More than 100 artists will perform at the Austin City Limits Music Festival this weekend and next, ranging from modern-day superstars to local hopefuls in a variety of styles and genres.
But only one captivated a nation playing “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964. Only one wrote “Yesterday” and “Let It Be” and the glorious side-two suite of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road.” Only one is, at age 76, not just a music legend, but a living link to the socio-cultural shift that defined the latter half of the 20th century.
So we asked every single act playing ACL Fest: What does it mean to you to be playing on the same bill with Paul McCartney?
More than three dozen festival performers responded. Here’s what they had to say.
Hozier: “It's an incredible and surreal honor, something I'm really really looking forward to. The Beatles are one of the reasons that I make music, and one of the things I discovered like many teenagers and young artists. Paul is indispensable to my musical education, and his work is indispensable to the landscape of music as far as I'm concerned, so yes it’s a joy!”
Shawn Mendes: “It’s so incredible and such an honor to be playing on the same bill as Paul. He’s truly a legend and one of the most influential artists ever, so it’s surreal.”
Brandi Carlile: "It is such an honor to be on the same bill as the man, the myth and the legend that is Paul McCartney. He's had such a profound influence on me as an artist, particularly when I'm in the studio constantly referencing his work! Paul is an absolute pioneer and one of the greatest songwriters in history. He’s also a bad ass rock 'n' roll singer. Paul, let me sing with you … please?!”
Disturbed singer David Draiman: “To share the stage with a legend of Sir Paul McCartney’s level is humbling, and intimidating to say the least. To be on a bill with one of the most prolific songwriters of all time? We are thrilled, and honored beyond words.”
Bells of Joy singer Julia Cruz Magness: “The Bells of Joy are thrilled to be on the same bill as Paul McCartney. The Bells of Joy started as a group in the 1940s back when the U.S. was segregated. We have one original member left, A.D. Watson, who is 88 years old. He has seen so much in his long life. Sometimes when on the road, the band couldn’t buy gas or stay in hotels. The Beatles and some of the other British bands such as the Rolling Stones really helped to bring awareness to American black music and the struggles African-Americans were having. The world is not rid of racism and even in 2018 we have a lot of problems, but music always brings people together. I will be flying in from Memphis early to catch his set.”
Greta Van Fleet member Jake Kiszka: “He’s someone who has not only been an inspiration for us, but a great deal of the world, so it’s an honor to be playing the same bill as Sir Paul McCartney. His work with the Beatles and his solo career have been influential in the sense of writing techniques and studio advancements. We are beyond elated to be able to experience Paul McCartney’s show at ACL.”
San Holo: "It's crazy and pretty humbling, to be honest. Paul McCartney is a legendary music icon and his music is absolutely timeless. You can still hear his influence in pop music today from his work with the Beatles and more."
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Trampled By Turtles bassist Tim Saxhaug: "When I was 15, I saved all summer mowing lawns to buy a Discman. The first CD I listened to on it was ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ It was the first time I noticed what bass did, and where it fit in a band. I immediately went downstairs and told my mom I wanted to play bass. The next day we rented an electric bass, and that’s where it started for me. In a way, he sent me on this path I’m on now. Eternally grateful."
Trampled by Turtles fiddler Ryan Young: "When I was about 6 or 7 I had a tape player in my room and would sit in there and listen to a mixtape stolen from my dad that had ‘Lovely Rita,’ ‘She’s Leaving Home,’ ‘I Will’ and other Beatles tunes on it. It was intriguing and magical music, and definitely helped me to fall in love with music in general, and eventually become a musician myself. He’s one of the best songwriters who’s ever lived."
Elle King: "I'm pretty sure it's every musicians' dream to play the same bill as Paul McCartney. It's an honor and will forever be street cred. Even if he doesn't know who I am!"
The Coronas: “We’ve been blessed to actually share the stage with Paul and his band before. When he played in the RDS stadium in Dublin in 2010, we were chosen as his opening act, and to this day it is one of the moments in our band’s journey that we’re most proud of. We got to meet him and his band, watch them soundcheck different Beatles songs that they weren’t even planning on playing in the set, and, of course, we got to enjoy the amazing concert in its entirety after our own slot. As Noel Gallagher once said, ‘the Beatles are the be-all and end-all,' and their influence on us as a band cannot be underestimated. I wonder, will Macca remember us?!”
Gryffin: “Playing on the same bill as Paul McCartney is an incredible honor as he’s obviously such a historic and iconic figure in music. I grew up listening to the Beatles, so to be able to play at the same festival is exciting to say the least and I’ll definitely be catching his set.”
Slenderbodies member Benji Cormack: "To be playing on the same bill as Paul McCartney is surreal to me. I think it means so much because it means so much to my mom. She raised me as a single parent, and the first CD I was ever given by her was ‘The Beatles 1’ compilation. Growing up we continued to listen to the Beatles together, diving into Paul’s personal projects as well. Just as my mom formed so much of my morality within me, I think seeing Paul’s accomplishments and the way he treats others helped form a morality and drive to be the best musician and person I can be. It’ll be a beautiful full-circle moment for my mom and me as we watch him perform at ACL."
