Austin Music Hall
(D-8) 208 Nueces, 263-4146.

allLiquor Served Always a Cover

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The Backyard
(L-5) 13101 W. Hwy 71, 263-4146.

Food Served allBeer and Wine Served

Just a few songs from downtown Austin, or so the slogan goes, the Backyard has been one of the best concert venues in Austin over the past several years -- and without being in Austin (try Bee Cave). Though parking on the Backyard's back 40 wilderness is often a nightmare, the outdoor venue itself is a dream: good breezes, sightlines, acoustics, and a magnificent oak tree in the middle of it all. Owned by Direct Events, the Backyard consistently gets first-class talent such as the Gypsy Kings, Allman Brothers, and hopefully later this spring, Neil Young.

Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Concert Hall
(UT-13) UT Campus.

allNo Smoking Beer and Wine Served

Carnegie on the Colorado. A palatial 3,000-seat UT performance facility with perfect acoustics that hosts those shows that play the best concert halls in the world. Already this year, the Performing Arts Center has presented stellar shows by the KODO drummers and Tito Puente, with upcoming must-sees like Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra paying tribute to the centennial of Duke Ellington's birthday. Shows are black-tie optional.

Bates Recital Hall
(UT-12) UT Campus, 471-7764.

allNo Smoking Always a Cover

The wood panels that open onto their expansive, varnished counterpart -- the stage -- are such that when musicians enter or exit, they seem to magically appear and disappear. That's apt given the nature of the acts that visit UT's accoustically perfect 800-seater (stadium-style seating). Jazz in particularly is well-suited to the intimate hall's hallowed aura, heightened immeasurably by the immense pipe organ that is the Bates' back wall.

City Coliseum
(S-9) Dawson & Riverside, 472-5111.

allNo Smoking Liquor Served

This ancient-looking Quonset hut is still a remarkably great venue, whether it's hosting Rob Zombie or the SAMI Show. Like all good buildings, though, it's slated for destruction. We bet what's built in its place won't have half the soul or free parking.

Dougherty Arts Center
(S-8) 1110 Barton Springs, 397-1468.

allNo Smoking

The Dougherty Arts Center, located on the periphery of the pending arts complex development over and around Palmer Auditorium, operates two different stages. The Dougherty Arts Theater is a 150-person auditorium that's made available for music when there are no theatre productions going on. The DAC also books the Sheffield Hillside Theatre in Zilker Park, across from the main entrance of the Barton Springs pool, an outdoor stage fit for everything from Shakespeare to bluegrass.

El Flamingo Club
(C-38) 8619 S. US 183, 243-1188, 243-1559.

A classy 500-750-person ballroom just waiting for you to rent it out for your wedding party or quinceañera. In the meantime, local Tejano promoters use it for their purposes on an infequent basis.

Frank C. Erwin Special Events Center
(UT-3) 1701 Red River, 471-7744.

Food Served allNo Smoking Beer and Wine Served

The big round drum west of I-35 on the UT campus, the Frank Erwin Center is where the Metallicas, Princes, and Luciano Pavarottis of the world play. How 'bout U2, Madonna, and James Brown? The Muppets? In other words, the local arena. Seating as many as 18,000 depending on the placement of the stage, the Frank Erwin Center is the place to bring your lighter for that encore moment you've been waiting for your whole life

Fiesta Gardens
(E-1) 2101 Bergman, 480-8318.

allBeer and Wine Served Always a Cover

With its luscious view of the river from the northern shore of Town Lake, Fiesta Gardens is a popular setting for both community and family events. Part of the City of Austin's Parks & Recreation department, this outdoor venue can accommodate crowds as large as 15,000-20,000. Amenities include two stages, festival grounds, a lagoon, and fully equipped hall and patio for rent. While it doesn't schedule commercial talent on a regular basis, Fiesta Gardens -- home to Austin's Cinco de Mayo, Diez y Seis, Club Skirt, and Gay Pride events -- has seen plenty of bands, local and international, grace her stages.

Hogg Auditorium
(UT-11) W. 24th & Whitis, 471-0333.

allNo Smoking Liquor Served Always a Cover

A hall so old that the bats in its belfrey trace their lineage back to Transylvania, UT's Hogg Auditorium is also a good-size 1,2OO-seater conveniently located just off the Student Union in the center of campus. Hosting recent stunners such as Sweet Honey in the Rock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and last fall's Geri Allen/Randy Weston double bill, Hogg has been green-lighted for a major facelift, which is for the best given its size and versatility as a venue.

