By: Spencer Blohm
There’s a reason Austin, Texas is called the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Every night of the week, every day of the year, you can find live music playing somewhere.
Zilker Park will have no shortage of live music coming up as the Austin Parks Foundation presents the 15th annual Austin City Limits Music Festival. The event will span two consecutive weekends, September 30-October 2 and October 7-9,and will give music lovers more than 130 bands to choose from.
Named for the long running television series Austin City Limits on the Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBS) channel, the Austin City Limits Music Festival has joined other popular festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo as one of the most recognized premiere annual music events. In addition to the PBS show, the Audience channel also hosts a show entitled Live from Austin. For the first time this year, a documentary following artists from all over the world on the “Road to ACL” will also be available for viewing and online streaming (more details here), but of course the real action takes place offscreen and outside the camera frame.
The distinctive flavor and flair that defines Austin permeates the festival. The fabulous food offerings are handpicked from local vendors and restaurants, and the festival is dedicated to highlighting local musicians on their lineup.
This year’s lineup includes some of the biggest names in the music industry. British rockers Radiohead will be headlining the Samsung stage on Friday evening, while straight-out-of-Compton hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar will be the Saturday night main event. Lamar took home the Grammy for best rap album this year, and his song, “Alright,” has become popular with the Black Lives Matter political movement. On Sunday evening, the extremely popular British folk rock band Mumford and Sons will take to the stage. Radiohead, Lamar, and Mumford and Sons will each play both weekends.
On Sunday, October 2, the 2016 Grammy winner for best country album and 2015 CMA winner for best male vocalist, best album, and new artist Chris Stapleton will open for the Mumford and Sons show; the following Sunday, Texas native and beloved American icon Willie Nelson himself will do the honors.
Other well-known acts that will be making an appearance at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival include: British R&B singer Corrine Bailey Rae; Austin-based, Grammy award winning country band Asleep at the Wheel; veteran rapper LL Cool J; favorite folk rock artist Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats; and country singer Kasey Musgraves.
While you’re waiting for the big-name evening shows to start, there are plenty of other up-and-coming artists to check out. Singer-songwriter Margo Price is a country singer with bluegrass and honkytonk undertones and obvious influences from greats like Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Rapper and soul singer Lizzo was born in Detroit but is based in Minneapolis. She appeared in 2014 on Late Show With David Letterman before his retirement.
Red Bull Sound Select works to develop new artists and will be showcasing some of their prodigies. If you like electronica, check out artists like Bayonne, Gallant, and Tennyson.
The festival offers something for everyone, even if you’ve got kids in tow, such as gospel singer Wesley Bray and the Disciples of Joy, and the Barton Hills Choir with special guest, Austin native Nakia. This choir of elementary students performs hit songs from artists like David Bowie, the Beach Boys, and the Foo Fighters.
When the festival is over, Austin is a great city to explore. Keep the party going, and head to popular clubs and live music venues. Hike Austin’s abundant parks and gardens. Enjoy a foodies’ paradise with seemingly endless eating options. Austin also has many other smaller festivals always going on as well, like the popular Levitation Fest with groovy psychedelic music. Deep in the heart of Texas, Austin always is good music, good food, and good times.