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Bishop Briggs: "It is so surreal to be playing on the same bill as Paul McCartney. He’s someone who's spent his lifetime creating art that has inspired me for as long as I've been alive. To say that this is a bucket list moment is a complete understatement. To be completely honest, I teared up when I received this news!"
Lisa Loeb: "It means the world to me that I’m playing on the same bill as Paul McCartney. He’s always been a part of my life: From ‘The White Album’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper's,’ which were the musical accompaniment to my single-digit years play dates, through the Wings’ hits, which I listened to on my FM clock radio, his music is always with me. At ACL, I’ll get to say that I played a show with him. Pretty mind-bending. Do you think someone can introduce us, and we can be friends?"
Asleep at the Wheel leader Ray Benson: “When I hear ‘When I’m Sixty-Four,’ to me that’s a great western swing tune. When I turned 64 (in 2015), I went to the Saxon Pub and played that song. When Asleep at the Wheel started, we used to do ‘I’ve Just Seen a Face,’ because it’s a bluegrass tune. I think we definitely ought to do a Paul McCartney tune (at ACL Fest this year). I also do ‘Here There and Everywhere,’ which is such a ridiculous song. That’s as good as ‘Stardust.’ My seventh-grade birthday party was a Beatles themed party. After the Ed Sullivan show, I combed my pompadour down into a (Beatle mop-top) and got thrown out of math class. I bought every album, because Sgt. Pepper’s turned everybody around. And then to have Sir George Martin record in our studio (Bismeaux) — it was his last project. It was with Goldie Hawn. It was for a (1998 compilation) record called ‘In My Life.’ I was not there, we were on the road, but there are pictures.”
Asleep at the Wheel fiddler Katie Shore: “I’m staying all day so I can go hear him sing. It’s just the soundtrack of our lives, you know?”
Ruston Kelly: “The Beatles inspired me most because of their less popular songs. Even those were magical and a lot of times even more magical to me. I think deeper cuts tell you more about the artist. This inspired me to write every song of the highest quality.”
Lucie Silvas: "If someone had told me at 17 years old that I would playing on the same bill as Paul McCartney one day, I wouldn’t have cried all the way home after not being accepted into his performing arts school in Liverpool! (I may have to let him know this.) His music was a staple in my life and made me want to be a songwriter, so this is pretty surreal."
Kydd Jones: “First of all, is it the real Paul McCartney? I heard he died a long time ago. I watch too many YouTube conspiracy videos. But even if it's not the real McCartney, who wouldn't wanna be on stage with a Beatle? Paul is a legend, the Beatles are legends. The closest artist in terms of being a musical icon would be Michael Jackson or something. Definitely up there as far as G.O.A.T. status. Besides, the Beatles took a lot of stuff from black R&B and soul groups, so I feel like it’s only right that now, young black American artists such as myself are able to share a platform with them.”
Sofi Tukker: “It really is crazy to be playing the same bill as Paul McCartney. There's no way we even understand all the ways that he has influenced what we are doing today and the artists that we look up to."
Yungblud: “It doesn’t seem real that my name is on the same piece of paper as Macca. Lennon and McCartney, two lads from Liverpool, singlehandedly revolutionized rock ’n’ roll and pop music. They defeated the stereotype of genre and wrote some of the best songs of all time. I’ll literally be lurking around backstage trying to snag a photo.”
The Nude Party: “It means we’re putting lotion on our rider.”
Ikebe Shakedown members Dave Bourla and Robin Schmidt: “Some of our earliest musical memories are our parents putting on Beatles LPs. As we got older, we'd read the jackets and see ‘Lennon/McCartney’ next to so many of the songs — all these absolutely amazing melodies. And then, when we got together, it became a shared vocabulary for the seven of us, a common thread we could all reference. That extended out to Paul’s solo records too, with ‘Ram’ coming on the stereo tons of times in the van. So now, to be able to play a festival where Paul McCartney is headlining, it's really something special to us both musically and personally in our lives.”
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Mt. Joy leader Matt Quinn: "It’s definitely surreal to be on a lineup with the G.O.A.T. His music means a lot to so many, especially musicians like ourselves aspiring to make even half the impact he has. We can’t wait to see him go to work."
Amen Dunes leader Damon McMahon: “Paul McCartney has always been my favorite Beatle, and has been one of the biggest influences/inspirations in my life, musically and beyond. I don’t feel that way about any of the other greats, other than Dylan, and maybe Bowie. His show last year in New York City was the best show I’ve ever seen, hands down.”
Gang of Youths member Joji Malani: “It’s a pretty big privilege to be sharing a stage with Paul McCartney. The lad has helped shape the world of music as we know it today and more importantly, he is an Everton supporter. Come on you blues!”
