Take a stroll through the downtown bars on a Saturday night, and you’ll hear a melting pot of jazzy seventh chords, shredding guitar licks, and pinging brass bands. With so much music vibrating through this city, it’s no wonder artists find inspiration in Austin. Whether it’s a bluesy homage to downtown nightlife or a sentimental saga about adulthood, musicians have plenty to say about the live music capital. Here are ten great songs with a shout out to our hometown.
– Elisa Regulski
1. Gary Clark Jr.’s “Travis County”
It’s no surprise that this song was chosen for the ACL Live theme song. After just one listen, that infectious hook will buzz through your ears all day. Inspired by his stint at the Travis County Jail, Gary Clark Jr’s poppy blues number weaves a tale of crime and social injustice.
2. Guy Clark’s “Dublin Blues”
The imagery in this classic country song stirs up intense feelings of nostalgia and longing. It also has way of sparking up a craving for a Mad Dog margarita.
3. Common Ground’s “Sixth Street”
This hard rockin’ foot-tapper expertly captures how you feel at the beginning of a wild night on Sixth Street. The pounding drums sound like pure debauchery, and the biting lyrics make you feel invincible. Of course, by the next morning, it’s highly likely you’ll be singing something much more subdued.
4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s “Multi-Love”
This psychedelically funky band from Portland sneaks a little Austin love into their hit single. Songwriter Ruban Nielson begins this song by singing that his god wants to bury him “in Austin under Uchiko.” Now, that’s not a bad way to go.
5. Gary P. Nunn’s “Austin Pickers”
This song alludes to Austin in almost every line, and you can’t help but beam with pride when you hear it. Nunn sings a long list of famous Austin pickers, but if you don’t hear your name in this short little song, don’t stress. There’s simply not enough time. After all, he says “Our DJ friends’ gotta do their job, so two and a half minutes is all I got.”
6. Matthew Logan Vasquez’ “Austin”
This lethargic saga tells a coming of age story that could rival any novella you read in high school. “Austin” has a hypnotizing quality to it. Even after the first seven minutes, you find yourself hanging on to every word.
7. Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash’s “Austin Night”
It’s easy to “lose your heart in the heat of an Austin night.” We feel you.
8. Dale Watson’s “South of Round Rock, Texas”
Though this Dale Watson never mentions Austin by name, we all know what city this country crooner is boasting about.
9. Bob Schneider’s “King of the World”
It’s no surprise that Austin native Bob Schneider would throw in some poetic references to this city.
10. Johnny Cash’s “Austin Prison”
It wasn’t just Folsom that Cash sang about.
KUTX is excited to announce our concert series, KUTX Live at Uncle Billy’s on Barton Springs! Join us every Sunday from 2-6 p.m. for free live music on the outdoor patio at Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que. DJ Mixer Rogers will be playing music from 2-4 p.m. and then local bands will kick things off at 4 p.m. Come mingle with your favorite KUTX DJs and jam out to some of the best new music Austin has to offer!
April 3 – Megafauna
April 10 – Migrant Kids
April 17 – Daniel Eyes & the Vibes (rescheduled for May 29)
April 24 – Nina Diaz
May 1 – Echocentrics
May 8 – Good Field
May 15 – Mobley
May 22 – Good Field
at 2:30pm & CAPYAC
May 29 – Daniel Eyes & the Vibes
Psychedelic jungle rock. Quite the description, but man does that hit the nail on the head for Migrant Kids; their music is a transcendental power trip with harmony bursting vocals, contagious dance grooves, and a psych sound capable of melting minds. Making their home base in Austin after moving from the Michigan and Ohio, Migrant Kids is made up of cousins John Zakoor & Miguel Ojeda, and fellow midswestern homer Bryan O’Flynn. Their music is infectious when listening to, carrying psychedelic overtones similar to Bright Light Social Hour.
Migrant Kids stopped by Studio 1A and played a set of some of their music for us. The band will also be having their release party for their EP, Primordial Soup, Friday, May 13th at Cheer Up Charlie’s, cover is $5 so be sure to get there early! If you missed their live recording, you can stream it below, here on KUTX
Wild Belle delivers dream pop music doused in gasoline, bodacious beats and simmering vocals, eviscerating the subtle sound of pop harmonies with a haymaker. Chicago siblings, Elliot and Natalie Bergman make up the base of Wild Belle, and together they are a one-two punch. Natalie bringing scintillating vocals and Elliot supplying synth and doses of saxophone which is then reinforced with a trio of guitar, bass and drums. Wild Belle recently released their latest album, Dreamland, to raving reviews. Hits like, “Throw Down Your Guns” are filled with harrowing vocals backed by layers of percussion and synth that builds the energy to a swell, contrary to their fast paced teeth grinder, “Giving Up On You,” proof of the duo’s dynamic style.
Wild Belle stopped by Studio 1A as they continue their North American tour. If you missed their live performance, fear not, you can stream it right here, on KUTX
With a general psych-pop feel, Good Field delivers waves of sound that crash down and envelope listeners with dreamy guitar hooks and echoing vocals. Based in Austin, Good Field is made up of members Paul Price on vocals and guitar, Michael McLeod on bass, Kyle Robertson on keys, and Esteban Cruz on drums.
Good Field stopped by Studio 1A and put on a set of some of their music for us. They have some upcoming shows in town including a free show at Uncle Billy’s on Sunday, May 8th, so be sure to RSVP while you can! If you missed the live performance you can stream it here, on KUTX.