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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. 

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Featured News Taping Announcement

New tapings: Jon Batiste and Charley Crockett

Austin City Limits is proud to welcome a pair of highly-anticipated acts to our stage, making their ACL debuts as part of our Season 47: celebrated musician Jon Batiste on July 18, and acclaimed Texas singer-songwriter Charley Crockett on July 28.

Musician and composer Jon Batiste recently topped a banner awards season with an Academy Award for the soundtrack Soul, winning Best Score for Disney and Pixar’s hit animated film. His jazz-infused score, created alongside the work of fellow musicians Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, picked up over 35 international awards including a BAFTA, Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice award. Collecting his trophy at the Los Angeles ceremony, Batiste said: “What’s deep is that God gave us 12 notes. It’s the same twelve 12 notes that Duke Ellington had, Bach had, Nina Simone (had)…This moment is a culmination of a series of miracles. It’s so incredibly powerful to stand here and the lineage that we come from, the lineage in this film…I’m just thankful to God for those 12 notes.”

In between sessions for Soul, Jon Batiste also recorded a brand-new studio album, WE ARE, recently released on Verve Records to critical acclaim. The album debuted in the Top 10 R&B Charts, Top Album Charts, and the single “I NEED YOU” recently reached #1 on the AAA Radio Charts. Vanity Fair described the album as “a vivid turn from straight jazz to joyful, danceable pop and neo-soul”, while Billboard called it “a delightful marriage of contemporary jazz melodies and slick pop.” WE ARE represents a completely new sonic chapter for Jon Batiste. He wrote and planned much of the project in about a week from his dressing room at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he’s the musical director and bandleader. The album was recorded in New York, Los Angeles and in his native New Orleans, melding inspiration from his new home and new collaborators with that of the Batiste musical dynasty. On WE ARE, Batiste presents a captivating musical experience to the world rooted in catharsis, joy, freedom, contemplation and sensuality. It’s a love letter to his southern roots and the heritage of Black Music with guest appearances by Mavis Staples, Quincy Jones, Zadie Smith, PJ Morton, Trombone Shorty, St Augustine Marching 100, his father Michael Batiste, grandfather David Gauthier and many more. It is a meditation steeped in the sounds of the times with collaborators including POMO (Anderson.Paak), Ricky Reed (Lizzo), Jahaan Sweet (Drake, Eminem) as well as songwriter Autumn Rowe and producer Kizzo.

Batiste says, “WE ARE is a message of love for humanity, of humble reverence for our past, and of a hopeful future, in which we are the ones who can save us. The art reveals its motive to you. You just have to wait for the Spirit to tell you what it wants.” We are thrilled to welcome him for his first-ever appearance on the ACL stage.

photo by Bobby Cochran

Newly nominated for Emerging Act of the Year at the 2021 Americana Music Awards, Charley Crockett has become one of the leading lights in independent country music following a decade of busking on the streets of New York City and New Orleans, and only two years removed from life-saving open-heart surgery. The South Texas native crafts his self-proclaimed “Gulf & Western” sound by synthesizing country, blues, soul, cajun, Western Swing, R&B and other pieces of American roots music into an unmatched, truly singular sound. When Crockett’s voice comes out of your speakers, there is no confusing him for any other artist. Rolling Stone raves Crockett is “Gearing up for a breakout year” and NPR Music calls him “such a fascinating mix, very 21st century and very vintage.” The Wall Street Journal agrees, “Mr. Crockett’s unique vocal style is one third Ernest Tubb honky tonk with clipped-word diction, one third Bill Withers low-key, soulful crooning, and one third jazzy French Quarter second-line swagger.” 

Hailing from the Texas bordertown of San Benito, Crockett was raised in an isolated, rural part of the Rio Grande Valley by a single mother in a trailer surrounded by sugar cane and grapefruit fields. As a teenager he was into free-styling and rapping. He spent formative years living with his uncle in New Orleans where he first became a street performer who discovered a love for folk music. In New York City he played hip hop and blues on street corners and in subway cars. What’s important to his identity as an artist, says Crockett, is that he has lived the songs he writes and sings. The prolific artist surprise released 10 For Slim: Charley Crockett Sings James Hand, a tribute to his friend and Texas honky tonk hero James Hand in February, and will release another full-length album of new songs later this year. We’re excited to welcome Charley Crockett and his band the Blue Drifters to the ACL stage.

