Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: Noah Kahan

“Man, I’ve been watching these since I was a kid,” said Noah Kahan after the first song in his debut Austin City Limits taping. “I never thought I’d get a chance to be here.” Now that he was, the Vermont native made the most of it. Clad in a beige jumpsuit (“I don’t have the muscle definition for a tanktop, so what am I supposed to do?”) and backed by his five-piece band, Kahan played nearly every number from his breakthrough album Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever). Clearly a devotee of both the quiet and the loud, Kahan shifted easily from the banjo-driven folk of “All My Love” and “Orange Juice” to the overt rock anthemry of “She Calls Me Back” and “Northern Attitude.” “Your Needs, My Needs” shifted from one to the other (and back). Though known for baring his soul in his songs, he was quick to lighten the mood with a playful quip or two – sometimes even during the song (“Put your hands up, Austin! Never mind, I don’t like it!”). 

At other times Kahan took the opportunity to get real and go deeper with his fans. Left alone onstage, Kahan introduced his song “Growing Sideways” addressing his mental health struggles throughout his life, noting he entered therapy at eight years old and hit a moment of clarity years into adulthood. “I was 22 when I started telling the truth,” he admitted, “and I was much happier.” Honesty put the audience in the palm of his hand, prompting them to sing a key lyric – clearly Kahan’s not the only one who hears an artist speaking plainly about personal trials and feeling seen. Still wearing his heart on his sleeve, he even choked up during “The View Between Villages,” an ode to his hometown, during the encore. 

That vulnerability and personal connection drove Kahan’s performance as much as his talent. “I’m coming down to say hi to this man and his family,” Kahan exclaimed, leaving the stage to shake hands with the entire front row as his band performed the build-up to “Northern Attitude,” during which the crowd sang an entire verse by themselves. He extended the same creative freedom to “Everywhere, Everything,” “Orange Juice,” and “False Confidence,” a fan favorite and the only tune from an album outside Stick Season. Fans and singer came together on “Dial Drunk,” the frisky country rocker that became his first hit and “Stick Season,” the song that “changed my life” and garnered the biggest crowd singalong yet. The show ended with the rocking “Homesick” and the audience jamming out, showcasing Kahan’s deft blend of cathartic blast and ardent earnestness to its fullest effect. 

Noah Kahan – vocals, guitar, mandolin

Noah Levine – guitar, banjo, vocals

Dylan Jones – keyboards, banjo, mandolin, vocals

Alex Bachari – bass, vocals

Marcos Valles – drums, vocals


All My Love – Stick Season

She Calls Me Back – Stick Season

New Perspective – Stick Season

Everywhere, Everything – Stick Season

Your Needs, My Needs – Stick Season

Growing Sideways – Stick Season

Paul Revere – Stick Season

Northern Attitude – Stick Season

False Confidence – Busyhead

Call Your Mom – Stick Season

You’re Gonna Go Far – Stick Season

Orange Juice – Stick Season

Dial Drunk – Stick Season


The View Between Villages – Stick Season

Stick Season – Stick Season

Homesick – Stick Season

Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: Flor de Toloache

When Adrian Quesada brought his Boleros Psicodélicos project to the Austin City Limits stage last year in our Season 48, one of his featured guests was singer and violinist Mireya Ramos, who brought the house down with an impassioned performance of the Latin love song “Tus Tormentas.” With her musical partner Shae Fiol, Ramos leads the Latin Grammy-winning and Grammy-nominated New York mariachi group Flor de Toloache, and it became clear after her appearance with Quesada that an invitation to the band to tape their own show was inevitable. We were thrilled to have the five-piece combo join us in support of their latest recording Motherflower

Eschewing the traditional mariachi outfits for clothes more glittery, Mona Seda (trumpet), Claudia Rascon (guitar), and Vaneza Calderon (guitarron)  strummed a slow mariachi beat before Ramos arrived to begin “Bolero Para ti Motherflower,” the defiant title track to Motherflower. Ramos’ voice soared and swirled, joined by her partner Fiol’s on the second verse, both women pulling every ounce of emotion out of the lyrics. Fiol picked up her vihuela and Ramos her violin for the cumbia “Bailando Penas,” driven by both the danceable rhythm and Seda’s melodic trumpet lines. On the ballad “Esta Ranchera,” which Ramos called their tribute to Patsy Cline, Fiol switched to flute, while she and her partner shifted from Spanish to English and back to enforce the emotion behind the heartbreak ballad. 

