Posts Tagged ‘Television’

Austin City Limits Taping – Sonic Youth

Season 36 of Austin City Limits kicked off this past Saturday with Jimmy Cliff. The festival that bears its name starts today so that means that there are several tapings this week. I got the chance to check out Sonic Youth last night. Monsters of Folk taped Wednesday night. Band of Horses will tape Saturday night. The National will tape on Monday and the Black Keys will wrap things up on Tuesday.

Sonic Youth is one of , if not THE, elder statesman of alternative/indie/punk rock. I’ve followed them since the late 80s around the time that Steve Shelley joined. I was a big fan of his from the Crucif**ks days. The band has actually been around for over 30 years,  According to a trivia contest on their site for the La Zona Rosa show Saturday night, their first show in Austin was 08.27.1985 with Scratch Acid opening. Their most recent album, The Eternal (“Antenna”, “Sacred Trickster”, and “No Way” are stand outs), was released last summer on Matador Records after choosing not to renew on their 16 year major label relationship with Geffen/DGC records. For those of you old enough to remember, Sonic Youth played a role in Nirvana signing with Geffen in the early 90s. The two bands were featured in a documentary on their 1991 European tour that I think is out-of-print now, 1991: The Year Punk Broke. It’s a great documentary if you can track down a copy.

Sonic Youth is one of those bands that I always meant to see live, but never had the chance. They impressively re-create the wall of guitars that marks many of their songs, many of which have two bass guitars. The band is notorious for odd guitar tunings and I noticed that a lot of their guitars have tape along the head stock at each of the tuning pegs, no doubt to help the guitar techs to know how to properly tune the guitar for the songs they’re playing. I’m guessing that means there can’t be a lot of spontaneity in the set list. (more…)

Austin City Limits Taping – John Legend and The Roots

As I mentioned, John Legend and The Roots taped a performance for Austin City Limits last night. It will air locally on KLRU on Saturday, November 20, 2010. They’re promoting their new album, Wake Up, which will be released on September 21st. It’s a mix of mostly 70s soul covers and a few originals. They had performed the night before in Las Vegas for the Miss Universe pageant.

Austin City Limits is moving to its new location downtown at the beginning of next year, so there will probably only be a handful of performances at Studio 6A before the move. Bob Schneider tapes a set tonight and I’m assuming there will be a few tapings with the ACL Festival coming up at the beginning of October. There were the usual ACL taping amusements last night: people spilling the free beer (the only time I’ll drink Ziegenbock because it’s at least a little better than Budweiser – pro tip: always get two on the way in, it’s too hard to go back and get more) and watching people narrowly miss getting bonked in the head with the boom camera. The most adept at avoiding the camera is the official ACL photographer, Scott Newton, who just released a book collecting 35 years of photos from the show on UT Press.

Black Thought, who was present at the GMA Central Park performance that I linked in my preview post, wasn’t there for last night’s taping. They played pretty much straight through the set without too much talking in between songs and obviously the rap portions of the songs were dropped with the absence of Black Thought. “Captain” Kirk Douglas had a blistering guitar solo at the end of the Bill Withers cover “I Can’t Write Left Handed” and ?uestlove got pretty animated by the end of that song, definitely the best one of the set. I’ve heard “Hard Times” twice now and it’s been stuck in my head all morning.

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Questlove, John Legend & The Roots Preview

I first heard about The Roots living in NYC in 1995. I picked up their first major label album Do You Want More?!!!??! and couldn’t stop listening to it. I completely wore out “You Got Me” from their third album, Things Fall Apart. Their latest album, How I Got Over, was just released in June.

I pretend to be a drummer on occasion and had always admired ?uestlove (aka Ahmir Thompson), drummer for The Roots, but developed a serious man crush after seeing him at a live show during SXSW in 2006 for Before the Music Dies. I didn’t know about his bandleading skills until that performance, something that would become much more evident when The Roots began their stint as the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s takeover of Late Night from Conan O’Brien  (the only redeeming aspect of that change, in my opinion).

?uestlove also does guest DJ stints displaying his encyclopedic knowledge of music and will do one tonight immediately following the Austin City Limits taping at Red 7 at 9pm. It’s $8 in advance (try End of An Ear records) and $10 at the door and probably will sell out.

