Music of Austin, Texas

(Redirected from Austin music scene)

Austin's official motto is the "Live Music Capital of the World" due to the high volume of live music venues in the city. Austin is known internationally for the South by Southwest (SXSW) and the Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festivals which feature eclectic international lineups. The greatest concentrations of music venues in Austin are around 6th Street, Central East Austin, the Red River Cultural District, the Warehouse District, the University of Texas, South Congress, and South Lamar.

East 6th Street, one of Austin's best known entertainment districts.

"Austin music" in its modern form emerged in 1972 when "a new form of country music exploded on the scene that turned its back on Nashville and embraced the counterculture",[1] much of it centered around the Armadillo World Headquarters music venue, which opened in 1970, alternating country and rock music shows.[2] In 1972, Willie Nelson left Nashville and moved to Austin.

Austin has become renowned as a haven for young innovative musicians who were drawn in by the creativity, liberal politics, and low cost-of-living. Austin's reputation continued to grow and become celebrated for its folk, blues, jazz, bluegrass, Tejano, zydeco, new wave, punk, and indie music scenes.

The City also hosts the Austin Symphony, Austin Civic Orchestras, Austin Opera, Austin Baroque Orchestra and La Folia Baroque.

History edit

Scholz Garten and Saengerrunde Hall

A large portion of Austin's early musical heritage began in the German Beer Gardens and Halls in the late 1800s, in places such as Scholz Garten and Hall (the hall later to become Saengerrunde Hall) and further up the road at Dessau Hall. Dessau Hall peaked in the 1940s and 1950s with acts as diverse as Glenn Miller, Hank Williams, and Elvis Presley.

Other major venues for country music included Big Gil's on South Congress and The Skyline on North Lamar. Local singer/yodeler Kenneth Threadgill opened Threadgill's in 1933 on North Lamar, a venue that later hosted Folk/Country jams where Janis Joplin participated in her early days. On the east side of town, which historically had a rich culture of African American heritage and influence, music venues such as the Victory Grill, Charlie's Playhouse, Big Mary's, Ernie's Chicken Shack, and Doris Miller Auditorium featured local and touring acts. These destinations, which were part of the "Chitlin' Circuit" featuring big bands, jazz and blues, became famous for later hosting musical legends including Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Bobby Bland, B.B. King, Ike Turner and Tina Turner.

In 1964 the Broken Spoke opened, featuring country acts such as Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, and the young Willie Nelson. The late-1960s and 1970s saw the country music popularized by Willie Nelson and others being joined by a host of other music brought by the more liberal inhabitants, who migrated to Austin during these two decades. Specifically, Roky Erickson and his 13th Floor Elevators helped bring in this psychedelic era.

In the 1960s in Austin, Texas, legendary music venues included the Vulcan Gas Company and the Armadillo World Headquarters and musical talent like Janis Joplin, the 13th Floor Elevators, (Johnny and Edgar) Winter brothers, Shiva's Headband and, later, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Austin was also home to a large New Left activist movement, one of the earliest underground papers, The Rag, and graphic artists like creator Gilbert Shelton, underground comix pioneer Jack Jackson (Jaxon), and surrealist armadillo artist Jim Franklin.[3]

The Armadillo World Headquarters in 1976.

The Vulcan morphed into the Armadillo World Headquarters in 1970 and for more than ten years featured music of all genres, from Bruce Springsteen to Bette Midler, as well as local ballet, blues and jazz. The artwork from this establishment was a part of the Austin scene and the Armadillo became the Austin city animal. Songs such as Gary P. Nunn's "London Homesick Blues" (which includes in the chorus "I want to go home with the armadillo") made this a staple of Austin. The artist who began the Armadillo logo was Jim Franklin, who is still working today.

