community journalism initiative that seeks to amplify diverse voices in Central Texas. As a nonprofit educational organization, Austin PBS also prepares children to succeed in school and creates lifelong learning opportunities for all. Find out more at 

Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits (ACL) offers viewers unparalleled access to featured acts in an intimate setting that provides a platform for artists to deliver inspired, memorable, full-length performances. Now in its 47th Season, the program is taped live before a concert audience from The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in television history and remains the only TV series to ever be awarded the National Medal of Arts. Since its inception, the groundbreaking music series has become an institution that’s helped secure Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World. The historic Austin PBS Studio 6A, home to 36 years of ACL concerts, has been designated an official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark. In 2011, ACL moved to the new venue ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. ACL received a rare institutional Peabody Award for excellence and outstanding achievement in 2012.

Featured News Taping Recap

Billy Strings rocks progressive bluegrass at his debut ACL

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Billy Strings has taken the bluegrass world by storm in the past few years, winning a Grammy for his acclaimed 2019 LP Home. But it’s not just his deep love of tradition that’s made him the genre’s new superstar – it’s his willingness to push, even rip into, the edges of the envelope, folding in influences from rock, jazz and psychedelia. All of his attributes were on full display on his debut Austin City Limits taping, which we live streamed around the world to his thousands of loyal fans.

Backed by his band of aces, longtime touring partners Jarrod Walker (mandolin), Billy Failing (banjo) and Royal Masat (bass), Strings – William Apostol to his mom – took the stage with a hearty “Austin City Limits, how are ya?” Then it was straight into “Dust in a Baggie,” an early Strings tune right out of the tradition of songs about prison time and the lamentations thereof. Strings then explained how he grew up watching bluegrass legends like Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley on ACL, recorded by his parents on their VCR until, as his mother reminded him, the young Billy shoved a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich into the machine. That kicked off “Hide and Seek,” on which he displayed how far he’s expanding his chosen milieu, putting his jazzy acoustic guitar through delay, phase and distortion effects – much to his audience’s delight. Fire breathed, Strings and company slowed things down with the lovely, melancholy “Show Me the Door,” penned by Walker. The tempo sped back up to normal bluegrass levels with “Must Be Seven,” a celebration of leaving the past in the rearview mirror. “Red Daisy” pumped up the velocity to freight train levels for a song squarely in the old school tradition. 

After that barnburner, everyone needed another chance to catch breath, so Strings and band performed another ballad with “Love Like Me.” The anthemic “Fireline” followed, with its tough demeanor and rock-inflected solos from Strings, Failing and Walker. While Walker switched mandolins, Strings “just picked one while we’re waiting,” with a great solo instrumental that showed off his Doc Watson side. Mando changed and tuned, the band then went into the sociopolitical “Watch It Fall,” one of the hit singles from Home. Then it was back to tradition for “Slow Train,” featuring some of the musicians’ most fleet-fingered solos. Next, Strings got introspective on “Away From the Mire,” a song about letting go of past regrets and future anxieties that featured an epic psychedelic guitar solo. From the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction, it’s a fan favorite. After another blazer with “Long Forgotten Dream,” Strings capped off the set with “Meet Me at the Creek,” a high-energy closer with lots of room for virtuoso soloing from all players that incorporated everything from folk standards to heavy metal power chords. The fans went wild, needless to say. 

Greeted almost like conquering heroes, the band surrounded a single, old-fashioned Grand Ole Opry microphone for the encore. Cheekily acknowledging the city in which they were performing, Strings and company went into a bluesy take on Willie Nelson’s “Devil in a Sleeping Bag,” to the great delight of the audience. The group then ended the show with the four-part harmonies of the satirical spiritual lesson “If Your Hair’s Too Long, There’s Sin in Your Heart.” The audience gave them a standing ovation as they took a bow and quit the stage. It was a great show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.   

