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Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: Japanese Breakfast

Listening to the music of Japanese Breakfast is like a masterclass in how to take the personal and make it universal. Bandleader Michelle Zauner is an expert at drawing inspiration from her life without creating insular art – see her bestselling memoir Crying in H Mart, which resonated with millions of readers worldwide. Her music does the same, as she proved while bringing her full band to the ACL stage, following her solo guest appearance at last year’s ACL Hall of Fame ceremony. 

The eight-piece band took the stage to enthusiastic applause, opening with fan-favorite “Paprika,” one of the catchiest of the catchy tunes that adorn the 2022 Grammy-nominated act’s breakthrough third LP Jubilee. A gong decorated with lights became the centerpiece as Zauner thrilled the crowd punctuating the chorus of the banger with each hit. That was followed by the album’s synth-driven, perfectly crafted pop confection “Be Sweet,” which Zauner sang with a big smile. She donned her guitar for “In Heaven,” a melodic rocker from her first album Psychopomp, supported by Adam Schatz’ sensual saxophone and seguing smoothly into “Woman That Loves You,” from the same LP. Zauner admitted that when she appeared at the ACL Hall of Fame last fall to perform in tribute to Wilco, she never imagined she’d be back with her own band so soon. The group then dialed back its normally sunshine-bright sound for Jubilee’s moody midtempo charmer “Kokomo, IN,” driven by Peter Bradley’s slide guitar. Zauner visited JB’s second album Soft Sounds From Another Planet for the nostalgic “Boyish,” which earned cheers the moment it began. The band stuck with that album for the pretty indie rocker “The Body is a Blade,” ending the trip (for now) with the ambiguous, unsettling “Road Head,” which also garnered cheers as soon as the opening chords rang. 

Things took a turn back to the upbeat with Jubilee’s “Savage Good Boy,” which ended on harmony guitar riffs from Zauner and Bradley. Drummer Craig Hendrix’s counterpoint vocals and Zauner’s playfully naughty lyrics highlighted Psychopomp’s “Everybody Wants to Love You,” after which Zauner introduced the musicians. The airy, horns-spiked pop of “Slide Tackle” came next, its chorus of “Be good to me/We’ve always had a good time” sung directly to Bradley, who’s also Zauner’s husband. Ironically, that was followed by the romantic yearning of “Posing in Bondage,” which turned from melancholy to joyful by tune’s end. Bradley’s keyboard and Christabel Lin’s violin dominated the dreamy “Glider,” composed for the video game Sable

Seated at the keyboard, Zauner noted the day was a special one, as it also marked the first anniversary of the 2021 release of Crying in H Mart, her powerful memoir about growing up Korean American and dealing with the grief of losing her mother. She explained the book paved the way for Jubilee, an album about giving yourself permission to welcome joy back into your life after experiencing tragedy. That led to “Tactics,” a song about moving forward from sadness, as difficult as it might be. The band quit the stage, leaving Zauner solo with her guitar for “Posing For Cars,” a song that builds in intensity, a tactic emphasized by the musicians returning one by one, until the whole thing culminated, appropriately, in her epic guitar solo. Japanese Breakfast wasted no time in going into the final song, the widescreen Soft Sounds rocker “Diving Woman,” on which everyone cut loose before Bradley and Zauner brought the song to a ringing, jangling close. It was a great show and a great debut performance, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall as part of our upcoming 48th season on your local PBS station. 

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Featured Live Stream News

Live stream announcement: Japanese Breakfast 4/20

Austin City Limits is excited to announce we will live stream the highly-anticipated debut taping of Grammy-nominated indie-pop rock band Japanese Breakfast on April 20 at 8 p.m. CT. ACL offers fans worldwide a unique opportunity to watch the ACL taping live in its entirety on our ACLTV YouTube Channel. The broadcast episode will air this fall on PBS as part of our upcoming Season 48. 