"Austin music" in its modern form emerged in 1972 when "a new form of country music exploded on the scene that turned its back on Nashville and embraced the counterculture".[1] Eddie Wilson had opened the Armadillo World Headquarters music venue in 1970, alternating country and rock music shows,[4] but in 1972, Willie Nelson left Nashville and moved to Austin, following others including Michael Martin Murphey, Marcia Ball, Steve Earle, Gary P. Nunn, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Waylon Jennings.

Willie Nelson's audiences at the Armadillo included both hippies and rednecks.[5] On New Year's Eve, Austin's local KOKE-FM radio station switched to a new programming format geared to the mixed crowds first called "country rock", and later "progressive country".

By November of that year; the first pilot for the iconic Austin City Limits was being filmed with Willie Nelson, Billboard Magazine named KOKE “the most innovative radio station in the country," and Austin had a national reputation thanks largely to the reporting of Rolling Stone stringer Chet Flippo, who seemed to get a dispatch from the Armadillo into every issue."[1]

In the following years, Austin gained a reputation as a place where struggling musicians could launch their careers in front of receptive audiences, at informal live venues. A major influence during this time was Clifford Antone and the namesake blues club he founded in 1975, at the age of 25. Antone's located on Austin's 6th Street fostered the careers of a number of musicians, including Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Liberty Lunch was a live-music venue in Austin and during its heyday in the late 1970s and 1980s featured all kinds of music, including reggae and ska, punk, indie, country and rock. The venue was forced to close to make way for Austin's downtown redevelopment in the late 1990s. Since then, Liberty Lunch has attained a legendary status in the history of Austin music. Now-defunct Armadillo World Headquarters has attained a similar status.

Austin's live music scene has experienced a resurgence in the past few years after losing some of its best loved venues (Liberty Lunch, Armadillo and others), a host of new clubs have risen up to continue Austin's rich live music heritage. However, The Hole in the Wall, open since 1974 and a live music staple that lent a corner and then finally a stage to Doug Sahm and Blaze Foley, is still operating. Places such as the Skylark Lounge, Stubb's, Ginny's Little Longhorn, and a list of others have also become a stalwart of a new generation of live music venues throughout the city.

The punk/new wave era in Austin began in earnest in 1978. The Club Foot played an important role in hosting many of the local punk/new wave acts. The city's first two rock/new wave bands, the Skunks and the Violators, made their debut at a University-area club called Raul's in February.

The explosive show by the Sex Pistols in San Antonio the previous month helped build toward an excited reception for local purveyors of the style.[6] The Skunks' lineup consisted of Jesse Sublett on bass and vocals, Eddie Munoz on guitar and Bill Blackmon on drums. The Violators featured Kathy Valentine (later of The Go-Go's), Carla Olson (later of the Textones), Marilyn Dean and Sublett on bass. The Violators were short-lived, as all the members except for Sublett moved to LA the following year. Margaret Moser, of the Austin Chronicle, later wrote that "The Skunks put Austin on the rock n' roll map."[7] Another influential band that led the punk scene in Austin was the Big Boys.

Austin became one of the important stops on every tour of important punk/new wave acts. Many of these bands, such as the Police, Joe Jackson, Blondie and Talking Heads, played at the Armadillo. A number of them, including the Clash, Elvis Costello and Blondie, would make appearances at gigs by the Skunks and take the opportunity to jam with the band.[7][8]

The 1980s and 1990s also helped shape Austin's music scene. Waterloo Records, which has been voted the best independent record store in the country and hosts live in-store shows, first opened in 1982. Austinite Stevie Ray Vaughan won a Grammy in 1990 for best contemporary blues album. After tragically dying in a helicopter crash, he was memorialized with a statue on the shores of Austin's Lady Bird Lake. Additionally in 1991,[9] Austin city leaders named Austin, "The Live Music Capital of the World", because of the number of live music venues.

Visitors and Austinites alike may notice the 10-foot guitars standing on the sides of the city's streets. In 2006, Gibson Guitar brought Guitar Town to Austin, placing 35 of these giant guitars around the city.

