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Featured News

ACL artists collect 2023 Grammy Award nominations

Grammy season is upon us, as the nominations for the 65th Annual Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday. We’re proud to see so many of our featured artists and distinguished alumni rack up nominations. Our Season 48 opener Brandi Carlile received seven nods, including Album of the Year for In These Silent Days, Record of the Year, Best Americana Performance and Best American Roots Song for “You and Me On the Rock,” on which she collaborated with fellow 48ers Lucius, and Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance for “Broken Horses.” She showcased both nominated songs in her dazzling season premiere along with highlights from the celebrated album, which will encore on your local PBS station next year, check acltv.com for episode schedules.

Maren Morris on Austin City Limits, Oct. 2022. Photo by Scott Newton.

We’re thrilled to showcase many of the nominees, including Maren Morris, Spoon and The War on Drugs, in full-hour performances in the second half of our Season 48, which will begin airing early next year, and the complete broadcast line-up will be announced in early December. Country star Maren Morris, who recently taped her first-ever ACL appearance, received a trio of nominations, including Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for “Circles Around This Town” and Best Country Album for Humble Quest. Austin-bred indie rockers Spoon received their first-ever nomination, Best Rock Album, for their acclaimed LP Lucifer On the Sofa. The War On Drugs scored a Best Rock Song nod for “Harmonia’s Dream” from their I Don’t Live Here Anymore.

Cimafunk on Austin City Limits, May 3, 2022. Photo by Scott Newton.

Current Season 48 standouts garnering accolades include Cuban sensation Cimafunk, who recently debuted on ACL in a performance for the ages, and received his first nomination (but surely not his last) for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album for El Alimento, while genre-defying songstress Allison Russell got nods for Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song for “Prodigal Daughter,” her collaboration with singer/songwriter Aoife O’Donovan. ACL Hall of Famer Lyle Lovett picked up a nomination for Best Americana Performance for “There You Go Again” alongside his pals and fellow AC Hall of Famers Asleep at the Wheel.

Sheryl Crow sings “I Shall Believe” with Brandi Carlile, Brittney Spencer and Lucius’ Jess Wolfe during the 8th annual ACL Hall of Fame induction, Oct. 27, 2022. Photo courtesy Austin City Limits.

Cheers to this year’s esteemed ACL Hall of Fame inductee Sheryl Crow, who returns to the Grammys with a nom for Best American Roots Song for “Forever,” a new song from her acclaimed 2022 documentary Sheryl. Stay tuned for our upcoming ACL Hall of Fame broadcast featuring the nine-time Grammy winner, which airs early next year and features one-of-a-kind collaborations including Sheryl and Brandi Carlile.

Kendrick Lamar performs on Austin City Limits, 2015. Photo by Scott Newton.

Season 48 artists aren’t the only ones who need to clear space on their mantle, however. Season 41 standout Kendrick Lamar collected a whopping eight nominations, including Record, Song and Album of the Year, plus the four Rap categories and Music Video of the Year. ACL four-timer Miranda Lambert garnered four nominations, including Best Country solo performance for “In Her Arms,” a song she first performed on last year’s Season 47 season premiere alongside co-writers Jon Randall and Jack Ingram. Our friend and ACL Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt also scored four nods, including Song of the Year for “Just Like That” the title track from her acclaimed 2022 album. We here at the house that Willie built, are beyond thrilled to see Willie Nelson earn four nominations, including three in the Country field, proving that, at 89 years young, his career keeps rolling on.

Dolly Parton performs her ACL debut in 2000. Photo by Scott Newton.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, of course. Our prestigious alumni who received multiple nominations include Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Billie Eilish, Coldplay, Rosalía, the Black Keys and Angelique Kidjo, while single nods were had by Buddy Guy, Norah Jones, Elvis Costello, the late Dr. John, Florence + the Machine, and far too many more to list here. We encourage you to check out the full list of nominations is here. Co-produced by ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, the 65th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will broadcast on Sunday, February 5, on CBS. Good luck to everyone nominated.