Tonight’s Austin City Limits taping will be with John Legend. Their collaboration, Wake Up, will be released on September 21st. I caught one song at a Central Park performance on Good Morning America a couple of weeks ago. The collaboration is inspired by the presidential election campaign of 2008 and is a mix of covers and originals. VH1 has a bunch of behind the scenes videos promoting the album. I’ll post a review of the taping tomorrow.

Here are the air dates for Season 36 of Austin City Limits which airs locally on KLRU on Saturday nights at 7pm:

October 2, 2010         Jimmy Cliff
October 9, 2010         Spoon
October 16, 2010      Patty Griffin & Friends
October 23, 2010      Alejandro Escovedo / Trombone Shorty
October 30, 2010      Robert Earl Keen / Hayes Carll
November 6, 2010     Steve Martin / Sarah Jarosz
November 13, 2010   Rosanne Cash / Brandi Carlile
November 20, 2010   John Legend & The Roots

Austin City Limits Taping – Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick opened the 36th and final season for Austin City Limits in its current location on the University of Texas campus. They’ll be moving to block 21 just north of city hall sometime near the end of this year or beginning of next year.

I had an amusing moment before the show at Terra Burger across the street. I saw a guy with platinum blond hair decked out in cowboy rocker gear and just wrote him off as a SXSW hipster wannabee. I passed him as I got a drink refill and headed out to wait for the interminable light to cross The Drag back over to the communications building. He came out at the same time and stood next to me. I looked over at him and it dawned on me that it was probably Robin Zander, Cheap Trick’s front man. Turns out that I was right that it was Robin and wrong that he was a wannabee. If anybody’s entitled to walk around like that, it’s him.

If Robin was inconspicuous with his presence in the Terra Burger, Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos is conspicuous by his absence on this trip through Austin. He wasn’t at the taping last night or at an interview with CNBC on St. Patrick’s Day and he hasn’t been mentioned in any of the interviews that I’ve seen so far (including an interview from Austin360 where they give a shout out to Sam’s BBQ on east 12th street). It’s almost like they’re trying to avoid talking about it (is this punishment for that Hanson/James Iha side project?). Guitarist Rick Neilsen’s son Daxx filled in admirably during the taping. He’s definitely of the Bun E. school of drumming. The band is rounded out with amazing 12 string (!?!?) bass player Tom Petersson and two keyboard players, Phil “Magic” Cristian, who’s played with them on and off since the 80s and Roger Manning from Jellyfish and Imperial Drag.

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Pearl Jam on Austin City Limits

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get admission to Pearl Jam’s Austin City Limits taping back in October. The episode airs tomorrow night at 7pm on KLRU locally. Check your own listings on your local PBS station of you’re outside of Austin. The ACL people have posted a time lapse video of the day’s taping. If you’ve never been to an ACL taping, it gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the elevator up to the studio and the hallway to the studio where they pass out the free Ziegenbock and Budweiser on the way in. You can also see the historical marker that was added recently on the end of the bleacher risers on stage right. I’m pretty sure that’s part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame declaring ACL a rock and roll landmark. It wasn’t there when I was in the studio in June for the Okkervil River taping. I’m definitely going to miss the old studio when they move the operation downtown in a couple of years.

Here’s a couple of reviews of the taping that were posted right after it happened from Austin 360 and TwoFeetThick along with an outtakes addendum from Austin360 as well.

Speaking of ACL tapings, if you’re a fan of Pearl Jam, set your calendars for February 13th when the Them Crooked Vultures taping will air.

Austin City Limits Taping – Okkervil River

ACL Okkervil River Program

ACL Okkervil River Program

The past year for Okkervil River has been full of some pretty big milestones. They released their latest album The Stand Ins only a few weeks before playing the Austin City Limits Festival last September. They played The Late Show with David Letterman this past January and were at both the Coachella and Bonnaroo (where they apparently “killed”) festivals this summer. Their latest achievement is an Austin City Limits taping last night for Season 35 to air later this year.