2021 was a big year for Michelle Zauner. She released Jubilee, her third album with her band Japanese Breakfast, which quickly became one of the most praised releases of 2021, landing her two 2022 GRAMMY nominations for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album, as well as placement on Best Of 2021 lists from Rolling Stone, People, Pitchfork, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, NPR, Spin, Wall Street Journal and more. The album was also voted the #1 album of the year on NPR’s Listeners’ Poll, and its hit single “Be Sweet” was voted the #1 song of the year on Pitchfork’s Readers’ Poll. From the moment she began writing her new album, she knew that she wanted to call it Jubilee. After all, a jubilee is a celebration of the passage of time—a festival to usher in the hope of a new era in brilliant technicolor. Zauner’s first two albums garnered acclaim for the way they grappled with anguish; Psychopomp was written as her mother underwent cancer treatment, while Soft Sounds From Another Planet took the grief she held from her mother‘s death and used it as a conduit to explore the cosmos.  Jubilee is an album about processing life and love in the quest for happiness, and how that process sometimes requires us to step outside of ourselves. In addition to Jubilee, 2021 saw Zauner release her New York Times best-selling memoir Crying in H Mart, which she’s currently adapting for the screen for MGM’s Orion Pictures. Crying in H Mart is an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. The book has been on the New York Times Best Sellers’ list for 30 weeks. She also released the original soundtrack to the anticipated video game Sable, which Entertainment Weekly compared to David Bowie’s 1977 masterwork Low and Pitchfork said is “a streamlined glimpse into her versatility as a narrative artist.” Michelle Zauner first appeared on our stage at the 2021 ACL Hall of Fame celebration to salute honorees Wilco and we’re thrilled to have her return with Japanese Breakfast.

Join us here on April 20 at 8 p.m. CT for this performance by Japanese Breakfast. Join us this fall on PBS for the broadcast premiere of Austin City Limits’ upcoming Season 48.

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Featured News Taping Announcement

New tapings: Arlo Parks, Japanese Breakfast, Foo Fighters and Cimafunk

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce the first round of tapings for Season 48, featuring a stellar slate of performers. The taping season kicks off with a pair of 2022 GRAMMY Best New Artist nominees, British singer/songwriter Arlo Parks on April 11, and acclaimed Japanese Breakfast on April 20. Newly minted Rock & Roll Hall of Famers and 2022 GRAMMY triple nominees Foo Fighters return to rock ACL for the third time on April 27, while Afro-Cuban Latin funk sensation Cimafunk brings the funk on May 3.

Arlo Parks. Photo by Lillie Eiger.

Arlo Parks had a major 2021 wherein she released her highly-praised debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams, won the BRIT Award for Best New Artist, received the Mercury Prize for album of the year, and won the BBC Introducing Artist Of The Year Award. She also scored a pair of 2022 GRAMMY nominations for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album. Along with the towering awards, Collapsed in Sunbeams was included on almost every ‘Best Albums of 2021’ list and received critical acclaim from the likes of The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The FADER and many more. This year she shared a new single “Softly” and is currently on a North American tour with Clairo, which will conclude with a performance at this year’s Coachella Festival. Arlo also recently announced high-profile summer stadium dates with Billie Eilish and Harry Styles. Born Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, the 21-year-old from West London – who burst onto the scene with 2018’s “Cola” — uses poetry as her songwriting compass, weaving vivid imagery and sensory touches throughout the stirring, honest stories that make up her already-rich body of work. In Arlo’s world, words are as useful as photographs. Luscious, expressive vignettes pepper the poetic lyrics in her sweet, ruminative indie pop songs. “I was really interested in the idea of delving into a hyper-specific moment and making it feel universal, making it something that people could connect to,” she says about drawing from poetry in her approach. Arlo recalls a childhood record collection that included classics from Sade, Earth Wind & Fire, and Bob Dylan and choir practice as fundamentals to her musical side. When she was 14, Arlo downloaded Garageband and started making beats to rhyme her poetry to, which over time naturally morphed into singing and the dulce soprano that sets her apart in today’s music climate. In 2017, she took a chance and submitted her recordings to BBC Introducing, which led to her first interview, management and recording contract. Following performances at Glastonbury and Latitude Festivals and a pair of EPs released when she was still a teenager, Arlo released her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams to critical raves in 2021. Her songwriting has seen her gain new fans in Billie Eilish, Florence Welch, Michelle Obama, Angel Olsen, Phoebe Bridgers, Massive Attack and renowned writer Zadie Smith, amongst many others.

