Austin City Limits Music Festival is upon us, and there are plenty of opportunities to support local artists both weekends of the festival (October 4-6 and October 11-13). Here’s a list of the legendary and up-and coming acts that will appear on the big stages of ACL 2019.
Asleep at the Wheel (Friday, Oct. 4)
Asleep at the Wheel’s brand-new album, “New Routes,” marks both a new path forward and a nod to the freewheeling roots of one of Texas’ most beloved bands. After a decade of collaborating on record with friends, including Willie Nelson’s Grammy Nominated “Willie and the Wheel” in 2009 and Grammy-winning tribute to Bob Wills titled “Still the King” in 2015, “New Routes” is the Wheel’s their first album of new material in over a decade.
With a fresh new lineup, a bracing blend of original songs and vibrant cover material and some unanticipated new musical tangents, Asleep at the Wheel demonstrates convincingly it’s more relevant, enjoyable and musically nimble than at any time in its 49 year history.
The iconic Ray Benson has been the one constant in Asleep at the Wheel since the band’s founding in 1970 in Paw Paw, West Virginia. Since that time, more than 100 musicians have passed through the Wheel, but Benson remains the front man and the keeper of the vision, in the process racking up more than 25 albums, 10 Grammy awards and literally millions of miles on the road.
Gary Clark Jr. (Saturday, Oct. 5 and Oct. 12)
Gary Clark Jr., one of Austin’s most recognized singer-songwriter and guitarist of this era, makes a comeback to ACL Fest since 2015. Releasing his third studio album for Warner Bros. Records, “This Land,” earlier this year, Gary Clark Jr. has established just how much stylistic variation he has at his command.
Clark grew up watching music television, but not so much MTV. “I kind of got introduced to everything by watching ‘Austin City Limits,’ which had Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray,” he’s said. “It all kind of hit me at once, and I just loved anything that sounded bluesy or rock & roll that felt dangerous and had loud guitar solos up front. Ultimately I figured out where it all came from, and I think the thing that really resonated with me was guys like Albert King and Freddie King – the three Kings,” along with B.B. Soon, as a barely-teen prodigy, he was making his way out in to the real world, being mentored by Austin club owner Clifford Antone as he hooked up with every available local legend.
Local legend Doyle Bramhall brought him to meet Eric Clapton at a Crossroads Festival in 2010, where they jammed with Sheryl Crow. A year later, his Warner Bros. debut release Bright Lights EP became the first EP ever to get the lead review in Rolling Stone, which wrote, “A genuine 21st-century bluesman, raised on the form in all its roughneck roadhouse glory but marked by the present day? That’s been as hard to find as a 21st century clockmaker.”
But Rolling Stone may have really been on to something when the magazine got past his prodigious licks and added, “Suddenly you can envision him dueting with Adele, swapping tunes with Jack Johnson or singing hooks for Nas.” Not all those collaborations came to be, but soon enough he was asked by Alicia Keys to co-write and play guitar on “Fire We Make,” a song from her Girl on Fire album, not long before he released his Warner Bros. Records debut album, “Blak And Blu,” in 2012. Not long after, “Ain’t Messin Round” was also nominated for Grammy in 2013 and, in 2014, Clark had won his first Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the track “Please Come Home,” also from that album.
Before long he was benefitting from the advocacy of the Rolling Stones, who’ve repeatedly enlisted him as an opening act and on-stage guest. He played for the Obamas at the White House alongside not just Mick Jagger but B.B. King, Jeff Beck, and Buddy Guy. On a prime-time tribute to the Beatles, he performed alongside Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh. On a similar TV tribute to Stevie Wonder, he teamed up with Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran. On record, he co-wrote and played guitar on Childish Gambino’s “The Night Me and Your Mama Met.” In 2017 he was widely praised as a standout among standouts at the MusiCares benefit honoring Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. He two appearances that night, one by himself and once in collaboration with the Foo Fighters, huge fans who had recorded with and taken Clark out as their opening act before he graduated to major headliner status.
Alesia Lani (Saturday, Oct. 5)
Few rising stars shine as bright as Austin’s own Alesia Lani. The award-winning singer has two albums under her belt, boats a resume that includes sharing a stage with legends such as George Clinton and The Ohio Players, and playing festivals such as 35 Denton and South By Southwest. The former model’s sultry, raspy vocals paired with a hip-hop twist give you the feeling that you may have found this generation’s Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu, yet give her a distinct sound that is just as unique as it is powerful. Alesia brings a blue-collar work ethic to her career, spending countless hours in the studio, and is known for delivering elite live performances made for primetime. The momentum continues to grow behind this starlet as she dazzles on her musical journey.
Jane Ellen Bryant (Friday, Oct. 11)
Jane Ellen Bryant is a name that has quickly become well-known and adored in the Live Music Capital of the World. Like many of her musical idols (Sheryl Crow, Joni Mitchell, Jenny Lewis), Bryant has a unique voice and undeniable songwriting style that instantly sets her apart. Her music feels familiar, yet fresh. Her lyrics speak directly to your soul, the musical “hooks” leave you humming and her rare vocal control will either have you rocking a head bang, or wiping away a tear. Winner of “Best New Band” and “Best Female Vocalist” at the Austin Music Awards, Bryant and her passionate performances continuously leave listeners begging to know more about this mesmerizing songstress.
Ley Line (Sunday, Oct. 13)
Four voices coalesce, rooted in rhythm. The women of Ley Line transcend language and genres to create a sound that seems to emerge from deep within the earth. Dynamic harmonies run like a current through textures of stand up bass, guitar, ukulele and percussion. Raised on the North American traditions of blues, folk and soul and inspired by their world travels, Ley Line creates a global soundscape; blending rhythms and influences from Brazil, Latin America and West Africa. Ley Line’s multilingual performances unite audiences around the world.
Ley Line is the musical merging of two duos. Austinites Kate Robberson and Emilie Basez met twin sisters Madeleine and Lydia Froncek at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2013. Since reuniting in Austin in 2015, Ley Line has been weaving together their individual journeys into a collective vision. Through intimate live performances and multilingual lyrics, Ley Line’s music inspires connection across the peaks and valleys of the human experience.