Austin City Limits: The Television Show that Started it All

For the past week or so I’ve been blogging about the Austin City Limits music festival. More famous however, is the original Austin City Limits television show that inspired the festival. ACL the TV program is the longest running music related television show in history, now in its 37th year. The show is broadcast nationally and internationally by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). It features a different artist each episode performing to a smaller crowd at the legendary Moody Theatre in Austin.

Almost every famous musician you can possibly think have has performed on the Austin City Limits show. From Muddy Waters, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson through to Sheryl Crow, Coldplay (last weekend), Arcade Fire and many, many more. Myself and Kim Jay were lucky enough to be invited to a taping of the show last Monday night.

About 6 months ago the new Moody Theatre opened. The old theatre held about 250 people. The new venue holds up to about 2300, but generally tapings are restricted to about 800 guests or less. It’s a very intimate venue – especially considering the calibre of the artists performing. The taping we attended was of the famous Randy Newman, one of the most prolific song writers in history. The atmosphere was polite (quiet is very necessary to ensure the quality of the recording), but the venue itself is beautiful with a stage background composed of a diorama view of downtown from Zilker park (where the festival is held). The sound is incredible.

It was amazing, getting to view a taping of an historic and iconic music television program like this. It’s part of what makes Austin such a fascinating city and serves of an example of the city’s commitment to sharing the live music experience.

Photo by Kim Jay

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