A Curtain Call For Austin City Limits' Famed Studio American television's longest-running music series wrapped up its 36th season Monday night with a performance by Lyle Lovett, and says goodbye to the space where Willie Nelson got things going in 1974 -- KLRU's Studio 6A.

A Curtain Call For Austin City Limits' Famed Studio

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There are a handful of music shows that have become synonymous with the stage they're on. Grand Ole Opry comes to mind - and the longest-running music series on American television.

(Soundbite of "Austin City Limits")

Unidentified Man: "Austin City Limits," Willie Nelson.

Mr. WILLIE NELSON (Singer-Songwriter): (Singing) Whiskey River take my mind. Don't let her memory talk to me...

MONTAGNE: What we're hearing here is the pilot episode of "Austin City Limits," recorded back in 1974 in what has become the famous Studio 6A. The stage is just a foot and a half off the floor; the audience is close to the performer; and it has the feel of a live show, rather than a television production.

(Soundbite of song, "Whiskey River")

For more than 35 years, fans and performers have loved the intimacy of Studio 6A - which is why it is a big event that the show is moving to a new stage, with many more seats to accommodate its growing audience: the Moody Theater in downtown Austin.

Looking back, Executive Producer Terry Lickona says originally, there were no plans to use Studio 6A for live music.

Mr. TERRY LICKONA (Executive Producer, "Austin City Limits"): But it quickly became apparent with an exploding music scene in Austin in mid-1974, and a studio that was large enough to accommodate a music show with a live audience, why not do it? Why not try it?

MONTAGNE: The Austin music scene gave the series its start, but producer Lickona says the show has been able to last so long because it has evolved.

Ray Charles was a guest in the late '70s.

(Soundbite of song, ("Some enchanted evening")

Mr. RAY CHARLES (Singer-Musician): (Singing) Some enchanted evening when you find your true love...

Mr. LICKONA: That was a transcendent moment, a turning point in the show's history to have someone of Ray Charles' stature - who in effect, validated that we were more than just an Austin-based, Texas, music show.

MONTAGNE: Over the years, "Austin City Limits" has booked increasingly diverse acts, including its first hip-hop show last year. But it went back to its Texas roots for the final taping in Studio 6A last night.

Lyle Lovett performed, making his 12th appearance on the show.

(Soundbite of song, "I Will Rise Up")

Mr. LYLE LOVETT (Singer-Songwriter): (Singing) And I will rise up. And I will rise up.

Mr. LOVETT: It's really just another step into the future of "Austin City Limits." And I'll just go out there, and try to play my songs the best I can.

MONTAGNE: Lyle Lovett, on the big move for "Austin City Limits," produced by PBS member station KLRU. You're listening to MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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