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Episode Recap Featured New Broadcast News

ACL TV presents ACL Hall of Fame: The First 6 Years

Kick off the New Year with a good ‘un: Austin City Limits presents ACL Hall of Fame: The First 6 Years, a special broadcast featuring a victory lap of some of the finest performances from the first six years of the annual ACL Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, from the inaugural induction celebration in 2014 to 2019’s sixth annual ceremony. The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame was established in 2014 to honor beacons of American music who have played an instrumental role in making the iconic music series a music institution. The 14-song, all-star salute, recorded live in Austin, Texas, features bestin-class performances and collaborations, many never-before-broadcast, from the annual celebrations in a performance-packed hour with Hall of Fame honorees including Willie Nelson, Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash and Kris Kristofferson performing alongside special guests. ACL Hall of Fame: The First 6 Years premieres Saturday, January 2 at 8pm CT/9pm ET. Check local PBS listings for times. The special will be available to music fans everywhere to stream online beginning Sunday, January 3 @10am ET at pbs.org/austincitylimits

The Hall of Fame celebration captures one-of-a-kind performances and emotional moments as the hour kicks off with the very first inductee into ACL’s inaugural Hall of Fame in 2014:  Willie Nelson, who appeared on ACL’s pilot episode in 1974, and performs his classic “On the Road Again” joined by special guests Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett. Blues giant Buddy Guy, a 2019 inductee, performs an electrifying take on his gem “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues” joined by a longtime friend, bluesman Jimmie Vaughan. For her induction in 2017, Rosanne Cash shares the stage with friends Elvis Costello and Neko Case, trading verses on her early chart-topping anthem “Seven Year Ache,” joined by legendary guitarist Ry Cooder. A trio of music’s most expressive vocalists, Chris Isaak, Brandi Carlile and Raul Malo, join forces to celebrate the legendary Roy Orbison’s 2017 induction with a joyous rendition of the pioneering rocker’s signature “Oh, Pretty Woman.” Acclaimed singer-songwriter Jason Isbell performs a moving solo rendition of Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark’s classic, “Desperados Waiting For A Train,” saluting the 2015 inductee. Bonnie Raitt celebrates her induction in 2016 teaming up with handpicked guests Mavis Staples and Taj Mahal on a blazing rendition of her smash “Thing Called Love.” Kris Kristofferson, a fellow 2016 inductee, lights up the stage with a moving, solo acoustic performance of his early 70s classic “Lovin’ Her Was Easier.” Celebrating her induction in 2019, Shawn Colvin delivers a captivating performance of her early gem “Diamond In the Rough,” from her 1989 debut Steady On, joined by a pair of Texas singer-songwriters, Sarah Jarosz and fellow inductee Lyle Lovett. The queen of country music, Loretta Lynn, who first appeared on the series in 1983, is celebrated during her 2015 induction by country singer Patty Loveless, with a stirring rendition of the living legend’s first number one country hit “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’”. 

Photo by Gary Miller

The “first family of funk,” The Neville Brothers, the first New Orleans act to appear on ACL in 1979, are saluted by Trombone Shorty and members of the next-generation Nevilles Band for a scorching NOLA-style tribute to the influential funk ‘n’ soul collective in honor of their 2017 induction. Legendary Texas singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt is inducted in 2015 with an all-star tribute of his “White Freightliner Blues” with music greats Lyle Lovett, Ray Benson, Vince Gill, Gillian Welch, Dwight Yoakam and more trading verses on the classic. Blues-rock star Gary Clark Jr. puts down his guitar for the occasion and steps up to the mic to pay vocal tribute to 2018 inductee Ray Charles, delivering a radiant “Night Time Is the Right Time” while vocalists Ruthie Foster, Carolyn Wonderland and Shelley King do The Raelettes proud with show-stopping backing chorus. American originals Los Lobos join the fifth class of inductees in 2018 performing a classic from their celebrated four-decade career, “La Pistola Y El Corazon”. The broadcast comes to an epic close saluting blues-rock icon Stevie Ray Vaughan’s 2014 induction into the first class of inductees, as a murderers’ row of guitar greats, including Willie Nelson, Buddy Guy and Johnny Lang, perform a blistering “Texas Flood,” the Lone Star classic Vaughan made famous when he performed it on his now-classic 1983 ACL debut, in a performance for the ages.

