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Central Texas(Centex) - Music Venues and Bands

This is the third (and last) blog from our recent visit to our old hometown of Austin TX and will focus on my view on music venues and musicians in the Austin Area …

that would be from an old person’s point of view. The venues we frequented tend to start early (and close up early) compared to most in the Austin area ... and most areas. The band’s and musicians I mention towards the end tend to be “relatively mild” bands … no four letter word laced rap or really loud base-dominated heavy metal … you get the idea. I would call the venues and the musicians rather eclectic or varied ... we tend to like a lot of kinds of music and musicians who really perform well.

First on my list is Threadgill’s. This is probably the venue I have visited the most and the one where I feel most comfortable. Threadgill’s South (just South of Lady Bird Johnson Lake and just off Congress Ave.) actually has two venues: The Saloon and the Beer Garden. The Saloon is inside and is where the Sunday Morning Gospel brunch is performed as well as some mid-week acts. In general the “big name” Thursday and Friday shows are held in the beer garden outside. The music inside is “included” with your beer and food purchases (who could resist fried pickles or fried green tomatoes with those great Texas beers :-) ) The beer garden is outside and everything that goes with that in Austin TX … dress accordingly (or not?).There is usually a charge for the Beer Garden ... maybe $20.

Bob Schneider and Blue Grass Massacre at Threadgill's

The Paramount Theatre is a historic theatre in downtown Austin. We have been to several concerts here and have enjoyed each one. We are talking theatre like seating with a balcony, no bad seats, and great acoustics. The theatre hosts a wide variety of performers. We’ve seen Freddy Fender (a Texas native) and a tribute to Cindy Walker where Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel and others played.

The Cactus Café would have been my favorite venue when I lived in the area …. If I had experienced it at least once… We visited for the first time on our trip back and I was hooked. This is an intimate (think small) venue. You are right there with the musicians, the music is loud enough but not too loud. When getting directions, don’t doubt the directions …. Yes it is in the University of Texas student union building …. Yes, most of the people attending are not students.

Bar in the Cactus Cafe

The Elephant Room is another small venue that features jazz-like music. I say jazz-like because it can vary. Kat Edmonson regularly played here for a while. No food here … just great beer on tap at a reasonable price.

The Broken Spoke is one of the homes for Dale Watson … I call it “trucker music”. My son-in-law described this place as a roller rink for adults … I’m sure he was being complimentary … come prepared to dance or asked to dance.

The music venue I have visited the most is not really a music venue, but a great place to see national and international acts relatively inexpensively. The Travis County Exposition Center (or Rodeo Arena) is the location of the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo. The rodeo happens during spring break, and features musicians from around the US and the World after the rodeo event. The acoustics are not great, but they are not bad, and the arena is not usually crowded after the Rodeo, as some people actually attended to see the Rodeo :-) . We have also attended concerts here outside of the Rodeo, like the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Austin City Limits.

Here are a few other venues that we have visited and enjoyed:

- Black’s Bar-B-Q

- Patsy’s CowgirlCafé

- The Driskill Hotel

- Schulz’s Garden

This is just a few of the music venues in the Austin area … most restaurants and coffee houses have entertainment at some time ... find your own favorite.

Here’s a quick list of some of my favorite Austin bands and performers with a quick description.

Sieker Band - Classical Bluegrass and some original music … some with a Texas Swing flavor and some with a salsa flavor (yes, both). Rolf was a previous Texas state banjo champion … we really enjoy their style of music and they always perform professionally, which makes them sought after as studio musicians.

The Sieker Band at Black's Bar-B-Q

Bob Schnieder - I would describe his music as Texas pop music … an eclectic wall of sound … horns, drums, guitars, fiddle, and a banjo as well as various other instruments (or other noise makers). He also does solo gig's which I would imagine are significantly different that the "big bands" I've seen him with on stage.

Bob Schneider at Old Austin City Limits Venue

Kat Edmonson - Smooth Classic Jazz music with some pop influences. Kat writes a lot of her own stuff and plays some old standards.

Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel - One of the musical institutions in the Austin Area. I would say their music varies from Texas Country to Texas swing with a rock flavor. Ray Benson can really play the guitar and seems to attract very very competent musicians.

The Carper Family - A new band for us during our last visit to Austin. We really enjoyed the music … think the Carter Sisters with the energy turned way up. These ladies really have the twangy 30’s radio sound down to a science. They were described as “Evocatively edgy harmonies” on their website and I would agree.

The Carper Family at the Cactus Cafe

Slaid Cleaves - Slaid Cleaves tours quite extensively these days, so he may not be in Austin. Think Americana music with a Texas flare.

Next Blog is back to Ireland and a trip to Sligo in Northwest Ireland.

See You in the Pub!

Jet Lag Jack

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