Finding traditional jazz in Austin-area clubs can be elusive.
Austin is not New Orleans and no establishments offer traditional jazz entertainment on a nightly basis. However, some locations do offer traditional jazz or something very close to it on a weekly or sporadic basis.
This is a guide to those places. Bookings change, so consult Other Local Events on this website or call the club before going.
Ben Hur Shrine Temple
7811 Rockwood Lane, Austin
Ben Hur Shrine Temple is the current home of Austin Tradition Jazz Society concerts. The first ATJS concert was held there in April, 2022 and it appears to be a long-term home for the Society. It is located on Rockwood Lane, near the intersection of Anderson Lane and the MoPac.
Ben Hur has a large parking lot, and additional parking is available in the shopping center across the street. The hall has a large stage, excellent sight lines and good acoustics. There is plenty of room for dancing. Ben Hur can accommodate up to 200 attendees. The hall offers beer, wine, sodas and snacks at reasonable prices. Patrons can bring their own food.
315 Congress Avenue
The Elephant Room is one of Austin’s real jazz clubs, furnishing jazz nightly in a variety of styles. For a number of years traditional jazz styles were offered from 6 to 8 p.m., with modern jazz bands taking over for the rest of the night. The Jitterbug Vipers and Liz Morphis and the Violet Crown Revue are currently the only acts that approach traditional jazz.
Street parking can be a real adventure in downtown Austin, but there are some lots and garages nearby. The front door does double duty for Sushi Junai Omakase and the Elephant Room. Go downstairs and immerse yourself in the basement atmosphere of the Elephant Room.
The Elephant Room is strictly a watering hole—beer, wine and mixed drinks. Patrons occasionally bring their own food or have it delivered. You will do best listening to smaller jazz ensembles—big bands tend to overwhelm the space.
1315 South Congress Avenue
The name “Continental Club” sounds posh and sophisticated. The reality is quite different. The Continental is basically a concrete box with a stage and a bar. It is pretty strictly a watering hole—eat before you go. Parking is on the street and can be an adventure, although both sides of South Congress are lined with diagonal parking spaces.
The current jazz attraction at
Continental is the Hot Club of Cowtown, a western swing ensemble.
1110 East 52nd Street
The Carousel Lounge is a piece of Austin entertainment history. It is little changed since the 1960s. It is another watering hole—beer, wine and mixed drinks. Carousel is decorated in a bright circus motif, including a large paper-maché elephant. There are double rows of parking spaces in front of the club. People who find themselves parked in will come back inside to ask the outer parker to move. There are a few spaces at the business next door and some street parking.
Dixielanders play at the Carousel about once a month from 7 to 9 p.m.
Other bands run the gamut of popular guitar-based styles. If
traditional jazz is your music, check before you go. Bands play
strictly for tips, so please support the musicians.
117 West 4th Street
Parker Jazz Club is another Austin basement jazz club, located a scant block away from the Elephant Room. Once again, parking in downtown Austin is a real adventure, although Parker Jazz Club has valet parking available.
Parker’s jazz offerings are varied, and it’s best to check the ATJS Local Events page or the Parker calendar before you go. Interesting pre-modern groups include the Copa Kings and Julie Slim and Rendezvous.
North -4001 North Lamar Boulevard
Westgate -4477 South Lamar Boulevard
There are two Central Markets, both gourmet grocery stores with cafés operated by the grocery store chain HEB. Both offer live entertainment under somewhat different circumstances. Central Market North has a covered outdoor stage, with outdoor tables. In bad weather a portion of the deck is walled off with temporary partitions. At Central Market Westgate, the café and the music are strictly indoors. The shows tend to be bigger at North, and jazz shows are less frequent. Westgate offers some jazz every month, often by several ensembles.
1120 South Lamar Boulevard
The Highball is part of a mixed-used complex called Lamar Union. From Lamar Boulevard all you can see are a couple of large grey cube-looking midrise buildings. Look down one of the complex streets and you can see the Alamo Drafthouse. The Highball is next door. The Highball is probably the spiffiest club offering jazz in Austin. The old club was demolished and the present version built during the development of Lamar Union. There is a large parking garage. Inside, the Highball features a stage and a large dance floor. Several bands get dates there including a small big band called the Copa Kings.
The Ragtime Oriole
The Ragtime Oriole
202 Main Street, Marble Falls
Richard Golladay has opened Ragtime Oriole at 202 Main Street in Marble
Falls. It is a coffee and wine shop as well as a traditional jazz club. For
those not familiar with Marble Falls, it is a scenic Hill Country town at
the intersections of US 281 and FM 1431, about 30 miles west of Round Rock.
For a closer look at Ragtime oriole, check out its website at https://theragtimeoriole.com/home/.