ACL Celebrates 40 Years Is A Wonderful Celebration Of A Show And Of Music Itself

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS and its hit concert series Austin City Limits celebrated two major landmarks for the series this fall. This past October Austin City Limits celebrated forty years on the air. That landmark makes the concert series the longest-running concert series on television to date. Making the anniversary even more special is the fact that this October, the show’s original studio was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s tenth Rock and Roll landmark. Both of these marks are big honors for ACL and for PBS. In honor of these honors, PBS released on DVD today the brand new concert recording Austin City Limits 40 Years. There is a lot to like about this concert recording starting with the show’s all-star lineup. Featured in the concert is a who’s who of the music industry. It features legendary names such as: Willie Nelson, Buddy guy, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Foo Fighters, and even the original members of Double Trouble among so many others. There are even performances from up-and-coming blues/rock band Alabama Shakes. It’s a display in its own way of how many generations this series has reached over the course of its four decades on the air. Making the set even better is the concert’s set list. Emmylou Harris covers Willie Nelson’s hit ‘Crazy.’ There’s also an all-star tribute to Sam & Dave with a performance of ‘Wrap It Up.’ And just as enjoyable is the multi-song, all-star tribute to blues legend and Austin native, the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan. These are just some of the examples of what makes the show’s set list so important to the presentation in whole. Last but hardly least noteworthy regarding the recording’s success is its bonus material. Included as bonus material, is forty-five minutes of bonus performances. There is also a bonus behind-the-scenes look at the work that went in to making Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years a reality. It’s all set against a great performance of SRV’s hit song ‘Texas Flood.’ These bonuses, partnered with the show’s all-star list of performers and its equally wonderful set list, serve to help make Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years one of this year’s surprise best new live recordings of 2014. It also serves to show yet again why PBS is the last bastion of worthwhile programming on television today.

Austin City Limits has been on television for forty years this year. That is a huge landmark for PBS’ concert series. It has outlived MTV’s Unplugged Series. It has also outlived VH1’s Storytellers and CMT’s Crossroads. In the four decades since it made its debut, ACL has gone from focusing on just one or two genres of music to being one of the preeminent destinations for some of the music industry’s biggest names. Elvis Costello has been on the show. Kings of Leon appeared just last year. And even none other than Nine Inch Nails appeared this year. It just goes to show how much this show has grown since its earliest days as has its importance in the music industry. That is shown just as much in the list of performers tapped to appear on Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years. The list of performers tapped to appear on this recording is a who’s who of the music industry from past, present, and even the future. It includes the likes of Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Foo Fighters, Sheryl Crow, Guy Clarke, Jr., Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Emmylou Harris, and up-and-coming blues/rock band Alabama Shakes and so many others. With such a wide swatch of performers, that list becomes for all intents and purposes a music history lesson live on stage. It shows not only where ACL has been and where it is going but where music itself started and to where it has come today. And every act tapped to perform is an excellent example of both histories. It’s just one of plenty of reasons that audiences will enjoy this DVD.

The list of performers tapped to perform on Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years is itself plenty of reason for audiences to pick up this brand new release from PBS. That list is itself a music history lesson and a lesson on the history of ACL. The performers themselves serve as plenty of reason for any music lover to check out this DVD. The songs that they perform make the recording just as enjoyable if not more so. Audiences will love Willie Nelson’s performance of the classic song ‘On The Road Again,’ and Emmylou Harris’ cover of Willie Nelson’s ‘Crazy.’ If that’s not enough, there is a star-studded, multi-song tribute to Austin, Texas’ own Stevie Ray Vaughan. That tribute features performances from Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and almost every member of the a-list cast of performers. There is also a special tribute to Sam & Dave in the performance of ‘Wrap It Up.’ That song is handled by Bonnie Raitt, Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark, Jr. and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes. As if all of that wasn’t enough, the star-studded tribute to SRV is complemented with an equally gran tribute to Buddy Holly. These are just some of the performances included in the concert that audiences will enjoy in watching this recording. There are plenty of other great performances along the way that audiences will enjoy just as much. Collectively, all of those performances make for yet another wonderful reason for every music lover to see this concert.

