Introducing indie singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis, scheduled for a full set later Friday on one of the Austin City Limits Music Festival's big stages, NPR Music's Stephen Thompson marveled for a moment at the shady space in the wine grove where the new Bonus Tracks stage has been set up for half-hour interview sessions throughout the weekend. "It's literally the most pleasant place ACL has to offer," Thompson declared.
On this not-yet-jammed Friday afternoon, he might have been right, as a couple hundred festgoers crowded around the stage for an enjoyable conversation that touched on everything from songwriting to grief to SXSW to Lucile Ball ot rabbit holes (and rabbit ears, which Lewis was wearing). Expect things to be a good bit crazier at 2 p.m. Saturday when Thompson's interview guest is pop phenom Billie Eilish, before her festival performance later that evening.
Friday's interview with Lewis began with an amusing anecdote an experience she had at Willie Nelson's Luck Reunion during 2016, when one of Willie's friends convinced her to get up onstage uninvited and sing "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" with Nelson:
The fast-paced conversation continued to include a bit about Lewis's early years as a child actor — she co-starred as Lucille Ball's granddaughter in a short-lived show called "Life With Lucy" — and her experiences dealing with the loss of both her parents in recent years. "I feel like a totally different person having gone through that," she said.
Most illuminating were her comments about songwriting, which served as a sort of connective thread through the conversation. Asked at one point about a reunion tour she did with the Postal Service, and whether she might consider one with Rilo Kiley at some point, Lewis said, "Sure," before adding: "I think it's important to honor the past, and nostalgia makes people feel great. However, I'm most excited about the songs I'm writing right now."