Micael Priest, illustrious artist from Armadillo World Headquarters era, dies

Renowned Austin poster artist Micael Priest died Wednesday at age 66. Mark Matson for American-Statesman 1997

Micael Priest, whose posters were part of the iconic artwork that defined Austin’s legendary music venue Armadillo World Headquarters in the 1970s, died in his apartment on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, a friend confirmed Wednesday afternoon. He was 66.

Priest had been struggling in recent years with complications from diabetes, according to a friend who posted Wednesday on Priest’s Facebook page.

Born Oct. 21, 1951, Priest arrived in Austin in 1969 and soon became well-known here for his drawings, especially those he did for shows at the Armadillo. Working alongside fellow artists such as Jim Franklin and Kerry Awn, Priest documented the parade of generation-defining musicians who played the ‘Dillo.

Among Priest’s works were the poster for Willie Nelson’s first Armadillo appearance in 1972, and the one for the venue’s final show on New Year’s Eve 1980 with Commander Cody and Asleep at the Wheel.

In 2014, American-Statesman columnist John Kelso (who died last year) visited with Priest and wrote the following piece about him.

By John Kelso

Austin artist Micael Priest lives in a high-rise overlooking Lady Bird Lake. Although the Rebekah Baines Johnson Center for old folks and the disabled isn’t exactly the Four Seasons.

“We do have 1970s-vintage motel heaters and air conditioners, but we also have the 1970s-vintage roaches,” said Micael, 62, who lives in a small, spectacularly cluttered room on the third floor.

Not that he’s complaining. For a man not doing all that great, he’s doing pretty well. He likes the neighbors.

“One good thing about living in that tower: Most of the people living there are from the generation that said ‘howdy’ and waved,” he said.

If you ever caught a show at Armadillo World Headquarters, you probably know Micael Priest. He’s one of the guys who created all those magical music posters for the legendary music hall. If not for the ’Dillo, who knows if this city would have become a live music mecca?

During the ’Dillo’s existence, from Aug. 7, 1970, to Dec. 31, 1980, Priest cranked out hundreds of concert posters. Among the faces he brought to life were Frank Zappa, the Pointer Sisters, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Steve Fromholz, Commander Cody, Mose Allison, Kinky Friedman, Doug Sahm, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Marshall Tucker, the Ramones and on and on.

Micael rubbed elbows with some of the big names in music. His favorite? Captain Beefheart, Micael said: “Because he managed to capture that very authentic sound of the old Delta Blues man. And he had a 4½-octave range, from his deepest voice to his highest voice, with no holes in it.”

Zappa, on the other hand, was a perfectionist and hard to deal with, Micael said. He was so opposed to drug use that he wouldn’t let his sax player take aspirin for a headache, “although he lived on a constant diet of cigarettes and coffee.”

Micael Priest holds the historic poster he created for Willie Nelson’s first Armadillo World Headquarters show in 1972. John Kelso/American-Statesman

In his craft, Micael was both fast and good. Eddie Wilson, who founded the ’Dillo, recalls his favorite Priest poster, done in 1972 for a Willie Nelson show. It was Micael’s first work for the ’Dillo.

“I told him, ‘Micael, this is a very important poster. I want you to do an old cowboy standing in a bar, crying in his beer, and in the background I want a jukebox throbbing, “Hello Walls.”’ And the next day he walked in with that very poster,” Wilson said. “The jukebox was just pulsating, and ‘Hello Walls’ was coming out of it like a thought bubble. It was just perfect.”

“If I had known this was going to be my most important work, I could have retired in 1972 and gone with a line of work that paid money,” Micael quipped.

Micael obviously never got rich off his artwork. “The ’Dillo paid me $70 a gig,” he recalled. “Plus they let you get in free with a date, and you got staff prices on beer and food. That’s what we lived on.”

When I first met Micael in the 1980s, he was living in a modest rent house on Gibson Street in South Austin with a bunch of other hippies. Micael called the place the Lost Boys Ranch, or, better still, the Home for Unwed Fathers. Later, Micael lived in a friend’s garage for seven years. Then there was his rent house in Mexico, but that didn’t pan out.

“I never could get my truck across the border,” he said.

Micael moved into the Johnson tower two years ago with some fanfare. “My truck blew up when I pulled in here, and my glasses blew off and exploded,” he said. A piece from the truck takes up a large chunk of his living space.

“This is the cabinet where I used to carry my posters around in the truck so they wouldn’t get messed up,” Micael said.

