Austin, Texas, nicknamed the Live Music Capital of the World, is home to hundreds of live performers every night at some of the best music venues in America. The origin of the city’s nickname dates back to the late 1800s in places like Dessau Hall, where great artists performed live music every night. Later, it attracted such acts as Elvis Presley and Hank Williams. Today, not only is Austin home to amazing dive bars and clubs, but it also hosts world famous music festivals such as South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits. On any given night in Austin, Texas, you can listen to live music of almost any variety from folk to blues to jazz to punk to indie.
Packed with large venues, outdoor stages, dive bars, and dance floors, Austin’s musical experience is never dull. Visit the famed blues club, Antone’s, on Austin’s pumping Fifth Street to feel the blend of the city’s historical and contemporary music. For both an indoor and an outdoor musical experience, Mohawk in the Red River Cultural District, stages go-wild dance parties full of fist pumping and hair waving. You can find a more intimate musical setting at the ‘20s-inspired cocktail bar, The Roosevelt Room. Equipped with two bars, a large dance floor, a full stage, and a balcony overlooking the downstairs bar, The Roosevelt Room’s versatility allows for intimate live music performances every Thursday night and one-off events every other night of the week. To experience the grittier side of Austin, Hole in the Wall is a small dive-bar located on Guadalupe Street. Home to singer-songwriters and punk rockers, Hole in the Wall hosts live music every night.
Of course, the music festivals in Austin are some of the best in the world, combining sounds, cultures, and traditions from all over the globe. SXSW, one of the most famous festivals in the world, is not just about music. This festival brings together the music, film, and interactive media industries through concerts, showcases, and networking opportunities. At the festival in 2019, Featured Speakers included political activist Stacey Abrams, author Neil Gaiman, and United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, amongst other prominent individuals. SXSW’s film festival included screenings of Jordan Peele’s Us and Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, Booksmart. The music festival showcased up-and-coming artists such as indie rockers, The Beths, alternative R&B singer/producer Kevin George, and the sensational R&B singer, Khalid. Austin is also home to the music festival, Austin City Limits, hosted in the beautiful Zilker Park. Taking place on October 4-6and 11-13, the festival boasts acts such as Childish Gambino, Billie Eilish, Guns N’ Roses, Cardi B, Robyn, and Kacey Musgraves.
In addition to its public venues, Austin even has live music venues on its college campuses. Located on the University of Texas at Austin’s campus, the Cactus Cafe regularly showcases the top local and national acoustic musical acts today. Musicians such as Lyle Lovett and Lucinda Williams called this cafe home early in their career. But the Cactus Cafe is not a socializing, upbeat place; it has a strict quiet policy, so all of your attention can be focused on the music. Its strict policy ironically feels like that of a library, but it’s quite fitting since it’s on a college campus. The University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in all areas of music, including performance, composition, theory, and musicology, just to name a few. As it is situated in the Live Music Capital of the World, the university takes full advantage of the musical inspiration surrounding it. Another college of music in Austin is Concordia University in Texas, School of Fine Arts.
Whether you’re a tourist, live performer, up-and-coming or established artist, or a student Austin, Texas has a venue for you. With hundreds of performances every night at any of the city’s eclectic and lively venues, any artist of any level can find an audience here. The Live Music Capital of the World itself is a stage waiting for anyone to take it.
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