“This is another women empowerment song,” noted Ramos, before double violins from she and Rascon kicked off “Ruiseñor,” a tune from the band’s Las Caras Lindas album – and one that featured clogging, pizzicatto violin, and whistling during the breakdown. “This is the most personal song [on Motherflower], said Ramos in the lead up to “Brinda por Ella.” “You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. It’s okay to take yourself out on a date once in a while!” That sentiment adorned a joyful 6/8 groove and sparkling violin from Ramos.  

The band then invited Grammy-winning producer and musician Adrian Quesada – “a legend here and around the world” – to join them onstage with his Telecaster. He gave a new texture to the gorgeous Motherflower ballad “Soledad,” a song written during the pandemic – appropriately enough – since the English translation is “Loneliness.” 

After Quesada left the stage, Ramos introduced the next song “Let Down” as a fusion of ranchera, blues, and R&B. A showcase for the golden-voiced Fiol, its writer, the tune was originally featured in the band’s Tiny Desk Concert, which helped introduce the quintet to the wider world. Ramos and Seda also engaged in some playful locking of horns with their violin and trumpet. The group then paid tribute to their style’s history with the “Huapango Medley,” starting with the Trini Lopez classic “Malagueña Salerosa,” and including mariachi standards “El Pastor” and “La Cigarra.” For the ranchera “Regresa Ya,” written by Ramos for a bandmate going through a breakup, the group asked for an assist from the enthusiastic audience. All five members gave a brief workshop in the art of the grito, those spontaneous cries that punctuate the emotional heft of a good mariachi ballad. The crowd was already primed for participation, inserting gritos into the luminous heartbreak ballad without prompting. 

After that exercise in tradition, the quintet jumped feet first into another arena, dazzling with a briskly performed medley of contemporary hard rock songs, incorporating riffs, melodies, and lyrics from Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana (both “Come As You Are” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit”), and Led Zeppelin. The temperature level was already spiked by that epic performance, so Flor kept it going with the cumbia “Dicen,” which got the audience dancing and singing along in call-and-response. The band closed the set with “Besos de Mezcal,” a tune that drew just as heavily on crowd participation, with the Austin crowd singing the chorus alongside Fiol and Ramos. The latter also led the audience in some enthusiastic cries of “Tikki-tikki-ta!” 

The theater went wild after the magical set, as well they should have. We’ve never had a show quite like this before, and we’re excited for everyone to see it when it airs this fall as part of our upcoming Season 49 of Austin City Limits on your local PBS station. 

Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Molly Tuttle is the very picture of modern bluegrass. Mindful of tradition but not restricted by it, the California native and her band Golden Highway take the old school style and carry it into the twenty-first century, dominating the 2023 International Bluegrass Association Awards with an astounding seven nominations, and picking up a 2023 Grammy as well for Best Bluegrass Album. Her 2022 album Crooked Tree and brand new City of Gold have set a new standard for this distinctly American music, and we were excited for her and her remarkable band to bring it to the ACL stage. 

Before the show began, violinist Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, bassist Shelby Means, banjoist Kyle Tuttle (no relation), and mandolinist Dominick Leslie took the stage to the strains of the Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The quartet began “Evergreen, OK,” their fearless leader joining them before the first verse, as three part harmonies and tight riffing reconnected ACL to the bluegrass tradition. “This is something I’ve dreamed of for so long,” remarked Molly. “I’ve been watching this show since I was a little kid!” The band then launched into the brisk “El Dorado,” a song that shows off the guitarist’s lyrical skills as much as her, Leslie, and Keith-Hynes’ musicianship. Tuttle and the band veered from the highway into the honky-tonk for the cheeky “Side Saddle” and the waltzing road trip chronicle “Yosemite,” on which Molly and Kyle duetted. Leslie and Keith-Hynes (International Bluegrass Association Fiddler of the Year, as Molly pointed out) then faced each other at the front of the stage to kick off “Open Water,” the kind of bluegrass instrumental that sets fingers afire and leaves audiences exhausted on the players’ behalf. 

It’s not clear when the Grateful Dead became a source of bluegrass standards (probably after Jerry Garcia teamed up with progressive bluegrass mandolinist David Grisman and singer/songwriter Peter Rowan in Old and In the Way), but Tuttle knows how to pick ‘em, with a sweet cover of the Dead’s “Dire Wolf.” The tempo surged forward and the band segued directly into the original “Over the Line,” metaphorical guns a-blazin’. Kyle Tuttle then took the mic for a happy-go-lucky take on folk legend John Hartford’s “Up On the Hill Where They Do the Boogie” (which Hartford himself performed when he was on the show in Season 3). The banjoist applied wah-wah to his axe and Molly exhorted the audience to “get freaky on the dance floor.” The speedy “Down Home Dispensary” – “an open letter to Tennessee, and I think it might apply to Texas too,” said Molly – kept the cheeky vibe going – “there’s too much politickin’ and not enough tokin’.” The more even-tempoed “Dooley’s Farm,” on the other hand, explored territory similar to Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road,” with a legacy of illegal activity. Both were tunes that reiterate that this ain’t your grandfather’s bluegrass. 