Japanese Breakfast. Photo by Tonje Thilesen.

2021 was a big year for Michelle Zauner. She released Jubilee, her album with her pop-alternative band Japanese Breakfast, which quickly became one of the most praised releases of 2021, landing her two 2022 GRAMMY nominations for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album, as well as placement on Best Of 2021 lists from Rolling Stone, People, Pitchfork, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, NPR, Spin, Wall Street Journal and more. The album was also voted the #1 album of the year on NPR’s Listeners’ Poll, and its lead single “Be Sweet” was voted the #1 song of the year on Pitchfork’s Readers’ Poll. From the moment she began writing her new album, she knew that she wanted to call it Jubilee. After all, a jubilee is a celebration of the passage of time—a festival to usher in the hope of a new era in brilliant technicolor. Zauner’s first two albums garnered acclaim for the way they grappled with anguish; Psychopomp was written as her mother underwent cancer treatment, while Soft Sounds From Another Planet took the grief she held from her mother‘s death and used it as a conduit to explore the cosmos.  Jubilee is an album about processing life and love in the quest for happiness, and how that process sometimes requires us to step outside of ourselves. In addition to Jubilee, 2021 saw Zauner release her New York Times best-selling memoir Crying in H Mart, which she’s currently adapting for the screen for MGM’s Orion Pictures. Crying in H Mart is an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. The book has been on the New York Times Best Sellers’ list for 30 weeks. She also released the original soundtrack to the anticipated video game Sable, which Entertainment Weekly compared to David Bowie’s 1977 masterwork Low and Pitchfork said is “a streamlined glimpse into her versatility as a narrative artist.” Michelle Zauner first appeared on our stage at the 2021 ACL Hall of Fame celebration to salute honorees Wilco and we’re thrilled to have her return with Japanese Breakfast.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees and 2022 GRAMMY triple nominees for their much heralded Medicine at Midnight, the mighty, mighty Foo Fighters return for their third appearance on the ACL stage. Produced by Greg Kurstin and the band, and featuring “Shame Shame,” “Waiting On a War” and the bludgeoning “No Son of Mine,” Medicine at Midnight, Foo Fighters’ 10th studio album was released in early 2021 to overwhelming acclaim: Rolling Stone hailed the album as “brighter and more optimistic than anything they’ve ever done,” while The Wall Street Journal quite simply called it “One of Foo Fighters’ best albums of this century.” More recently, Medicine at Midnight earned the sextet a trio of GRAMMY nominations: Best Rock Performance for “Making A Fire,” Best Rock Song for “Waiting On A War,” and Best Rock Album, bringing Foo Fighters’ career total nominations to 32. Foo Fighters—who celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2020—have won 12 GRAMMY Awards, including a record four wins for Best Rock Album, two Best Rock Songs and a Best Rock Performance. On February 25th Foo Fighters will make their feature film acting debut, playing themselves in the horror comedy Studio 666, filmed in the same Encino, California house in which they recorded Medicine at Midnight. Foo Fighters were fortunately able to fit in a visit to ACL in between sold out dates on their North American stadium tour, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear and Rami Jaffee back to our stage.

Cimafunk. Photo by Michael Alford.

