We've made plenty of guesses as to who might be playing the Austin City Limits Music Festival this fall. (See: Who will play ACL Fest 2019?) But here's another possibility: Bruce Springsteen.
There's been plenty of buzz Friday morning for the Boss's new single, "Hello Sunshine," which he released overnight via streaming sources. It's from the upcoming album "Western Stars," due out June 14 and reportedly taking Springsteen in a more country-folk-rock direction. A press release Thursday suggested he's "drawing inspiration in part from the Southern California pop records of the late '60s and early '70s," and "Hello Sunshine" certainly bears that out:
Whether ACL Fest could be part of the plan is another story. It's been 10 years since Springsteen's last major concert in Austin, an April 2009 appearance at the Erwin Center with the E Street Band. He was also here for South by Southwest in 2012, delivering the music keynote and playing an intimate show at ACL Live for lucky ticket-lottery winners. And he took photos with fans at BookPeople in December 2016 during a promotional tour for his memoir "Born to Run."
Springsteen's certainly fond of Austin. His performances here since the 1980s usually have included a shoutout to the two shows he played at Armadillo World Headquarters in the mid-1970s, just before he became a superstar. He's never played ACL Fest.
No tour dates for "Western Stars" have yet been announced, so a visit in October is certainly possible. But at this point, we'd call it a longshot. "Western Stars" isn't an E Street Band album, and its tenor seems to point toward a live setting that's different from festival bombast. (Here's another thought, though: The new album does seem like it might be an ideal fit for a taping of the "Austin City Limits" TV show, which Springsteen also has never played.)
We'll know soon enough. ACL Fest plans to release its lineup at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 30. They've already leaked a few names via "magic eye" puzzles in ads and hints in Twitter posts.