If the who’s who list of performers tapped for this concert and their performances aren’t enough for audiences, the bonus material included on the DVD will convince audiences. PBS has included forty-five minutes of performance footage as bonus material on this DVD. That forty-five minutes includes a performance of ‘Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die’ from Willie Nelson and ‘Freight Train’ from Gary Clark, Jr. and Sheryl Crow among the bonus performances. Robert Earl Keen handles ‘I Gotta Go’ and Joe Ely covers ‘All Just To Get To You’ as part of the bonus performances, too. Partnered with that is a special behind-the-scenes look at the concert set against a performance of SRV’s hit song ‘Texas Flood’ by Buddy Guy, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Robert Randolph, and others. It’s a double whammy for audiences. Not only does it give audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the concert from pre-pro to show but it also offers audiences a bonus performance. Audiences are given another bonus performance by Bonnie Raitt and company in their rehearsal for their performance of ‘Wrap it Up.’ It’s a nice finisher to a concert recording has already more than proven itself one of this year’s best. Together with the aforementioned list of performers and set list, it pushes this recording over the top, once again proving why ACL has run so successfully for forty years and why its original studio is now part of music history thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It shows once more why PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming.

So much can be said of what makes Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years a success and a total enjoyment. And so much has been said, obviously. It goes without saying that the show’s production values are just as impressive as everything else already noted here. Whether one is taking in the concert on a regular TV or one with a high-priced surround sound home theater system, every viewer will agree that all of the other positives noted here would be nothing without those top notch production values. The concert looks and sounds just as good as other performances recorded over the years. It is that proverbial cherry on top of the musical sundae that is this recording. It is that last part that makes this recording well worth the listen by music lovers of every age.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50214636&cp=&sr=1&kw=austin+city+limits&origkw=Austin+City+Limits&parentPage=search. More information on this and other recordings from Austin City Limits over the years is available online at:

Website: http://acltv.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/austincitylimitstv

Twitter: http://twitter.com/acltv

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Celebrates Four Decades Of ACL With Special Anniversary Concert

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ Austin City Limits hit a major milestone this year.  The network’s hit music series celebrated forty-years with PBS.  In celebration, PBS is releasing a special DVD celebrating the long-running series next month.

PBS will release Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years on Tuesday, December 2nd.  Austin City Limits’ four-decade long run on PBS is especially important to both the network and to music lovers alike.  In the four decades that Austin City Limits has been on PBS, it remains the only TV series to be awarded the Medal of Arts.  Also in that time, MTV’s Unplugged and VH1’s Storytellers have gone by the wayside.  And even CMT’s on Crossroads series has failed to maintain the stability and reputation of ACL.  Throughout its now forty-years on television, ACL has seen and continues to see some of the industry’s biggest names take to the stage.  Those names include the likes of Elvis Costello, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, and so many others.  Many more names are sure to be added to that list as there appears to be no end to this landmark series.

In honor of the series’ fortieth anniversary, many of those same big names have come on board for this celebratory concert.  Bonnie Raitt joins Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark, Jr and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes for a performance of the Sam & Dave classic ‘Wrap It Up’ to open the concert.  Howard returns later in the show alongside Gary Clark, Jr. for a special performance.  Willie Nelson, the red-headed stranger himself, joins Emmylou Harris for a performance of Nelson’s ‘Crazy.’  Singer/actor Kris Kristofferson and Sheryl Crow team up for a performance of Kristofferson’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee.  Foo Fighters even make an appearance to perform Roky Erickson’s ‘Two-Headed Dog.’  That performance was recorded at the original ACL television studio especially for the concert.  Actor Jeff Bridges hosts the night’s festivities.  He also performs a special rendition of ‘What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do’ from the late singer-songwriter Stephen Bruton.  Bruton was a big influence on Bridges’ Oscar-winning role in the movie ‘Crazy Heart.’  As if all of this isn’t enough, Joe Ely and fellow local legend Robert Earl Keen make an appearance.  Blues legend Buddy Guy rounds out the show with a performance of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’  And finishing off the whole thing is a star-studded tribute to Buddy Holly and the one and only Stevie Ray Vaughan.  A who’s who of guitarists performs Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’ and SRV’s ‘Texas Flood’ for the night’s biggest finish.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years was taped live at the ACL Live at the Moody Theater and the show’s original studio, Austin PBS affiliate KLRU’s Studio 6A.  The complete list of performers is: Alabama Shakes, Doyle Bramhall II, Jeff Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Sheryl Crow, Double Trouble, Joe Ely, Mike Farris, Foo Fighters, Grupo Fantasma, Buddy Guy, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jimmie Vaughan.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years will be available Tuesday, December 2nd.  It will retail for MSRP of $24.99.  It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50214636&cp=&sr=1&kw=austin+city+limits&origkw=Austin+City+Limits&parentPage=search.  More information on Austin City Limits is available online at

