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A stitch in time: Liberty Lunch lives again for a day at the Far Out Lounge

This sign hung behind the stage at Liberty Lunch. Fans of the beloved 1980s-90s Austin venue will gather Saturday at Far Out Lounge for an "I Still Miss Liberty Lunch" show featuring sets by 13 local acts.

Do you still miss Liberty Lunch? If so, Saturday’s show at the Far Out Lounge is for you — so much so that it’s actually called “I Still Miss Liberty Lunch.”

After opening in the 1970s on the site of an old lumberyard on West Second Street, Liberty Lunch became one of Austin’s most beloved music venues in the 1980s and ’90s, up till the point that the city-owned land on which it was built got sold to make way for new tech businesses. That’s all water under the adjacent South First Street bridge by now, given the transformations downtown has undergone since then.

But many longtime Austin music fans still remember, and when some of them created the “I Still Miss Liberty Lunch” Facebook page around a decade ago, former Lunch owners Mark Pratz and J’net Ward responded in kind. They organized a reunion show in 2016 at ABGB that went well enough to warrant a sequel.

From the archives:Our 2016 interview with Liberty Lunch's Mark Pratz and J'Net Ward

The pandemic intervened, but Pratz and Ward kept at it, even after emerging variants delayed a reunion at the Far Out Lounge that was originally planned for last fall. Now, though, all systems are go. Saturday’s all-ages event runs from noon to midnight with performances by a baker’s dozen of local bands, some of which reunited for the occasion.

There’s also a silent auction that runs until 6 p.m. featuring shirts, posters and more from local and touring bands who played the Lunch during its heyday. Admission is $10, with all proceeds after costs going to the SIMS Foundation and HOME (Housing Opportunities for Musicians and Entertainers). Liberty Lunch T-shirts will be sold, as well.

The Far Out Lounge is a spacious outdoor venue with a small inside bar. The grounds include several food trucks. There’s also a new Torchy’s right across the street. Parking is limited, so the venue encourages rideshares. The new H-E-B at South Congress Avenue and Slaughter Lane is just a couple of blocks south; its parking lot is large but often crowded with shoppers on weekends.

Former Liberty Lunch owners Mark Pratz and J'Net Ward, along with former employee Betsy Nissen, left, show off memorabilia at the 2016 "I Still Miss Liberty Lunch" show. A second reunion event is set for Saturday at the Far Out Lounge.

Various members of the music community will introduce the acts throughout the day, including the Continental Club’s Dianne Scott, KUTX’s Jeff McCord, Austin City Limits Radio’s Andy Langer and Loris Lowe, Sun Radio’s Kevin Connor and Mark Murray, the Austin Chronicle’s Kevin Curtin, local radio personality Drew Bennett, journalist/author David Menconi, and yours truly from the American-Statesman/Austin360.

Related:Darden Smith's expansive 'Western Skies' combines music, essays, photos

Here’s who’s playing, and when:

1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m: Larry Seaman

An Austin mainstay since the 1980s heyday of new-wave rockers the Standing Waves, Seaman fronted several other bands through the '90s and more recently began making records under his own name. He’ll be joined by Kim Longacre, best known as singer-guitarist with the Reivers, and Walter Daniels, formerly of Bigfoot Chester and Jack O’Fire and more recently fronting the Del Valle Trustees.

1:45 to 2:25 p.m.: Tail Gators

Formed in the mid-1980s by erstwhile LeRoi Brothers guitarist Don Leady, the Tailgators were masters of swamp-rock, mingling Texas roots forms with Louisiana Cajun influences on several acclaimed albums. Leady jump-started the band a few years ago with a new lineup (original bassist Keith Ferguson died in 1997).

2:40 to 3:20 p.m.: Dumptruck

Guitarist Seth Tiven’s indie-rock band first made waves in Boston with albums such as 1987’s “For the Country.” He rebuilt his backing band after moving to Austin in the early 1990s, recording five more albums across the past three decades. Expect a mix of songs from the Austin and Boston years.

Doctors' Mob is among the bands reuniting to play Saturday's "I Still Miss Liberty Lunch" show at the Far Out Lounge.