Golden Highway stuck to the minor keys for “Castilleja,” which didn’t hinder any of the fiery solos, and encouraged Keith-Hynes and Kyle Tuttle in particular to indulge a healthy jones for psychedelia. (No wonder the band has collaborated with fellow bluegrass ace Billy Strings.) “Next Rodeo” leaned more into traditionalism, spinning off the expression “this ain’t my first rodeo” for an assertion of confidence. Molly and the band cruised into the groovy shuffle “Where Did All the Wild Things Go,” recruiting the crowd for backing vocals and getting them into the spirit of rebellion that powers the song. Then it was time for “Crooked Tree,” one of Molly’s major anthems. After explaining how the song celebrates our differences and the uniqueness of everyone, the singer, who suffers from lifelong alopecia universalis, removed her wig for the performance. “I’m proud to be a crooked tree,” she sang, and there was little doubt from their adulation that the audience felt the same. 

Back down the Golden Highway they rambled, ripping through “San Joaquin” in a flurry of band introductions, fleet-fingered licks, and hyperactive rhythm. Means started a heavy groove as Kyle introduced Molly, who was busy switching guitars. She went all clawhammer on the new axe to sing “Take the Journey,” a tune from her 2019 album When You’re Ready that predated the arrival of Golden Highway. Not that it mattered, as the crowd clapped along and the entire band hit the lip of the stage to end the main set with a flourish. But Molly and her gang returned to do the encore old school – no amplification, one microphone, and the sweet love song “More Like a River.” They brought it home with Leslie’s frisky instrumental “Clam Tide.”

It was a dazzling show of twenty-first century bluegrass, full of fire and fun, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS channel as part of our upcoming Season 49.

Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: Jorge Drexler

A giant in the world of Latin music, celebrated singer/songwriter Jorge Drexler arrived at Austin City Limits bearing his most successful album yet, the seven-time Latin Grammy winning Tinta y Tiempo. We’re always excited to showcase South American and Spanish sounds on our stage, and the Uruguayan-born/Spain-based Drexler did not disappoint, incorporating a pantheon of global sounds into not only his first taping but his first-ever show in Austin, one that we live streamed around the world to his legions of fans.

Following a pre-recorded intro from Drexler’s own cousin, whose thoughts inspired the award-winning Tinta y Tiempo, the charismatic, white-suited bandleader and his half-dozen strong band opened with the groovy pop number “El Plan Maestro,” also the opening cut on Tinta y Tiempo. Drexler followed up with the slinky “Deseo,” noting that he and the band had spent the previous evening learning to two-step at famed Austin honky-tonk the White Horse. The musicians got even friskier on “Transporte,” a song that surely fills up dancefloors everywhere. “I wish you all to be beginners,” Drexler remarked before the sleep? pop tune “Cinturón Blanco,” a nod to the white belt in martial arts – i.e. the beginner’s rank. 

The gregarious Drexler introduced “Universos Paralelos” to cheers, explaining its concept about expressing yourself in both conscious and subconscious ways. The foot mover also served to showcase his ace backup singers Alana Sinkëy and Miryam Latrece. “Telefonía” zeroed in on an even tighter pop melody while keeping the rhythm infectious. That led into one of the set’s tour de forces: the remarkable “¡Oh, Algoritmo!” Accompanied only by grooving guitarist Javier Calequi, Drexler both sang and rapped irony-saturated lyrics about the conflict between what we want and what we’re sold by algorithms and A.I. – joined by the eager audience. The maestro then introduced his band before letting drummer Borja Barrueta and percussionist Gala Celia preface the sparse, atmospheric “Tinta y Tiempo” with a percussion duet. With his band taking a break, Drexler performed the next song a capella. Of course, that song was the Oscar-winning song “Al Otro Lado Del Rio” from the film The Motorcycle Diaries  – a song he performed for the movie.. His improvised unaccompanied version as he accepted his award inspired the version he sang tonight, with the audience accompanying him on the soaring chorus. Donning his guitar but still onstage alone, Drexler played “La Milonga Del Moro Judio” – “The Milonga of the Jewish Moor” – a folkish nod to his own Arabic and Jewish heritage and a commentary on the continuing conflict in the Middle East that, like so many of his other tunes, found the crowd singing along. 

