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Live Music for Dummies – a Manual for Austin Newbies

Never, Never, Never in Your Long-Legged Life

“Dummy,” in my opinion, and in the opinion of my mother, is absolutely the worst kind of put-down. Such an inexcusable use of the English language that the speaking of it could be equated with the use of an all-out curse word.

Utterly unspeakable. Possibly punishable by swats (in the 70’s), grounding (in the 80’s), or soap-mouth-washing (in the ’90’s).

Nobody, but nobody, deserves to be called a dummy. Not a friend, not a schoolmate, and especially not a sibling.

But the worst use of the dreadful d-word?

Calling yourself one.

Call Yourself a Dummy


Never, never, never, in your long-legged life, at least where I grew up, should one even think about calling oneself a dummy.

Unless You Know Absolutely Nothing About Something

DOS for Dummies was published as the first title in what became a mega-series of reference books “for the rest of us.” Since then, authors have pitched in their expertise to write helpful instructional manuals on everything from Horses to Medicare.

But, do you you know one title that does not exist?

Live Music for Dummies.

That’s one book I would have bought and read, cover to cover.

Maybe then I wouldn’t have found myself holding four tickets to a great concert on the wrong night in the Live Music Capital of the World®.

It’s All About Music in Austin

Since 1991, Austin, Texas has staked claim to more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the nation. Perhaps even in the world.

In addition, some of the world’s largest music festivals are held in Austin, including South by Southwest (SXSW or just South By).

When my husband and I moved to Austin as almost-empty-nesters, we planned to jump into the live music thing with both feet. I had grand illusions of everything from meeting Willie Nelson on the sidewalk to fancy street performances on every corner of Congress Avenue.

But it just wasn’t that easy.

Newbies Need a Little Help

If you move to Austin, or even if you are headed through there on a hill country getaway, do plan to enjoy some live music while you’re there.

But take my advice. I’ll be the dummy and you can be the smartie.

Know What You Want to Hear

Are you looking for some easy-listening jazz performed by local favorites? Would you prefer a blowout concert by country music favorites?

If you go without any plan at all, there’s a chance you’ll be delighted by an unexpected find. However, there’s a stronger chance you mind wander around, not finding what you were looking for, and go home a touch disappointed.

Research, Research, Research

Ask any Austin newbie where they’ve enjoyed live music so far and you’re likely to get the same answer.  “Well, we went to the Elephant Room, but we’re trying to figure out where else to go.”

The locals have developed their list of Austin favorites like Bob Schneider, and there are some lists of other favorites to check out. Some popular websites like this one publish a lot of music info, too.

The hard part of wading through website after website is that they’re largely targeting a younger crowd. Over Fiftyers have a much more difficult time finding a) musicians we’ve heard of, and b) music we really enjoy.

Bottom line on the research thing? There’s probably a needle down in the haystack, but expect to spend some time looking for it.

Ask Around

Part of the fun of being new to town, whether taking up residence or passing through, is exploring and expecting to find new experiences. Asking around is one way to do research a little faster without so much effort.

People who live in Austin are super-helpful and willing to share what they know, so feel free to ask around. Don’t, however, ask a 20-something clerk at Royal Blue Grocery to point you in the direction of a good place to hang out and hear jazz. They stand up at their concerts. Like the.whole.time. So, the chances of liking where they send you are, well, let’s say, just a little risky.

Watch YouTube Videos

One way to check out a band that someone recommends or that you see advertised in a local publication is to watch them on YouTube.

You’ll get a good idea of the artist’s style and sometimes even a feel for what to expect from the venue, which will help make your decision about spending money to see them.

Like and Follow

Once you’ve discovered a few bands you really like, LIKE their Facebook pages so their info will show up in your newsfeed. Some artists have a heavier social media presence than others, so check to see if you can find them on Instagram as well.

Not only can you find out where to see and hear your favorite musicians, you can offer feedback with the rest of their raving fans.

A Few of Our Favorites 

Check out our list of favorite performers and Austin venues here.

Encouraging everyday intentional adventure and lots of good live music, wherever you can find it,



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  • Chancy

    I don’t typically read blogs, but this is cool Brenda! Keep em coming! Hope y’all are doing well!

    • Brenda McDearmon

      Chancy, it’s a high honor that you read my blog! We’re doing great. Thanks for commenting, and for sharing a post to enter the coffee giveaway.