Micael, who has Medicare, suffers from various ailments. His hearing is iffy. He says awhile back he fell on his face, busting up some dental work. “I’m just about out of teeth; Medicare doesn’t do eyes or teeth, so I have to pay for those,” he said. His knees are shot. That 10-pound beard can’t be good for his back. And, with no ride, he has to walk to his favorite Mexican restaurant on East Cesar Chavez with the help of a fancy walking stick, carved for him by a friend in Chicago.

Micael Priest’s poster for the final night of Armadillo World Headquarters. Contributed

Micael still has a lot of his posters, not that they’re helping his economic situation. He says he can’t sell the originals. “They’re a nonrenewable resource,” he explained. “And if I put a check in the bank they’ll stop my (Social Security) checks, unless they change the rules. And I can’t imagine those Republican (wachamacalls) changing the rules unless it’s in their favor.”

Fortunately for Micael, his rent is cheap, by Austin standards ($294 a month, he says), and Meals on Wheels shows up with food. Not that it’s like dining on the cote du boeuf at Qui.

“It’s a hair better than prison food, but it’s a whole bucketful worse than school cafeteria food, in which, you will remember, thanks to Mr. Reagan, ketchup is a vegetable,” Micael said.

But Micael still gets around town with the help of friends, although he isn’t happy with what growth and prosperity have done to the city.

“We may be stupid and lazy, but at least we know how to spell Austin, and it isn’t spelled Austonian,” he said. “I don’t know what’s across the highway from me, but it’s not Austin. It’s precisely the same thing I moved away from when I left Dallas and Houston.”

Artwork of the Raw Deal, a 1970s-80s downtown Austin restaurant, by Micael Priest. Contributed

Austin Blues Society honors Lavelle White, more at inaugural awards show

Lavelle White at Antone’s on June 25, 2017. White received a Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Austin Blues Society on Sept. 7, 2018. TAMIR KALIFA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Local musicians Lavelle White, Alan Haynes and the Soul Man Sam Band were honored over the weekend at the inaugural Austin Blues Society Blues Awards, held at C-Boy’s Heart & Soul on Friday night in conjunction with the Eastside Kings Festival opening party.

White received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Awards, while Haynes and the Soul Man Sam Band were named Best Blues Artist and Best Blues Band, respectively. The Eastside Kings served as the house band for the event, which included performances by each of the award winners.

The Austin Blues Society, formed in 2006, is a nonprofit “dedicated to creating higher awareness and greater appreciation for” blues music, according to its website. The group hosts a monthly blues jam at the Skylark Lounge on the last Thursday of each month and serves other functions locally such as helping to present “Blues in the Schools” programming.

RELATED: Lavelle White still sings the blues, and a whole lot more

The Trojans are coming, but so are Reckless Kelly and the Peterson Brothers at the next UT game

The Peterson Brothers played Reckless Kelly’s Celebrity Softball Jam at Dell Diamond in 2015. The two acts will team up again on Saturday, Sept. 15, for the Longhorn City Limits football pregame concert at the LBJ Library Lawn before Texas takes on USC. Jamie Harms/for Round Rock Leader

Prospects for Texas beating USC this Saturday seem iffy at best after the Longhorns’ narrow win over lowly Tulsa this past weekend. But across from the stadium on the LBJ Library Lawn, the new Longhorn City Limits series brought some welcome live local music to pregame festivities with sets from blues great Jimmie Vaughan and soul band the Nightowls.

RELATED: Video and recap from the first Longhorn City Limits event

Next up, UT formally announced this morning, are country-roots-rockers Reckless Kelly and blues jammers the Peterson Brothers Band, who’ll play before the Horns take on the Trojans at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15. The Peterson Brothers will play from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., with Reckless Kelly following from 5 to 6:15 p.m. Admission is free; no ticket to the game is required.

It’s one of two high-profile sports-related appearances Reckless Kelly will be making this month. The band recently announced that its annual Reckless Kelly Celebrity Softball Jam at Dell Diamond, set for Sunday, Sept. 23, will be the last of a 10-year run for the popular charity event.

Longhorn City Limits shows will continue at all home games this season. The full schedule hasn’t been revealed; announcements of the next event will happen at that stadium during each game.

Montreal’s Piknic Électronik comes to Auditorium Shores in October

Piknic Électronik, a two-day, “picnic in the park” electronic music event, is set to go down Oct. 27-28 at Auditorium Shores. The lineup is yet to be released, but organizers promise “an eclectic mix of techno, house and disco, showcasing 12 national and local artists on 2 stages.”

Mark Myers and Michelle Rodriguez dance at Auditorium Shores during South by Southwest on Thursday March 17, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

The original Piknic Électronik is a summer concert series in Montreal that aims to be the opposite of an all-night rave. The event was founded in 2003 by a group of electronic music enthusiasts who hoped to make the genre more accessible “by bringing it out in broad daylight.”