Website: http://acltv.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/austincitylimitstv

Twitter: http://twitter.com/acltv

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Sullivan’s Star Keeps Rising On His Latest Release

Courtesy:  Superstar Records/merlis for hire

Courtesy: Superstar Records/merlis for hire

Blues guitarist Quinn Sullivan is not even eighteen years old.  But even at roughly the tender age of fourteen, this young musician has achieved things of which other musicians his age can only dream.  The young man was personally tapped by blues legend Buddy Guy as one of the next big names in the world of blues.  And if his new record, Getting There is any indication, the title bestowed on him by Guy might well be deserved.  That is as long as he sticks primarily to playing more blues-related material rather than some of the more poppy material included in this record.  That he is dealing puberty can be forgiven in terms of his vocals.  Once he gets through this stage of his life, his vocals may in fact become just as strong as his guitar playing.  And if that happens, fans of the blues may hear even more from him.

Sullivan hints at his abilities in the first two songs on Getting There.  But it’s in the album’s title track that he really shines both musically and vocally.  The talent that he exhibits here is kind of musicianship not generally expected of someone his age.  So to hear the sounds produced by this young man is impressive to say the least.  Just as impressive is Sullivan’s vocal style and the song’s lyrics.  Instead of being sort of a Johnny Cash tribute, he sings instead that no, he hasn’t been everywhere.  But he is getting there.  He sings about having gone to this place and that, but knowing he hadn’t been everywhere; though he’s working on it.  He sings, “No I ain’t been everywhere/But I’m getting there/No, not yet/But I’m working on it.”  The subtle way that last part is added in gives the song just a little more attitude.  That extra little attitude will have any listener laughing to themselves because while it is noted in a cocky sense, it isn’t an overly cocky tone.  It’s almost as if he’s saying, I know I haven’t gotten there, but I know I will be.  It shows that he’s only a teenager, but he’s already getting the confidence of a seasoned veteran musician.

Another moment on this record in which Sullivan really shines comes in ‘Mr. Gloom.’  This is another solid twelve-bar blues style piece that allowed him to exhibit both his talent on the guitar and with his vocals.  There are some runs that he hits on his guitar that could almost rival the talents of Stevie Ray Vaughan or perhaps Kenny Wayne Shepherd.  Vocally, he is obviously going through puberty.  But there’s a certain quality about his vocals that conjures thoughts of Johnny Lang.  One can only wonder what his vocals will sound like once he passes puberty and gets older.  If this song is any indication, he will definitely have some very strong vocals. 

‘Mr. Gloom’ and ‘Getting There’ are just a couple examples of Sullivan’s abilities on this new record.  There are many more from which listeners will get to choose.  One of those others is ‘Cyclone.’  What makes this song so interesting is yet again he exhibits quite the ability on his instrument in the song’s “A” section.  The somewhat chromatic runs by Sullivan, and the solid timekeeping of his drummer conjure thoughts of Van Halen’s ‘Hot For Teacher’ in the song’s “A” section.  Give it’s not as hard as the aforementioned song.  But there is at least some similarity, interestingly enough.  So not only does Sullivan get to shine on this album, so do his band mates.  And this is just one example of that.  There are other tracks that exhibit his band mates’ talents.  All combined, they make Getting There a record that given the right support the record that breaks out this young musician and in fact proves him to be the face of the next generation of the blues.  Getting There will be available June 18th.  To get the latest news on his new album, live dates, news and more, audiences can “Like” him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/QuinnSullivanMusic.  They can also follow the latest news and more from Quinn on his official website, http://www.quinnsullivanmusic.com

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New Muddy Waters/Stones Double Vinyl Makes A Great Performance Greater

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records/Eagle Vision

Eagle Rock Entertainment released what is one of the year’s best live releases earlier this year in the classic 1981 performance of The Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters live at Chicago’s Checkerboard Lounge.  That set contained both a DVD and CD.  Now, Eagle Rock has followed up that release and sweetened the deal for audiences even more with a new vinyl/DVD companion to the DVD/CD set.

