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Live from a Venue Not Far From Your Apartment: The Downtown Austin Music Scene (Part 1 of 3)

Oct 24th, 2013

SXSW. Austin City Limits. Chaos in Tejas. Carnaval Brasileiro. These are just a few of the dozen + annual music festivals that people flock to downtown Austin from all over the country and world to experience. If you live in Austin, and you appreciate and enjoy live music, this guide can help you to get the most out of your weird, but awesome, city’s music scene.

Music Clubs

In many cities, the word “club” has come to be synonymous with “dance club.” This is not the case in downtown Austin. Included in this category are jazz houses, supper clubs, standard bars, and more.

  • Voted Austin’s best jazz bar by 10Best 7 years in a row, this underground jazz bar is host to a live jazz band every night of the week. Locals and visitors to Austin are both featured on this venue’s small stage, where they play under the encouraging watch of jazz great Tony Campise’s cremated remains.
  • Affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin, the pride and joy of the state’s public education system, Cactus Café is popular among students and townies alike. Although a variety of music genres have been represented at the cactus café, country and folk are the two types of music you are most likely to find here. Alison Kraus, Ani DiFranco, Shawn Colvin, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, and the Dixie Chicks have all performed on the Cactus Café stage, which serves as the performing space for local, regional, and national musicians almost every night of the week (it is closed on Sundays).


Popular among folk, Indie, and jazz musicians, many of downtown Austin’s cafes feature more than background music playlists. A few of the more popular ones include:

  • This vegan-friendly coffee shop has two locations—one in Brentwood and another just near UT. Both offer live music by local artists at select times, and delicious coffee at great prices.
  • Apothecary Café & Wine Bar: This haunt reeks of sophistication. But not in a pretentious way. They have daily happy hour specials, live music on the weekends and a dog friendly patio.  Apothecary Café & Wine Bar is less than a mile away from AMLI 5350.
  • This trattoria-inspired café first opened in 2009 and has been buzzing with guests since. Its website features operatic Italian music, but its live music offerings are actually quite diverse.

Have you enjoyed what you just read?  Be sure to tune into part 2 of this series, which will feature some of downtown Austin’s most popular dive bars and concert venues, one week from today!


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