Outdoor festivals, industry confabs and a legendary TV show all had a hand in creating Austin’s reputation as a music town. But the primary reason we’re considered the Live Music Capital of the World is what happens in the clubs week in and week out. And a huge part of that is residency gigs.
From weekly shows with world-class musicians that last for years, to temporary spotlights on rising stars that run just a month or two, residencies consistently offer great opportunities for both locals and out-of-town visitors to hear what Austin music is all about. We’ll round up some of our longtime favorites below, but first, here’s a heads-up on a few fresh ones that have popped up with the arrival of a new year.
Tuesdays in January: Toni Price at Threadgill’s and Warren Hood at Cosmic Coffee. Price and Hood played together on Tuesdays for years at the Continental Club’s legendary “hippie hour” show, but this month you’ll find them in separate Tuesday shows on the north and south ends of town. Price, a versatile singer and charismatic raconteur, is at Threadgill’s, the original location that survived after last month’s closure of the more centrally located restaurant. ($7, 8 p.m., 6416 N. Lamar Blvd.) Hood, a first-class fiddler and fine singer-songwriter, holds forth at Cosmic, one of the hottest new spots in town for coffee and drinks last year; it’s set to increasingly become a music hot spot in 2019. (Free, 7 p.m., 121 Pickle Road.)
Tuesdays in January: Sue Foley Acoustic Trio at Saxon Pub. Since teaming up with keyboardist/producer Mike Flanigin a couple of years ago, Canadian blues guitar firebrand Foley has once again become a part-time resident of Austin, where she moved in the early 1990s and became part of the Antone’s Records family. She frequents the Antone’s nightclub with an electric lineup, but this month’s Saxon shows are a welcome opportunity to hear Foley play in a quieter, seated setting. (8 p.m., $10, 1320 S. Lamar Blvd.) Pro tip: Arrive early for the free, 6 p.m. happy-hour set by guitar great David Grissom, whose long-term weekly gig at the Saxon is one of Austin’s hallmark residencies.
Saturdays in January: Crevival at Swan Dive. Rapper Anastasia has coined the term “Crevival,” a combination of creative and revival, to capture the energy of this monthlong residency. Each week, she’ll be presenting a roster of talented friends to start the new year with new music and new opportunities. Guests include Interrobang, Distinguished Soundz and Eson. (cover charge TBA; 10:30 p.m., 615 Red River St.)
Saturdays in January: Eric Burton at Continental Gallery. Show up early if you want to get in. The soulful lead singer of 2018 breakout act Black Pumas will pack the house with a solo show in the early time slot at one of the most intimate listening rooms in town. ($10, 8:30 p.m., 1313 South Congress Ave.)
Mondays in January & February: Arielle LaGuette at Townsend. A folk-and-jazz-based singer-songwriter who plays ukulele, LaGuette has released a couple of EPs in the past two years and also performs in a musical-comedy duo. Fittingly, this two-month series of free Monday shows will include special guests performing both music and comedy. (7 p.m., 718 Congress Ave.)
Geraldine’s on weeknights in January. Since its 2016 debut in the fourth-floor restaurant of the Rainey Street District’s acclaimed Hotel Van Zandt, this hip bar space has banked on a monthly residency format to fill out much of each week. January’s talent is as strong a batch as we’ve seen there in quite some time, with rootsy troubadour JD Clark on Mondays, classic-pop singer Lex Land on Tuesdays, past Austin360 Artist of the Month Ray Prim on Wednesdays, and an every-other-Thursday rotation between the blues-funky Peterson Brothers and R&B/soul standout Tje Austin. (Free, 9:30 p.m., 605 Davis St.)
Long-term weeknight residencies
Blue Mondays: In Austin, Monday is blues night. If you want to start your week with six-string tales of hard luck and heartache, several venues in town fit the bill. Bastrop upstarts the Peterson Brothers have been tearing up the stage at the Continental Club since they were both teens, and they’ll be at the venue for a free happy-hour show every Monday this month. (Free, 6:30 p.m., 1315 S. Congress Ave.) Antone’s, the home of the blues in Austin, has a Blue Monday happy hour every Monday except Jan. 21, when the club is closed for a private party. Bobby Mack plays Jan. 14, and Whitey Johnson joins Derek O'Brien’s all-star band on Jan. 28. ($7, 6:30 p.m., 305 E. Fifth St.) Over in East Austin, the birthplace of Austin’s blues scene, the Eastside Blues Syndicate hosts a Monday night blues jam at Dozen Street. Sign-up to play begins at 9 p.m.; the Syndicate, helmed by longtime community organizer Harold McMillan, plays a warm-up jam to get things going. (Free, 9 p.m., 1808 E. 12th St.) And just down the block, the Little Elmore Reed Blues Band plays every Monday at the King Bee Lounge. ($5, 10 p.m., 1906 E. 12th St.)