Featured Hall of Fame News Taping Announcement Uncategorized

Wilco, Lucinda Williams and Alejandro Escovedo to join ACL Hall of Fame

Austin City Limits is proud to announce the newest class of Austin City Limits Hall of Fame inductees, recognizing a pioneering trio of music’s great live acts: Wilco, Alejandro Escovedo and Lucinda Williams. After an absence in 2020 due to the pandemic, the ACL Hall of Fame returns to form, celebrating a stellar new class of trailblazing artists with longtime ties to ACL. The 2021 ACL Hall of Fame inductees will be saluted at a star-studded ceremony to be held October 28th, 2021 at ACL‘s studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. More information about performers, host, presenters and additional guest stars will be announced prior to the event.  Musical highlights and inductions from the ceremony will air on PBS later this year.

The event will be open to the public and tickets will be on sale July 9 at 10am CT at  Sponsor packages are available now at All proceeds benefit Austin PBS. 

The seventh class of inductees features three American originals: Roots-music icon Lucinda Williams has made four classic appearances on ACL in her remarkable four-decade career, starting with her debut on Season 15 in 1990. Celebrated Chicago band Wilco has also appeared on ACL four times over their 25-year career, beginning in 2000 for the series’ 25th Anniversary season. Texas legend Alejandro Escovedo made his debut during the first decade of the series in Season 8 in 1983 with the band Rank and File, going on to make five appearances total including a star-studded return in 2017. 

Honorees shared their reactions to joining the ranks of outstanding artists who have been inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame:

Wilco: “We would have been stunned had we known we were even being considered for this honor,” said Jeff Tweedy. “Such a singular group of absolutely essential artists to get to be a part of. Austin City Limits has been a cornerstone of the American musical landscape longer than any of us can even remember.  Absolutely floored, we are. Thank you thank you thank you!”

Lucinda Williams: “What an honor! Austin City Limits was behind me in the very early days when almost no one else was. Now, here we are over 30 years later! That makes it all the sweeter.”

Alejandro Escovedo:Austin City Limits has always been an integral part of my musical journey. I’ve taken part in five tapings and each one has been an extraordinary experience, from the producers to the crew and sound people who have always made me feel part of their family. Thank you for this honor, Austin City Limits.” 

“Wilco’s first appearance for our 25th anniversary in 2000 was a major turning point for ACL, and I described them at the time as ‘the quintessential Austin City Limits band,’’ says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Collectively, the three of this year’s inductees represent the essence of everything ACL has stood for – originality, authenticity, virtuosity. Honoring them together will make for a magical night (and no doubt a few surprises)!”

Established in 2014, the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame celebrates the legacy of legendary artists and key individuals who have played a vital part in the pioneering music series remarkable 47 years as a music institution. The inaugural induction ceremony in 2014 honored Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Lloyd Maines, program creator Bill Arhos and Darrell Royal. 2015’s second annual ACL Hall of Fame ceremony honored Asleep at the Wheel, Loretta Lynn, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez and Townes Van Zandt, along with the original crew of the show’s first season in 1974-75. The 2016 Hall of Fame honored Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King, alongside former ACL executive producer Dick Peterson.  2017’s Hall of Fame honored Roy Orbison, Rosanne Cash and The Neville Brothers, and the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act.  2018’s fifth anniversary class featured the inductions of Ray Charles, Marcia Ball and Los Lobos. The 2019 Hall of Fame welcomed Lyle Lovett, Buddy Guy and Shawn Colvin to its ranks.

About the 2021 Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Honorees:


In their over two-plus decades as a band, Wilco has won multiple Grammy Awards, released 11 studio albums, as well as a trio of acclaimed albums with Billy Bragg penning music to lyrics by Woody Guthrie. Led, as always by singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy, the influential Chicago band have founded their own record label (dBpm Records) and festival (Solid Sound). Wilco continue to be regarded as a live powerhouse, as described by NPR, “To see Wilco on stage is to hear the best of the best.” Rolling Stone hails their most recent album, Ode to Joy, “Their best in years, a beautiful exercise in downhearted uplift,” while New York Magazine raved “[Ode to Joy] is Wilco’s best album in over a decade, and solid proof there’s room for bands to grow even when they’re already ten albums in.” Wilco has appeared on the ACL stage four times, in 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2012. 

