Dec 22, 2013

Austin: South Congress and the Continental Club

When I went to Austin, Texas last fall on a business trip, I knew I didn't want to leave town without catching at least a small slice of its famous live music scene.  Fortunately, my friend Aaron obliged my request, and once we were done eating and drinking at Banger’s in the Rainey Street District, off we went to the South Congress neighborhood and, more specifically, the Continental Club.  

The first thing I noticed about South congress was the parking situation.  Anyone who is lucky enough to find a spot on South Congress must park diagonally – and they must back in to the spot.  See what I mean?

I imagine this can become a much riskier proposition as the night goes on.  But it does make it easier to not have to worry about backing out when you’re ready to leave I guess.

The second thing I noticed was, even for a Monday evening, this area always seems bustling with activity.  Between all the shops, bars, food trucks, music destinations and old-school motels restored to their art deco loveliness, it’s a fun walk from spot to spot.

Speaking of destinations, I knew the Continental Club was my kind of place from the moment we approached it.  Since it opened in 1957, it has earned its well-deserved reputation as being synonymous with Austin music – country, rock, blues, you name it.  Personally, I had wanted to come here since I heard about its association with the early career of Stevie Ray Vaughan    

I felt bad that I couldn't stay for Dale Watson, but I guess you can't do it all.    
Aside from their regular line-up (featured prominently on the chalkboard inside), you just never know who’s going to schedule an occasional show here or just stop by.  In fact, the walls are literally lined with mementos attesting to the Continental Club’s self-described place as “the granddaddy of Austin music venues.” 

You’ll also notice the Continental Club has the great dive bar feel I love so well.  Want another example of what makes the Continental Clue a great dive bar?  Check out the graffiti and the “attendant” in the men’s bathroom …

You ever get the feeling you're being watched?
And true to its dive bar nature, the drink prices seemed alarmingly affordable when you consider the quality of entertainment you’ll find here.  Throw in some 50's-style décor to complete the picture. 

Have a seat (if you're fortunate enough to get one), and stay a while. 
And although I swore I would never drink another Lone Star beer again, I had to have a couple while I was here because it just seemed like the right thing to do.  Maybe it was the atmosphere, but Lone Star seems to taste a lot better at the Continental Club than at home. 

The Peterson Brothers -- do not miss these guys if you're in Austin on a Monday night!
On this night, I was also fortunate to see the Peterson Brothers performing their regular early Monday gig – for no cover!  It seemed like an amazing steal.  Catch them here while you still can.  They’re young, incredibly talented blues musicians who have already played with some of the biggest names in blues music. 

Put simply, if you’re ever in Austin to party, skip Sixth Street for a night, and a crawl up and down South Congress.  And make sure you see check out the Continental Club while you’re there.  

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