Cimafunk is an Afro-Cuban rock star whose name refers to his heritage as a “cimarrón,” Cubans of African descent who resisted and escaped slavery, as well as to the essence of his music that aims to subvert conventional sounds with rhythmic innovation. As innovative funk forefather George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic fame says, “he is the one, the next one.” By bringing out the best in Cuban rhythms and traditions and infusing sounds and styles from Africa and the U.S., Cimafunk has created something unique and special, both in terms of music and the values he stands for. His monumental second album El Alimento, released in October 2021, received overwhelming praise: Rolling Stone ranked it #3 of the Best Spanish-Language and Bilingual Albums of 2021 and #23 of the 50 Best Albums of 2021. El Alimento was also among NPR’s Best Latin Music of 2021 and #1 of Le Monde’s Latin Music favorites. Singles also made their way through 2021 lists: “Rómpelo” ft. Lupe Fiasco was among NPR Alt.Latino’s best singles of 2021, and “Funk Aspirin” ft. George Clinton in Remezcla’s 10 Best Indie Pop, Rock, & Chill Songs of 2021. Co-produced by Cimafunk and Grammy-award winning producer Jack Splash (CeeLo Green, Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys), the sonically dynamic collection masterfully blends Afro-Cuban sounds and rhythms with global funk, hip hop and soul, resulting in a progressive, head-bopping celebration of black music’s power to eclipse borders and cross-pollinate across cultures. Written and recorded over 2020, the album served as an alimento for the soul, a motivation to persevere through the pandemic, as Cimafunk spent countless hours studying decades of musical influences to help understand who he is musically and culturally, and thus, where he wanted this album to take him. According to The New York Times, Cimafunk is on “Quest to Create One Nation Under a Groove.” Cimafunk became a household name in Cuba with his 2018 hit “Me Voy,” which generated a frenzy, creating a movement in Havana and throughout the island, selling out venues with thousands of fans excited to dance to the groove of Afro-Cuban Funk and millennials replicating his style and appearance, one that draws heavily on his African roots and the black showmen of the 20th century. Named by Billboard as a “Top 10 Latin Artist to watch,” Cimafunk stole the show at the 2019 South by Southwest Music Festival and has toured aggressively in the U.S. and Europe, making a name for himself as one of today’s great showmen, performing an electric live show with his nine-piece band from Havana.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes as we get a week out from each date. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast episodes will air in late 2022 on PBS as part of our upcoming Season 48.

Please look for safety updates regarding entry to Austin City Limits Tapings. Austin PBS will continue to monitor local COVID-19 trends and will meet or exceed protocols mandated by local governments.

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Episode Recap Featured Hall of Fame New Broadcast News

Episode premiere: ACL 7th Annual Hall of Fame Honors

A special installment, Austin City Limits 7th Annual Hall of Fame Honors, premieres January 8 at 8pm CT/9pm ET on PBS. Austin City Limits (ACL) celebrates the newest class of Hall of Fame Inductees, honoring a trio of Americana greats with longtime ties to ACL: Lucinda Williams, Wilco and Alejandro Escovedo, with best-in-class performances and highlights from the 2021 ACL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony presented by PNC Bank, recorded live in Austin, Texas on October 28, 2021.  Music greats Jason Isbell, Rosanne Cash, Margo Price, Sheila E., Lenny Kaye, Japanese Breakfast and more salute the new class of inductees with one-of-a-kind collaborative performances and tributes. The hour-long broadcast premieres Saturday, January 8 at 8pm ET on PBS. Check local PBS listings for times. The special will be available to music fans everywhere to stream online beginning Sunday, January 9 at 10am ET at pbs.org/austincitylimits. In addition, a streaming-only, 90-minute bonus installment featuring exclusive content from the celebration will be made available for fans the same day, including acclaimed performances by John Doe, legendary Los Angeles punk band X co-founder, iconoclastic Texas singer-songwriter Terry Allen and indie icon Bill Callahan. Providing viewers a front-row seat to the best in live performance for a remarkable 47 years, the series returns January 15 ringing in a new year with all-new episodes as part of its Season 47. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding future tapings, episode schedules and select live stream updates. 

Margo Price and Lucinda Williams sing “Changed the Locks” at the 2021 ACL 7th Annual Hall of Fame Honors . Photo courtesy Austin City Limits

One of today’s finest songwriters, Jason Isbell, opens the hour to salute the night’s first honoree, legendary singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams. “A lot of my songs wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t spent so much time trying to rip her off,” grins Isbell in a heartfelt induction, providing insightful examples of the way Williams uses detailed imagery to paint pictures with her lyrics. “She’s made a map,” he explains, for other songwriters, including himself, to follow. “Too rock for country and too country for rock,” Williams cracks in her acceptance, recalling the music industry’s early reaction to her sound. Isbell performs a gorgeous rendition of Williams’ “I Envy the Wind” from her Grammy-nominated 2002 album Essence. The pioneering artist takes the stage for a pair of collaborative performances featuring highlights from her groundbreaking self-titled 1988 classic. “I’m on cloud nine,” says the honoree as she is joined by her friend of 30 years, Rosanne Cash, for the gem “Crescent City.” Country star Margo Price joins Williams for her signature scorcher “Changed the Locks’ ‘ in an electrifying duet.