The Austin Music Foundation is one of several Austin groups that help independent artists further their music careers. Assisting musicians with medical needs are the SIMS Foundation and Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM). Promotion, preservation and education is the mission of the Austin Blues Society, formed in 2006 by Kaz Kazanoff and other blues community notables.

Helping to promote the $1 billion music industry in the city is the Austin Music Office. A department of the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Austin Music Office offers creative, personalized assistance in booking live music, discounted Austin Compilation CDs and mini-guides to the city's live music scene, assistance with utilization of live music venues for off-site events, and guidance with local music attractions and creation of music tours.[10]

Television edit

The PBS live music television show Austin City Limits began in 1974[11] and has featured, as of 2005, over 500 artists of various genres, including rock, folk, country, bluegrass and zydeco. Partly responsible for Austin's reputation as a live music hub, the show is broadcast worldwide and stands as the longest running music television program ever. On February 26, 2011, ACL held its first taping in its new purpose-built Moody Theater and studio in downtown Austin's W Austin Hotel and Residences. Despite a seating capacity of over 2,700, audiences will be limited to around 800 (the original total seating capacity of the old studio). The additional seating capacity will be used for the ACL Live concert series at the venue.

Austin was also home to the Austin Music Network (AMN), which broadcast from 1994 to 2005. AMN, featured on cable channel 15, proclaimed itself to be the only non-profit independent music television channel, and its programming was mostly music videos or recorded live sessions, interspersed with presenters. Although all musical tastes were broadcast, AMN emphasized non-mainstream music such as indie, punk, blues, country and jazz.

Channel 15 was a 24-hour music channel now run by Music and Entertainment Television (M*E). M*E launched October 1, 2005, and was broadcast to Austin and the 44 surrounding cities. M*E was a regional network dedicated to showcasing and providing television exposure for regional artists as well as the hundreds of touring groups that make up the vibrant Texas live music scene. Supporting established artists and promoting and discovering new talent is a priority. M*E represented different musical genres and areas of the arts community with numerous original programs highlighting everything from filmmakers to art galleries, and musicians to the ballet. In addition, M*E's mostly music lineup, spotlighted live performance footage, concept music videos as well as biographies, reviews, restaurant tours and more.[12]

Festivals edit

Austin City Limits Music Festival with view of stages and the Austin skyline.

Austin is the home of South by Southwest (SXSW), an annual music, film and interactive conference and festival, and the expanding number of fringe events that take place during the festival, at venues all over town. In the fall, Austin hosts the Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) and the Fun Fun Fun Fest.

In the spring, the long-running Old Settler's Music Festival takes place at the Salt Lick Pavilion & Camp Ben McCulloch just outside the city. Every summer, Austin City Limits Radio puts on a series of free blues shows in Zilker Park entitled "Blues on the Green.[13] "

Also in the summer, the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department holds the Hillside Summer Concert Series music festival, throughout the month of July. This is held at the Pan American Recreation Center. This festival features popular local and national Tejano and Latin music performers. Jason Rubio, of Austin's Best DJs, was the first DJ to perform at the festival, in 2014.

Numerous other music festivals occur year-round. Other annual festivals include the "Keep Austin Weird Festival[14] " and the Heart of Texas Quadruple Bypass Music Festival a.k.a. The Texas Rockfest.

Austin is home to other large annual festivals including:[citation needed]

Venues edit

The Austin Chronicle, Visit Austin,[15] Do512, and Phosphene Productions offer information on the most common venues that host local bands.

