ACL inducts The Neville Brothers and others into Hall of Fame

Elvis Costello, Raul Malo, Brandi Carlile, Chris Isaak, and Trombone Shorty delivering the evening’s grand finale of “Down by the Riverside” (Photo by Gary Miller)
The band, along with Elvis Costello and Dr. John, opened with a tribute to Fats Domino, who passed away that day, and the crowd sang along loudly to “Ain’t That a Shame.”

The 4th Austin City Limits Hall of Fame induction ceremony honoring new inductees The Neville Brothers, Rosanne Cash, and Roy Orbison, is set to air on PBS stations across the country on New Year’s Eve 2017, so there was a festive atmosphere in ACL Live throughout the event. Frequently the crowd got into the spirit, shouting out “Happy New Year!” to host Chris Isaak, looking resplendent in a black suit, his rhinestones catching the lights. When the show airs, this will all seem perfectly normal. Ah, the magic of TV!

Each inductee’s award was preceded by a short video clip about the artist’s career in general and their history with Austin City Limits, the longest-running music program in television history, taping since 1974. Austin City Limits is described as a historical archive, educational resource, and celebration of both Austin and the TV show itself. In 2014 it began to induct members who have appeared on the show into its own hall of fame and holding an award party and celebration, with musical tributes to the performers who have performed on the iconic stage. The house was full of industry folks and music fans who seemed excited to be there to celebrate some true legends.

Austin City Limits is described as a historical archive, educational resource, and celebration of both Austin and the TV show itself.

The crowd was somewhat older and reserved, sitting politely in their seats. The first inductee was the famous baritone tenor Roy Orbison. His award was accepted by his three sons and two grandchildren. A short clip of his 1982 ACL performance was played. Performances of Orbison’s songs by Chris Isaak, Brandi Carlile and Raul Malo were enthusiastically received by the audience, many of whom sang along. Raul did a near-perfect rendition of “Crying” and Isaak sounded uncannily like the legend himself as he sang “Only the Lonely.” Carlile also performed a powerful rendition of “It’s Over.” Then all three singers joined together onstage for “Pretty Woman,” to the crowd’s delight.

Rosanne Cash was inducted next and she accepted the award from presenter Elvis Costello. Most of the audience seemed surprised and pleased to see Costello there. Cash, along with a band that included Lloyd Maines and her husband John Leventhal, sang a few songs after Costello performed one he and Kris Kristofferson had written, “April 5th.” Neko Case performed a couple of solos, then Cash, Case, Costello, and Ry Cooder performed Cash’s “The Feather’s Not a Bird.”

After a short intermission, Chris Isaak came back to introduce The Neville Brothers. The current band members, sons and nephews of the originals, paid tribute to the founding members, their fathers and uncles and to the city of New Orleans. The Austin City Limits show was initially begun to showcase Texas artists of various backgrounds, and the Neville Brothers were the first band from New Orleans to be featured on the show, back in 1978. The group started in 1976, when the four brothers of the Neville family, Art, Charles, Aaron, and Cyril came together to record “The Wild Tchoupitoulas” (though the brothers had been successful in individual musical careers prior to that time). Now Ian, Ivan, Jason, and Omari are the Nevilles in the band.

They got in trouble from the elder Nevilles for ordering room service in hotels around the world while on tour.

Trombone Shorty accompanied the band, and during the acceptance of their award, he told stories about travelling with them when he was only 12 years old, noting that he and some of the younger Neville kids would “wrestle and knock over the Grammy.” They also got in trouble from the elder Nevilles for ordering room service in hotels around the world while on tour. Shorty noted that there was a direct line from Louis Armstrong to Fats Domino to the Neville Brothers.

The introductory video mentioned that the band was The Funk of the City. And they kept up the tradition last night, with Trombone Shorty asking the audience, “Ya’ll ready to get funky?” to start off the set. The band , along with Elvis Costello and Dr. John, opened with a tribute to Fats Domino, who passed away that day, and the crowd sang along loudly to “Ain’t That a Shame.” By the 3rd song, the lively band had moved people to get out of their seats. In the video clip before the show, Irma Thomas, New Orlean’s Queen of Soul, said “You have to move something if it’s moveable!” And the time to move had come. Dr. John was warmly welcomed to the stage a couple of times. It was his manager that got the brothers together in the 1970s.

They kept attendees entertained, playing such popular hits as “Fire on the Bayou,” keeping the uptown beat that the original band was known for. The band also played, “Fire and Brimstone,” “Meet de boys,” “Brother Jake,” “Way Down in New Orleans,” and “Big Chief” before being joined onstage by Carlile, Costello, Isaak, and Malo for a rousing and beautiful rendition of “Down by the Riverside.” The entire audience were on their feet, singing along and having a perfect end to the night. Near the end of the song streamers and ticker tape exploded from the sky for a thunderous conclusion to the song. Because, through the magic of TV land, last night was New Year’s Eve.

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