Sheila E. congratulates her uncle Alejandro Escovedo at the ACL 7th Annual Hall of Fame Honors. Photo courtesy Austin City Limits.

Punk pioneer Lenny Kaye recounts how he first met Alejandro Escovedo in 1974, and inducts his longtime friend with wit and wisdom, capturing the essence of what makes the genre-defying Mexican-American artist’s eclectic, expansive body of work important to the world. Joined by his niece, the incomparable Queen of Percussion Sheila E. behind the drum kit, Lenny Kaye on guitar, and his veteran backing singers and string section, Escovedo opens the music salute with a Spanish-language song from his acclaimed 2018 immigrant-themed album The Crossing, bringing out Alex Ruiz, frontman for Austin Latin-rock band Del Castillo for the occasion. Escovedo completes his victory lap with a titanic take on “Put You Down,” his 1996 orchestral-rock anthem with which he opened his 2006 ACL appearance, guitar-windmilling his way through the thrilling performance.

Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner joins Wilco for “Jesus, etc.” at the ACL 7th Annual Hall of Fame Honors. Photo courtesy Austin City Limits.

ACL Hall of Famer Rosanne Cash inducts Wilco with deep accolades, referring to the celebrated Chicago band as “heartland laborers in the tower of song, with thick skins and open hearts” and champions them for being “subversive without being destructive” with a humanity that “somehow breaks us and heals us at the same time.” With Wilco’s music, Cash says, “we don’t need certainty when we love the questions.” Bandleader Jeff Tweedy, guitarist Nels Cline, bassist John Stirratt, keyboardists Pat Sansone and Mikael Jorgensen and drummer Glenn Kotche take the stage to perform early career highlight “Shot in the Arm.” A 2022 Grammy nominee and superfan, Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner is backed by the band for a radiant spin on the pop charmer “Jesus, Etc.” from the 2002 landmark Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

The stars come out en masse for a stellar reading of Wilco’s breakout “California Stars” from 1998’s collaborative classic Mermaid Avenue, with Jeff Tweedy, Rosanne Cash and Alejandro Escovedo trading verses and the all-star ensemble of performers singing-along. Jason Isbell trades licks on the song’s solo with Wilco guitar great Nels Cline, bringing the luminous hour to an epic close.

“California Stars” via the cast of the ACL 7th Annual Hall of Fame Honors. Photo courtesy Austin City Limits.

The seventh class of ACL Hall of Fame inductees represent the essence of everything ACL has stood for— originality, authenticity, virtuosity. Roots-music icon Lucinda Williams has made four classic appearances on ACL over a remarkable four-decade career, starting with her debut on Season 15 in 1990. Celebrated Chicago band Wilco has also appeared on ACL four times during 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 a total of five appearances including a star-studded return in 2017.

Austin City Limits 7th Annual Hall of Fame Honors setlist:

Jason Isbell “I Envy the Wind”

Lucinda Williams & Rosanne Cash “Crescent City”

Lucinda Williams & Margo Price “Changed the Locks”

Alejandro Escovedo, Alex Ruiz, Sheila E. & Lenny Kaye “Algo Azul”

Alejandro Escovedo, Alex Ruiz, Sheila E. “Put You Down”

Wilco “Shot In the Arm”

Wilco & Japanese Breakfast “Jesus, Etc.”

