Beerland Handed Down

Austin Jukebox group takes over Red River punk cavity

Beerland, a Red River cornerstone for the Austin punk and garage scenes since 2001, will change ownership at the end of the year. Founders Randall Stockton and his wife Donya Stockton have handed off the business to the local group that stages the popular Austin Jukebox music series, both parties confirmed Sunday afternoon.

Britt Daniel’s Divine Fits debuted at Beerland in 2012 (Photo by John Anderson)

“They know the heart and soul of Beerland – and they believe in it,” said Randall of the Austin Jukebox organizers, which include Super Secret Records owner Richard Lynn, Crack Pipes frontman Ray Colgan, Knife in the Water guitarist/singer Aaron Blount, Steve Pike from Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes/Exhalants, and Sam Whitworth.

Very likely, there’s no single local who has patronized Beerland more over its 16-year history than Lynn, an avid fan of underground Austin music who launched his label the same year Beerland opened and has since expanded to include sister imprints Self Sabotage (experimental), Sonic Surgery (reissues), and San Saba Records (Spanish language).

While Lynn revealed that they’ve already purchased a new P.A. for the Cavern-like club, he says they have no plans on changing Beerland.

“We just want to build on what Beerland already is,” said Lynn by phone on Sunday.

The change in ownership also means that the Sonic Transmissions Festival, the late-summer experimental music and free jazz event curated by renowned bassist and composer Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and underwritten by Self Sabotage Records, will now have a permanent home at Beerland.

Randall Stockton, who opened the roughly 200-capacity club after years of managing and booking Sixth Street punk dive Bates Motel, said he and his wife are handing off the business because they believe that the Austin Jukebox organizers, several of whom they’ve known for decades, would have the best chance to “take it to the next level” and see that it enjoys a long future. The Stocktons recently signed a three-year lease on the building, but he didn’t disclose terms of the sale.

While the husband and wife team remain involved in a handful of other Austin businesses, including the Aristocrat and Rio Rita, Beerland’s always been the true labor of love for the Stocktons. As detailed in our "Dancing About Architecture" music news column around the turn of the millennium, the couple put so much of their savings into opening the Red River punk bar that they were sleeping on friends' couches or in the bar while it went through a painfully lengthy inspection process.

Booked for years by Max “Dropout” Meehan, the club grew into a crucial ground for loud Austin acts, fostering breakout bands including Riverboat Gamblers, White Ghost Shivers, Sound Team, A Giant Dog, and OBN IIIs, while also becoming a central place for the city’s noise scene. Shows always favored local music, but Beerland also introduced national acts like Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees to Austin audiences.

“For us to be willing to let go of something as precious to us as Beerland, it had to be going to the right people,” offered Randall. “There’s no better hands for it to be in than the Austin Jukebox people.”

The next edition of the Austin Jukebox series hits Saturday, Feb. 17, featuring Martin Rev, known for his work in Suicide and the Sisterhood, plus Detroit garage punks the Henchmen, Chicago psychic punk quartet Heavy Times, and Magik Markers frontwoman Elisa Ambrogio. As always, it’s just $5 at the door.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Beerland, Randall Stockton, Donya Stockton, Austin Jukebox, Richard Lynn, Super Secret Records, Crack Pipes, Ray Colgan, Knife in the Water, Aaron Blount, Steve Pike, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Exhalants, Sam Wentworth, Sonic Transmissions Festival, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten<, Max Meehan, Bates Motel, Aristocrat, Rio Rita

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