No Limits on Austin

  Linda Burton posting from Austin, Texas — The tour guide pointed out the Moody Theater as we turned onto Willie Nelson Avenue. “That’s where Austin City Limits tapes its shows,” he said,” but tickets are handed out on a lottery basis, so don’t expect to just walk in the door.”

 It’s popular, all right. Did you know that ACL is is the longest-running music program in television history? The only TV show awarded the Presidential Medal of the Arts, it has featured everyone from Willie Nelson to Foo Fighters, presenting a huge variety of musical styles. Who could have guessed what would happen when PBS put out the call back in 1974 for original programming from its local stations?

Trio Bill Arhos, Paul Bosner and Bruce Scafe put their heads together and hatched the idea of showcasing Austin’s diverse mix of country, blues, folk and psychedelia. Bosner suggested the name — he passed the Austin City Limit sign on his commute coming in from Dallas — and thus a legend was born .


That Austin City Limit sign has welcomed many to the Live Music Capital of the World. Today the city boasts 200 live music venues and 2,000 musicians in residence. And then there is the ACL Annual Music Festival in Zilker Park, three days, eight stages, and 130 bands; the Pachanga Festival, latin-themed, 20 bands of various genres; the Urban Music Festival; and of course, SXSW (those in the know just say South By) which I’ve been talking about all week, the granddaddy of all festivals.

And if you go away, that Austin City Limit sign welcomes you back, no matter where you’ve been. 

 Driven by a restless urge to wander,
You hitch your wagon to a shooting star.
Flying down the highway headed yonder,
Then you get where you were going, and there you are.

So a body’s born with half a mind to travel,
That wanderlust to pack your bags and roam,
‘Til you’re wearing out your boots just scratching gravel,
And you long to be some place that feels like home…

I’ve been a little blue but I’ll be fine
When I see that AUSTIN CITY LIMITS sign.

Lyrics by Hank Alrich