The Auditorium Shores shows will run from 2 to 9:30 p.m. each day.

The event is family friendly. Kids 10 and younger are free, and there will be a Petite Piknic area with special children’s programming.

Curated food selections from Central Market are available for pre-order, and there will be food trucks on site.

Piknic Électronik organizers have staged versions of the event in various locations around the world including Melbourne, Dubai and Santiago. This will be the first American edition of the event.

Early bird tickets are $15 and available through Front Gate Tickets.

More information. 

 

One Night in Austin: Longhorn afternoon gives way to a local music evening

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The University of Texas football team’s home opener on Saturday may have been a disconcerting affair, but out on the LBJ Library lawn across from the stadium before the game, the new Longhorn City Limits live music series had an auspicious debut. We opted to bypass the game itself in favor of sampling other shows happening around town as the evening wore on. Video highlights are above; here’s the full recap:

4 p.m.: Longhorn City Limits with Jimmie Vaughn and the Nightowls at LBJ Library Lawn. It’s quality Austin music, it’s free, and it’ll happen before each home game this year: This new addition to pregame tailgating rituals is a no-brainer. The crowd was a bit thin early on — the Nightowls began at 3:30 p.m.; we arrived about halfway through their hourlong set — but the group’s horn-spiked soul revue set a lively tone for the day.

When blues guitar great Vaughan took the stage at 5 p.m. with his Tilt-A-Whirl Band, quite a few more people were in the crowd, about 99 percent of them wearing orange — including a few Longhorn cheerleaders who joined Vaughan onstage for a number early in the set. During the game later on, UT announced that country-rock band Reckless Kelly will be playing next week’s Longhorn City Limits concert before the USC game.

RELATED: It’s the final inning for Reckless Kelly’s Celebrity Softball Jam

6:15 p.m.: Bobby Whitlock & CoCo Carmel at Saxon Pub. A key member of Eric Clapton’s circa-1970 band Derek & the Dominos, Whitlock is one of those rock ’n’ roll treasures who happened to settle down in Austin, moving here many years ago with Carmel, his wife and musical partner. The duo generally plays every few weeks at the Saxon, and it’s one of the best gigs in town.

Whitlock’s prone to going off on tangents when he starts talking about the good old days, but those tangents are almost always fascinating. An integral musician who also played on key records by George Harrison and the Rolling Stones, Whitlock noted Saturday that “I hang my hat on ‘Layla,’ ‘All Things Must Pass’ and ‘Exile on Main Street.’ It’s a pretty good hat rack.” Indeed.

The pair played some songs on acoustic guitars before Whitlock moved to keyboards and Carmel picked up the saxophone. Both phases of the show were musically quite lovely, gradually building to the obvious yet still riveting finale of “Bell Bottom Blues,” the Whitlock-penned Dominos tune for which he’s most famous. Tagging it with the iconic piano coda that he added to Clapton’s “Layla,” Whitlock gave the crowd a smile, thanked everyone for coming and invited them back again soon. If you’re an Austin music fan and you haven’t taken in this gig yet, move it to the top of your list.

8 p.m.: Michael Nesmith & the First National Band at Paramount Theatre. A square peg amid our typically local-focused “One Night” itineraries, this touring show by the legendary Monkees member played up his early-1970s years playing country-folk-rock music. That focus made for quite a nice segue from Whitlock, whose heyday overlapped with Nesmith’s in the fertile Southern California scene of that era. (Groovers Paradise record store owner Greg Ellis noted that Nesmith even covered the Whitlock/Clapton tune “I Looked Away” on one of the First National Band albums.)

No other original First National members are aboard for this tour; only drummer Jonathan Ware is still living. But Nashville ace Pete Finney did a fine job re-creating the late Red Rhodes’ pedal steel runs and thus was a key member here, along with Nesmith’s sons Jonathan and Christian on guitars.

The most lovely moment, however, came mid-set when the band departed and left Nesmith to deliver three of his best-known compositions — “Propinquity,” “Different Drum” and “Papa Gene’s Blues” — just as he had done at L.A.’s famed Troubadour nightclub right after he wrote them. “Here I am, 50 years later,” Nesmith marveled, as the crowd basked in the special moment.

Marlon Sexton fronts the new band Marfa Crush, which played Saturday at ABGB as part of the venue’s new monthly series that focuses on emerging acts. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

9:40 p.m.: Marfa Crush and Midcentury at ABGB. We caught only the last minute or so of Midcentury’s final song, but their closing instrumental jam was tight and impressive, whetting the appetite for catching them again another time. On this night, we were there mainly to see Marfa Crush, the new project of 19-year-old Marlon Sexton.

