Austin, Texas, “the live music capital of the world” has an extra-special place in its heart for blues music. From the nightclub that helped to put legendary blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan on the map to the venue that now hosts Austin City Limits tapings, here’s your guide to the best places to catch a live blues show in Austin.
You can’t have a discussion about Austin’s blues scene without mentioning Antone’s. Opened by Clifford Antone in 1975, this world-famous venue has lived up to its reputation as “Austin’s home of the blues” for nearly fifty years. Its walls are covered with the storied histories of past blues greats like BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and ZZ Top, all of whom graced the nightclub’s stage in the blues heyday of the ’70s and ’80s. While their shows have grown more eclectic over the years, Antone’s nevertheless remains dedicated to keeping the Austin blues scene alive.
Dubbed “the granddaddy of all local Austin music venues,” The Continental Club is a local staple that just never sees a slow night. Tourists and locals alike can’t resist the unaltered original charm of the venue, which has remained committed to staying close to its origins since it opened in 1955. In addition to its location in the heart of South Congress, just feet away from some of the best food and shopping in the city, this landmark is proud to boast live music offerings every single night of the week.
This dim, seductive lounge feels more like a speakeasy than a music venue. The entrance is not well-marked, you won’t hear their shows advertised on the radio, and if you’re looking for some well-lit selfies, this is definitely not the place for you. However, if you’re keen to transport yourself to another realm or time entirely, then The Elephant Room should be a can’t-miss destination on your trip to Austin. While musical acts run the gamut from blues and jazz to classical string quartets and Latin funk fusion, what this little club does best is curate authentic, timeless ambiance.
This modern, gorgeous space is best-known as the home of the famed Austin City Limits tapings and iconic Willie Nelson statue. However, it also hosts all manner of local and touring acts on non-taping nights. It was built with careful science and precision, and is arguably the best-sounding room in the city. Its walls and corridors are filled with more blues music history than most music museums, and the organizers have remained steadfast in their mission to showcase new and emerging artists while still honoring the blues greats. For some bonus tunes, walk downstairs to their newly-erected little sister venue, 3Ten ACL Live.
If the hubbub of downtown isn’t your thing, leave the beaten path and wander down to C-Boy’s Heart & Soul. Nestled deep in the heart of historic South Austin, this is a smaller, more divey venue that distributes an endless supply of good vibes. With a mix of blues, soul, and R&B drifting out the front door seven days a week, C-Boy’s has a “music first” mentality when it comes to booking their nightly shows. And if you need a little break from the pulsing PAs, be sure to check out the intimate, throwback cocktail lounge upstairs, The Jade Room, or wander out onto their spacious patio for some vintage shuffleboard. An added bonus? C-Boy’s boasts their own parking lot, a rarity for any music venue in Austin.