Preview Of Austin City Limits: Spotlighting Songwriting Maverick Terry Allen

This week Austin City Limits (ACL) spotlights a Texas legend enjoying a late-career high-point, iconoclastic sculptor-songwriter Terry Allen, in a career-spanning hour, joined by his longtime Panhandle Mystery Band featuring all-stars including Lloyd Maines, Charlie Sexton, and Shannon McNally.

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The new installment premieres Saturday, January 29 at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT as part of the series Season 47. Check local PBS listings for times. The episode will be available to music fans everywhere, streaming online the next day beginning January 30 @10am ET at

In the episode, the left-of-center artist displays his signature dark wit and honesty with highlights from his catalog, including the fan-favorite rocker “There Oughta Be A Law Against Sunny Southern California” and the tragicomic tale “Gimme a Ride to Heaven Boy.” Allen’s songwriting details vivid small-town characters and haunting and hilarious narratives as showcased on the beguiling new album highlight “Death of the Last Stripper.”

The hour is a friends and family affair as Allen on keyboards is joined by his nine-piece Panhandle Mystery Band, featuring guitarists Charlie Sexton and Lloyd Maines, singer Shannon McNally, fiddler Richard Bowden, bassist Glen Fukunaga, drummer Davis McLarty, cellist Brian Standerfer, and his sons Bukka and Bale Allen on accordion/keyboards and percussion. 

Terry Lickon, ACL show booker, said that the audience should expect an amazing, genuine show.

“To say Terry Allen is iconoclastic doesn’t do justice to him,” Lickon said. “He is truly a renaissance man if there ever was one, and his talents – whether musical, literary, or visual – just continue to grow and amaze. Best of all, he’s a real person, and funny as hell!”

The collaborative performance allows each band member to shine, and Americana artist Shannon McNally takes the lead on a new number, the slow burn “All These Blues Go Walkin’ By,” joined by ace guitarist Charlie Sexton. In a nod to his remarkable half-century of work, Allen performs “Red Bird,” the first song he ever wrote, originally performed on the TV show Shindig! in 1965. The Texas legend and his longtime band of friends close the hour with the moving Moby Dick closer “Sailin’ On Through,” a mordant fare-thee-well that ruminates on the inevitable passing of time.

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