If you follow Austin music (or Bob Dylan, for that matter), you’re well aware of his father Charlie’s accomplishments. It’s easy to see a young Charlie in Marlon’s face, yet he’s a very different kind of singer, and the songs he’s writing with this band of similar-age friends have more to do with envelope-pushing atmospheric rock than anything Dylanesque. Marfa Crush is still in its infancy, but their charismatic performance on this night suggests this is a young band with enormous potential.

10:45 p.m.: The Mrs. at Lamberts. Celebrating the release of their new EP “Five Minutes,” this quartet featuring singer-guitarist Mandy Prater, singer-keyboardist Larissa Ness, bassist Jenny Mason and drummer Andra Liemandt drew a sold-out crowd to the small bar above Lamberts BBQ. Opening with the effervescent single “Hurricane” from the new EP, the group kept the mood in the room lively throughout.

A cover of the Lumineers’ signature tune “Ho Hey” went over well but seemed unnecessary, as the women write strong enough material on their own to let it carry them. They’re still relatively new (the group’s debut release came out last year) and perhaps are still building their catalogue, but the title track to the new EP suggests they’re hitting their stride and could become a breakout mainstream-pop act.

RELATED: More videos in our “One Night” series

Austin360 On The Record: Ghostland Observatory, Black Joe Lewis, more

Austin singer-songwriter Ray Bonneville (who performed at last year’s Jimmy LaFave tribute at the Paramount Theater) has a new album out this week. TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2017

OUT THIS WEEK

Ghostland Observatory, “See You Later Simulator.” The first release in eight years from the duo of Aaron Behrens and Thomas Ross Turner indicates a rebirth of the band that got big enough to tape “Austin City Limits” a decade ago. (It’s unclear whether this means an end or just a pause to Behrens’ recent Midnight Stroll project.) In writing about the band for the American-Statesman last month, Deborah Sengupta Stith observed: “The album has throwback vibes from Ghostland’s earlier work, with thumping numbers such as opener ‘Paradise Lost,’ ‘We Understand’ and the title track, drawing on their signature brand of electro-disco mayhem. But there’s a new sentimentality, a deeper emotional core to tracks such as ‘Sometimes’ and the soon-to-be-hit ‘Miss Abyss.’ Playing Oct. 25 at Stubb’s. Here’s the track “See You Later Simulator”:

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, “The Difference Between Me and You.” After a four-year hiatus following 2013’s “Electric Slave,” Lewis and his band return with their second record in as many years, following 2017’s “Backlash.” Deep blues grooves permeate the record, from the blazing-hot opener “Nothing But a Cliche” to the old-school throwback “Hemmin’ & Hawin’” to the soulful, swinging “Face in the Scene.” An intriguing cover is Lewis’s radical reworking of Wilco’s “Handshake Drugs.” Release show Sept. 7 at Continental Club. Here’s the video for the track “Culture Vulture”:

Ray Bonneville, “At King Electric” (Stonefly). The ninth solo album from Canadian transplant Bonneville features 11 original tunes that follow in line with the sharp and smart songwriting path he’s blazed for the past three decades. Recorded in Austin with Justin Douglas at King Electric studio (thus the title), the songs blend elements of blues, folk, country and other Americana accents with the kind of masterful grace that can only be attained through a lifetime of performing and creating music. Keyboardist Richie Lawrence and drummer Andre Bohren provide solid backing throughout, with local luminaries Gurf Morlix and Stefano Intelisano appearing on a couple of songs. Here’s the track “Tender Heart”:

Emily Shirley, “Courage Up” EP. A secret weapon on keyboards and backing vocals in local pop band Belle Sounds, Shirley steps out on her own with this instantly appealing five-song set that recalls the more melodic moments of Suzanne Vega’s work. Produced by Mark Hallman at his renowned Congress House studio, the recordings were made primarily by a trio of Shirley, Hallman and Belle Sounds guitarist Andre Moran. Release show Sept. 7 at One-2-One Bar. Here’s the track “Streetlight Glow”:

The Mrs., “Five Minutes” EP. Featuring singer-guitarist Mandy Prater, singer-keyboardist Larissa Ness, bassist Jenny Mason and drummer Andra Liemandt, The Mrs. delivers some of the most ready-for-prime-time pop music being made in Austin on this EP. “Hurricane” sports a calypso vibe to accompany its buoyant “When they say go right, we go left” chorus chant. The title track is the most compelling number, a challenge to make time count set to an immediately engaging melody. Release show Sept. 8 at Lamberts. Here’s the video for “Five Minutes”:

