Austin City Limits
When it started in 1976, this TV show featured more local artists, because Willie Nelson and other local musicians were at the top of their fame. Over the years, producer Terry Licona says he still works to keep Austin represented. Truth be told, the venue is more inspired by Austin’s open music scene than a representation of it. ACL is dedicated to presenting the “best of America's music from country, blues and folk to rock 'n' roll, bluegrass and zydeco.” The ACL website presents their range with these artists: B.B. King, Bob Wills' Texas Playboys, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ray Charles and Leonard Cohen. ACL is taped in a soundstage in the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center at the University of Texas. Most people think it is on a stage outside – something like the Backyard, but that’s the magic of television. Tickets are free, first come first served, and on taping nights you can see the line of music fans in the complex courtyard and the artists’ bus and sound truck parked outside. It is as popular locally as on TV, and those tickets are gone in no time. You can get some of the same feeling of participation by watching ACL on the big screen TV at Paggi House Restaurant Tuesdays at 8:00 PM.
Central Market Café
4002 N. Lamar
Central Market is a grocery store – the kind of grocery that has more wine and kinds of olives than kitchen cleansers. In the store’s own words, “Central Market is a destination, fresh market for people who are passionate about food.“ The Café presents counter service in several cuisines and live music every Friday and Saturday on the patio. The music is usually 6:30 to 9 pm and there's never a cover charge. As they say, “See why Austin is called ‘The Live Music Capital of the World.’" You might hear jazz, songs from the 1920s, folk, Middle Eastern, or might see tangos and flamenco dancers. Musicians spotted include: Susan Gibson, Mady Kaye, Ephraim Owens and the Marc Devine Quintet.
The Hole in the Wall
The Hole in the Wall is right on the Drag, the stretch of Guadalupe that provides the western boundary of the University of Texas. It sits between a Jack in the Box and an ever rotating set of trendy shops. The Hole in the Wall is anything but trendy. Hole in the Wall Restaurant and Arcade opened in 1973 as a burger joint for the truckers and deliverymen who served the university area, as well as students. In those days, the drinking age was 18, so almost all students were eligible to have a beer, play pool, eat a reality sandwich (chicken fried steak and jalapeños on a bun) and listen to the music. KXAN-TV called it “perhaps the most celebrated college dive bar in Austin history.“ The Hole in the Wall also functions as a neighborhood bar for a large group of regulars, whose pictures adorn the wall in tribute. The Hole closed in 2002 for a while and we thought we would never see its like again, but voilà it opened with new owners again in 2003! Musician Paul Minor manages and books roots, country and more into the friendly little club. Music is early – more after work than after hours – and there is a jukebox stocked with Roky Erickson and other classics for daytime sound.
Old Settlers Music Festival
Camp Ben McCulloch & Salt Lick Pavilion
A weekend in April
This festival started as a bluegrass venue, but it has widened in appeal to include different roots and Americana music. The location is in the hills on the Southern edge of town, near a nationally recognized Salt Lick Bar-B-Q Restaurant, with plenty of room for camping. Proceeds go to the Campfire Boys and Girls, Austin Safeplace (an organization focused on domestic violence) and Capital Area Food Bank. Four stages keep busy with performances from artists like: Del McCoury Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, Patty Griffin, Bruce Hornsby, Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek, John Hartford, Dan Tyminski, Charlie Daniels, Michelle Shocked, Doc Watson, Rosanne Cash, Shawn Colvin, Guy Clark, Bela Fleck, Leftover Salmon, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, David Grisman, The Fairfield Four, Joe Ely, John Cowan, Del McCoury, Jimmy LaFave, Toni Price, Bells of Joy, Rodney Crowell and Slaid Cleaves. The Old Settlers Music Festival is also known for performance workshops and attracts many people who want to play with the masters. There’s also a youth talent competition, arts and crafts and other family-friendly old-style fun like armadillo races and stilt walking. This festival has the right time of the year – April when the bluebonnets and paintbrush are in bloom and the sun is friendly but not punishing.
Waterloo Records & Video
600A N. Lamar
Offering new and used music, this is a great store with artists from all over the world and a great set-up for listening in the store. You can listen to any CD before you buy. The store has a great selection and is especially good for Texas music. It is also a venue for live music. You can see fantastic performers in the store two or three times a week, always at 5:00. (Free refreshments) In addition to local artists like Pat Green and Marcia Ball, here are a few greats who have sung in the store: Billy Bragg, Roseanne Cash, John Hammond, Lyle Lovett and Ricky Scaggs.