Bobby Karl Works A Weekend In Austin

Bobby Karl caught tunesmith Allen Shamblin at Saxon's Pub during an event for the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Bobby Karl caught tunesmith Allen Shamblin at famed Saxon’s Pub during an event for the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame.

MusicRow’s beloved party goer shares where to dine and unwind in Austin, Texas. He was there to attend the Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Association’s Hall of Fame inductions. Read his exclusive coverage of that weekend-long experience here.


To take maximum advantage of the weekend, we flew in early. That meant breakfast was the first thing on the agenda. We headed for Austin’s hipster district on South Congress and popped into The Magnolia Café. Everybody in there seemed to be a musician talking about the previous night’s gig. You can understand the joint’s appeal. One outside sign reads, “Sorry, We’re Open,” and another says “24/8.”

Also on South Congress is the legendary Continental Club. Opened in 1957, it showcases all kinds of roots music. It’s so famous that it even has music during the daytime, plus a groovy little gallery/lounge upstairs. We caught part of a blues combo’s set.


We lucked out with breakfast again. In the University of Texas district north of downtown, we happened upon Kerbey Lane Cafe, located on Guadalupe Street in another hipster zone. Delicious, and full of young beatniks with facial hair and/or tattoos.

We did lunch at yet another legendary venue, Threadgill’s. Located on North Lamar, it opened in 1933 in an old Gulf gas station. By the 1960s, the restaurant/beer joint was staging hootenannies. This is where Janis Joplin first sang, and there’s a room there featuring photos, newspaper clips and other mementos about her early years. There’s live music here every Wednesday night and a bluegrass brunch on Sundays.

Owner Kenneth Threadgill (1909-1987), later a recording artist, was a tolerant kind of guy, so hippies and rednecks mingled at his place. This led to Eddie Wilson establishing the Armadillo World Headquarters in South Austin, 1970-1980. Willie and Waylon famously launched country’s “outlaw” movement there. Today, a second Threadgill’s occupies this location, where it continues the Armadillo’s live-music tradition.


The Four Seasons Hotel downtown has a restaurant where you can dine on a patio overlooking the Colorado River. It’s expensive, but what do you expect from a buffet menu that includes crab claws, prime rib and pork loin, sushi, jumbo shrimp, garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus spears, three kinds of green salads, grilled cauliflower, caprese mozzarella & tomato, smoked salmon, caviar, fruit, eggs benedict over short ribs, hash browns, Italian sausage and customized omelets, not to mention deserts including raspberry mousse, crème brule, cheesecake, strawberry truffles and German chocolate cake? There was more, but that’s as much as I can remember.

Eat as much as you like. Then stroll on the Riverwalk to the Ann Richards bridge over the river that connects North Congress and South Congress and features a huge, and much-celebrated, bat colony.

We ran into Monte Warden, who informs that The Wagoneers have recorded a new album and are label shopping. A&R folks, take note. Warden knew all about Hope Gardens, a wacky series of hillside walls that is a block-long, on-going public art project where citizens are continually spray painting designs and slogans. There’s a house shaped like a castle on top of it.


South Lamar Blvd. is home to the famed vintage dancehall The Broken Spoke. Don’t miss its memorabilia room, filled with photos, hats and other Country music treasures. The new location of the blues/r&b mecca Antone’s is in this vicinity, too. Also don’t miss the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue in the riverside park on the south side of the city.

Time to go home. But first, a barbecue brunch. Many locals recommended Salt Creek, but the first word in that brand told the tale. The Iron Works is famed for its brisket. But we like Stubbs. Besides, it has live music.

Bruce Channel and Sonny Throckmorton saxon pub

Bruce Channel and Sonny Throckmorton also entertained at Saxon’s.


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