Below is a short list of notable venues:

  • Antone's (reopened in new location)
  • B. D. Riley's (new location)
  • The Backyard
  • Beerland[16]
  • The Broken Spoke[16]
  • C-Boy's Heart & Soul
  • Cactus Cafe (UT campus)
  • The Carousel Lounge
  • Cedar Street Courtyard
  • Central Market
  • Central Presbyterian Church
  • Cheer Up Charlies
  • Come and Take It Live
  • The Continental Club
  • Dirty Dog Bar (formerly The Metro)
  • Donn's Depot
  • Ego's
  • Elephant Room[16]
  • Elysium Night Club
  • Emo's[16]
  • Empire Control Room and Garage
  • Evangeline Café
  • Flamingo Cantina
  • Friends
  • Geraldine's
  • Green Mesquite
  • Guero's
  • The Highball
  • Hole in the Wall
  • Hotel Vegas/The Volstead
  • Icenhauer's
  • The Little Longhorn Saloon
  • Maggie Mae's
  • The Mohawk (formerly The Caucus Club)
  • Moody Center
  • ACL Live at the Moody Theater
  • Nutty Brown Café
  • One-2-One Bar
  • One World Theater
  • The Parish
  • The Parlor
  • Poodies
  • Red 7 (now Barracuda)
  • The Sahara Lounge
  • Saxon Pub
  • Scoot Inn
  • Skylark Lounge
  • Shooters
  • Speakeasy
  • Spider House Cafe
  • Stubb's BBQ[16]
  • Swan Dive
  • Tellers
  • The White Horse

In addition to the usual restaurant/bar venues listed above, Austin offers live music in unexpected places as well. These unique venues include:

  • City Hall - Every Thursday, City Council honors a local musician at its council meeting. Also, the free concert series "Live from the Plaza" takes place at City Hall every Friday at noon from April to December.
  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport - Live music is featured 11 times a week at four locations.
  • Grocery Stores - Central Market features live music three times a week, while Whole Foods Market hosts the "Music at the Market" music series every Thursday evening in the spring.
  • Road Races - The Austin Marathon hosts more than 30 bands along the race course and the Capitol 10K features a band at every mile marker.
  • House Concerts - Hosting a variety of genres, Austin locals often open their doors to both local and touring musicians, with audiences ranging from a few friends to up to 200.

Musical acts edit

Austin musicians:

Joe Ely in concert at the Blues On the Green music series, 2006.

Musicians who previously contributed to the Austin music scene (including those who died, have broken up, or moved from the city):

Deceased Austin musicians include:

The Austin Music Memorial at the Joe and Teresa Long Center honors those who have contributed to the development of the Austin music community.

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ a b c "That 70's Show". June 6, 2017. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  2. ^ "Armadillo World Headquarters Official Site". AWHQ. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  3. ^ Jim DeRogatis, Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock (Milwaukie, MI: Hal Leonard, 2003), ISBN 0-634-05548-8.
  4. ^ "Armadillo World Headquarters Official Site". AWHQ. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  5. ^ "Willie Nelson and the Birth of the Austin Music Scene". Texas Almanac. August 12, 1972. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  6. ^ The Austin Chronicle:December 8, 2000
  7. ^ a b "Jesse Sublett." Austin Chronicle. Retrieved on August 3, 2016.
  8. ^ "Never the Same Again: A Rock N' Roll Gothic," memoir by Jesse Sublett, published 2004
  9. ^ Zeller, Tom (November 29, 2006). "Don't Mess With Austin's Music Moniker". The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  10. ^ Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau
  11. ^ "History of ACL | Austin City Limits". October 17, 1974. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  12. ^ Music and Entertainment Television
  13. ^ "Blues on the Green 2017 | 93.3 KGSR Radio Austin". Archived from the original on 2014-06-23. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  14. ^ "We love you weirdos!". Keep Austin Weird Fest. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  15. ^ "Austin Concerts and Music Scene | Find Live Shows, Bands and Venues".
  16. ^ a b c d e "The Best Live Music Venues in Austin – Yobored-Silicon Hills". Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2016.

Further reading edit

  • Gatchet, Roger Davis (2012). ""I've Got Some Antique in Me": The Discourse of Authenticity and Identity in the African American Blues Community in Austin, Texas". The Oral History Review. 39 (2): 207–229. doi:10.1093/ohr/ohs091.

External links edit