Lo Moon leader Matt Lowell: “When we saw we were on the same bill as Paul McCartney, we all just looked at each other and laughed. Paul is one of the greatest songwriters of all time, and it’s impossible to be in a band and not be influenced somewhat by the Beatles. Their influence and impact on the recording process is at one point or another referenced every single time we step foot in the studio. We feel just lucky to know he might see our name on the bill.”
Barton Hills Choir director Gavin Tabone: “The majority of our set this year will be the entire ‘Abbey Road’ medley. I’ve been playing and listening to that since I was a child, so it makes me very happy to share my love of that amazing work with my kids.”
Texas Gentlemen leader Beau Bedford: "It means I’m going to be able to see Paul McCartney in concert finally! Besides Stevie Wonder, there is no other artist with the combination of his pop sensibilities, vibe and musical depth. His music has touched the world. I hope his voodoo rubs off on me."
Amber Mark: “It means everything to me. I hope I get to meet him. Can’t explain how much of a fan I am.”
Curtis Roush: “I go on McCartney kicks every so often. I’ll get hip to a different aspect of his work — maybe a Beatles song I overlooked or a solo record I slept on — and I get lost all over again in his tractor beam of endless beauty, sincerity, and creativity. For me this year, I just really hope he plays ‘Temporary Secretary.’”
Durand Jones & the Indications member Blake Rhein: “To me, it means I have a incredibly small (but finite) chance of running into him and talking to him about the circumstances regarding ‘McCartney II,’ which is my favorite album of his. That record is nuts, and the backstory involves him canceling a tour from Japan for arriving to the country with a huge bag of weed (reportedly 219 grams)."
Sweet Spirit member Jon Fichter: "He's easily the best Beatle we've ever shared a bill with!"
Wilderado leader Max Rainer: "How would you feel if you were a pastor and Jesus was giving the keynote at the same conference where you were asked to deliver the morning prayer? It is surreal to see our band name on a poster with Paul McCartney. We’ll tell everyone we opened for him for the rest of our lives.”
Gianni Aiello of Naked Giants: “Music is for everyone. It's not like I could hang my doodles in a museum next to a Picasso. But for some reason we're allowed to do our thing at the same place as Paul. That's pretty cool.”
Nicole Atkins: “When I wrote my first song, it was right after hearing 'Great Day' off of 'Flaming Pie.' In 2002 a neighbor brought my family to see McCartney in Atlantic City. I won $300 on a hand of blackjack and moved to New York City after. Now so many years later getting to be on the same bill as him? Well that’s some fabric of the universe connectivity stuff in my book. What a wonderful world indeed."
Red Yarn, aka Andy Furgeson: “It is an unbelievable honor to be playing on the same bill as Paul McCartney. As a 13-year-old, I religiously studied a Beatles fakebook to teach myself to play guitar and write lyrics and catchy chord progressions. My early concepts of creativity, love and the meaning of life were shaped by the Beatles cassettes my family played on every road trip. This is the closest I will ever be to a rock ’n’ roll legend and worldwide influencer. Only at ACL!” (Andy grew up in Austin and now lives in Portland, Ore.)
Ralph Covert of Ralph’s World: “Paul McCartney’s music shaped and inspired me, and as a result I’ve spent my life trying to make the world better one song at a time. I’m grateful to be alive and on the planet at the same time he is, because it’s an incredible reminder that he’s a real person, after all, just a guy writing and singing his tunes. To have the chance to play on the same bill with him is a childhood dream, and an incredible affirmation of the power of music. I’ll be there because he’s here.”
Jackie Venson: “Being a part of an event as big and special as ACL Fest is already amazing, but being listed on the same poster as an icon like Paul McCartney is mind-blowing. It feels like a milestone moment in my career, and I’m genuinely excited to see him perform and experience ACL as a performing artist!”
Davie: “Paul McCartney is music royalty. So many of his songs, specifically ‘Wonderful Christmas Time,’ have been part of big moments growing up in my household.”
Wesley Bray & the Disciples of Joy: “We’re a gospel band but we’re ecstatic about being in the company of a living legend! We appreciate the music Mr. McCartney has made over the years and how it has touched all of our lives in so many ways!”
NAM member Sam Simmons: “I feel lucky. McCartney helped set a crazy high standard for pop songwriting, and I strive to meet that standard every day! Plus it’s just cool to be able to name-drop Paul McCartney!”
Lard Dog & the Band of Shy leader Steven Erdman: "It means a lot — not just musically, but lifestyle-wise with all that Paul represents: courage, boldness, inventiveness and positivity, just to name a few. It also means we are definitely going to be performing a song I wrote and recorded last year that asks the age-old question, ‘Who’s Your Favorite Beatle?’ And truth be known, mine is Paul! Paul, you are invited to come join us for this one!"
Q Brothers: We're very excited to be on the same bill as Paul! Now we can finally ask about the questionable grammar of the lyric, ‘But if this ever changing world in which we live in’ from ‘Live and Let Die’!”