Austin City Limits Hall of Fame: The First Six Years setlist:

Willie Nelson w/ Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett “On the Road Again”

Buddy Guy w/Jimmie Vaughan “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues”

Rosanne Cash w/Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Ry Cooder “Seven Year Ache”

Chris Isaak w/Brandi Carlile, Raul Malo “Oh Pretty Woman”

Jason Isbell “Desperados Waiting For A Train”

Bonnie Raitt w/ Mavis Staples, Taj Mahal “Thing Called Love” 

Kris Kristofferson “Lovin’ Her Was Easier”

Shawn Colvin w/Lyle Lovett & Sarah Jarosz “Diamond in the Rough”

Patty Loveless “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’”

The Nevilles Band w/Trombone Shorty “Meet De Boys on De Battlefront”

All-Star Cast f. Lyle Lovett, Ray Benson, Vince Gill, Gillian Welch, Dwight Yoakam  “White Freightliner Blues” 

Gary Clark Jr. w/Ruthie Foster, Carolyn Wonderland, Shelley King “Night Time Is the Right Time”

Los Lobos “La Pistola Y El Corazon”

All-Star Finale f. Willie Nelson, Buddy Guy, Johnny Lang, Lukas Nelson, Doyle Bramhall II, Robert Randolph “Texas Flood”

Photo by Scott Newton

Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding future tapings, episode schedules and select live stream updates. 

About 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 46th 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 KLRU 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.

ACL Hall of Fame: The First 6 Years is produced by Austin PBS, KLRU-TV and funding is provided in part by AXS, Dell Technologies, and Cirrus Logic. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Austin City Limits. Learn more about Austin City Limits, programming and history at acltv.com. 

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Episode Recap Featured New Broadcast News

Jackie Venson and Mavis Staples bring the soul to ACL this weekend

Austin City Limits is proud to spotlight a rising star, Austin singer-songwriter/guitar ace Jackie Venson, in her national television debut as a headliner. The hour also features a vintage performance by soul/gospel legend Mavis Staples from her 2012 showcase, joined by special guest Bonnie Raitt. The installment premieres November 14 at 8pm CT/9pm ET on PBS as part of the iconic series’ Season 46. With live music still on pause, ACL continues to provide viewers a front-row seat to the best in live performance. The series airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings) and full episodes are made available online for a limited time at pbs.org/austincitylimits immediately following the initial broadcast.  

With the cancellation of 2020’s SXSW earlier this year at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunity for the audiences to witness many of music’s best and brightest was lost. One of the featured artists poised to perform on multiple stages at this year’s edition was Austin standout Jackie Venson. The breakout blues, rock, R&B & soul singer/guitar virtuoso has earned acclaim in her hometown and beyond for her singular skills.  Venson was introduced to national audiences as a handpicked opener for guitar star Gary Clark Jr. in 2019, and has established a rapidly growing fan base as one to watch, recently landing in the Top 10 of Pollstar’s Top 50 Livestreamers, alongside established acts including Luke Combs and Norah Jones. Venson was also the subject of the fourth episode of Pause/Play, a new podcast from Austin public radio station KUTX about musicians during the pandemic. The podcast, which focuses on her ACL taping and also includes executive producer Terry Lickona, can be heard here, and a video preview can be watched here

An innovative artist who brings passion, emotion and truth to her music, Venson performs highlights from her acclaimed 2020 album Vintage Machine and 2019’s Joy in her ACL debut. Wearing a black leather dress inscribed with 73 names of Black Americans who have died at the hands of police, Venson has become an important voice in raising awareness about racial inequality. She meets the moment with a powerful address: “Black lives matter. Not the hashtag, not the slogan, not the organization, but actual lives. Me, my family, my band. We matter.” She then launches into “Back to Earth,” showcasing her guitar bona fides with blazing fretwork and stunning solos. Venson welcomes “Austin’s Empress of Soul,” vocalist Tameca Jones, to the stage for a scorching slowburn rendition of the blues classic “Texas Flood” putting her own signature sound on her Stratocaster on the Lone Star anthem. With a smile as wide as Texas, Venson closes out the radiant debut with the buoyant rocker “Transcends.” 

