'Austin City Limits' broadcast schedule for early 2021 includes Ray Wylie Hubbard
Recent "Austin City Limits" tapings by Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ruthie Foster and the War and Treaty are set to air in January as the iconic PBS program continues TV broadcasts of its 46th season.
This year proved a unique challenge, as the coronavirus pandemic significantly reduced the number of acts the program was able to tape. A typical year features around 20 tapings; this year had just seven, six of them without the usual studio audience that fills ACL Live for the performances. Two more that were scheduled to close out 2020 were canceled after two ACL crew members tested positive for COVID-19.
The result is a broadcast schedule that mixes the new performances with selections from the "Austin City Limits" archives. For early 2021, that will include tributes to recently deceased Texas songwriting legends Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver; highlights from past appearances by rock bands the Foo Fighters and Spoon; and an encore presentation of a 2009 episode featuring New Orleans' late, great Allen Toussaint.
First up, on Jan. 2, is "ACL Hall of Fame: The First Six Years," which essentially substitutes for the annual Austin City Limits Hall of Fame show that usually airs on New Year's Eve. There was no Hall of Fame ceremony in 2020, so this episode will gather 14 songs from the 2014 to 2019 events. Among the inductees who'll be featured are Willie Nelson, Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Shawn Colvin.
After a Jan. 9 show drawing highlights from the Foo Fighters' 2008 and 2014 tapings, the following two weeks will feature new episodes. Jan. 16 pairs a half-hour each of Foster, a Grammy-nominated Austin gospel-soul-blues-folk singer, and the War and Treaty, a fiery Americana act from Nashville. Jan. 23 brings a full hour from Hubbard, who taped his long-awaited "Austin City Limits" debut in October.
Three more archival episodes follow, starting with "The Best of Spoon," on Jan. 30, featuring clips from the Austin band's four appearances on the program across the past two decades. A Feb. 6 "Texas Icons" special salutes Walker and Shaver, who died within days of each other in late October; each appeared on "Austin City Limits" four times over the years. The hourlong Toussaint episode will close out Season 46 on Feb. 13.
The first half of the season aired in the fall, with new no-audience episodes from Rufus Wainwright, the Mavericks and Austin's Jackie Venson plus a show taped with British singer-songwriter Yola in February, before the pandemic took hold.