 The new Vinyl/DVD companion to Eagle Rock’s previous release contains the entire performance from the DVD/CD set on two vinyls.  It also includes the artists’ full performance on a full length DVD presentation.  This new addition to the previously released set as it makes the classic performance that much more fully encompassing.  Just as listening to the CD and watching the DVD will give fans of the modern medium a full concert experience, so will this new set.  Audiences who haven’t yet checked out either set will be amazed at the enjoyment that they will experience, especially with this additional piece.  This iconic show was recorded before the dawn of compact discs.  And it was recorded in one of the “queen cities of jazz and the blues.”  Knowing that, putting on the vinyls will bring on a total sense of nostalgia for any fan that might prefer that medium. 

Listening to the concert on vinyl will instantly conjure up some wonderful nostalgic feelings in any listener young enough to recall those days before compact discs and mp3’s.  It’s a fantastic feeling to put on either disc, close one’s eyes, and really take in the music.  It may be even more so than with the CD presentation, because of that sense of nostalgia.  That’s just part of the whole package, though.  As wonderful as it is to experience this show as it was really meant to be experienced, the inclusion of a DVD with the full concert makes the entire thing that much better.  Being able to see the Stones, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, and all the others up on that tiny stage is incredible.  After having seen the show, audiences can go back, put the vinyls on back to back and gain that much more appreciation for what is one of this great nation’s greatest musical genres and for the artists performing each song.  Muddy Waters and The Rolling Stones Live at the Checkerboard Lounge is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered direct via Eagle Rock Entertainment’s website, http://www.eagle-rock.com.

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Eagle Rock sets the bar again with Muddy Waters, Rolling Stones archived live show

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Rock and roll shares a very special relationship with the blues.  If not for the blues, there would likely be no rock and roll.  Any music historian would agree with that sentiment.  Now, thanks to the good people at Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision, music lovers everywhere get to experience what is arguably one of the greatest moments in the history of both genres in the new DVD and DVD?CD release of “Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones Live at the Checkerboard Lounge.”

Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Lefty Bizz and the Rolling Stones all came together in an impromptu show at the famed Checkerboard Club on November 22nd, 1981.  The weather outside may have been cold.  But as it was documented in this new release, the energy of this one off mega show warmed the house and everyone in attendance.  The vibe is set from the very first notes of the piano led, ‘Sweet Little Angel.’  Pianist Lovie Lee shines not only on the keys, but vocally, too.  His talent shows through on ‘Flip Flop and Fly’, as well.  Muddy keeps the positive vibe set by Lee coming when he enters on ‘You Don’t Have to Go.’  And his chops on the guitar are unlike anything that any other guitarist did then or does today.   Things really get moving when Muddy coaxes Mick Jagger and his band mates Keith Richards and Ron Wood to come up and join in.  This is just one of many impromptu moments that make this show such fun.  Audiences will thrill at seeing Mick Jagger in his trademark “Chicken man” stance, hands on his hips, head stuck out.  He, Wood, and Richards show their love and respect for the blues while they play.  It’s proof of what makes the Rolling Stones one of the world’s most beloved bands.

Even when Muddy and Mick take a break, the energy is maintained by fellow bluesmen Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Lefty Dizz.  The trio take over on ‘Got My Mojo Workin’ ‘, ‘Next Time You See Me’ and ‘One Eyed Woman’ before Muddy comes back up on ‘Clouds in My Heart.’

Audiences get one amazing show from the vault in this newly released concert.  It’s only made that much better with the addition of an audio portion in the bonus CD included in the double disc DVD/CD set.  This inclusion will allow audiences to listen to the show anywhere they go.  The audio transfer from the master tapes was seamless.  In short, the experience is just as grand on CD as it is on DVD.  All involved in bringing this show back to life on CD are to be commended.  The same should be said of those who dusted off the original video tapes of the show, and brought it back to life for DVD presentation.

Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision have once more set the bar for live recordings with this latest release.  And while Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones take top billing, it’s obvious that this performance is less about either one, and more about celebrating the power of music.  It joined two members of the same musical family for one special night.  What’s more it has given eagle Rock and Eagle Vision one more of the year’s very best live recordings. 

The single disc DVD and double disc DVD/CD set are both available in stores and online now.  Fans can order it online at http://www.eagle-rock.com.  There will also be a triple disc DVD/ 2-LP Vinyl release on September 11th

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