Lucinda Williams

Louisiana-born Lucinda Williams has traveled a long road since her 1979 debut, Ramblinon My Mind, followed by Happy Woman Blues, her first album of originals released over forty years ago in 1980. (She says that she’s still “the same girl” except that now “I have a bigger fan base and I can afford to stay at better hotels.”) Over the course of fourteen remarkable albums, three Grammy awards, and countless accolades, including Time’s Songwriter of the Year of 2001, Williams is one of music’s most revered artists, beloved for her singular vocals and extraordinary songs. In 2018, she celebrated the 20th Anniversary of her watershed Americana album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road with a sold-out milestone tour. The pioneering artist returned to the gritty blues foundation that first inspired her as a young singer-songwriter in the late 1970s, releasing a career highlight, 2020’s Good Souls Better Angels, to critical raves and a pair of Grammy nominations, hailed “one of the most searing, potent and passionate albums you’ll hear” by American Songwriter. Williams has appeared on Austin City Limits four times, in 1990, 1992 (as part of a songwriters special), 1999 and 2008. 

Alejandro Escovedo

Called a “rock and punk godfather” by Rolling Stone, Alejandro Escovedo first debuted on Austin City Limits in 1983 with his seminal band Rank and File, and has made five indelible appearances. The San Antonio-born, California-raised trailblazer has been a punk of the rebel kind in early band The Nuns, a cowpunk of the non-Western variety in Rank and File, commander of a guitar army in The True Believers, an orchestral conductor in his solo work, and a sensitive boy who has outrun death, demons, lust, and lost love in his songs. Crossing borders, jumping barriers, taking risks, betting it all: that’s the path Alejandro Escovedo has taken in his lifelong search for the heart of rock ‘n’ roll. No Depression magazine declared him the Artist of the Decade at the onset of the millennium. His 12th studio album, 2018’s The Crossing, is a testament to his enduring power as a uniquely talented artist and collaborator. Escovedo has appeared on ACL five times – in 1983 (as part of Rank and File), 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2017.

Austin City Limits and the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame are produced by Austin PBS. Austin PBS is a non-profit organization providing public television and educational resources to Central Texas as well as producing quality national programming. 

Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits (ACL) offers viewers unparalleled access to featured acts in an intimate setting that provides a platform for artists to deliver inspired, memorable, full-length performances. Now in its 47th Season, the program is taped live before a concert audience from The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in television history and remains the only TV series to ever be awarded the National Medal of Arts. Since its inception, the groundbreaking music series has become an institution that’s helped secure Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World. The historic Austin PBS Studio 6A, home to 36 years of ACL concerts, has been designated an official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark. In 2011, ACL moved to the new venue ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. ACL received a rare institutional Peabody Award for excellence and outstanding achievement in 2012.  

Austin City Limits is produced by Austin PBS and funding is provided in part by Dell Technologies, Workrise, the Austin Convention Center Department and Cirrus Logic. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Austin City Limits. Learn more about Austin City Limits, programming and history at

Featured Live Stream News Taping Announcement

ACL to live stream Billy Strings taping on 7/7

Austin City Limits is excited to announce we will live stream the highly-anticipated debut taping of acclaimed Grammy Award-winning bluegrass musician Billy Strings on July 7 at 8 p.m. CT. ACL offers fans worldwide a unique opportunity to watch the ACL taping live in its entirety at this location

