Country music

Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Show to Induct 3 Big Names from America

Born in San Antonio before moving to California with his family as a young child, Alejandro Escovedo has fond memories of his native state. So when “Austin City Limits” hit PBS stations across the country in the mid-1970s, the program served as a warm reminder of a special place.

“It’s always been a big part of my musical journey,” Escovedo said last week from his home in Driftwood, just outside of Austin. “When we moved from Texas to Orange County, things were very different there. As we got older, we were still very proud of everything to do with Texas. When that show came up, that was a really big part of it. “

Escovedo moved to San Francisco in his twenties and founded a punk band called the Nuns, but what was happening in Austin at the same time fascinated him – and “Austin City Limits” was a window to that world. “I got to see people like Townes Van Zandt and Asleep at the Wheel, and all that vibe that was going on in the ’70s in Austin,” he said.

RELATED: Wilco’s 2019 concert review at ACL Live

Soon he had left the Nuns and teamed up with brothers Chip and Tony Kinman in Rank and File, a band that mixed punk with left-wing country music. “I think (‘Austin City Limits’) got a lot of what we ended up doing with Rank and File, actually,” he said.

So it was a special moment for Escovedo when Rank and File recorded an episode “Austin City Limits” in the early 1980s. The band had moved to Austin, where Escovedo eventually joined rock band True Believers before launching a career. solo in the 1990s.

Alone, Escovedo played “Austin City Limits” four more times – enough to put him on the shortlist for the “Austin City Limits” Hall of Fame Induction. It will perform on ACL Live on Thursday in a ceremony that will also induct former Austinite Lucinda Williams and acclaimed indie / alt-country band Wilco. All three acts will perform, accompanied by special guests.

Created in 2014, the Hall of Fame – an essentially honorary title, as there is no room or building dedicated to its members – welcomes a handful of new inductees each year. It started with Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan in 2014; most recently, the 2019 ceremony inducted Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin and Buddy Guy. (The pandemic prevented the event from last year.)

Williams first appeared on the series in 1990, shortly after her self-titled 1988 album put her on the map as one of the best songwriters in American music. She returned to tape episodes that aired in 1999, supporting her Grammy-winning album “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” and 2007, in conjunction with her album “West”. Isbell will deliver Williams’ induction speech.

Cash is redundant on Thursday, as she will induct Wilco. The guest artists for the Wilco portion of the show are Austin lo-fi grandma Bill Callahan, Santa Fe-via-Lubbock songwriter / sculptor Terry Allen, and Michelle Zauner of acclaimed indie band Japanese Breakfast.

Wilco appeared on “Austin City Limits” twice, in 2000 and 2004. Frontman Jeff Tweedy also did an hour-long episode in 2014 which included material from an album he made with his son Spencer. Tweedy, as well as solo-acoustic versions of old favorites dating back to his tenure in the early ’90s with pioneering alternative country band Uncle Tupelo.

As major players in the development of American music over the past three decades, this year’s inductees have crossed paths on several occasions. I was with Escovedo in February 1993 when we stopped at an Uncle Tupelo soundcheck in Salt Lake City and heard them playing a Rank and File song. And Escovedo said he vividly remembers being in the audience for Rosanne Cash’s recording in the early 1990s, which included Williams and his then-guitarist, Gurf Morlix.

He also recalled an important detail that stood out from the Rank and File recording in the early 1980s. “I think it was one of the first times they allowed everyone to dance on the front of the house. the scene, ”he said. Back then, “usually everyone (in the audience) was just sitting down, whoever it was. But for this show, they let everyone get up and dance.

It wasn’t the only time the program tried its luck with an Escovedo recording. Its hour-long episode in 2002 featured guests including jazz great Pete Escovedo (Alejandro’s older brother) as well as Texas Latin artists Ruben Ramos and Rosie Flores performing “By the Hand of the Father”, a musical play that Alejandro created with the help of a Los Angeles drama. business.

“It was the first time they had done a production like this,” he said. “And it was a bilingual program, which was great.”

Escovedo had hoped to bring in his brother Pete for the induction ceremony, but at 86, he can’t travel easily. However, the family will be represented: Pete Escovedo’s daughter is the famous percussionist Sheila E., and she will be among the guest artists during her uncle’s set.

Also on board is the recent transplant of Austin John Doe of legendary Los Angeles punk band X, who performed shows with Escovedo’s band, the Nuns some 40 years ago, and Alex Ruiz of local band de Latin rock Del Castillo. Ruiz sang the songs of Escovedo on the 2020 album “La Cruzada”, an all-Spanish revamp of Escovedo’s 2018 immigrant-themed record “The Crossing”.

FOLLOWING: Alejandro Escovedo Reaches Top 10 Latin Charts With Spanish Language Album

Guitarist Lenny Kaye will do the induction honors for Escovedo. Escovedo first saw Kaye perform with the Patti Smith Group in the mid-1970s in Los Angeles and San Francisco. They struck up a conversation at the San Francisco show, and Escovedo recalls that Kaye “was very encouraging about forming a band.” The two bonded over the decades, often hanging out together in Kaye’s hometown of New York City, where they had many mutual friends.

Escovedo’s performance on Thursday will be his first since February 2020. In addition to special guests, he will be supported by Music Director Lloyd Maines and a house band including guitarist David Grissom. Escovedo, who moved to Dallas a few years ago but recently returned to the Austin area, has stayed off the road during the pandemic. He couldn’t have imagined a better place for his comeback than ACL Live, where he gave annual concerts in January for several years in the mid-2010s.

Whether for the Hall of Fame show “Austin City Limits” is the icing on the cake. The program “has been a huge part of my life,” he says. “Every time I’ve been on the show everyone has been super cool. I’m always treated with great respect. They’re part of the biggest musical family in Austin that I’ve grown to love.


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