Following the basic sonics of “La Milonga,” Drexler vaulted into the twenty-first century, strumming his guitar with accompaniment from the band directly behind him on electronic beats and chords. Starting with the vocoder-enhanced “La Edad Del Cielo,” he went directly into the half-spoken/half sung “Guitarra y Vos,” yet another crowd singalong. The people joined the band in the rhythms, providing clapping percussion for the final electronic number, the sensual “Tocarte.” A distinctive and rewarding mini-set. 

As the musicians retook their normal instruments, Drexler told the story of his German-born Jewish father fleeing Germany in 1939 to Bolivia, the only country in the Americas that would issue him a visa. That led, of course, to “Bolivia,” a dub-frosted, minor-key groover that induced claps in the audience and a delighted grin on Drexler’s face. Noting that it had been “a beautiful night,” the songwriter ended the main set with “Sea,” one of his early-career tunes and, from the audience’s reaction, one of his most beloved. 

Of course, that wasn’t the end – Drexler had already told the crowd to call the band back for more music, and barely left the stage before coming right back on. He kicked off a three-song encore with the epic, energy-spewing medley of “Bailar En La Cueva” and “Moviemiento.” Drexler ended the night with the jaunty, irresistible “Todo Se Transforma,” transforming eighteenth century chemistry into a twenty-first century pop song. With big smiles, the musicians took a bow to huge cheers from the audience. Drexler gave us a history-making show that everyone can see this fall on your local PBS station as part of our Season 49.

Jorge Drexler and band on Austin City Limits, 2023. Photos by Scott Newton.

Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: Jenny Lewis

Singer/songwriter Jenny Lewis returned to the ACL stage full of joy – more specifically, Joy’All, her acclaimed fifth album. With a pair of previous shows under her belt (with her solo band in Season 40 and her indie rock band Rilo Kiley in Season 31), she clearly felt at home on our stage, decking it out in shiny red streamers and red lighting. Dressed in Western shirts and boots and coming onstage to a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel,” Lewis and her four-piece, all-women band treated the audience to a finely crafted, heartily performed set of smartly-written, rootsy pop rock. 

The last time Lewis was here, almost a decade ago, she was supporting her third album The Voyager. She kicked off her latest ACL appearance with a gem from that album: “Just One of the Guys,” a delightful pop rocker that warmed up the crowd nicely. She followed with the pedal steel-laced, playfully melodic shuffle “Do Si Do.” “What a joy to be back here,” she exclaimed. “What a treat!” The sturdy rocker “She’s Not Me,” on which Lewis ascended the circular platform stage in the middle of the main stage, seemed to be an audience fave as well.  “I want to clarify something about that song,” she said wryly. “She’s chill and I’m not!”

The band then banged out “Late Bloomer,” another melodic tour de force that achieved a certain Fleetwood Mac-like grandeur before drummer Megan Coleman and bassist Ryan Madora struck up an infectious groove for “Joy’All,” the irrepressible, irresistible title track of the new LP, with Lewis in constant motion on her mini-stage. Cranking back up, the band returned to straightahead rock for “Red Bull & Hennessey,” a love-to-loss number with epic solos from guitarist Nicole Lawrence. Augmented by keyboardist Jess Nolan on the organ, Lewis sat at her electric piano for the soulful “Heads Gonna Roll,” allowing the crowd to regain their energy while still appreciating the emotion behind the song. 

“Head Underwater” returned to the overtly frisky hooks and alluring tunes (as evidenced by the audience taking a verse), before Lewis and the band performed a pair of songs from the new album, injecting a healthy dose of country into “Apples and Oranges,” with Lawrence doing her best pedal steel imitation on her Telecaster (despite her actual steel guitar being right there). To the people’s delight, Coleman laid down another groovy beat for “Cherry Baby,” which added a melancholy feel to its loping guitar pop. Contrary to what one might expect from the title, “Little White Dove” was not a fragile ballad but a husky groove, with a stop-start rhythm supporting Lewis’ mysterious lyrics about mother and child. “Psychos,” too, belied its title with a lush melody and a steel guitar-frosted rock arrangement. 

As the next number began, the rotary phone atop Lewis’ piano rang. She answered and carried on a conversation with her dog, allegedly backstage, who demanded a joke. (“Why is it so hot at a Grateful Dead concert? Because their fans don’t work.”) That led to the sprightly new number “Puppy and a Truck,” dedicated to the pooch with whom she bonded during the pandemic. Following a directly rocking, melodica-spiced cover of indie rock band Girls’ “Lust For Life” (no relation to Iggy Pop’s classic of the same name), Lawrence returned to the pedal steel for “Essence of Life,” a glistening new ballad that really reinforced what a special songwriter Lewis is. 

