Watch This: Highlights of the Original Austin City Limits Piano

The legendary ivories of the legendary show, played by legends

The keys to music history: Allen Toussaint at his 2010 Austin City Limits recording, playing the show's signature Steinway Grand Piano. (Image courtesy of Austin City Limits)

As Austin City Limits looks to celebrate its 50th season next year, a celebration that kicks off with a panel at this year's ATX TV Festival, one important artifact from the show has been given a new life.

The 1911 Steinway Grand Piano, a fixture of the show’s first 36 years taped in Studio 6A on the University of Texas Campus, has finally been retrieved from storage.

The piano currently sits in the open upstairs room of producer Terry Lickona’s Clarksville house, serving as centerpiece for the space that’s been remodeled post-pandemic to host small events. Amid the many show posters and other ACL memorabilia that line the longtime executive producer and host’s walls, the piano seeps with a sense of history of the artists who have played it over the years.

When Austin City Limits moved into its new Downtown location at the Moody Theater, much of the old studio was dismantled. Some pieces of the famous skyline backdrop were auctioned, but the piano was put into storage, where it remained for the past 12 years.

In celebration of the piano’s resurfacing, Austin City Limits put together a clip of some of the show’s most memorable performances on the keys. From Bobbie Nelson playing on the original 1974 pilot episode with her brother Willie, the reel takes a trip through clips ranging from Ray Charles and Dr. John to Norah Jones and Allen Toussaint.

Watch the compilation below, and catch Austin City Limits’ staff this weekend at the ATX TV Festival, where they’ll be hosting the panel Backstage With Austin City Limits: 50 Years of Making Music in Austin. (Read more about that in our interview with Lickona, From Pilot to Prime Time: 50 Years of Austin City Limits.)

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Austin City Limits, ATX TV Festival, ATX TV Festival 2023

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