Austin, Texas–The Live Music Capital of the World.
If you are new to Austin or here for a visit chances are you have seen that slogan. Austin’s claim as the number one city in the world to listen to live music is everywhere. Murals at Bergstrom International Airport, in downtown, and on IH-35 let you know that we are proud of our musical roots. In 1991 Austin was officially named the live music capital of the world. And, the reason is because it has more live music venues than any other city in the nation. On any evening in the city of Austin there are over 100 hundred live musical performances in a variety of venues.
Not only does Austin beat to a different drummer, we celebrate them. The music is as diverse as the musicians and people that listen to it. The musical charge to Austin began in 1972 with iconic country western crooner Willie Nelson. Because of an emerging new form of country music, Nelson, along with a group of talented dissatisfied musical nonconformists, fled Nashville. At the time Austin was known for its welcoming and nurturing attitude toward young musicians. And, for the city of Austin, the rest is history.
There’s everything on the musical menu here in Austin. From blues to jazz to bluegrass, Tejano, indie, rock, Zydeco, new wave, punk and folk, music is and continues to be the heartbeat of the city. In Austin’s city limits there are hundreds of musical venues. From Sixth Street to Austin City Limits Festival to Stubbs and Luckenbach here’s a few of the Austin area’s great musical venues to check out.
Live music venues in Austin
- Austin City Limits Festival – The granddaddy of live music festivals draws over 75,000 people a day and is spread over two weekends. Both Austinites and out-of-towners flock to Austin’s Zilker Park in October to hear headliners and newcomers. This year’s festival is just about winding down. If you missed it, don’t worry, you can go next year. Weekend and single one-day passes are available. But, you’ll need to check their website often for their official line-up announcement and ticket sales information.
- Sixth Street – No visit to Austin is complete unless you have walked Sixth Street at night. Crowds of people and University of Texas students go to Sixth Street because it has the highest concentration of live music venues located in one central area. Rows of bars and restaurants line the street. You don’t have to walk far or long to find something that matches your musical taste. Depending on where you go you may have to pay a cover charge.
- The Continental Club – The premier club for live music in Austin. This quaint hot spot with a world-wide reputation has been going strong for over 60 years. Here live music takes center stage every single night of the week. Its South Congress Avenue location is ideal for both music and people watching. This club is a must for out-of-towners.
- Whip In – This musical haven off of the South IH 35 frontage road is easy to see from the highway because of its large sign. Known primarily to locals, Whip-In has an impressive beer list and awesome food. Live music fills the air in the outdoor beer garden and showcases a musical calendar to rock your socks off.
Live music venues beyond Austin’s city limits
- Luckenbach, TX – This small town just 13 miles from the town of Fredericksburg is in the Texas Hill Country. The road is a little rough and rocky but definitely worth the trip. Its claim to fame is the 1977 Waylon Jennings song of the same name. Both Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson have played at the Luckenbach Dance Hall. Country music is king here and is on tap seven days a week. On Sunday’s go early for the Cowboy Service at 9 a.m. The Sunday Evening Picker’s Circle starts at 1 p.m. and is usually free. There are plenty of seats and picnic tables in the large inside venue. Sandwiches and beer are available for purchase.
- Nutty Brown Café Amphitheater — Hill Country views and live music too. The Nutty Brown Café and Amphitheater serves up a variety of live music on its shaded large outdoor patio. From local Austin artist Bob Schneider to the Josh Abbott Band to Bobby Jones and the Raging Idiots, the music’s always playing.
This list is a small sampling of the many music venues in Austin. Check out a few of these on the list above or explore Austin’s expansive music scene on your own.