Al Green sexes up the stage at 8:45 p.m. on Friday, September 19.
Austin City Limits Music Festival, like its namesake city, tries to cap its own growth

When Austin City Limits hosted its debut music festival last year at Austin's Zilker Park, its biggest failure was the scale of its success.

While the two-day event featured loads of great music, it was also dogged by a series of logistical headaches seemingly designed to keep you from hearing any of that music. Endless lines rendered the free bus shuttles useless, while the ticket counters made no distinction between Will Call pickups and ticket buyers, creating a serpentine maze of humanity that defied belief. Those who chose to brave the food court usually came back 30 minutes later in a foul mood. You couldn't help but get the feeling that no one was prepared for the crowds that exceeded 40,000 each day.

The good news for music fans is that the organizers of last year's ACL fest took stock of what went right and wrong last year, and have done some appropriate fine-tuning.

"There were some things that we needed to improve upon - namely, transportation," says Mark Higgins, communications director of Capital Sports & Entertainment, producers of the festival. "We had kind of a small hiccup on Saturday.

"We were prepared for the crowd, it just seemed like they all came at the same time. There was a little bit of confusion, and some delays with getting people inside the grounds in a timely fashion. It was a little bit of the same thing with the food court. It was a little bit undermanned, as far as how many food points we had. Both of those problems were addressed in our planning stages this year."

Friday, September 19 to
Sunday, September 21
$75/3-day pass
$30-35/day pass
Zilker Park
2100 Barton Springs, Austin
Higgins says approximately 40 restaurants will be represented at this year's food court, and Austin's Capital Metro will double its bus service to the festival. These modifications will be particularly crucial, because organizers expect a considerably bigger turnout this year, and the festival has expanded to three days.

"We're kind of capping it," Higgins says. "The park can hold probably 90,000-100,000 people a day, but we don't want it to become a festival where people are right on top of each other, with nowhere to relax or stretch out. We won't sell more than about 65,000 tickets."

The ACL festival grew out of an attempt to take the down-home aesthetic of the long-running PBS television series and adapt it to a larger setting, providing the city an autumn answer to South by Southwest.

"The show's been on KLRU for nearly 30 years, and outside of one anniversary special, it's never really left that studio," Higgins says. "It's a pretty tough ticket to get to a taping of Austin City Limits.

"People who've lived here for years and years still haven't been able to go, because the place is so small. But if we can take that vibe and that celebration of a particular type of music, and bring it outside where it's accessible to more people, that's the idea."

College rock saviors R.E.M. headline ACL, closing out the festival at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 21.
While last year's festival featured its share of heavyweight headliners - namely Wilco and Ryan Adams - Higgins says several artists needed convincing about the concept's viability and many others couldn't make it because of scheduling conflicts. This year, most of the lineup was in place six months ago, and Higgins says organizers turned down some "really big bands."

This year's lineup reflects the spirit of both last year's festival and the TV show, with a careful mix of star power (R.E.M., Al Green), respected veterans (Mavis Staples, Rosanne Cash, Los Lobos), up-and-comers (Bright Eyes, Ben Kweller, Cody Chesnutt), cult heroes (Richard Buckner, Caitlin Cary and Ween), Texas staples (Doyle Bramhall, Asleep at the Wheel, Billy Joe Shaver and Sara Hickman).

"We could keep growing this festival," Higgins says. "It could become an event where you have three days of A-list, top-of-the-line-headliners. But if you do something like that, it really raises the ticket price. Our feeling behind it is that it's probably the best deal in the country as far as live music goes." •



Pauline Reese
Shawn Camp
Robert Earl Keen
J.T. Van Zandt
Alexi Murdoch
Electric Church
Gary Clark, Jr.
W.C. Clark
Los Lonely Boys
Mavis Staples
Craig Ross
Kevin McKinney
Joe Firstman
The Pierces
Del Castillo
Patrice Pike
The Charlie Hunter Trio
Leftover Salmon
Keller Williams
The Damnations
Howie Day
Julieta Venegas
Martin Sexton
Shawn Colvin
Steve Earle & the Dukes
The Mavericks
Dwight Yoakam
Cody Chestnutt
Liz Phair
Steve Winwood
Al Green
Mike Magician
Sue Young

Saturday Sept 20

Corn Mo
Jeff Klein
Justin King
Mason Jennings
Bruce Robison
Josh Ritter
Natalie Zoe

Yo La Tengo will perform at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 21.

Faithful Gospel Singers
Bells of Joy
Ruthie Foster
Rebirth Brass Band
Jan Bond
Terri Hendrix
Wayne "The Train" Hancock
Jimmy Lafave
The Derailers
Abra Moore
Richard Buckner
The Gourds
Dandy Warhols
Jay Farrar
Bright Eyes
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Tift Merritt
Drive By Truckers
North Mississippi All-Stars
Café Tacvba
Asleep at the Wheel
Rosanne Cash
Patty Griffin
Nickel Creek
Pat Green
Old 97s
Los Lobos
Robert Randolph & the Family Band
The String Cheese Incident
Small World Puppet Theatre
Pauline Reese
Elida Bonet
Joe McDermott

Sunday Sept 21

Monte Warden
Paul Thorn
Kaki King
Tim Easton
Mindy Smith
Maranda Lambert
Shields of Faith
Gospel Stars
Doyle Bramhall
The Durdens
Mighty Sincere Voices of Navasota
Kermit Ruffins
Beaver Nelson
Caitlin Cary
The Donavon Frankenreiter Band
Ed Harcourt
Ian Moore
Reckless Kelly
Billy Joe Shaver
Cross Canadian Ragweed
John Eddie
The Polyphonic Spree
Yonder Mountain String Band
Kings of Leon
Jack Ingram
Ben Kweller
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
Beth Orten
Bob Schneider
Lucinda Williams
Jack Johnson
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
The Shins
G. Love & Special Sauce
Yo La Tengo
Cowgirl Sue
Burke Sisters
Sara Hickman •

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