The PBS live performance series “Austin City Limits” has announced a lineup for its new season, which, perhaps expectedly due to the pandemic, includes a higher-than-usual amount of retrospective programming, but does sport freshly filmed sets as well. The 13-episode 2020-2021 season kicks off Oct. 3 with a retrospective of John Prine’s appearances on the show over the years, along with adding new performances from Rufus Wainwright, Yola and the Mavericks.
The kickoff hour for the 46th season will feature a dozen highlights from guest shots made over the decades by Prine, who was virtually a flagship artist for “Austin City Limits,” and who died of coronavirus-related complications this spring. Prine made his debut on “ACL” in 1978, four years after the series began, and had his final appearance on the show in 2018. A previously unaired performance of Prince singing “Sam Stone” during a 1987 taping will be featured. Jason Isbell, who counts Prine as one of his foremost influences and songwriting heroes, is filming a new introduction for the episode.
Although production has obviously been affected by quarantine conditions, a performance by recent Grammy favorite Yola around her debut album was locked in in February, before the pandemic hit, and will air as the season’s second episode on Oct. 10.
“ACL” is moving ahead with new episodes filmed without an audience, as well. The first of these was with Wainwright, who performed material from his new “Unfollow the Rules” backed by members of North Texas bands Midlake and the Texas Gentleman, in an hour set to air on Oct. 24.
The Mavericks will be next to film a crowd-free episode, which has been set for a Nov. 21 broadcast. The band will be performing material from their recent Spanish-language release, “En Español.” For anyone who can’t wait for November, the taping of the show on Sept. 22 will be livestreamed at this link.
Also filming a fresh appearance and bringing some hometown pride is Austin’s blues-soul-rock singer Jackie Venson, debuting on the show Nov. 14, on a double bill with an encore airing of vintage material from the like-minded Bonnie Raitt.
Besides Raitt and Prine, others who are coming up for retrospective appearances this season include Texas favorites Stevie Ray Vaughan and Asleep at the Wheel, plus the teaming of John Legend with the Roots.
Artists being featured on a half-dozen remaining episodes in the season have yet to be announced. Here is the lineup released Thursday:
October 3: The Best of John Prine (featuring Jason Isbell intro)
October 10: Yola
October 19: Stevie Ray Vaughan 30 Years On
October 24: Rufus Wainwright
October 31: ACL Presents: 50 Years of Asleep at the Wheel
November 7: John Legend & The Roots: Wake Up! (encore)
November 14: Bonnie Raitt (encore) | Jackie Venson
November 21: The Mavericks