Finding traditional Dixieland jazz clubs in Austin can be elusive. Austin is not New Orleans and no establishments offer traditional Dixieland jazz entertainment on a nightly basis. However, some locations do offer jazz or something very close to it on a weekly or sporadic basis. This is a guide to those places. Bookings change, so consult Other Local Events on this website or call the club before going.
Capitol City Comedy Club
8201 Research Boulevard
Cap City is located in a shopping center at the intersection of Research Boulevard and Anderson Square. It is truly a comedy club, and most of the time is not a music venue at all. However, it is the home of events offered by the Austin Traditional Jazz Society. One Sunday afternoon a month, it comes alive with hot jazz.
Capitol City Comedy Club is a good venue for jazz. Ample free parking can be found in the shopping center parking lot, and there are other shopping centers nearby if an event fills the lot up. The main room is spacious, with seats for more than 300 patrons. There is a large stage, with a good sound system, good acoustics and good sight lines. Austin Traditional Jazz Society rents a dance floor for its events.
Cap City has a full bar and a kitchen. Menu items are lunch or snack items (sandwiches, quesadillas, nachos and the like), and they are good and reasonably priced.
5621 Airport Boulevard
Quality Seafood is located on Airport Boulevard just south of Koenig Lane. It is located in a small shopping center. Parking is adequate most of the time, but large events can fill the lot. Try to come early to music events.
Quality Seafood is an informal seafood market and restaurant. The food is very good. Seating is at a bar, tables and booths. Two traditional jazz groups are often featured at Quality Seafood. Aunt Ruby’s Sweet Jazz Babies play there every Monday night as a quartet. Shucks and the Oyster Po’ Boys, Dixieland band, are featured less frequently, but play in a full six-piece format when they do.
1601 Barton Springs
Flipnotics is located at 1601 Barton Springs Road, between South Lamar Boulevard and Zilker Park. The building is set into a hill, and the stage is in a room on the back of the club on the upper floor. There is a small parking lot to the right of the building on Barton Springs Road, and another small parking lot up the hill on Kinney Avenue. At night other parking places can be found along closed businesses on Barton Springs Road. The best advice is to come early for a show and get one of the Flipnotics spaces.
Flipnotics is a coffee house. One can find coffee, hot chocolate, tea, beer and a variety of baked treats. Bands play for tips-only there, so please plan to support the band playing that night.
The most notable jazz-oriented ensemble is Erik Hokkanen and the Hip Replacements, who play on Tuesday nights. No survey of Austin jazz musicians is complete without a listen to Erik Hokkanen, who plays marvelous violin and guitar.
315 Congress Avenue
The Elephant Room is Austin’s only real jazz club, furnishing jazz nightly in a variety of styles. The Jazz Pharaohs play from 6 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday and other traditional jazz-oriented bands play other nights as advertised.
Street parking can be a real adventure in downtown Austin during rush hour, but there is a lot with early-bird parking a half-block away on 3rd Street. Don’t be put off by lines of waiting patrons—these invariably are waiting to go upstairs to the Kyoto. Go downstairs and immerse yourself in the basement atmosphere of the Elephant Room.
The Elephant Room is strictly a watering hole—beer, wine and mixed drinks. Patrons occasionally bring their own food or have it delivered.
1315 South Congress Avenue
The name “Continental Club” sounds posh and sophisticated. The reality is quite different. The Continental is basically a concrete box with a stage and a bar. It is pretty strictly a watering hole—eat before you go. Parking is on the street and can be an adventure, although both sides of South Congress are lined with diagonal parking spaces.
The jazz attraction at Continental is a small group called the Trio Gallerio. This group features two of the best jazz guitarists to be found anywhere, Dave Biller and J.D. Pendley. Ryan Gould is one of two bass players. Currently they are playing the early show (6:30 – 8:30 p.m.) on Mondays in the main club, and the late show (10 p.m. to midnight) in the upstairs Gallery.
1110 East 52nd Street
The Carousel Lounge is a piece of Austin entertainment history. It is little changed since the 1960s. It is another watering hole—beer, wine and mixed drinks. Carousel is decorated in a bright circus motif, including a large paper-maché elephant. There are double rows of parking spaces in front of the club. People who find themselves parked in will come back inside to ask the outer parker to move. There are a few spaces at the business next door and some street parking.
The Chaparral Dixielanders play at the Carousel about once a month from 7 to 9 p.m. Other bands run the gamut of popular guitar-based styles. If traditional jazz is your music, check before you go. As at Flipnotics, bands play strictly for tips, so please support the musicians.
The Brown Bar
8th and Colorado Streets
The Brown Bar is an upscale bar on the first floor of the Brown Building on the southwest corner of 8th and Colorado Streets in downtown Austin. The clientele is mostly young and professional. Street parking is available with some patient searching. Valet parking is also available on the east side of the building.
The Brown Bar is not a restaurant, but often serves as a waiting area for Gumbo's, which is next door. The waitstaff can bring you anything off the Gumbo's menu--it's good Cajun fare.
The Chaparral Dixielanders played a Mardi Gras gig here, and further jazz events may be in the works. Be sure to check Other Local Events before you go.