The Austin Chronicle

The Roost

By Kevin Curtin, December 18, 2013, 2:20pm, Earache!

Austin’s newest live music venue, the Roost, is scheduled to open before the end of the year and already has a marque performance on the books: a New Year’s Eve date with Joe Ely.

Austin may be stretching it, actually.

The club occupies the main suite of a strip mall on Wells Branch Parkway. For the unfamiliar, that’s literally stumbling distance from Pflugerville. It’s so far north, it makes Ginny’s Little Longhorn seem centrally located.

And yet, that’s the idea: to give the North Austin crowd, as well as the good citizens of Round Rock and Pflugerville, a premiere venue to see live music.

Last Saturday, the entrance to the 3,400-square-foot venue was blanketed by a blue tarp and the interior sawdusted as a carpentry crew built custom shelves for a massive vinyl collection and furniture out of the previous tenant’s dance floor. A portrait of Bill Hicks oversaw the action.

The Roost arrives as a family affair, and Hicks was a friend of the venue owners, Cotton brothers Jimbo, John, and David, the latter best known in the music scene as the longtime booker at Steamboat and Momo’s and the man currently putting shows into Threadgill’s and the Saxon Pub. Others are involved in the club, like family friend John Greenwood. Matriarch Janet Cotton will come on as the venue’s accountant.

The Roost’s capacity is 300-700 people depending on configuration. The new tenants renovated the room, which once housed Roper’s Night Club, and built a custom stage under the acoustic considerations of Christopher Cross engineer Chet Himes, who also designed their speaker system. All in all, the sound was a six-figure investment.

The vibe’s also been carefully considered. An entire corner houses an expansive collection of Texas vinyl, which will provide the bulk of the Roost’s house music. The interior walls will be decorated with David Cotton’s epic stash of Austin concert posters, including vintage Stevie Ray Vaughan and Ely prints, two giant Vulcan Gas Company posters, and the large wooden sign that once hung over Steamboat.

“I knew I’d been collecting artifacts all these years for some reason,” smiled Cotton. “Now I can give people a glimpse at what we were so lucky to see back in the day.”

Cotton will oversee booking, but says he has younger booking talent in place to handle the club’s late-night shows. So far, tickets are on sale for the Joe Ely show, but Cotton confirms he’ll have Reckless Kelly, Carolyn Wonderland, and Shinyribs on the calendar soon, with W.C. Clark likely serving as a staple performer during happy hours.

“We also want to have all-ages shows and give new bands a place to play on a good stage with great lights and sound,” says Cotton.

He sees the Roost as a different tour stop coming through central Texas and thinks it will draw a different crowd than those who attend shows downtown.

“People from Round Rock need a place where they can hear great original music,” adds John Cotton. “We’re not competing with Austin. We’re an expansion.”

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