For 40 years, Austin City Limits has been entertaining television audiences all over the country. The show began as a way to showcase the "new" music that was coming out of Texas, but it quickly gained a reputation as a prime gig for any artist of any genre—emerging or established.
When my father joined forces with two other guys to produce the pilot and subsequently Season One in 1974, I wasn't very interested. Season One artists included the Texas Playboys, Greezy Wheels and Rusty Wier. I was 13 years old at the time, and was way more in to what I thought was "cooler" music... artists like Elton John, Three Dog Night and Steely Dan. I can just see my adolescent eyes rolling.
But eventually ACL gained a national reputation, which is largely due to the fact that my dad, Billy Arhos, tirelessly sold stations all over the country on the idea, and busted his butt to get the funding year after year. The little seed that was planted when two guys approached my dad and pitched the idea, has morphed into the longest-running music show in television history. And suffice it to say, aging has given me an entirely different perspective. I think the show is pretty cool.
On April 26, ACL held its first-ever Hall of Fame ceremony, and my dad was inducted along with Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and legendary football coach Darrell Royal. It was an all-star tribute, and the evening did not disappoint. Since my dad was being honored, it was a rare occasion where I could bring my camera and shoot to my heart's content. And the fact that we were sitting on the front row certainly helped, given that I accidentally brought the wrong lens. (I'm still trying to forgive myself for that.) Here are some of my favorite shots from the night.
Emmylou, Willie and Lyle. That's a Hall of Fame in and of itself.
Matthew McConaughey did a fine job hosting, and his five year-old son, Levi––who appeared to be his "date" for the night––was simply adorable. They were sitting at the table next to me, and the little McConaughey was wide-eyed the whole evening, completely content to be hanging with his dad.
Nelson was the first inductee; he was the very first artist on the show.
ProducerTerry Lickona presented Nelson with his award, and then inducted my dad. Terry has been a wonderful friend to our family, and offered a very kind tribute to our father's legacy. One of my dad's only regrets about the evening is that he forgot to thank Terry publicly for all of his support over the years. I told him that he also forgot to thank his children for being so awesome. His response? He laughed.
Next, former UT football coach Mack Brown inducted Darrell Royal. His widow, Edith, accepted the award.
After a short intermission, Stevie Ray Vaughan was inducted. Stevie's brother, Jimmie, delivered a message via video, but members of his band, Double Trouble, graciously accepted the award on his behalf.
While I'm a huge fan of Willie and Lyle and Emmylou, I'm afraid a few of the later performers upstaged them. Kenny Wayne Shepherd hit it out of the park, and Mike Farris' performance was just plain mesmerizing. He's so dynamic you can't help but be drawn in.
I knew Robert Randolph was performing, but it wasn't until he walked out and started playing that I realized I interviewed him for a magazine feature a few years ago. I remember his being super down to earth and very pleasant to talk to. Randolph played with Double Trouble and Doyle Bramhall, II, and gave one of the most energetic and enjoyable performances of the evening.
During the intermission, two pieces of Tim Wakefield's ACL Soundwaves series were auctioned off to benefit ACL. Each piece captures the soundwave of a famous musical recording.
It was wonderful to experience the evening with my family. Kudos to KLRU/ACL for putting on such a spectacular evening.