For those in search of a spontaneous night out, these small and mid-size Austin music venues offer a wide range of musical acts seven nights a week.
Tucked away in east Austin, The White Horse features a fun mix of music including bluegrass, country, Cajun and conjunto. The laid-back honky-tonk has two pool tables and whiskey on tap. 500 Comal Street; (512) 553-6756
In addition to a nightly lineup of everything from blues to rockabilly, the Continental Club often presents matinee shows on weekends.
The intimate space allows music fans to get up close and personal with up-and-coming and established bands. 1315 South Congress Avenue; (512) 441-2444
3. Saxon Pub
Happy hour at the Saxon Pub has the feel of a nursing home field trip, but the crowd gets younger as the night rolls on. Featuring popular regular acts like Bob Schneider and The Resentments, the Saxon appeals to mainstream rock ’n roll fans. 1320 South Lamar Boulevard; (512) 448-2552
4. BD Riley’s
A laid-back Irish pub, BD Riley’s bills itself as a 6th Street bar for grownups. The schedule is typically dominated by rock and blues bands. On Sunday nights, the bar showcases traditional Irish music in the Irish Tune Sessions. 204 East 6th Street; (512) 494-1335
The indoor/outdoor bar normally books highly danceable bands such as the Spazmatics and LC Rocks. Many of the bands play ’80s music, which attracts a clientele that was raised on Journey, Def Leppard and Michael Jackson.
208 West 4th Street; (512) 495-9669
Presenting cool jazz in an underground lair, the Elephant Room is one of the few jazz-focused venues in town. Popular bands that play on a regular basis include the Elias Haslanger Quartet, Jon Blondell and the Jazz Pharaohs. 315 Congress Avenue, (512) 473-2279
Owned by country crooner Dale Watson, the Little Longhorn is most famous for its Sunday afternoon games of chicken shit bingo. It’s pretty much what it sounds like. They place a large bingo board on the pool table, and if the chicken poops on your number, you win. The bar usually presents traditional country music, but unfortunately, there’s not enough room for two-stepping. 5434 Burnet Road; (512) 524-1291
The multilevel bar features upbeat bands, ranging from Latin jazz to salsa. With hardwood floors and exposed-brick walls, the downstairs bar is sophisticated but not stuffy. On the rooftop bar, you’ll find comfy couches and a great view of downtown Austin. 412-D Congress Avenue (alley entrance); (512) 476-8017
A coffee shop connected to a state-of-the-art listening room, Strange Brew is beloved by local musicians. The crowds are attentive, and the sound quality is excellent. And they make a fine cuppa joe. The music ranges from country to folk rock. 5326 Manchaca Road; (512) 828-7636
10. Friends Bar
With music starting as early as 4 p.m. on weekends, Friends often presents three bands per night. Most of the bands are local and play a mix of covers and original tunes.
The Sunday night blues jam attracts some of the best musicians in town, week after week. Even when 6th Street is hopping, this sprawling bar offers plenty of breathing room. Since there's never a cover, it's a great bar to pop into for a while as you explore your options. 208 East 6th Street; (512) 320-8193