WELCOME to the Hole in the Wall!
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.”
(the late, great Doug Sahm pictured above, shooting some pool at the Hole in 1996)
Local success stories Spoon, The Gourds, Shakey Graves, Timbuk 3, Bob Schneider, Fastball, Black Joe Lewis & Gary Clark Jr have all gone on to wider acclaim after honing their chops on the cozy stage in the front window of the Hole. In recent years, touring acts like Old 97s, Mother Hips, John Doe and Jonathan Richman have graced the larger stage in the rear of the venue.
Spoon shot the video for their song “Jealousy” in the men’s room. Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley spent many a night under the pool tables after club crawls down Guadalupe Street. Fastball and some of their fans chased a guitar thief around the corner and trapped him in a nearby alley. Don Henley of the Eagles walked in one night just in time to sing background vocals with Mojo Nixon on his classic MTV single “Don Henley Must Die.” 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!”
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. Psychedelic Furs played pinball. Leonard Cohen enjoyed a cheeseburger and watched the co-eds walk by from a table on the front stage.
The Texas Tornados played the front-room stage in 1990 to celebrate the release of their debut album, and mid-way through their set DJ Fontana and the late Scotty Moore – the drummer and guitarist of Elvis Presley’s original band – stopped in and ended up sitting in with the Tornados to end the set.
Lucinda Williams and Nanci 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. …and You Will Know Us By the 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 once made a dramatic exit through the glass window after a karaoke number gone awry.
The stories could go 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 Yatai – a gleaming new kitchen serving delicious Japanese bar food-meets-fusion dishes, from the folks at Michi Ramen.
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.
Hole in the Wall – from VICE
“Oh, you want the Austin experience and don’t want to go to Hole in the Wall? Go fuck yourself. This place is a goddamn landmark. No, literally. It has its own entry on the Texas State Historical Association website. Somehow, this place, with an inside that stays true to its namesake, has fought off the steamroller that is time and progress, unmoved while Urban Outfitter-ers and yoga studios arise like little Mount Dooms all round it. Other great venues have fallen over the years, yet this booze-and-music-infused gem remains. Every band you love that you didn’t realize came from Austin has played here. It’s basically the poor musicians’ version of the Grand Ole Opry. And being on The Drag, UT’s main strip of student-oriented shops, its crowds can be transient, like a bus stop or army camp. What else do you need to hear? The decor and vibe is exactly what you’d expect at place that’s been around forever (like 1974), and it’s been fighting to survive since before you knew what cool was. Go pay your respects.”
THE HOLE WORLD – Here’s some random video and photos and stuff we threw up here to get started.