3:35 to 4:15 p.m.: Doctors’ Mob

“Show up drunk, show up late, or don’t show up at all” was the motto of this 1980s Austin band that had a reputation as jokesters but made music that brilliantly balanced melodic songwriting with near-metal onstage energy. Reunions have happened now and again since the ’90s; when the Mob’s on the bill, you can pretty much be guaranteed it’s a worthy occasion.

4:30 to 5:10 p.m.: Wild Seeds

For more than two decades, Michael Hall been a respected writer for Texas Monthly, but back in the 1980s, he was known primarily as the frontman for this tuneful rock & roll outfit that had songs such as “I Can’t Rock You All Night Long.” Hall played a key role in Liberty Lunch’s final year by organizing a “Gloriathon,” which featured an extensive list of Austin musicians taking turns onstage during a 24-hour set that consisted of Van Morrison’s “Gloria” played over and over and over.

5:20 to 5:30 p.m.: Walter Tragert

Speaking of the Gloriathon: Longtime local singer-songwriter paid tribute to that unforgettable day/night last year by releasing “Twenty Four Hours (of G-L-O-R-I-A),” a bittersweet remembrance of both the event and Liberty Lunch itself. He’ll play just that one song at Saturday’s event, providing a sort of benediction to the affair.

Kathy McCarty will perform as part of Saturday's "I Still Miss Liberty Lunch" show at the Far Out Lounge.

5:40 to 6:10 p.m.: Kathy McCarty 

In the 1980s, McCarty played the Lunch often with the band Glass Eye, arguably the most inventive of that era's Austin bands. She helped bring Daniel Johnston to wider attention in the 1990s with “Dead Dog’s Eyeball,” an full album of Johnston songs. One of them, “Living Live,” got played over the credits of Richard Linklater’s 1995 film “Before Sunrise.” Now we have a bookend moment: Linklater’s new film “Apollo 10 1/2” includes McCarty singing Johnston’s “Rocketship” over the credits.

6:25 to 6:55 p.m.: Eve & the Exiles

Native Austinite Eve Monsees grew up to be a key player in the Antone’s realm: She co-owns Antone’s Record Shop with her husband and plays often at the club. But the Lunch still has a soft spot in her heart as well, and her presence on the bill underscores how the city’s music venues often complemented each other more than they competed.

Eve Monsees will perform with Eve & the Exiles for Saturday's "I Still Miss Liberty Lunch" show at the Far Out Lounge.

7:09 to 7:50 p.m.: Uranium Savages

How exactly to explain the Uranium Savages? The description on their Facebook page sums it up rather succinctly: “Musical comedic troupe, funny, crazy, weird, playing in Austin for 45 years and not dead yet!” The band is fronted by celebrated local muralist and entertainer Kerry Awn, whose connection to Sixth Street comedy troupe Esther’s Follies dovetails with the Lunch’s history. The founders of Esther’s were the initial owners of the Lunch before Pratz and Ward took it over.

8:05 to 8:45 p.m.: Wayouts

Local-band bills at the Lunch in the late 1980s and early '90s frequently featured this group, whose jangly rock & roll, taken to another level by singer Kim Hayes’ soaring vocals, very much fit the spirit of the times. The Wayouts never really got a shot at bigger things like peers such as the Reivers and True Believers, but an album they recorded in 1993 for a European label finally showed up on Spotify a couple of months ago, and it’s glorious to once again hear those old songs.

More:When Liberty Lunch was the place

9:05 to 9:45 p.m.: Pressure

Reggae was a big part of Liberty Lunch’s identity, as the club presented many Jamaican originators of the form. The sound connected with Austin audiences and led to several local reggae bands popping up in the 1980s. Pressure was among the best of them, and when Pratz and Ward held the first “I Still Miss Liberty Lunch” show six years ago, Pressure was on the bill.

10:05 to 10:45 p.m.: Extreme Heat

Originally called Steamheat when they released their 1975 debut album on local label Fable Records, this horn-driven funk-soul-jazz-rock ensemble subsequently released a half-dozen albums and several EPs as Extreme Heat. The eight-piece group includes singer Bruce Spellman and renowned local percussionist James Fenner.

11 to 11:45 p.m.: Shoulders 

Michael Slattery’s carnivalesque rock outfit was endlessly entertaining. He’d occasionally pound a big marching band drum while singing at the top of his lungs about garbagemen or his Uncle Achin’ as the band careened behind him like a clown-car propelled by corn liquor. They seem an ideal act to close out this 12-hour bash.