Collective Thought, “Rise.” Reggae, hip-hop, soul and more weave together in songs of social consciousness on the debut recording from this six-piece outfit featuring vocalists StormShadow, Kelly Hafner and Project Dead plus guitarist Silverback Jonz, bassist Shawn Hallman and drummer Christopher Francis. Here’s the title track:

Buhu, “Tenets.” The debut album from the electronica/dream-pop duo of Jeremy Rogers and Tiffany Pagica features mostly original material plus a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” Here’s the opening track, “Yew”:

LOCAL RELATED

Ben Dickey, “It’s All Different” EP (SexHawkeBlack/Dualtone). A three-song preview of the Charlie Sexton-produced album due out early next year, this gives a glimpse at what Louisiana musician Ben Dickey’s own music sounds like when he’s not re-creating the late Austin troubadour Blaze Foley. The star of the biopic “Blaze” is not new to music — he played in bands in Arkansas and Philadelphia over the past couple of decades before releasing a solo album in 2016 — but he’s likely to get a much wider airing as a result of his newfound film-star status. Sexton’s production helps to make Dickey’s singer-songwriter-based tunes stand out; on “Way Out in the Cotton” in particular, they ride a deep groove built around compelling guitar leads. Here’s the title track:

COMING SOON

  • SEPT. 14: Willie Nelson, “My Way” (Legacy).
  • SEPT. 14: Asleep at the Wheel, “New Routes.”
  • SEPT. 14: Band of Heathens, “A Message From the People Revisited.”
  • SEPT. 14: Gina Chavez, “Lightbeam” EP, release show Sept. 15 at Antone’s.
  • SEPT. 14: Cory Morrow, “Whiskey and Pride,” release shows Sept. 14-15 at Gruene Hall.
  • SEPT. 14: Johnny Goudie, “Leper Hands” EP, release show Sept. 13 at One-2-One Bar.
  • SEPT. 14: Ben Millburn, “Sunglass Moustache.”
  • SEPT. 21: “Blaze” Original Cast Recording soundtrack (Cinewax/Light in the Attic).
  • SEPT. 21: Jaimee Harris, “Red Rescue,” playing Sept. 20 at One-2-One Bar.
  • SEPT. 21: Western Youth, self-titled, release show Sept. 21 at Spider House Ballroom.
  • SEPT. 21: Will Courtney, “Crazy Love” (Super Secret).
  • SEPT. 21: Jonathon Zemek, “Hillcrest.”
  • SEPT. 21: Jane Ellen Bryant, “Let Me Be Lost” EP.
  • SEPT. 25: Charlie Belle, “Like I Love This” EP, playing Oct. 13 at Whip In.
  • SEPT. 28: Jerry David DeCicca, “Burning Daylight” (Super Secret).
  • SEPT. 28: Nobody’s Girl, “Waterline” EP, release show Sept. 29 at Saxon Pub.
  • OCT. 5: Molly Burch, “First Flower” (Captured Tracks).
  • OCT. 5: Max Frost, “Gold Rush” (Atlantic).
  • OCT. 5: Michael Martin Murphey, “Austinology: Alleys of Austin.”
  • OCT. 12: Lindsay Beaver, “Tou  gh As Love” (Alligator).
  • OCT. 26: Carson McHone, “Carousel.”
  • OCT. 26: Jamie Lin Wilson, “Jumping Over Rocks,” playing Oct. 20 at Sam’s Town Point.
  • OCT. 26: Isaac Jacob Band, self-titled (Union 28).
  • NOV. 9: Sydney Wright, “Seiche.”

READ MORE: Check out all our recent Austin360 On The Record roundups

Formula 1 will be off to the races with Erika Wennerstrom, Nakia, more local acts

Erika Wennerstrom is among the local acts who’ll play the Formula 1 race weekend at Circuit of the Americas in October. JAMES GREGG/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Bruno Mars and Britney Spears are the big draws at Circuit of the Americas for this year’s Formula 1 race next month, but the event also always includes performances by quite a few local and regional acts on stages across the grounds. COTA announced many of those performers Thursday, including Austin luminaries Erika Wennerstrom, Nakia & the Blues Grifters and Tomar & the FCs.

RELATED: Bruno Mars and Britney Spears will play Formula 1 weekend

Other locals in the lineup include Kalu & the Electric Joint, Blackillac, Jane Ellen Bryant, Western Youth, Superfonicos, Texas KGB, Queue Queue, Megafauna, Otis the Destroyer, KP & the Boom Boom, Mayeux & Broussard, Big Wy’s Brass Band,, Midcentury and Billy King & the Bad Bad Bad. Several DJs are also on board, including DJ Mel, DJ Chorizo Funk, DJ Manolo Black and DJ King Louie.