Michigan-born and now Nashville-based, Billy Strings is a singer, songwriter and musician, who arrived on the scene as “one of string music’s most dynamic young stars” (Rolling Stone). Strings is in the midst of a triumphant year after winning Best Bluegrass Album at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards for his critically acclaimed record, Home. Produced by Glenn Brown, the record led Strings to top Billboard’s 2020 year-end charts in both Bluegrass categories—Top Bluegrass Artists and Top Bluegrass Albums—and continues to receive widespread critical acclaim. Of the release, The Associated Press proclaims, “it is his creative musical storytelling, paired with solid vocals on Home that should seal the deal, pleasing fans of the genre and creating some new ones…the perfect blend of pure talent and pluck,” while The Wall Street Journal declares, “Billy Strings has clearly emerged as a premier guitar flatpicker of this era.” Recently named Breakthrough Artist of the Pandemic at the 2021 Pollstar Awards, Strings is nominated for Artist of the Year at the 2021 Americana Music Awards, was awarded Guitar Player of the Year and New Artist of the Year at the 2019 International Bluegrass Music Awards, selected as one of Rolling Stone’s “New Country Artists to Know” and has performed on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and PBS’ “Bluegrass Underground.” Known for his electric live shows, Strings will continue his extensive headline tour throughout 2021 including upcoming shows in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Austin, Atlanta and Nashville among several others.

Join us here on July 7 at 8 p.m. CT for this performance by Billy Strings. The broadcast episode will air early next year on PBS as part of our upcoming Season 47.

Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: Jade Bird

The Texas connection continued for the fourth taping of our 47th season, with young Welsh native and current Austin resident Jade Bird delivering a stellar debut. Previewing her highly-anticipated second LP Different Kinds of Light, out in August, the singer, songwriter and guitarist brought her melodic, eclectic rootsy rock pop to the ACL stage for her debut taping, which was live streamed around the world. 

After a rousing Terry Lickona intro, the white-adorned Bird and five-piece band took the stage and came out swinging with “Headstart,” her popular new single. “Are you ready to rock, Austin?” she declared, and went blazing into the next one: the sniping rocker “Uh Huh.” The ever-smiling songwriter lowered the energy level slightly – very slightly – with “Honeymoon,” the first song from the new record, before going into the folky “Punchline,” a song inspired by the small town in Wales in which she grew up. Noting that her sets tended to volley between emotional highs and lows, Bird shifted to the melancholy “Houdini,” an acoustic guitar-driven tune influenced by the tendency of “the male figures in my life to go on walkabout.” Most of the band left the stage, leaving only Bird and guitarist Bennett Lewis to sing a two guitar/one microphone cover of Radiohead’s “Black Star,” a gorgeous arrangement borrowed from Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings. She then took to the piano for “Something American,” an early song that both celebrates her love of American music and presages her road to conquering the States. The band returned for the jaunty “Prototype,” a tune Bird’s grandmother says is a hit, because it’s one of her happy songs, and who are we to argue? 

Continuing to showcase the forthcoming record, Bird kicked the energy level back into the red with the one-two punch of the sweet “Now’s the Time” and the anthemic, angry “Candidate.” She then revisited her first LP for the snarling “I Get No Joy,” a high energy diatribe she dedicated to the year 2020. “I’ve dreamed of playing this venue for a very long time,” she declared, before putting her heart into the seething ballad  “My Motto.” Bird followed that with “Red, White and Blue,” a solo song from the new record that she had never played live before, inspired by guitarist Luke Prosser’s encounter with a Vietnam war veteran. Prosser and fellow guitarist Bennett Lewis returned with special guest singer Savannah Conley for a luminous take on legendary singer/songwriter and Bird hero Dolly Parton’s “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” – Bird, Conley and Prosser’s harmonies would have done the Carter Family proud. Conley remained onstage as the band came back for the rocking “Trick Mirror,” another tune from the upcoming record. Bird then went back to her first LP for “Lottery,” a kiss-off to an ex set to an exuberant rock melody. “I can’t even tell you what a magical night this has been for me,” the joyful Bird exclaimed, before ending the main set with the wry, catchy “Love Has All Been Done Before.” 

After enthusiastic applause from the crowd, Bird came back with a Telecaster in hand, as she and the band romped into “Open Up the Heavens,” another basher from Different Kind of Light. She closed the evening with “Going Gone,” a spirited rocker from her first album that took off like a missile, bringing the house down. What a way to end this fabulous show! We can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.