Inside the Hole

WELCOME to the Hole in the Wall, friends!  What took you so long?  Our website is a work in progress, so be gentle with us as we crawl red-eyed into the 21st century.  This page is where we will be bringing you our latest musings on the Hole in the Wall‘s special place in the Live Music Capital of the World.

HOLE HISTORY

The Hole in the Wall is Austin’s most legendary club for all the right reasons.  Founded in 1974, it sits just across the street from the building at University of Texas campus where the Austin City Limits show was taped for decades, and KUTX radio still broadcasts.

Throughout Austin’s turbulent cultural storms, it has remained the Austin music scene’s “go to” club for generations of beginner bands, established touring acts, and famous rock stars to throw back a few, have a laugh with the locals, and, as Hole in the Wall’s most revered regular Doug Sahm once said, “get down to the nitty gritty.”

Stop by the club on any afternoon, and before you are one drink in, you can easily find someone who will regale you with a mind-blowing musical story.  Like the time Stevie Ray Vaughan sat in with Bill Carter and the Blame, wailing guitar until 3am, while his limo waited out front collecting parking tickets, and a customer dove through the sunroof on a bet.  Pete Thomas of the Attractions once sat in with the band until way past last call, quitting only when a feisty waitress finally said, “Hey drummer boy- Time to go home!”

Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley spent many a night under the pool tables after club crawls down the Drag.  Both Courtney Love and Dave Grohl spent longer than appropriate amounts of time in the men’s room on separate occasions (only one of them because of beer spilled on their head).  Fastball and a few fans chased a guitar thief around the corner and trapped him in a nearby alley.   Don Henley walked in one night just in time to sing background vocals with Mojo Nixon on his classic MTV single “Don Henley Must Die.”

Lucinda Williams and Nancy Griffith played for tips in their early days.   Beaver Nelson proposed to his wife from the stage.   Ivan Neville sat in with the house band at a Last Waltz reenactment.  Alejandro Escovedo reunited with his 80s glam band Buick MacKane.   Trail of Dead played their Austin debut as a two piece and ended their set by scattering their borrowed gear on the sidewalk.  Santa Claus even made a dramatic exit through the glass window after a karaoke number gone awry.

Local success story bands like Spoon, The Gourds, Bob Schneider,  Black Joe Lewis & Gary Clark Jr have all gone on to wider acclaim after honing their chops on the fun-sized stage in the front window of the Hole.   In recent years, touring legends like Old 97s, Mother Hips, John Doe and Jonathan Richman have graced the larger and more professionally equipped rear stage of the venue.

The Velvet Underground’s Sterling Morrison was a weekly resident guitarist in the late 70s.   REM once stopped by to jam and take sidewalk snapshots under the most recognizable marquee this side of Vegas.  St. Vincent played a solo set amidst a tangle of misfiring effects pedals.  Emmylou Harris ate popcorn at the bar.  Natalie Portman shot a few serious games of pool.  Quentin Tarantino heckled the band with obscure requests.  John Stamos played some decent drums at a free for all Sunday night jam.  Drew Barrymore and that “I’m a Mac” guy made out at a beat up picnic table in the former shotgun alley turned beer garden.

The stories could probably go on and on, until well after last call.

After a handful of earnest bar owners, and a couple of near-death experiences with the bottom line, the Hole in the Wall now flourishes in its current era as a live music staple, with 6 plus hours of wildly diverse musical acts a day, an energetic staff of dedicated young bar pros, and a gleaming new kitchen serving award-winning bar food-meets-fusion dishes from top chef winner Paul Qui.

So stop by whenever you feel like a stiff dose of authentic Austin.   A few rounds later, it’s safe to say you might be involved in creating a Hole in the Wall legend of your own.

TAKING SHOTS AT THE HOLE – Our reputation precedes us.  Here’s the word on the street about the Hole:

Hole in the Wall Finds its Groove Again – Austin 360

This Week in Texas Music History – KUT June 8, 2011

An Austin Legend in Live Music – (Thru 2003)

THE REGULARS – Some of our usual suspects, bands and neighbors have links we would like to share:   Modrag • Clyde & Clem’s Whiskey BusinessGrand ChampeenLeighelena • FedericoA Damn Fine ArtistThe Hole on TwitterLowbrow Palace El Paso • more to come…

THE HOLE WORLD – Here’s some random video and photos and stuff we threw up here to get started.

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doug sahm

Doug Sahm shoots some pool at the Hole in 1996