Also on the bill are Alchemist Prime, Built by Snow , Jakubi, Jeremy Steding, love-Sadkid, Lost Vaqueros and Transit Method. More artists may still be added.

The Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix is Oct. 19-21. Mars performs on Saturday, Oct. 20, with Spears on Sunday, Oct. 21. Tickets are available via the Circuit of the Americas website.

 

Austin City Limits Radio: Deal with KGSR brings iconic brand to the airwaves

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From television show to outdoor festival to music venue, and now to the radio dial: The iconic Austin City Limits brand is extending its reach once again, with Thursday’s announcement that longtime local station KGSR-FM is becoming Austin City Limits Radio.

The change, which takes effect at 5 p.m. Thursday with a satellite broadcast from Austin’s Arlyn Studios, will create a new format based primarily around the broad range of artists associated with the other Austin City Limits brand. Key KGSR staffers involved with the move said they expect roughly 50 percent of the station’s playlist content to be different with the ACL Radio designation.

Indiana-based Emmis Communications still owns KGSR and will keep those call letters. Emmis will license the Austin City Limits name from the television show, which launched in the mid-1970s. The program licensed its name to the Zilker Park music festival in 2002. When downtown concert venue the Moody Theater opened in 2011 and became the new site of the TV show’s tapings, a deal was made to call the venue ACL Live.

AUSTIN360 ARCHIVES: ACL Live becomes the new home of “Austin City Limits”

Adding radio to the mix was primarily the brainchild of KGSR on-air personality Andy Langer, who’s been with the station for 11 years. It started, he says, almost as a joke, when program director Emily Parker presented a list of potential adds to the station’s playlist that seemed beyond its usual AAA-format scope.

Leon Bridges played the first Austin City Limits Radio live studio session at KGSR’s Dell Music Lounge on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. KGSR is rebranding itself as Austin City Limits Radio. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“I said, ‘Great, what are we going to call the new station?’,” Langer recalled. “My knee-jerk reaction led me to something I should have thought of five or 10 years ago.”

Adding a radio element to the ACL brand indeed seems like a natural extension. Tom Gimbel, the general manager of the “Austin City Limits” TV show and the executive who approved the multi-year licensing deal after Langer approached him with the idea, noted that the station “will be the first ACL brand touchpoint that is on 24-7, 365 days a year.”

Like Langer, Gimbel seems almost surprised that the notion hadn’t arisen earlier. “As we look at it now, I think it does seem quite obvious,” he said. “Sometimes great ideas sit in front of you for years before someone points it out.”

The change “allows us to broaden our scope,” said Scott Gillmore, senior vice president and Austin market manager for Emmis, whose local radio properties also include KLBJ-FM, KLBJ-AM, 101X, Latino 102.7, Bob-FM and La Zeta. “Even though we had changed our music over time, people still had an image about what KGSR was that maybe went back a ways.”

RELATED: Past format tweaks at KGSR

Gillmore was part of the team that launched KGSR in 1990 with original program director Jody Denberg, now a DJ on KUTX. Under Denberg, KGSR helped to pioneer the “adult album alternative” format that eventually became known in the industry as AAA radio. Gradual shifts over the years found the station leaning more toward Americana, or mainstream pop, or other subgenres.

“KGSR has gone through so many iterations trying to stay true to its roots but embracing the new Austin at the same time,” said program director Emily Parker, who’s been with the station since 2015, first as music director. “It’s this constant tug-of-war back and forth, playlist-wise. Now we won’t have that tug-of-war; we’ll be embracing new and old and everything in between.”

Asked for examples of what might carry over from the current KGSR format and the new ACL Radio vision, she suggested that “center-lane, big-brand heralds of AAA” such as Coldplay, Adele, Ed Sheeran and Mumford & Sons would remain. “But we’ll go to the left of that,” she said, with Texas legends such as Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and Stevie Ray Vaughan, all of whom were KGSR staples in the 1990s. (Nelson’s traditional live-show opener “Whiskey River” will be the first song played on Thursday’s inaugural Austin City Limits Radio broadcast.)

“And we’ll widen on the other side for artists like Kendrick Lamar, Drake and others who have played the festival,” Parker added, making it clear that hip-hop — an increasingly prominent genre at ACL Fest in recent years — would be part of the mix.

While the station won’t be a marketing arm for the festival per se, Parker acknowledged the station likely would be putting some focus over the next month on acts playing the October event, citing St. Vincent and Metallica as potential examples.

RELATED: More news about ACL Fest 2018

Another key indicator: When Fort Worth soul sensation Leon Bridges was in town last weekend for a two-night stand at ACL Live, he stopped in at KGSR’s Dell Music Lounge to tape a four-song segment with Langer for what will be the first-ever ACL Radio live session, set to air Saturday at noon. Bridges also paid a visit to KUTX’s Studio 1A last weekend, suggesting that the two stations might share more common ground as a result of this new development.

