Anyone who ventures to Austin, Texas is ready for the full experience: great food, interesting people, and the best live music scene in Texas. Musicians in Austin can be found jamming in the street, in a venue, in grocery stores, rooftops, and bars across the city. There’s many famous music venues in the city that have hosted the likes of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and other famous musicians, but there’s also many smaller, underrated venues that can host local artists that will blow your mind and get you dancing just like the rest of them. Take a break from Antone’s, Stubb’s or Emo’s, and check out these unique and unknown Austin treasures.
The “last of the true dance halls in Texas,” Broken Spoke has been around since 1964 and has hosted true honky tonk and country all these years. Kitty Wells and George Strait have made stops here for performances, and the venue has a “Tourist Trap Room” that features photos and items related to country music and the legends that have passed through. A true Austin treasure, the Broken Spoke keeps country music alive in the heart of Texas.
Since 1979, the Cactus Cafe, located near the prestigious University of Texas, has been bringing live music to the campus area. Billboard has listed Cactus Cafe as one of 15 “solidly respected, savvy clubs” nationwide. Names like Robert Earl Keen and the Dixie Chicks are just some of the bigger ones to walk through the door. A non-smoking venue with a full bar, Cactus Cafe hosts national and international acts of all kinds through its doors, starting the newest and soon-to-be biggest names in the industry today.
Spider House Ballroom located just off the famous Guadalupe Street is an eclectic dining experience and host to many varieties of music and other acts. On any given night, poetry can be found being read on stage or a new musical group strumming away. Pets are welcome at this laid-back venue and the space is comfortable for both smokers and nonsmokers. Whether you’re looking for a DJ, a new jam, or even a movie screening, Spider House’s daily events will keep you entertained in true Austin fashion- weird and unique.
Dubbed “America’s Healthiest Store,” Whole Foods is more than just a stop for groceries. The huge chain, started with the original Whole Foods off Lamar in Austin, not only serves up fresh meals and foods but is also a frequent host for music on their rooftop. During festivals like South By Southwest you can catch a variety of artists performing to the masses right on top of shoppers and workers alike. So, grab a bite to eat and check out their events calendar to see some of the freshest acts in Austin.
Opened in 2011, the White Horse brings even more honky tonk to Austin- something Texas can never get enough of. Big names like Roger Wallace and some of Austin’s favorites like The Austin Steamers have taken the stage of outlaw country at White Horse. The venue hardly ever charges a cover fee, looking rather to support the local music that “makes Austin so damn great.” Seven days a week you can find music happening at this full bar and dance floor, along with pool tables, vintage pac man, and a photo booth to commemorate the experience. No matter the occasion, a little Texas country can improve any Austin experience.
So, if you’re looking to get the full live music experience, think about stopping by some of Austin’s less talked about, hidden gems, and find the memories you’ve been waiting to make.
Ricardo Casas is the founder of Fahrenheit Marketing, a full-service online marketing company in Austin, Texas.