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1315 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX, United States
The Continental Club started out as a swanky dinner club in the 1950s, and it went through a series of ups and downs before emerging as South Congress' premier live music venue. When Steve Wertheimer bought the bar in 1987, the area around the bar was run-down and frequented by prostitutes. As the club developed a loyal following, with acts ranging from roots rock to country, other businesses, including antique shops, restaurants and clothing boutiques, popped up around it. The front area, where the band plays, is long and narrow, with only a smattering of tables and chairs; arrive early if you want a seat. Sitting at the small bar will give you an excellent sampling of Austin culture; bikers, bakers and lawyers drink together and bond over music. In a business where bartenders come and go daily, a few of the Continental Club's friendly, if a little edgy, servers have worked here for 20 years. Some of the popular acts include James McMurtry (son of novelist Larry McMurtry), Jon Dee Graham and Toni Price, whose Tuesday night happy hour show draws legions of slightly obsessive fans.