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Featured News Taping Announcement

ACL announces Season 47 tapings

Austin City Limits proudly announces Season 47 will return in spades this year with a stellar slate of artists onboard to record new appearances, including a number of 2021 Grammy Award nominees.

ACL is thrilled to announce the first taping of Season 47, on April 28, will feature Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram and Jon Randall debuting their just-announced, highly-anticipated album The Marfa Tapes. The country superstar and her celebrated songwriting partners open the new season showcasing the new release, out May 7, a collection of beautifully intimate and raw songs written and recorded together in Marfa, Texas. 

Season 47 will feature five-time 2021 Grammy nominee and four-time Grammy Award-winner Brittany Howard making her solo ACL debut; and multiple 2021 double Grammy nominees including singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz, in her third headlining appearance, and the ACL debuts of jazz/soul maverick (and recent Golden Globe award-winner) Jon Batiste and acclaimed country standout Brandy Clark. Music great Jackson Browne returns for his first taping in two decades (showcasing his first new album in six years); Grammy-winning (and four-time nominated) R&B phenom Leon Bridges makes a highly-anticipated return to the ACL stage; Austin indie sensation Dayglow makes his ACL debut, and a Texas icon, singer/songwriter Terry Allen returns for the first time in almost 25 years. Taping dates will be announced at a later date and may be subject to change as we navigate the new landscape.

“Austin City Limits is excited to bring live music back (with a live audience!),” says executive producer Terry Lickona. “Along with the rest of the world, we hope to slowly but surely (and safely) get back to normal this year, and it’s obvious many artists do, too. We have a diverse mix of headliners, up-and-comers, and groundbreaking singers, songwriters and musicians ready to take the stage.”

Jon Batiste. Courtesy UMG.

ACL is uniquely thrilled to launch the new season with a trio of Texas natives: Miranda Lambert (in her third ACL appearance) alongside her longtime songwriting partners Jack Ingram (who last appeared 25 years ago in Season 22) and Jon Randall (in his ACL debut), showcasing The Marfa Tapes, a stripped-down project conceived in the Texas high desert. A tiny, middle-of-nowhere town with an outsized grip on the American imagination, Marfa is an eccentric outpost in the midst of a vast expanse of nothingness, the perfect place to lose – or find – yourself. For Lambert, Randall, and Ingram, it’s both. Over the past several years, the desolate location has become a songwriting haven for the trio, yielding both massive hits and profound personal growth. When they returned for five days this past November though, they came not to write, but to record, capturing a captivating new album inspired by the stark beauty of west Texas and the deep, lasting bonds the three have forged there. Recorded raw and loose with just a pair of microphones and an acoustic guitar, The Marfa Tapes is a stunning work of audio verité; an intimate, unadorned snapshot of a moment in time fueled by love, trust, and friendship.

The trio recorded much of the album outdoors, inviting the ambient sounds of the desert to seep into their live, bare bones performances, and the atmosphere is utterly transportive. While a couple of the tracks may already be familiar to listeners – ACM Song of the Year “Tin Man” as well as fan favorite “Tequila Does” – the vast majority of these songs have never been heard outside of Marfa. The result is a rare glimpse inside the creative process of three of the genre’s most accomplished writers and performers; a candid, unvarnished look at Lambert, Randall, and Ingram’s undeniable chemistry in its purest, most honest form.

“There’s something singular that happens in that moment of collaboration and creation, something you can never really recreate in the studio,” says Ingram. “Our hope with this album was to share a little bit of that magic with people.”

ACL is excited to share the magic of our upcoming Season 47 with our loyal fans and viewers. Stay tuned to acltv for further details on upcoming tapings.