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Live Music in Austin

Where to See Bands for Free

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If you’re seeking free live music in Austin, here are some places to see it.

Continental Club

The Continental Club is known for helping Austin put its live music scene on the map. Following its creation in 1957 and its early roots as a burlesque joint, the Continental Club has been the place to go to see your favorite art- ist, featuring everyone from Kinky Friedman to Leroy Parnell to Charlie and Will Sexton. Bigger weekend shows often require a cover, but if you go on a night such as Monday or early in the day on a weekend you’re not likely to pay one. Cover charges are always listed on the website; check it for details.

First Thursday

Created as a way to showcase area merchants, First Thursday — held on the first Thursday of every month — has evolved into a big block party complete with delicious food, free booze, discounted merchandise, and, of course, live music throughout the event. Most of the stores stay open late — until around 10 p.m. — on First Thursday, and the event is all ages. It’s definitely a must-do Austin experience.

Flipnotics Coffeespace

In addition to being a coffee shop and open mic location for eager artists ready to show off their stuff, Flipnotics also has an important dedication to live music, offering tunes from local artists nearly every day of the week. And on many nights, there’s no cover. Grab a cup of joe and stake out a spot near the stage. You won’t regret it.

Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon

Here’s another one you can ␣le under “only in Austin.” Most of the week, Ginny’s Little Longhorn is a fantastic little dive bar featuring cheap drinks and a wonderful crowd of regulars. But on Sunday around 3 p.m., it turns into a hub for a special bingo event, in which a chicken is placed on a giant board and participants bet on which number he will select to relieve himself. Yes, it really is an only in Austin experience. But the best part is that every Sunday also features free live music from great acts such as Dale Watson. No cover; cash only for drinks and betting.

Lucky Lounge

This smallish bar is best known for its cheap drink specials and perfect location among a string of bars in Austin’s downtown Warehouse District that lend themselves to club hopping. But another great thing about Lucky Lounge is that it frequently hosts live music, often without charging a cover. Just show up and get ready to hear something great. Check the website for the schedule. Oh, and if you get a chance to see the Handsomes play there, don’t miss it.

Mozart’s Coffee Roasters

Love this place for its bottomless cups of coffee. Love this place for its scrumptious desserts. Love this place for its sprawling patio that overlooks the lake. And also love this place for its attention to free live music, which you can experience on the outdoor deck every Thurs through Sat. Mozart’s also offers free wireless Internet access.

Shady Grove

For much of the year, this beloved restaurant offers Unplugged at the Grove, a live music event on Thursday featuring some of Austin’s best artists under a canopy of stars with wonderful acoustics. Presented by 93.3 KGSR, the art- ists have included musicians such as Sarah Jaffe, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Slaid Cleaves, and the Gourds. Shows start at 8 p.m. and are free. Drink specials, such as $3 draft Ziegenbock and $3.50 frozen Jack and Cokes, are available during this time. The series typically runs during warmer months, from Apr to Sept.

Waterloo Records

With thousands and thousands of CDs and vinyl records from artists from around the world, Waterloo Records is an impressive place to enter any time. But on weekends, this shop’s dedication to live music is evident with frequent concerts by entertainers such as Marcia Ball, Los Lonely Boys, and more. Go to the website for details and to buy tickets.

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