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'ACL's' Lickona excited for Americana special

TELEVISION MUSIC

Brian T. Atkinson
Robert Plant performs with Buddy Miller, left, and Patty Griffin at the Americana Music Association awards, which will be the focus of 'ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival' tonight on KLRU.

"Austin City Limits" migrated northeast five weeks ago. The 37-year-old television show airs the journey's spoils at 7 p.m. Saturday on KLRU with "ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival" from the 10th annual conference's Oct. 13 awards ceremony in Nashville, Tenn.

"This is a new thing we're experimenting with to kind of extend the 'ACL' umbrella over other types of programming," says producer Terry Lickona. "About four years ago, we did something similar (with) the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco."

American-Statesman: What initially drew you to this idea?

Terry Lickona: Roots music has always been an important part of "Austin City Limits'" history and evolution. In fact, one time we used to call it "The best of American roots music" before our music became even more eclectic and diverse. Americana has been an important part of our musical stew.

Explain how this partnership with the AMA took shape.

I became more closely involved with the Americana Music Association through my friendship with (the organization's executive director) Jed Hilly. The whole conference is very cool; it's like a mini South by Southwest. The show itself seemed like it was ripe for some kind of television treatment. We started talking about finding some synergy or some way that we could work together.

How will the awards ceremony be presented in the broadcast?

We edited the show that took place at the Ryman (Auditorium) into just performances. We edited out the awards. We've just got quick introductions for each of the acts who performed, a total of 16 individual performances. It'll be a jam-packed hour of television.

Did any performances stand out for you?

I'm a huge fan of the Avett Brothers. The fact that they did a new song ("The Once and Former Carpenter") that night was definitely a standout. Robert Plant and his Band of Joy with our own Patty Griffin was a great moment. I think probably the emotional highlight of the show came at the very end when Gregg Allman performed "Melissa." We literally didn't know until the morning of the show whether he was even going to be there because he's had some pretty serious health issues. That was certainly a poignant moment and a great way to close out the hour.

Did you discover anyone new?

I'd listened to and heard a lot about the Civil Wars but had never seen them live. When I saw their live show, I was really blown away. The visual performance adds a lot to the music. I came away that night deciding that they're on my list for next year. I haven't made a formal offer yet, but I'd love to see them come and do an "Austin City Limits."

Five weeks seems like a tight turnaround time from event to broadcast.

Yeah, definitely. We typically have a turnaround time that's more like three months. Although the first time Coldplay taped "Austin City Limits" six years ago, the show aired five days later. So, there are exceptions.

Speaking of Coldplay, when will their new episode air?

We're going to do an extended 90-minute "Austin City Limits" with Coldplay on New Year's Eve. It'll be a different way to ring in the New Year for fans who would rather watch 90 minutes of uninterrupted music. This is an experiment (that) we hope will be very successful and maybe launch a new tradition.