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Jack White and Austin City Limits

Holy crap, Jack White on Austin City Limits. If you’re on Twitter and follow any music publications, you’ve probably seen this tweeted and retweeted numerous times today. Either way, here’s the low down.

I’ve watched this latest hour performance once already today and have since been playing it in the background while I go about my usual daily business.

Jack White, star of the White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather, and his blues-based solo work, is one of the finest live performers I’ve seen. If this is news to you, go to Youtube after this and check out their Under Blackpool Lights DVD, their weeklong residency on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, etc., etc.

There’s a story about blues legend Robert Johnson, one of White’s influences. The story goes that Johnson met the Devil one night and sold his soul for the ability to create and play beautiful music. Each time I’ve seen Jack White play live, I wonder if he got the same deal. On stage he’s as frenetic as masterful—blending songs into long medleys that are stitched together by fretwork that’s furious and organic.

So watch it. White plays some White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather, covers (Blind Willie Johnson and Hank Williams), and tracks from his recent solo album, Blunderbuss. The breadth of this performance reminds me how consistent he’s been over his nearly 15-year career. It also makes me wonder what the next 15 have in store.

Depending on your musical interests Austin City Limits is a program to check out anyway. It was originally a showcase of Texan music, like blues, country, rock ‘n roll, and Tejano tunes from the borderlands.

The hour-long program has since branched out and welcomed music ranging from the Pixies to the Foo Fighters, Them Crooked Vultures to Flogging Molly, Phish to Mos Def. That greater diversity, while still centered around blues, country, and roots music also spawned the acclaimed Austin City Limits Music Festival.

While you’re over on PBS’s website, there are two other shows to check out before they expire from free stream this month. The split between Sonic Youth and the Black Keys and Tom Waits’ incredible and classic ’79 performance, which rambles from beat spoken word to smoking lounge piano man.

Watch Jack White on PBS. See more from Austin City Limits.

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