The Saxon has a history of supporting Austin's singer-songwriters, a large contingency of whom congregate every night to enjoy performances from the area's best and brightest or to play themselves. The club doesn't restrict itself to just one genre, so you'll find anything from country and acoustic to rock and blues on any given night. An ideal place to hear local musicians. A cover is charged after about 7pm.
Antone's is probably Austin's most famous music venue, featuring live blues acts seven nights a week. After several venue moves, the live music club has reopened on East 5th Street in late 2015. Jimmy Vaughan, Joe Ely, and Charlie Saxton are among the legends who have performed here. Antone's also supports some of Austin's finest up-and-coming artists. Check local listings or Antone's website for upcoming shows.
If a laid-back brand of nightlife is your preference, this open-air place will be your haven. In a lovely tree-lined courtyard, quietly tucked between two buildings, Cedar Street Courtyard features great jazz by mostly local talents. When inclement weather arises, the party moves inside to Malaga's, an upscale tapas and wine bar.
Voted Austin's "Best Jazz Bar" for seven years running, Elephant Room is located below street level and features cool jazz in an intimate setting seven nights a week. Local and national acts both take to the stage, and the joint is so hip that it's not unusual to see both performers and patrons don sunglasses.
This happening spot features two stages, an outdoor patio, and live music five or six nights a week. If you're into music that is underground, cutting-edge, and all-out high energy, this is your place. Past performers have included Smashing Pumpkins and Beck. Also hosts some of Austin's best up-and-coming bands.
Opened as a supper club in 1957, Continental Club initially hosted country performers, but by the 1960s it was featuring burlesque acts. The owners switched gears again in the 1970s, turning to rockers like Johnny Thunders and Stevie Ray Vaughan; a wall of framed photos of past performers is impressive, to say the least. In more recent memory, they've welcomed folks like Southern Culture on the Skids and Lucinda Williams. Small, comfortable Continental has a full bar, along with a pool table in the back room.
For a medium-sized music venue, Mohawk is hard to beat. The outdoor stage area hosts an eclectic mix of high-quality performers with enough space that it never feels claustrophobic but always lively. Drinks are reasonably priced, though waiting times can get long during popular sets, and there are multiple terraces where you can stand and see the stage without having to get up on your tip toes.
The capacity of this live music venue is about 1200 (which is packed, to say the least), and there's precious little in the way of seating. But if you want to see the likes of Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Ministry, Los Lobos, King's X, Joe Ely, Blues Traveler, or Lisa Loeb, La Zona Rosa is hard to beat.
One of the country's most respected music venues, UT's Cactus Café has hosted an amazing variety of performers: Lyle Lovett and his eclectic sounds, Alison Krauss and her contemporary bluegrass, talented songstresses Shawn Colvin and Ani DiFranco, and bands like the Dixie Chicks. In fact, Billboard magazine ranked it among the top fifteen clubs in the US. During the day, a bustling café offers coffee, baked goods, pizza, and sandwiches; at night, it becomes an intimate music room.
Critics have called this club the "best honky-tonk in Texas." Part of its appeal is that the country music dance hall's stage just barely rises off the dance floor, so patrons can get an intimate look at their favorite stars performing. The place also offers a full menu of authentic Texas cuisine. Willie Nelson and other famous country singers make appearances, and the joint has a long, colorful past spanning more than 40 years – too many tales to tell in such a small space. You'll have to visit and experience it for yourself.