On Thursday, October 13, The Austin Chronicle recommended Off!, the headliner of a show that starts at 9pm, which is a reasonable time, unless you consider that Off! is the fourth band to play. And they are playing at Red7, a downtown bar with no parking. It isn’t exactly a family friendly evening.
Live music is for college kids. Once you have a job, a mortgage and a couple of toddlers running around, your days of being part of Austin’s live music scene are over.
Or maybe they aren’t.
Maybe it is just different.
But, you can’t see a band in a downtown bar at 1:00 in the morning and your very favorite band isn’t likely to play a kid-friendly venue. Maybe you are like me and you aren’t that into music made for kids. (If you are into music made just for kids, check out Mr. Johnny’s web site and Facebook Fan Page.)
I searched and re-searched, and I found the answer. Families can see grown-up music in kid-friendly venues at a dozen restaurants in town and plenty of outdoor festivals year- round.
Restaurants are great because the shows are early, the music isn’t too loud, there usually isn’t a cover charge and you have to eat anyway, right? Why not have some live music along with your meal?
Festivals are great because they are outdoors, with lots of room to dance and fun activities for the kids. Austin weather is good almost all year, so why not see your live music in the great outdoors?
This is how I do South By Southwest with my kids. I throw away the official schedule. There are about 3000 shows in there that don’t work for us. Then we go to Auditorium Shores on Saturday afternoon when the parking isn’t bad, it isn’t too crowded and the shows are free.
It took me a while to get used to seeing whatever band was playing at the right kid-friendly venue instead of seeing my very favorite band. It wasn’t easy. But as I opened up a little more and accepted a little more, I started to see the advantages.
Bands who play restaurants and festivals in Austin are from all different types of genres of music: bluegrass, blues, singer-songwriter, old-time country, jazz, swing, Latin and more. I get to hear music that I don’t have a lot of in my own library and I don’t get to hear on the radio. The restaurant venues are intimate, you get to see the musicians up close and notice the plucking of each string and the foot playing the bass pedal on the drums. The festivals have wide open spaces for crazy kid dancing, where everyone can run in circles, swing their arms in the air and finally fall to the ground when they are exhausted from too much fun.
There is a new resource in town to help families see live music: AustinKidsDance.com has calendars, maps and information about grown-up music in kid-friendly venues at Austin restaurants and festivals. Did you know that Artz Rib House has great ribs and also has live music seven days at week at dinner time? Did you know the Gypsy Picnic is in October each year, with live music all day, a side show for the kids, fun trailer foods to sample and free admission?
This is the Live Music Capital of the World after all, for college students and for families. So join in the fun; It won’t be long before you see the advantages, too.
About the Author: Carol Ramsey lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and three daughters, 2, 3 and 14. She is a software project manager and in her free time (?!?!?), she writes at GrowingUpAustin.com.