More on Mondays: Chris Gage at Donn’s Depot (free, 9 p.m., 1600 W. Fifth St.); Church on Monday at Continental Gallery ($5, 8:30 p.m.); Mystery Monday with Christine Albert, Bill Kirchen & guests at El Mercado (Free, 7:30 p.m., 1302 S. First St.); Lonelyland at Saxon Pub ($10-$25, 8:30 p.m.); Texas Tycoons at White Horse (free, 8 p.m., 500 Comal St.); Matchmaker Band at Highball (free, 9 p.m., 1120 S. Lamar Blvd.); Bluegrass Night at Radio Coffee & Beer (free, 8 p.m., 4204 Manchaca Road).
Tuesdays: "Customer Appreciation Day” at Antone’s. Austin’s home of the blues makes it easy for folks to stop in, with free admission for both early and late shows most every Tuesday. The 6:30 p.m. early show with the Antone’s Big Trio is actually a five-piece band featuring generation-spanning guitar talents Denny Freeman and Eve Monsees, plus bass ace Sarah Brown and brothers Mike & Corey Keller. The 10 p.m. show this month features Lindsay Beaver on most nights, with Jake Andrews in the slot on Jan. 29.
More on Tuesdays: James McMurtry ($10, 8:30 p.m.) and Ephraim Owens (free, 10:30 p.m.) at Continental Gallery; David Grissom at Saxon Pub (free, 6 p.m.); Whitney Rose at Continental Club (free, 6:30 p.m.); Sarah Sharp at Elephant Room (free, 6 p.m., 315 Congress Ave.); 8-½ Souvenirs at C-Boy’s (free, 6:30 p.m., 2008 S. Congress Ave.).
Wednesdays: James McMurtry, Jon Dee Graham and William Harries Graham at the Continental Club. One of the city’s longest-running residencies is one of its best. Americana masters McMurtry and Jon Dee Graham both draw solid crowds nationally when they tour, but when they’re not on the road, you know where to find them on Wednesdays. In recent years, Graham’s son William has brought fresh sounds to the opening slot. ($8, 9:30 p.m.)
More on Wednesdays: Warren Hood at ABGB (free, 6:30 p.m., 1305 W. Oltorf St.); Wagoneers at Saxon Pub ($5, 6 p.m.); Blue Moon Jazz Quartet with Rosie Flores (free, 8:30 p.m.); Cheatin’ Hearts (free, 6:30 p.m.) at C-Boy’s; Seela at One-2-One Bar ($7, 6:30 p.m., 1509 S. Lamar Blvd.); Mau Mau Chaplains at Flamingo Cantina (free, 9 p.m., 515 E. Sixth St.); Motenko at Stay Gold (free, 9 p.m., 1910 E. Cesar Chavez St.).
Thursdays: Margaret Wright at Skylark Lounge. Wright possesses “a warm stage presence, a haunting voice that aches with fragile soul and phenomenal piano chops that find her meandering through jazz improvisations into songbook standards,” we wrote a few years ago. Her happy-hour gigs, which happen on Fridays as well as Thursdays each week, are the bedrock of this east side joint’s music calendar. (Free, 6 p.m., 2039 Airport Blvd.)
More on Thursdays: Patrice Pike at Saxon Pub ($10, 8 p.m.); Monte Warden & the Dangerous Few ($5, 8:30 p.m.) and Bonnie Whitmore ($5, 10:30 p.m.) at Continental Gallery; Casper Rawls at Continental Club (free, 6:30 p.m); Jimmie Dreams & the Crescent Soul Revue at Sam’s Town Point (9 p.m., 2115 Allred Drive).
Fridays: Denny Freeman at Saxon Pub. This one’s a good symbol of what’s special about Austin: A free, weekly happy-hour show featuring a guy who spent several years on the road playing guitar with Bob Dylan. Locally, folks know Freeman better for his long association with the Vaughans and other classic Texas blues acts. As such, Antone’s has always been a home base for him, but these Saxon gigs have been a big draw for about a decade, attracting regulars who love to start their weekend here. (6 p.m.)
More on Fridays: Rosie Flores Revue at C-Boy’s (free, 6:30 p.m.); Robert Kraft Trio at Continental Gallery (free, 8:30 p.m.); W.C. Clark at Giddy Up’s (free, 5:30 p.m., 12000 Manchaca Road); Donn & the Station Masters at Donn’s Depot (free, 9 p.m.).
Sundays: Purgatory Players at El Mercado Backstage. When South Austin coffeehouse venue Strange Brew shuttered a couple of years ago, several of its prime residencies migrated to this long-standing Tex-Mex restaurant, which recently had built an impressive new stage in its back room. This brunch gig often includes special guests, but its core members are an impressive lot: Jeff Plankenhorn, Jon Dee Graham, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Seela and Jon Greene. There's often no cover charge for El Mercado shows, in part because the business model is built around guests dining while they listen. (11 a.m., 1302 S. First St.)
More on Sundays: Resentments at Saxon Pub ($10, 7:30 p.m.); Heybale at Continental Club ($8, 7 p.m.); Lavelle White at Antone's ($5, 6:30 p.m.); Tessy Lou & the Shotgun Stars at Poodie's Roadhouse (free, 4 p.m., 22308 Highway 71 W., Spicewood).