I’ve heard a lot about the band (pronounced “awk”-ervil not “oak”-ervil as ACL producer Terry Lickona did introducing them last night) over the past few years both in the media and from friends. Their sound is somewhere between folk and pop and they’re often lumped in with bands like The Decemberists and Arcade Fire. It was a decidedly local crowd last night. We ended up sitting next to bassist Patrick Pestorious’s mother and father. Jonathan Meiberg, former Okkervil member who left to focus on his band Shearwater which started out as a side project for both he and Okkervil frontman Will Sheff, was on hand for “Lost Coastlines”, a songn they had to do twice for the taping due to some mistakes in the first attempt. They also added a horn section and a string section to the normal 6 member line-up. Okkervil River have backed Roky Erickson, another local performer and recent Austin City Limits artist, and are slated to go into the studio with him later this year. (more…)

Austin City Limits Taping – Aimee Mann

ACL Program - Aimee Mann

ACL Program - Aimee Mann

I attended an Austin City Limits taping Tuesday night with Aimee Mann. All of us old-timers remember her as the lead singer for ‘Til Tuesday in the 80s. I, like a lot of people, became a big fan after the work that she did for the Magnolia soundtrack. Coincidentally, I happened to catch her acting turn as the female nihilist in Big Lebowski over the weekend on cable, but I digress.

She recently released a new album, @#%&*! Smilers, and played several tracks from it. Paul Bryan, who produced, also played bass and sang backup. In addition to Bryan, she had two keyboard players and a drummer. The guy on stage left who played piano and Hammond was wearing a Mean Eyed Cat t-shirt. I’m not sure how many if any of the backing band were local. There’s a heavy amount of keyboards and synthesizers in the new album and in the numbers she chose for the show. She had an acoustic guitar throughout the performance.

She seemed a bit stiff at the beginning and mentioned this after the first few songs. She was a bit freaked out by the cameras and said she felt that she had so much makeup on that if she moved her face, it would crack. She picked up on Terry Lickona’s pre-show comments to try to only get up to use the restroom in between songs. He asked that if you have to “let it go”, please do it then. She made several jokes throughout the night about that. She also felt she botched “Going Through the Motions”, a song from her concept album The Forgotten Arm, and said she was glad they wouldn’t use all of the songs. I’m assuming we won’t see that one in the final version next month when it airs.

Farther into the set, she told a story about being asked to write a song for an early scene in Shrek 3 and after being asked to revise it several times, including being asked to make it more like Fall Out Boy, the song was ultimately rejected and she brought it back its original form and completely changed the lyrics. It became “Borrowed Time” on the new album. She also mentioned before “Red Vines” that it’s about Magnolia director Paul Thomas Anderson. The original set list only showed two encores. I think they added “Calling It Quits” at the last minute. I enjoyed the performance and they definitely loosened up later in the set. Look for it to air in October. Also, check out Austin Kleon’s artistic take on the taping.

Set List:

Stranger/Looking for Nothing
Freeway
Phoenix
Save Me
Wise Up
Great Beyond
Going Through the Motions
Red Vines
Columbus Ave.
Little Tornado
31 Today
Borrowing Time
Today’s the Day
Different

One
Calling it Quits
Deathly

Austin City Limits Taping – Pinetop Perkins and Bettye Lavette

acl_pinetopI was very fortunate to attend an Austin City Limits taping on Sunday evening. This was my third in the past ten years. I saw Roky Erickson last November and got to see Hank Thompson & Ray Price with Junior Brown in 1999. I seem to have a knack for catching legendary musicians late in their careers.

This time it was “Pinetop” Perkins and Bettye LaVette. Ninety-five year old Perkins was up first. He arrived at the stage in a wheelchair and was helped up onto it by an ACL employee. He made it across the stage on his own and seated himself at the piano wearing an impressive red suit and hat. The backing band consisted of many local veteran musicians including Chris Layton, Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff, Gary Clark Jr. and also included another Blues legend, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, on harmonica. “Big Eyes” has played with “Pinetop” Perkins for many years both on drums and harmonica. I didn’t know this until I started checking him out after the show, but they were both in Muddy Waters band and formed their own Legendary Blues Band, appearing behind John Lee Hooker in The Blues Brothers. Wikipedia claims he’s the only other musician shown clearly on camera in that scene. Time to go check out The Blues Brothers again. KUT did an award winning documentary on Perkins last summer. It was kind of hard to hear Perkins over the band. They turned up his mike after the first song. He’s definitely showing his age, something to be expected at 95, but it was definitely a honor to be able to see him play, one of, if not the, last boogie woogie piano players. In a really weird coincidence, “Down in Mississippi” came on the stereo in the coffee shop where I’m working this morning.

Here’s the set list:

CHICKEN SHACK
DOWN IN MISSISSIPPI
HOW LONG
BIG FAT MAMA
MOJO

Bettye LaVette was up next after a long intermission between bands.

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