Greetings, humans, and welcome to the first installment in my new segment, 21 Questions! I just like the game except I ask all the questions and there’s no flirting involved. With the Austin City Limits (ACL) music festival going on, I thought it would be cool to interview my friend, Amanda, who has worked for ACL for almost a decade. I hope y’all enjoy.
1. What is ACL?
There are 3 answers to this question. First there is Austin City Limits, a volunteer based program that has earned the title of longest running show on television. Austin City Limits is a recorded music program featuring the old, the new, and the talented of the whose who in music. The list of performers range from Willie Nelson, being the first ever, to Radiohead, NIN, and even Paul Simon. It broadcast on PBS and it a staple of Austin’s contribution to the music realm.
Next answer is the Austin City Limits festival (starting this weekend). This is a 3 day festival that is now jammed packed into 2 weekend, featuring the same old, new and talents. This year features Guns N Roses, Childish Gambino, Lizzo, and Metric. Its held at Zilker Park in the heart of Austin with a city skyline that is the most complimentary scene you could add.
The third answer is the new ACL Live Moody Theater, located on Willie Nelson Blvd in downtown Austin. The venue, opened in Feb 2011 is the most up to date venue known to myself with 3 floors of access for patrons which includes 2 amazing galleries: the Austin City Limits tv show gallery located on the Mezzanine and a gallery on the balcony level with pictures by Jim Marshall (these pictures are original prints and rotate between other galleries in the world). The venue seats around 2700 and is the home of the Willie Nelson statue that sits on the bottom of the venue to welcome guests. Some of the acts to come through have been names like Aretha Franklin, Robert Plant, Alice Cooper, Smashing Pumpkins, B-52, and it is where the Austin City Limits tapings take place, because the venue comes equipped with a production room and track where multiple styles can be used to film or record. This includes the show but also tours and comedy acts.
2. How long have you worked for ACL?
I have worked at the venue since it opened in Feb 2011 and I have worked for the festival for 8 years (including this year).
3. What do you do for ACL?
For the venue, I do everything from front of house involving usher services to production to setting up chairs to merch.
4. What benefits do you get from working there?
As for benefits for working there, the biggest benefit is the access to music and the community it involves. I get to see show for free whether when I work the event. I also get request to attend shows as a patron, which I’m given a pass. I also can request passes for friends and family so they can see a show and enjoy the best venue in the nation!
5. Who are some of the more famous musicians you’ve seen?
Where to start with this one? I’ve seen Jay Z, Lady Gaga, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beck, Robert Plant, Chris Cornell, Elton John, Norah Jones, The XX, Coldplay, Radiohead, Crosby Stills and Nash, Boston, Meatloaf, Nas, Elvis Costello, Aretha Franklin, Dixie Chicks, Steve Miller Band, and many many more.
6. Would any of them recognize you if they saw you?
The Black Angels would for sure because I’ve been to so many of their shows, working and not. Maybe Willie Nelson and Family because I’ve worked a lot of his and his son’s shows. Other than that prolly not because I stay behind the scenes a lot.
7. Who are some of the Coolest musicians you’ve met?
Perry Ferrel (Jane’s Addiction singer) is pretty nice. So are the guys from Mumford and Sons. The lead singer of the Black Angels is super nice. Norah Jones is soft spoken and very sweet.
8. Who are some of the lamest?
Not so much lame as just being a diva or too drunken or fucked up to be one stage. Lucinda Williams, Pat Green, and Robert Earl Keen. These folks just sucked because they were so shithoused they didn’t remember their own songs. Boo!
9. Are you from Austin?
Nope! I am from a small town in Ohio.
10. How long have you lived here?
I moved to ATX in March 2009
11. Do you prefer working the show or festival?
This totally depends on the artist, the weather, the crowd. I love the festival but its a quick paced machine and then boom its over. The venue is fun and intimate but can bring in rude or uptight patrons and sometimes the show goes late and we still have to tear down the chairs or rearrange the furniture. They both have their perks and their setbacks.
12. What are some differences between the two?
The venue is pretty easy all the time. The festival can be tricky. With the festival their are several different artists taking over the same of different areas throughout the day/night which means rules, passes, credentials, and set times can change; like in a moments notice. I am a relief personnel for the main security team that takes care of the stages. I have to be aware of each stages stage manager, security sup, credentials, and personnel.
I also make sure everyone gets a lunch and dinner and that everyone has access to water, bathroom breaks and ear plugs. I help keep eyes on patrons and the flow of the festival on the grounds and anything I see I report to the proper dept. EX: hold in the middle of the field that patrons keep stepping in (call site crew), drunk patron that is throwing up and passing out (call medical), lost kid (call police and production), transport of patron to medical complex (make a clear path the best I can through the crowd). It can get hectic quick!
13. Do you sing or play an instrument?
I do both. I love to sing, and I’m classically trained on the clarinet (haven’t played in years). I also taught my guitar.
14. Which ACL acts are you looking forward to this year?
Lizzo! I’ve been saying it for 3 years now. She is amazing and high energy. I also am excited for The Cure and Guns N Roses. Bucket list for sure.
15. What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Tie between Tool 2001 (18th birthday present from my mom) and Temple of the Dog with Chris Cornell on vocals. The last time I got to see him perform before he committed suicide.
16. Who are some of your favorite musicians?
Tool, Radiohead, Missy Elliot, Neil Young, Sudan Archives, Fleetwood Mac, Jay Z, Phil Collins, The Cars, Nirvana, NIN, Primus, Lera Lynn, Alice Cooper…to name a few.
17. Any advice for attending ACL?
Drink lots of water, its gonna be hot! Also shade is a great thing and sun screen is a must. Throw your trash away; bring baby wipes for the port-a-potts, and bringing a water to refill will do you wonders. I’d also say fanny packs are the way to go and a charger of some kind for your phones sure is handy.
18. How long has ACL been around?
I think its been around 11 years and I am not entirely sure how it got started or whose great idea it was in beginning but it sure worked out!
19. What keeps you doing it after all this time?
Honestly the music. Music is my one true love and being from rural Ohio and getting this chance to immerse myself in a community of music and musicians is a blessing. AND I get paid to do it all! I am so grateful for the things I get to see and be apart of; its surreal sometimes
20. Do you have any dirt on any artist you would like to share? Ummmmm…..Diane Ross demands that anyone working backstage not look at her in the face when she is entering or leaving the stage. Like if you get caught you get dismissed! When Crosby Stills and Nash played at the venue years ago, sound check had to be stopped because of the bickering between Crosby and Nash. It was noticeable on stage that they clearly were not fans of each other at all!
21. Is there anything else you would like our audience to know?
Attend or go if able to all 3 events. These musical outlets are the some of the best ways to hear music, make friends, and set to memory some of the most moving, amazing musicians the world knows. Music is art and art saves lives.
That concludes my interview. I would like to thank Amanda for agreeing to do this with me. I really enjoyed writing this article but what did y’all think? Please let me know in the comments. Also, please don’t forget to like, comment, subscribe, follow me on social media, join my cult, give me all your money, and everything else I’m supposed to request on the internet. Please check out Austin City Limits if you ever get a chance, as well.