As the longest running music series show, Austin City Limits begins their thirty-sixth season this year. If thirty-six years was not enough to celebrate, it is an end of an era as they embark to a new sound stage early in 2011. To commemorate the move, Austin City Limits welcomes back some of their favorite performers, and also new friends this season. The season premiere is Saturday, October 2, 2010.
Willie Nelson was the first Austin City Limits performer thirty-six years ago. Since that epic first performance, Austin City Limits has been an advocate for the unknowns, underdogs and generally misplaced artists. While some might consider it an island of misfit toys of sorts, we can all be thankful for their continued support of music genres that were rarely popular until exposed to a larger audience. For example, country music was a constant feature in the 1980’s although it was not so popular across the nation. The world music genre is another example of their continued support of finding artists beyond the top 40 list of local radio stations.
Riding the musician’s cargo elevator up to the third floor 6A studio was a treat while visiting Austin last summer. I asked a ridiculous number of questions of the guide who was subjected to my every thought and truly I could have sat in that room until the next band showed up for a sound check.
Some of the facts I found interesting about the show, Austin City Limits, is that they receive little funding from the Public Broadcasting Company (PBS) who airs the show, but it also affords the show’s directors and producers complete artistic freedom. Unlike many television show performances where payment is high, artists are paid wages in accordance with the American Federation of Musicians. While the studio might not be all that glamorous it made me think of that band you fell in love with at the local venue that is small, intimate and requires the artists to be more engaged with the audience.
And if you asked the staff of Austin City Limits about their favorite act, musician, band, they would hem and haw around the issue. This is not because they are trying to make everyone happy, but rather that there are so many standout performances, it would be too difficult to list them all.
p.s. – Band of Horses and The National will appear on the show this season as well. Woohoo!