As the set started winding to a close, the band rode Coleman’s pounding beat for “Love Feel,” a joyous rock tune that earned rapturous cheers from the crowd. “A little shout-out to John Prine there,” Lewis noted. “Here’s one from way back when.” Accompanied only by Lawrence and Madora, Lewis climbed atop her platform once again to deliver the final address: a lovely cover of her former band Rilo Kiley’s “With Arms Outstretched.” She held the second to last note long enough to drive the audience into a frenzy of love and appreciation. Lewis waved to the crowd and exited in triumph. It was a killer return for a killer artist, and it’ll make a marvelous episode that will air this fall on your local PBS station as part of our Season 49.

Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: Tanya Tucker

Last seen in these parts in Season 11, country icon Tanya Tucker has never slowed down, racking up hits since the seventies. Riding yet another career high thanks to the 2022 documentary The Return of Tanya Tucker and the Grammy-winning Tucker/Brandi Carlile co-write “Bring My Flowers Now,” the Seminole, Texas native – who’s finally getting inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year – returned to the Austin City Limits stage at full power, bringing with her a new acclaimed record, Sweet Western Sound

Before we got that LP, however, Tucker – decked out in a green leather fringed jacket and polka-dotted scarf – and her six-piece band dug into that bucket of hits, opening with the frisky top tenner “If Your Heart Ain’t Busy Tonight.” “I just wanna thank y’all for hangin’ in for so many years,” she declared – a broad hint of the next song, the old school honkytonker “Hangin’ In.” Minus drummer Toby Caldwell, the musicians then gathered at the front of the stage for an acoustic pickin’, mandolin and fiddle-powered take on her late eighties #1 hit “Strong Enough to Bend.” The hits kept on coming with 1976’s  “Don’t Believe My Heart Can Stand Another You,” a good choice for the audience’s mid-song clapping. 

The repertoire leapt forward in time to While I’m Livin’, the 2019 Brandi Carlile-produced LP that brought Tucker back to prominence. Driven by her gritty vocals, “Hard Luck” rang out with energy and swagger to big cheers. Then came the Grammy-winning killer: co-write “Bring My Flowers Now.” Backed only by piano and harmonies from singer Presley Tucker and bassist Dino Villanueva, Tucker explained the origins of the song, then delivered it with quiet dignity and expertly controlled passion as only someone feeling the weight of the years could. “If your heart is in them flowers,” she sang, “Bring ‘em on.” From the audience’s standing ovation, their hearts were deep in that garden.

That would be a tough song for anyone to follow up, but Tucker did it by dipping into Sweet Western Sound for “Kindness,” a song that fit the tenor of its predecessor, but with a faster tempo and wry humor. She followed with “When the Rodeo is Over (Where Does the Cowboy Go),” a song Carlile sent to Tucker over the phone, and the kind of classic narrative ballad only a singer of Tucker’s experience (plus co-writer and Tucker paramour Craig Dillingham on harmony) could pull off with the proper gravitas. That went doublefold for “Ready As I’ll Never Be,” a farewell to loved ones performed with solemn soul. “Losin’ your friends is hard enough,” she explained, “but when your friends are your heroes, it’s even harder.” If there was a dry eye in the house, we’d be shocked.  

The mood then changed for the rowdier, as Tucker shared a tequila with an audience member and launched her classic anthem “Texas (When I Die),” as much a showcase for her band as it was an audience party, earning her another standing O. Another tough act to follow, but once again she managed it with her early nineties bluesy strut “It’s a Little Too Late.” “It’s never too late to do the right thing,” she said. “I’m proof of that.” 

Tucker commented on how much she and the band had anticipated this ACL taping, thanked her friends and family for being there, and touched on her illustrious past, including  having met Elvis Presley. Then, of course, she closed the show the only way she could. “I’m sincere when I say I love this song,” she smiled. The familiar piano chords floated in the air, then she sang the words: “Delta Dawn/what’s that flower you have on.” Needless to say, the crowd took a chorus on their own, before Tucker ended the song with a gospel flourish. She left the stage to a final standing ovation, as well she should’ve. There’s nothing like seeing a living legend still in her prime, and Tanya Tucker lived up to the legend. You’ll see for yourself when this episode airs this fall as part of our 49th season on your local PBS station. 

Tanya Tucker on Austin City Limits, 2023. Photos by Scott Newton.