Those who turned in to the first-ever virtual Austin City Limits Music Festival last weekend might have been pleasantly surprised to see snippets of footage from iconic local bar Donn’s Depot interspersed throughout the three-day streaming event. As with most music venues, the pandemic has dealt a hard blow to Donn’s, and many Austin musicians who treasure the place have teamed up to present a virtual event on Saturday.
Dubbed "Dig Deep for Donn’s," the 7:30 p.m. stream from facebook.com/donnsdepot will include appearances by Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Marcia Ball, Shinyribs, Cody & Willy Braun, Bill Kirchen, Tony Kamel, Beat Root Revival, Pat Byrne, Kelley Mickwee, Barbara Nesbitt, Dave Scher, Phil Hurley, Kira Small, Albert & Gage and Karl Werne. Also featured are the acts who have regular weekly residencies at the West Fifth Street hangout: Frank Cavitt, Murphy’s In-Laws, Grouchy Like Riley, Nash Hernandez, Chris Gage and Donn & the Station Masters.
The last of those is fronted by Donn Adelman, who’s owned the place since the mid-1970s after it initially opened a few years earlier as McNeil Depot. A former rail station that was converted into a bar, Donn’s has thrived with a clientele that ranges from seniors who appreciate its old-school vibe to younger musicians and fans looking for an alternative to downtown hipster venues.
PHOTO GALLERY: Donn’s Depot builds on unique community
Over the summer, loyal customers launched a subscription fund to help keep Donn’s afloat during the pandemic. Bartender Michelle Beebe Nabours and singer-songwriter Ben Jones helped to organize Saturday’s benefit, which will also feature footage shot in recent years by Jay Curlee for a Donn’s Depot documentary film. Links for ways to donate will be included in the chat sidebar on the streaming page.
Adelman and his band were featured in many brief clips during the virtual ACL Fest. A special surprise on Sunday was when Shakey Graves turned up to sing a couple of songs with the Station Masters. That was a fitting cameo, as Donn’s is known for having local stars occasionally drop by and sit in. It’s also typically one of the most festive local haunts during the holiday season, when its walls and ceiling are radiantly decked out with lights, tinsel and other decorations.
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