“Every so often a new ‘sensation’ arises from the fervid Austin music scene, and the moment right now belongs to Jackie Venson,” said Lickona. “There are many words to describe her music, but the one that rings loudest for me is ‘TRUTH.’”

photo by Scott Newton

The inspiring hour also features a timely encore performance from living legend Mavis Staples who delivers a clutch of powerful protest songs, including “Freedom Highway,” The Staple Singers’ 1965 classic, about the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till. Staples has been a part of history for more than half a century, at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement to presidential inaugurations. The 2012 appearance marked the iconic singer’s debut on the series, and she captivates with her famous low register vocals and magnetic energy, delivering soulful renditions of contemporary songs, as well as socially conscious anthems from her family band The Staples Singers-era. She is joined by longtime friend and collaborator Bonnie Raitt for a pair of classics, the emotional duet “Losing You” and the gospel standard “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” for a soaring close. 

Jackie Venson setlist:

Make Me Feel

Back to Earth 

Texas Flood (with Tameca Jones)

Transcends

Mavis Staples setlist:

Creep Along Moses

Wrote A Song For Everyone

You Are Not Alone

Freedom Highway

Losing You (with Bonnie Raitt)

Will the Circle Be Unbroken (with Bonnie Raitt)

Season 46 Broadcast Line-up (six new episodes to be announced):

October 3 The Best of John Prine 

October 10 Yola

October 17 Stevie Ray Vaughan 30 Years On

October 24 Rufus Wainwright

October 31                ACL Presents: 50 Years of Asleep at the Wheel

November 7             John Legend & The Roots: Wake Up!

November 14 Jackie Venson | Mavis Staples w/Bonnie Raitt

November 21            The Mavericks

Tune-in, log on, and let ACL be a trusted sidekick for entertainment during these challenging days. The complete line-up for the full 13-week season will be announced at a later date.  Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding live streams, future tapings and episode schedules or by following ACL on Facebook, Twitter, IG and TikTok. Fans can also browse the ACL YouTube channel for exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes videos and full-length artist interviews.

About 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 46th 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 KLRU 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, KLRU-TV and funding is provided in part by Dell Technologies, RigUp, 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 acltv.com. 

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Featured News Taping Announcement

Austin City Limits announces Season 46

Live music beacon Austin City Limits proudly announces the fall return of the series and the initial Season 46 broadcast line-up; new installments begin airing October 3 as part of the program’s thirteen-episode season. With live music still on pause, ACL brings fans a full season filled with highly-anticipated debuts from some of today’s most talked-about live acts, as well as deep dives featuring ACL legends. The program continues its extraordinary run as the longest-running music television show in history. ACL has been broadcast on PBS since the series’ inception in 1974, and is proud to salute PBS as they celebrate a milestone 50 years on the air on October 4, 2020. 

Austin City Limits returns this fall with a gem: a poignant season premiere featuring the best of late songwriting giant John Prine’s eight appearances on the series, starting with his ACL debut in 1978. The legendary singer/songwriter appeared regularly on ACL throughout his celebrated five-decade career, and this hour-long tribute captures his evolution with twelve classics, including his final appearance in 2018 during Season 44. The requiem showcases Prine’s signature wit and wisdom, detailing the stories behind the songs and includes a never-before-aired 1987 performance of his classic “Sam Stone.” Prine’s singular talent was revered by generations of songwriters and the retrospective will feature a heartfelt introduction recorded by Americana star Jason Isbell.

