Off the Record
Never one to bite his tongue, Steve Earle shot from the hip during his recent interview by Andy Langer for the Chronicle's annual ACL music supplement. One tangent that didn't make the cut was his frustration regarding the Austin City Limits television series. "I always had sort of a love-hate relationship with the show," Earle contends. "I don't understand why I haven't done it more other than [ACL producer] Terry Lickona doesn't think I'm all that important. Ray Benson, Lickona, and I had our pictures taken at some event a few years ago, and I mouthed off at him the whole time. I smiled for the cameras while giving him hell. And I don't piss and moan about that stuff too much, but it's important to me."
Responding from Washington, D.C., where he was lobbying for artists' rights on behalf of the Recording Academy, Lickona promises it's nothing personal. "All I can say is, 'Welcome to the club,'" he laughs. "Most of the artists that appear on the show want to come back. Frankly, I love Steve Earle, that he'll say whatever is on his mind to anyone who will listen. He has more integrity in his little finger than most artists. ... I'll take this as a backhanded compliment."
Ironically, Earle may yet appear on the ACL's 33rd season, premiering Oct. 6, as part of a special one-hour program to be filmed Oct. 5-7 at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival 2007 at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, where he'll be performing along with the Flatlanders, Austin Lounge Lizards, Los Lobos, Robert Earl Keen, and Bill Callahan. "There's no reason to confine ourselves to the city limits anymore," Lickona says.
The local institution also unveils its Austin City Limits/Waterloo Records & Video store at the airport on Friday. In the ACL pipeline are upcoming DVDs from the Polyphonic Spree, David Byrne, Doug Sahm, John Mayall, and Tift Merritt, as well as Ghostland Observatory's recent appearance, which will be released a month before it airs on Dec. 29, paired with Monday's Bloc Party taping. Other in-studio performances this busy week are Crowded House (tonight, Thursday), the Arcade Fire (Friday), Wilco (Saturday, 4pm), Regina Spektor (Monday), and Lucinda Williams (Tuesday). All shows start at 8pm unless noted otherwise. An impossibly limited number of tickets will be available. For more information, call 475-9077.