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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.

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ACL announces 2021 HOF guest performers

Austin City Limits announces an all-star slate of guest performers for the 2021 ACL Hall of Fame Inductions & Celebration on October 28, 2021. Music greats Jason Isbell, Margo Price, John Doe, Sheila E., Lenny Kaye, Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner, Rosanne Cash, Bill Callahan, Terry Allen and Del Castillo’s Alex Ruiz will take part in saluting the newest class of inductees with one-of-a-kind music performances and tributes. After an absence in 2020 due to the pandemic, the ACL Hall of Fame returns, celebrating a stellar new class of trailblazing artists with longtime ties to ACL: Lucinda Williams, Wilco and Alejandro Escovedo. The 2021 ACL Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at the star-studded ceremony on October 28th, 2021 at ACL’s studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Musical highlights and inductions from the celebration will air as a special Austin City Limits on January 8, 2022 on PBS.

The event is open to the public and a limited number of newly released tickets are on sale at acltv.com/hall-of-fame.  Sponsor packages are available now at acltv.com/hall-of-fame. All proceeds benefit Austin PBS. 

All-star guests will handle induction honors for this epic night: Jason Isbell will induct Lucinda Williams and perform in tribute along with Margo Price and Rosanne Cash. Cash will also induct Wilco, and indie legend Bill Callahan, Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner and Texas icon Terry Allen will salute the celebrated band. A godfather of punk, Lenny Kaye, will induct Alejandro Escovedo; joining the musical tribute will be John Doe, founder of seminal LA punk band X, Queen of percussion Sheila E. and Alex Ruiz, frontman for Austin Latin rock band Del Castillo. Inductees Lucinda Williams, Wilco and Alejandro Escovedo will all perform at the ceremony. ACL Hall of Famer, renowned steel guitarist and producer Lloyd Maines, returns as Music Director, leading the ACL All-Stars house band.

The seventh class of 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.

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.

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 acltv.com.