The season continues with highly-anticipated debut appearances: UK country soul sensation Yola showcases her 2020 Grammy-nominated album Walk Through Fire in a dazzling hour. Acclaimed singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright makes his ACL debut performing career highlights alongside selections from Unfollow the Rules, his first new pop album since 2012; Wainwright is backed by members of North Texas bands Midlake and the Texas Gentleman in a stunning hour. Breakout blues, rock, R&B, soul singer/guitar-slinger, Austin’s own Jackie Venson, makes her highly-anticipated ACL debut. Rock and country trailblazers The Mavericks make their third appearance on the ACL stage showcasing their chart-topping, all Spanish-language album, En Español

ACL reprises a particularly timely and relevant installment: John Legend and The Roots: Wake Up! Inspired by the 2008 Presidential election, the 2011 hour features the giants of R&B and hip hop teaming up to perform a collection of socially-conscious cover songs from the 60s and 70s. ACL also encores one of the most-requested episodes in its canon: gospel legend Mavis Staples’ stellar 2012 appearance with her friend Bonnie Raitt, featuring a hit parade of classics.

Season 46 salutes a pair of ACL legends on the milestone anniversary of their iconic ACL appearances: Stevie Ray Vaughan: 30 Years On, an hour-long special, features highlights from the legendary bluesman’s signature performances on ACL in 1983 and 1989, bookends of an incredible career from Austin’s pride & joy, and two of the most-requested episodes in the history of ACL. Stevie Ray made his final performance on Austin City Limits on October 10, 1989, and thirty years after his tragic death on August 27, 1990, ACL showcases both performances in their entirety in a rare broadcast featuring back-to-back classics including “Texas Flood”, “Voodoo Child” and “Crossfire” from the Austin legend and his band Double Trouble. 

Also on deck is a special ACL Presents installment: 50 Years of Asleep at the Wheel. This hour-long retrospective offers a fascinating look at the band’s evolution from the 1970s to the present via highlights from their many appearances on ACL. For 50 years, founder Ray Benson & Asleep at the Wheel have been the chief practitioners, conspirators and caretakers of Western swing, carrying the genre’s traditions well into the 21st century, reaching both their contemporaries and inspiring a new generation of artists. 

“As we launch a brand new season in very uncertain times, ACL continues to break new ground,” said longtime ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “To begin, we celebrate the great John Prine, who was one of the early victims of the COVID pandemic. We’ll also look back at Austin’s pride and joy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, three decades since his passing. But, as always, we’ll welcome some first-timers and spotlight the best of what’s happening in Austin today.”

Austin City Limits has created a new opening sequence https://youtu.be/4ZPKRvbukoM to mark these historic times, acknowledging the challenges local Austin and Texan acts have faced during the global pandemic. The opening features Austin’s Black Pumas “Colors” and showcases many of Austin’s own homegrown talents captured at their homes and front porches, including Ruthie Foster, Ray Wylie Hubbard, White Denim, Jackie Venson, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Black Pumas and more.

Season 46 Broadcast Line-up (six new episodes to be announced):

October 3 The Best of John Prine (featuring Jason Isbell intro)

October 10 Yola

October 19 Stevie Ray Vaughan 30 Years On

October 24 Rufus Wainwright

October 31              ACL Presents: 50 Years of Asleep at the Wheel

November 7 John Legend & The Roots: Wake Up! (encore)

November 14 Bonnie Raitt (encore) | Jackie Venson

November 21         The Mavericks

Tune-in, log on, and let ACL be a trusted sidekick for entertainment during these challenging days. The complete line-up for the full 13-week season will be announced at a later date. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding live streams, future tapings and episode schedules or by following ACL on Facebook, Twitter and IG. Fans can also browse the ACL YouTube channel for exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes videos and full-length artist interviews.

Austin City Limits is produced by Austin PBS, KLRU-TV and funding is provided in part by Dell Technologies, RigUp, 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 acltv.com. 

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ACL @ the Alamo News

ACL @ the Alamo: Stevie Ray Vaughan

ACL @ the Alamo returns on August 27 with a special evening featuring Stevie Ray Vaughan. First up is Stevie Ray Vaughan: A Retrospective, our season 20 episode that combines the Texas guitar slinger’s 1984 and 1990 appearances with his band Double Trouble. All your favorites are here: “Love Struck Baby,” “Texas Flood,” “Pride and Joy,” “Cold Shot,” “Crossfire” and an absolutely incandescent version of “Riviera Paradise.” While these performances have been released on DVD before, they’ve never been seen before on a big screen, and we’re excited to make that happen.