Hyde Park Theatre
(C-26) 511 W. 43rd, 452-6688.

allNo Smoking Always a Cover

Once a post office, the Hyde Park Theatre is primarily an intimate performance art space booked by the creative folks at Frontera. With live music three times a month -- "increasing" they claim -- the 95-seat venue has been put to good use in the service of avant-garde jazz.

Doris Miller Auditorium
(E-10) 2300 Rosewood, 476-4118.

A local gymnasium that holds neighborhood dances, plays, and performances. Check the billboard in front of the auditorium for upcoming events.

Off Center
(E-7) E. Seventh & Hidalgo, 477-3157.

variesAlways a Cover

Though primarily an alternative venue for visual and performance arts, this 5,000-sq.-ft. warehouse space just off East Seventh (behind the Short Stop) is an ideal place to book music. Its black cinder-block walls and raw emptiness recently housed a show by the New York free-jazz duo Susie Ibarra and Assif Tsahar, a brilliant success that will hopefully spur other importers of the avant garde to take advantage of the Off Center.

Palmer Auditorium
(S-10) 400 S. First, 472-5111.

Food Served allNo Smoking Liquor Served Always a Cover

If and when this site is converted to a fine arts space for the swells, where will we proles go for events like the Austin Record Convention, lowrider shows, debutante balls, and the Sami Arts & Crafts Show? Sure, this multi-purpose facility is dated, but we have a feeling that like an ornery but kindhearted old uncle, once it's gone we'll miss it a lot.

Paramount Theatre
(D-30) 713 Congress, 472-5470.

Food Served allNo Smoking Beer and Wine Served

Opened in 1915, just a few doors down from the looming Capitol building, the 1,300-seat Paramount Theatre is the grand dame of Austin live music venues -- proud, elegant, and beautiful. One of those classic theatres that makes patrons forget what decade they're living in once they walk through those heavy brass 'n' glass doors, the Paramount's talent list through the decades tell the rest of the story: Mae West, the Marx Brothers, Cab Calloway, Harry Houdini, Orson Welles, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Natalie Cole, and Joan Baez.

Saengerrunde Hall
(UT-1) 1607 San Jacinto, 478-1411.

No Smoking

Built in 1866 by August Scholz, this landmark hall was acquired in 1909 by the Austin Saengerrunde, a singing and social club that was the heart of the local German community (saengerrunde: singers in the round). Once celebrated for their public Saengerfests, club members still meet weekly to raise their voices in song. They also host dances at the clip of about one a month, with an emphasis on ballroom and polka music. Call 243-2629 for information.

Santa Cruz Center for Culture
(E-6) 1805 E. Seventh, 478-9311.

This performance venue serves as the cultural arts anchor of the new "Olé Mexico!" revitalization district (Sixth & Seventh streets). Also offered are dance classes by the celebrated Aztlan Folk Dance Troupe (call 478-9717).

Scottish Rite Theatre
(UT-4) 207 W. 18th, 472-7247.

This venerable theatre dates back to 1871 as a German opera house, and has been available for public rental since the early 1990s. The recently restored antique pine stagefloor lends itself to classic stage productions; the theatre seats approximately 300 people and accommodates in-the-round, continental, and row seating. Scottish Rite has been greatly underutilized in favor of places like Saengerrunde Hall, but last year the Temple produced the melodrama "Run to the Roundhouse, Nelly, He Can't Corner You There" and this year plans for "The Drunkard" in August.

Beverly S. Sheffield Hillside Theatre
(S-3) Barton Springs Road, 397-1468.

Never a Cover

Home to the Downtown Alliance's annual free Summer Concert series, Sheffield Hillside Theatre, which is booked by the Dougherty Arts Theatre group and features a stage fit for everything from Shakespeare to bluegrass, is the perfect setting for a blanket and a basket of food.

South Park Meadows
(C-40) 9600 S. I-35, 292-1087.

Food Served allBeer and Wine Served

A big pasture, sure, but a big pasture that has hosted some big rockshows over the past two decades -- everyone from the Police and REM to big summer festivals such as HORDE and Lilith Fair. Not much shade for the Lone Star State's nine months of summer, so bring a hat. A big one.

Stubb's BBQ
(D-32) 801 Red River, 480-8341.

Food Served Liquor Served

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Texas Union Ballroom
(UT-8) 23rd & Guadalupe, UT Campus, 475-6630.

allNo Smoking

The enormous ballroom in the heart of the Texas Union has multiple functions, hosting many a student event, informal class, lecture, and concert. When folk acts get too big, the Cactus Cafe often books them here.