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This book has great text, but is also highly pictorial history of the development of the television series that made the "Austin Sound" in music known worldwide. John Newton, the photographer for the television Austin City Limits (ACL), has documented the history of ACL and performances of some of America's best musicians in his 200 or so colour plates throughout this book.
Willy Nelson was a primary mover in the development of Austin, Texas, as an alternative to Nashville, Tennessee. The book includes details of that liaison, and other background personalities and relationship I had not known before. Out of Austin in the last three decades has come some of the most talented and creative music acts in almost every form of contemporary music.
Notable for blues, and country sounds, as well as certain modern jazz, the city of Austin has produced some creative new styles which have given outlet to some of the new ideas in music in the last quarter of the 20th century. A weekly television program named "Austin City Limits" began broadcasting in 1976.
This book discusses the personalities that have participated in the weekly musical presentations of the program Austin City Limits over the first 25 years of its life. I noticed that the publication date on the edition I bought gives a publication date of 2000, which would mean it would be available for the actual 25th year in 2001. Amazon.com however, reports a date of 1999.
The program is produced weekly in the studios of KLRU-TV, on its own sound stage, in Austin, Texas. ACL gives an amazing benefit to performers in editing the mixes of the programs of their appearances on ACL. Many have released live albums from those performances. The technical quality and love of the music as an art are unique in this approach to a television program.
This prestigious program is now a hallmark of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) network in the US. Those outside the US may not be aware that this network and its local stations are totally funded by private funds. Local PBS stations have annual fund-raisers and receive grants for operational and programming funds from various indivuduals, foundations and commercial companies.
This means that commercial considerations are not present in the focus of program production. This has enabled ACL to become an innovative and creative nationwide program of contemporary and classic American musical styles. ACL runs a full hour of nothing but music, with a mix of artists across genres that makes for a unique experience every week. This book documents the foundations and much of the character of the program as an artistic endeavour.
ACL is now syndicated worldwide, nurturing a worldwide fan base for the "Austin Sound" and the individuals and bands responsible for this creative world of musical expression. Includes a foreword by Lyle Lovett, an adept of almost every form of music in his versatile career, with hits and a strong following in - among other areas - Country and Western and Jazz, both big band and contemporary.
I learned very much about some individuals and groups. I also read about many artists and songwriters I had never heard of. ACL has been the start of national recognition for many young artists. I was especially glad to learn details about the Austin Blues community, which is more extensive and dates earlier than I had known.)
See related reviews and articles on this site:
The Blues Backstory
Music, Race and Society
Musical Meditation for Christmas
What Did You Say this Book is About? (Like A Rolling Stone)
See Austin City Limits on Amazon.com.
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First written 11 September 2006
Posted on Amazon.com and Thoughts and Resources 11 September 2006
Last edited 19 July 2011
Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2006 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use. Please give credit and link back. Other rights reserved.