SXSW: March 11 2024

Bill and I got off to a late start, so this was a light SXSW day for us. We’ve attended many Austin City Limits TV tapings since they moved from the University of Texas campus to the downtown Moody Theater in 2011, so we enjoyed the discussion about this year’s 50th anniversary. The documentary about The Black Keys was interesting, especially since both band members attended the screening.

Backstage with Austin City Limits (ACL): Five Decades of Music

Panel: Sarah Robertson (Austin PBS Chief Content Officer), Jeff Peterson (ACL Producer), Terry Lickona (ACL Executive Producer), Emily Bolf (ACL Marketing Director/Associate Producer)

This year is the 50th anniversary for Austin City Limits, the longest-running TV music program with 1000+ tapings. Many of the employees have worked on the program for decades. We learned that Terry Lickona started working at the KUT (NPR) radio station and was a volunteer to the ACL producers in the third season. Jeff Peterson was a UT student who first worked at KLRU, the local PBS station. Emily Bolf also attended UT as a journalism student and started as an intern in Season 23.

The SXSW audience watched excerpts from the panelists’ favorite songs: Emily – “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton; Jeff – Kendrick Lamar, “We Will Be Alright” by Kendrick Lamar; Terry: “Closing Time” by Lyle Lovett, the last show played in Studio 6A. (Sarah had picked REM, but wasn’t sure of the song)

Looking back fifty years, the Austin music scene was strong in the 1970s. Back then, KLRU’s Studio 6A was the largest space between the East and West coasts. Since tickets were free, they felt that cameras could be placed right in front of the stage. Here’s some other interesting tidbits from the session:

  • Which performers best represent the show? Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jon Baptiste
  • Artists are given 75 minutes per taping, sometimes more. (Bill and I have definitely seen longer tapings.) Most artists try to incorporate elements from their roadshow. They can select their own songs and have control over the remix. ACL may ask them to change the order or add a popular song. They often reach out to an artist’s fan base to try to get the right audience.
  • The ACL archive is completely digitized now, and they are working on digitizing the photographs, too.  
  • ACL has partnered with C3 for over 20 years for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. (It’s not unusual for a few festival artists to tape shows when they are in town.)
  • Favorite tapings: Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, James Taylor, Jon Baptiste. Bill and I didn’t attend the first three, but we agree that Jon Baptiste’s taping was memorable. So much energy!

This is a Film About The Black Keys

Yes, the title of this documentary is accurate. The Black Keys singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney attended this world premiere, as well as the director, Jeff Duper (with the gray hair). During the Q&A afterwards, we learned that the movie has 48 songs and that some concert footage was cut to match their records.  The duo have taken a few breaks since their start in 2001. They said that the work is not the hard part, it’s being away from family so much. Referring to their divorces, Carney joked, “We get new families every four years.” Their newest album (14 songs) will be released on April 5.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *