Acclaimed singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright and eclectic Grammy-winning band the Mavericks will join Austin acts Jackie Venson and White Denim as the first artists to tape episodes of "Austin City Limits" without a studio audience, the iconic TV show announced Wednesday.
Last month, executive producer Terry Lickona vowed that the program’s 46th season would proceed with new episodes one way or another. This early round of no-audience tapings is a big step toward that goal, adding to a season that was already set to include soulful British singer-songwriter Yola, who taped an episode in February before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
Wainwright, who performed last fall at the Paramount Theatre but has never played "Austin City Limits" before, will do the first no-audience taping on Sept. 10. The Mavericks, promoting their new Spanish-language album "En Espanol," will follow on Sept. 22. Venson, our 2018 Austin360 Artist of the Year, will make her "ACL" debut on Oct. 1, with jam-rockers White Denim taping their second episode of the show Oct. 9.
A statement on the show’s website announcing the new tapings notes that they will be done "with a limited production crew and heightened safety measures in place." A representative from the show said Wednesday that the majority of the no-audience tapings will be livestreamed, though Wainwright’s episode likely will not be.
Expect a new look for the show’s opening sequence, too. Austin band Black Pumas’ song "Colors" will be played over footage featuring local acts Ruthie Foster, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin and others performing at their homes.
Wednesday’s announcement also noted that Season 46 will provide "a rare opportunity to go back to our early ACL roots with an emphasis on local Austin and Texan acts." A previously announced plan for a retrospective of the late John Prine’s many "ACL" appearances, with an intro by Jason Isbell, will kick off the season’s TV airings on Oct. 3, with Yola’s taping to follow on Oct. 10.