Wilco “California Stars” (All-Star Finale)

Bonus performances (streaming-only):

John Doe “Sally Was A Cop” (Alejandro Escovedo tribute)

Bill Callahan “Sky Blue Sky” (Wilco tribute)

Terry Allen “One Sunday Morning” (Wilco tribute)

Austin City Limits Hall of Fame

In 2014, Austin PBS established the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame (ACL HoF) to recognize legendary musicians and key individuals who have been instrumental in making television’s longest-running popular music show an institution. The ACL HoF is a historical archive, educational resource and celebration of ACL and the Austin spirit, capturing milestones in the history of the show and celebrating the performers who have graced its iconic stage. The annual ACL HoF Induction and Celebration is Austin PBS’ largest fundraising event with performances taped for broadcast on PBS stations nationwide. The 7th Annual Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Inductions and Celebration is presented by PNC Bank with additional support for the broadcast from AXS.

Austin City LimitsAustin 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.

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Featured News

ACL congratulates the 2022 Grammy nominees

The nominations for the 64th annual Grammy Awards are out! We congratulate all the nominees this year, and we’d like to throw a spotlight on all the Austin City Limits alumni who received nods. The Grammy Awards telecast will broadcast on January 31, 2022 at 8 pm ET. 

We’re thrilled to note that not only did Season 47 firebrand Jon Batiste lead the pack with a whopping 11 nominations, but they’re spread out across more categories than possibly anyone in Grammy history: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, two R&B nominations, two Jazz nominations, two American Roots nominations, and one each for soundtrack, classical composition and Best Music Video. The Marfa Tapes, the album showcased beautifully on our stage by Miranda Lambert and songwriting partners Jack Ingram & Jon Randall in our S47 premiere, received a nod for Best Country Album.  S47 alumnus Olivia Rodrigo, whose ACL debut premieres December 4, scored seven nods, including top honors of Record, Song and Album of the Year, Best New Artist, two in the Pop category and Best Music Video. Season 47 artists with a pair of Grammy noms apiece include Leon Bridges, Billy Strings and Japanese Breakfast (who guested in our upcoming Hall of Fame episode) earning top honors in the R&B, Bluegrass and Alternative categories along with Jackson Browne, St. Vincent, Sarah Jarosz and Brandy Clark with prestigious nominations covering the Americana, Alternative, Folk and Roots spectrum.

St. Vincent, Austin City Liimits, 2021. Photo by Scott Newton.

A stellar slate of previous ACL performers wracked up the nominations as well, with Season 45 breakout H.E.R. earning eight nods, including Album and Song of the Year, Season 45 star Billie Eilish gaining seven, including Record, Album and Song of the Year, and Seasons 36 and 44 killer Brandi Carlile getting four, including Record and Song of the Year. Singer extraordinaire Angelique Kidjo and gospel queen CeCe Winans each earned three nominations, while Foo Fighters, Black Pumas, Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, Rhiannon Giddens, Sturgill Simpson, Yola, Femi Kuti, Bela Fleck and Robert Glasper of August Greene got two apiece. 

The list of ACL veterans who received a nomination is too long to list here, but trust us: it’s impressive, and worth clicking through to the Grammys page to peruse. Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees!

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Featured Hall of Fame News Taping Recap Uncategorized

Taping recap: ACL 7th Annual Hall of Fame Honors

Following last year’s pandemic-related pre-emption, we were beyond thrilled for the return of our biggest event/party of the season: the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Inductions & Celebration Presented by PNC Bank. We were proud to induct three longtime ACL favorites, all trailblazing artists who have all appeared on the show multiple times: renowned alt-country band Wilco, Austin rock icon Alejandro Escovedo, and the truly legendary singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams. Joined by a diverse and impressive line-up of musicians paying tribute to these fantastic figures, we had a grand time celebrating some of our favorite performers on our favorite night of the year. We were also excited to announce the formal unveiling of PNC Plaza at ACL Live as part of the ceremony. Our new partner PNC Bank has made a five-year commitment as the Official Bank of Austin City Limits.

Alejandro Escovedo. Photo courtesy Austin City Limits.