KGSR, which moved from its original 107.1 frequency to 93.3 about a decade ago, also is picking up another spot on the dial with the change. Starting Thursday, ACL Radio will be heard at 97.1 in addition to 93.3. On the internet, the station will stream live at acl-radio.com.

Langer, who also books the station’s wildly popular summertime Blues on the Green concert series in Zilker Park and puts together its annual “Broadcasts” benefit CD sold during the holidays, will add the title of Brand Marshal to his KGSR vitae. He believes a major advantage for the station will be the widely-recognized identity that Austin City Limits provides. “That identity is probably 90 percent of the battle to get somebody to actually listen,” he said.

Gimbel, who also recently worked out a deal with the University of Texas and concert promoter C3 Presents (which puts on ACL Fest) for a series of “Longhorn City Limits” concerts before UT football games this fall, says the KGSR partnership may also present other opportunities that haven’t yet been contemplated. Might KGSR broadcast some of ACL Fest live at some point? There’s no plan for that yet, in part because the licensing deal was arranged quite quickly, proceeding from concept to reality in just three or four months.

Gimbel credits KLRU director of communications April Burcham for coming up with a summary catch-phrase that has resonated with the Austin City Limits brand’s keepers. “She said, ‘We don’t just have a stool; now we have a table.’ It’s the fourth leg.”

RELATED: More news about the “Austin City Limits” TV show

Hosea Hargrove, godfather of Austin blues, dies

Guitarist and singer Hosea Hargrove, an artist often referred to as the godfather of Austin blues, died early Monday morning. His daughter, Hosetter Irwin, confirmed the news with an emotional post on his Facebook page Monday night. “My Daddy, a.k.a. the blues man, has got his heavenly wings,” she wrote. He was 88.

Hosea Hargrove is inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame at the Austin Music Awards at the Austin Music Hall during the SXSW Music Festival. 2009 Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Hosea is the foundation of music itself for Austin. He was here 60 years ago playing in all these small clubs,” Eddie Stout, founder of the local blues label Dialtone Records, said on Wednesday morning. 

Hargrove grew up East of Austin near Smithville. He was a self-taught guitar man.

He made his own guitar from a cigar box at age 14 or so,” his daughter, Shirley Vincent said on Wednesday morning. 

“I didn’t take no kind of music lessons or nothing,” Hargrove told the Statesman in 2011. “Nobody could get used to my style. They couldn’t stop me from doin’ nothin’.”

“He didn’t listen to records,” Stout said. He’d hear songs on the radio or a jukebox, then go home and try to recreate them. “His chord changes were different from the record because he didn’t know exactly how it went. So what he made up is what he stuck with.”

Guitarist Hosea Hargrove of Dialtone Records on Feb. 8, 2011. Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Hargrove was a regular at Antone’s and other Austin blues clubs. He also toured extensively, opening for and sitting in with some of the top blues players in the country, including B.B. King. Stout also took him to Europe once. He never achieved widespread acclaim, but his local influence was significant.

Guitar legend Jimmie Vaughan was among the artists who studied Hargrove’s style.

Jimmie Vaughan used to come to Elgin and sit in with me when he was young, before his brother even played,” Hargrove said in 2011. 

Hargrove was inducted into the Austin Music Awards Hall of Fame in 2009.

He was serious about his craft, carrying his guitar with him everywhere. “(Music) played a big role in his life. It was all that he knew,” Vincent said. 

“Without people like Hosea nobody would be here. None of the stars that we know today,” Stout said. “They all relied on some kind of foundation and Hosea built that foundation.”

Austin360 On The Record: Bob Schneider, Andrew Nolte, Extreme Heat, more

Bob Schneider will play songs from his new “Blood & Bones” and other favorites from his catalog on Sunday at Nutty Brown Amphitheatre. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman 2016

RECENTLY RELEASED

Bob Schneider, “Blood & Bones” (Shockorama). Schneider spirographs his music and art in so many different directions that it can be hard to keep track of where he may be at any given moment, or where he’ll go next. But on “Blood & Bones,” released earlier this summer, he’s in a similar wheelhouse as his 2000 breakthrough album “Lonelyland,” focusing mainly on singer-songwriter-oriented, acoustic-based material. The moody title track is one of his best songs in years, “Lake Michigan” is an immediately appealing melodic folk-rocker, and “Easy” sways along with a pace and vibe fitting its title. He gets funky on “Easier With You,” “Texaco” and the way-out-there “Make Drugs Get Money,” before closing on a more romantic note with “Hours and Days” and the uplifting “Sing About Love.” If “classic Bob” is your favorite Schneider persona, this one’s for you. Playing Sept. 2 at Nutty Brown Amphitheatre. Here’s the video for the opening track, “Making It Up”:

Andrew Nolte, “Tied to a String.” A multi-instrumentalist who’s played with local acts including the Derrick Davis Band, Zissou and the Tom Petty tribute act Damn Torpedoes, Nolte proves to be an extraordinarily talented composer and arranger in his own right on his highly sophisticated nine-song debut. This is pop music, fundamentally, but Nolte draws upon elements of jazz, classical, folk, cabaret and other styles, fleshing out his tunes with exquisite accents of horns, winds and strings. I’m not quite sure how Nolte has flown under my radar until now, but this is one of the best Austin records of 2018. Release show Sept. 4 at Saxon Pub. Here’s the opening track, “Europa Tide”:

Heart of the City, self titled (Hand Drawn). This debut collaboration pairing Austin’s Brandon Callies (Black Tie Vendetta, American Revival) with Dallas musician Paco Estrada features a dozen tracks of dance-oriented rock-and-soul. Release show Aug. 31 at Hole in the Wall. Here’s the video for the track “The River”:

OUT THIS WEEK

Extreme Heat, “All the Way Gone” EP (Fable). Few Austin bands have a longer history than this eight-piece funk-and-soul combo, whose beginnings date back to the heyday of Armadillo World Headquarters. Singer Bruce Spelman produced this four-song disc and wrote the bluesy “Cloudy Day,” with guitarist Mike Barnes penning “Steady” and bassist/vocalist Mike Roeder responsible for the other two (including the title track). Release show Aug. 31 at One-2-One Bar. Here’s a recent live version of the title track:

COMING SOON

  • SEPT. 5: Buhu, “Tenets,” release show Sept. 5 at Barracuda.
  • SEPT. 7: Ghostland Observatory, “See You Later Simulator,” playing Oct. 25 at Stubb’s.
  • SEPT. 7: Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, “The Difference Between Me and You,” release show Sept. 7 at Continental Club.
  • SEPT. 7: Ray Bonneville, “At King Electric” (Stonefly).
  • SEPT. 7: Emily Shirley, “Courage Up,” release show Sept. 7 at One-2-One Bar.
  • SEPT. 7: The Mrs., “Five Minutes” EP, release show Sept. 8 at Lamberts.
  • SEPT. 7: Collective Thought, “Rise.”
  • SEPT. 14: Willie Nelson, “My Way” (Legacy).
  • SEPT. 14: Asleep at the Wheel, “New Routes.”
  • SEPT. 14: Band of Heathens, “A Message From the People Revisited.”
  • SEPT. 14: Gina Chavez, “Lightbeam” EP, release show Sept. 15 at Antone’s.
  • SEPT. 14: Cory Morrow, “Whiskey and Pride,” release shows Sept. 14-15 at Gruene Hall.
  • SEPT. 14: Johnny Goudie, “Leper Hands” EP, release show Sept. 13 at One-2-One Bar.
  • SEPT. 14: Ben Millburn, “Sunglass Moustache.”
  • SEPT. 21: “Blaze” Original Cast Recording soundtrack (Cinewax/Light in the Attic).
  • SEPT. 21: Jaimee Harris, “Red Rescue,” playing Sept. 20 at One-2-One Bar.
  • SEPT. 21: Western Youth, self-titled, release show Sept. 21 at Spider House Ballroom.
  • SEPT. 21: Will Courtney, “Crazy Love” (Super Secret).
  • SEPT. 21: Jonathon Zemek, “Hillcrest.”
  • SEPT. 21: Jane Ellen Bryant, “Let Me Be Lost” EP.
  • SEPT. 25: Charlie Belle, “Like I Love This” EP, playing Oct. 13 at Whip In.
  • SEPT. 28: Jerry David DeCicca, “Burning Daylight” (Super Secret).
  • SEPT. 28: Nobody’s Girl, “Waterline” EP, release show Sept. 29 at Saxon Pub.
  • OCT. 5: Molly Burch, “First Flower” (Captured Tracks).
  • OCT. 5: Max Frost, “Gold Rush” (Atlantic).
  • OCT. 5: Michael Martin Murphey, “Austinology: Alleys of Austin.”
  • OCT. 12: Lindsay Beaver, “Tou  gh As Love” (Alligator).
  • OCT. 26: Carson McHone, “Carousel.”
  • OCt. 26: Jamie Lin Wilson, “Jumping Over Rocks,” playing Oct. 20 at Sam’s Town Point.