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Austin Music Landmark, Threadgill's, closing soon


"Do you know who I am?"

I've only been in the area for 23 years, but I am watching all the legendary live music venues and bars which made Austin into the live music capital of the world, home of Janis Joplin, Bob Schnieder, Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and so many other legends of their craft, all go away one by one. At first they started going away when some big conglomerate would buy the location and brand and destroy and lose its audience, like what happened with the famous Antone's where SRV, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Fastball cut their teeth. Some of those names still exist, but they are shadows of shadows of what they once were. Now we are seeing venues which still draw large crowds realize they cannot afford to remain open due to the cost of doing business: massive property tax increases, major increases in regulations and the cost of compliance, cost of employees, newly created noise ordinances, and more, are causing them to just give up.

Threadgill's is in the latter category. Home of Janis Joplin and Willie Nelson, a live stage which is seen on thousands of YouTube concert videos of amazing musical artists, both old and new, is shutting down their classic original location on the one famous Riverside Drive, which is now lined with condo buildings made up of >$500K one room condos and trendy new national chain restaurants which promise cheap organic crap and no wait staff.

This is a sad day, and for me the nail in the coffin of the little hole in the wall legendary bar, kitchen, and stage where you might see an unknown singer/songwriter or a legend like John Prine or Leon Russell on any given night. I saw Pete Townshend there for an unannounced show I didn't even know about, but I walked in for a single beer and to use the restroom and saw him walking onto the stage. Many in the crowd didn't even know who he was until he started singing an acoustic version of 5:15.

I am crying over this, and I blame the Austin city council for not finding a way to protect what should be heritage sites.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
I used to dream of moving to Austin, but not anymore. I’d still prefer it to Houston but Austin’s lost much of its magic over the last decade or so. I fear it’ll be just another big city, indistinguishable from many others in the near future.


Well-Known Member
I used to dream of moving to Austin, but not anymore. I’d still prefer it to Houston but Austin’s lost much of its magic over the last decade or so. I fear it’ll be just another big city, indistinguishable from many others in the near future.
And the most expensive in the great state of Texas......


"Do you know who I am?"
I seriously thought about putting this thread in the politics section, because the root cause of this issue is how the Austin city government is managing their growth and budgets.

Since this announcement (about Threadgill's), there has been a huge outcry from the longtime locals and many of the new arrivals. A local TV station found someone who just moved here claiming his decision to move was solidified after attending a show at Threadgill's… he was seriously considering the move, but then on a visit went to Threadgill's two night in a row and assumed he could do that many times a week and enjoy music in an environment different from where he was from.

The owners have said in interviews that the cost of doing business has more than quadrupled over the past three years yet all attempts to charge more or offer higher priced items on the menu (both drinks and food) failed to work. They said their draw was their affordability and they didn't want to alienate all their regulars who couldn't afford spending double the price on every visit. They said they watched all the clubs/bars/venues which have managed to adapt and succeed transition into places you wouldn't recognize if you hadn't been there in 5 years - high prices, insanely bizarre menu items, filled with rich hipster-class millennials, and lacking any of the old character; some even abandoning the live music experience for DJs and Karaoke. They said taxes are now higher than the mortgage, and parking is all but gone making it a chore for anyone who lives too far to ride a bike to the location to show up.

Sure, this is just one place and change in inevitable, but this is symptomatic of nearly all of the great Austin businesses who are vanishing or changing to the point they might as well have vanished. It that once a month another story like this gets attention and in the reporting and discussions about the loss we learn about several other long-time legends also shutting down or moving away which didn't get headlines. Sad, really sad.

So, the town I moved to is about two years from being completely gone. However, some of the changes I love, such as the art scene maturing and getting more financial support, the symphony, ballet, and opera doing better, the jazz scene drawing a better class of performer (jazz tends to flourish in the dark corners of successful cities), and so on. But the old, lazy, sloppy, rock and roll scene is on the verge of death.