Following welcomes from Austin PBS acting CEO Lori Bolding and ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, it was time to induct the first honoree: Austin’s own Alejandro Escovedo. Legendary rock writer, producer and longtime Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye did the honors. Kaye spoke of his long friendship with Escovedo, and what makes his eclectic, expansive body of work important not only to the industry, but to the world. Escovedo accepted his award in a stunning, sparkling lime-green jacket, and spoke of the influence of his wife Nancy Rankin, his Mexican family, especially his older brother, jazz great Pete Escovedo, and of his journey through music, as well as his gratitude to ACL for giving a platform to showcase his musical theater piece By the Hand of the Father in 2002. Joined by his niece, the incomparable Sheila E., behind the drum kit of the Austin All-Stars Band and his veteran backing singers and string section, Escovedo opened the music salute with “Algo Azul,” a song from his most recent album The Crossing, bringing out Alex Ruiz, frontman for Austin Latin-rock band Del Castillo and filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s band Chingon, for an all-Spanish version of the song La Cruzada. Escovedo then welcomed another old pal, John Doe, co-founder of legendary Los Angeles punk band X, to sing the rocking story song “Sally Was a Cop,” from the 2012 album Big Station, amplified by a burning solo from house band leader Lloyd Maines on pedal steel. Escovedo finished his victory lap with a titanic take on “Put You Down,” his 1996 rock anthem with which he opened his 2006 ACL appearance. Guitars raged, the string section seared, and the audience response was deafening. 

Lucinda Williams with Rosanne Cash. Photo courtesy Austin City Limits.

The only way to follow that was by inducting another icon, which meant it was time to honor the singer/songwriter all other singer/songwriters bow down to: Lucinda Williams. One of her best-known disciples, Jason Isbell, inducted her into the HOF, explaining how Williams made a map for other songwriters, including himself, to follow. “This will fit real nicely next to my Grammys,” she commented wryly as she accepted her award. She praised Austin for helping give her her start, as well as Terry Lickona and the ACL staff. Isbell then took the stage to sing Williams’ beautiful “I Envy the Wind,” from her Grammy-nominated 2002 LP Essence. Williams joined her friend Rosanne Cash onstage to perform a moving version of the beguiling New Orleans tribute “Crescent City” from the Louisiana native’s groundbreaking 1988 self-titled LP, capped by a standing ovation from the crowd. Country rock star Margo Price joined Williams, presenting her hero with flowers and a heartfelt thanks for the example she sets. Along with the All-Stars, Price and Williams tore into “Changed the Locks,” the withering blues rocker also from 1988’s Lucinda Williams. After the two singers-in-arms left the stage, steel guitarist and house bandleader Lloyd Maines – the first musician to be inducted into the ACL Hall of Fame – introduced the ace ACL All-Stars Band: guitarist David Grissom, bassist Bill Whitbeck, drummer Tom Van Schiak and keyboardist Chris Gage. 

Wilco. Photo courtesy Austin City Limits.

Following an intermission, it was time to induct Wilco. Rosanne Cash welcomed her friends into the Hall with a speech touching on their “musical alchemy that’s just the thing if you want to spark a revolution in your audience.” Her words earned her hugs from all six members (leader Jeff Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt, guitarist Nels Cline, keyboardists Pat Sansone and Mikael Jorgenson, drummer Glenn Kotche), while Tweedy gave a speech thanking not only ACL but all the bands that gave them inspiration along the way. Wilco then picked up their instruments to do what they do best, opening their segment with Summerteeth’s rocking “A Shot in the Arm.” The band exited the stage with the exception of guitarist Nels Cline remaining to accompany their friend Bill Callahan on lap steel. The low-fi great sang “Sky Blue Sky” in his deep baritone, with Cline coloring the proceedings with keening steel lines. Legendary Texas singer/songwriter Terry Allen took the stage solo, for a stately piano performance of “One Sunday Morning.” Wilco returned to the stage joined by Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner, along with Lloyd Maines (who played on Wilco’s 1995 debut A.M.) for “Jesus, Etc.,” the pop charmer from 2002’s landmark Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

“We’d like to invite everybody back on the stage,” said Tweedy, bringing the all-star cast out for a stellar reading of “California Stars.” Escovedo, Cash, Isbell, Allen, Sheila E., Price, Callahan, Kaye, Zauner, Doe, Maines, and the string players joined in on Wilco’s early career highlight for a powerhouse closer. It was a great way to end the show, and stay tuned for highlights on Austin City Limits 7th Annual Hall of Fame Honors when it airs January 8 on PBS.