Following the Retrospective will be A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, a PBS pledge special filmed in the ACL studio that presents Stevie’s music as performed by his friends and fans, including B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Dr. John and, of course, Stevie’s brother Jimmie, who also leads the band. Far from a somber occasion, this show is a true celebration of Stevie’s musical legacy, with joyful performances. As with the Retrospective, this has been available on DVD but never shown in a theater.

As always, this screening benefits the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, a most worthy organization. You can find the skinny on tickets here. If you’re in Austin, please join us!

Categories
News Taping Recap

Bonnie Raitt & Mavis Staples: a soul sisters extravaganza

“Thanks for comin’ out to see our soul sisters extravaganza tonight!” exclaimed Bonnie Raitt as she took the ACL stage. Tonight’s taping was a double-header, with not only the bottleneck guitar-slinging Raitt, but also soul/gospel legend Mavis Staples putting her formidable pipes through their paces. For fans of powerful, R&B-derived singing, this show was a little slice of heaven.

It’s been ten years since Bonnie Raitt has appeared on the show, so anticipation ran high. Raitt and her veteran band easily met all expectations, however. She opened with “Used to Rule the World,” a funky blues rocker with a slinky slide solo that’s the opening cut from her latest album Slipstream. She continued through a set heavy on the acclaimed new LP, from the snarky rocker “Down to You” and the reggae-infused makeover of Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line” to the smoky blues take on Bob Dylan’s “Million Miles” and the folk-rocking commentary of “Marriage Made in Hollywood.” The highlights of the new songs may have been a pair of gorgeous ballads, “You Can’t Fail Me Now” (co-written by Loudon Wainwright III and Slipstream producer Joe Henry) and “Not Cause I Wanted To.” She peppered the set with some of her classics as well, dedicating the funky hit “Love Sneakin’ Up On You” to the late Austin guitarist Stephen Bruton, who served many years in her band, and giving her smash version of John Hiatt’s “Thing Called Love” an extra swampy flavor. Raitt closed her performance with a shimmeringly atmospheric “Angel From Montgomery,” letting John Prine’s classic tune settle over the crowd like a soft rain. It was a gentle comedown for an otherwise fiery show.

“We come this evening to bring you some joy, some inspiration and some positive vibrations,” declared Mavis Staples in the middle of her set, and there’s no way anyone present didn’t get that. Making music since she was (gulp) ten years old, Staples is a veteran, but her performance tonight underscored that, at 72, she’s still as much about passion as professionalism. Her set began with the a cappella “Wonderful Savior,” a simple gospel tune to set the mood. Ramping up the energy Mavis shared space with guitarist Rick Holstrom’s biting tone on “Creep Along Moses.”  A stately cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Wrote a Song For Everyone” kept the buzz at maximum. “Freedom Highway” and “Eyes On the Prize” hearkened back to the 60s, when the Staple Singers were the musical voice of the civil rights movement, while “You Are Not Alone,” the Jeff Tweedy-composed title track to her latest LP, testified to her stunning way with a ballad. “I’ll Take You There” became the call-and-response gospel epic it was always meant to be and left the crowd hanging on, waiting for more as Mavis left the stage.

When she returned for an encore she was joined by Bonnie for a heartfelt take on Randy Newman’s “Losing You” – “this song is very special,” claimed Mavis, “It’s for both our fathers” – and a rousing, groovy “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” put the entire studio in the spirit. But in a show overflowing with highlights, perhaps the biggest was her version of the Band’s “The Weight.” Mavis performed on the version in the film The Last Waltz and claimed it as her own tonight, sharing the vocals with her singers and bringing the audience to a wild standing ovation. Mavis claimed in her interview that she’s long wanted to be on Austin City Limits and that she was thrilled to be here, and we can only say: right back atcha, ma’am – “Meeting Mavis is like going to church,” says associate producer Leslie Nichols. This is a show that will pass into ACL legend.

We always say we can’t wait for y’all to see these performances, and we couldn’t be any more heartfelt with that sentiment after this show. Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples – can it get anymore soulful? Find out for yourselves this fall when this episode airs on PBS.