In case you missed the news this past week, there is a significant new music venue slated to open New Year’s Eve on East 6th Street. Here’s a link to the Austin360 story by Michael Corcoran.
It’s called “The Stage” and is operated by a family out of Nashville with solid experience in producing quality live music venues there where they have four: The Stage on Broadway, Legends Corner, The Second Fiddle and Nashville Crossroads.
The Sanderson’s have been in Austin quite a bit over the past year checking out the scene and trying to find a fresh angle to success in our highly competitive market. They finally settled on 508 E. 6th, the largest single-space building for something like this on the street and former home to Bourbon Rocks and Fat Tuesday. (Maggie Mae’s is larger in overall square footage but it is chopped up into essentially four separate spaces on two levels.)
Longtime building owner Terry Boothe, who owns several properties on East 6th, had loads of offers from the typical fare of 25-cent-jello-shot bar operators. But he held tight for over two years without a tenant in order to bring a quality live music operator back to 6ixth and thus help the District’s quest to upgrade the quality of visitor experiences to be found there. The Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) and 6ixth Street Austin property/business owners association assisted in landing this deal.
Live music is supposed to be presented on pretty much the same schedule as the Nashville clubs: starting as early as 2:00 in the afternoon on Mondays-Thursdays and at 11:00am on Friday-Sunday. That should provide a welcome flow of new work for Austin’s large and talented musician community. The Stage will reportedly also serve food too.
My only caveat is that I hope The Stage will program live music with distinctly Austin and Texas-centric flavor, not a heavy Nashville bent. If you take a look at the websites for the Nashville clubs, the offerings seem a tad “formulaic” — pretty much the same stuff done under four different names, not unlike the tight-jeans-and-cowboy-hat processed “country” music that Nashville itself often cranks out. I hope the Sanderson’s and manager, Brandon Reineke, challenge themselves further in what they do in Austin.
While country is certainly one of our basic music food groups down here, the great country-flavored sounds coming out of Texas span so much greater breadth…quickly flowing into country rock, roots rock, folk, bluegrass, swing and so much more. Even Willie regularly crosses into jazz and blues in his sets regardless of what type of club or festival he is playing.
Would you label Robert Earl Keen, Joe Ely, Jimmy Lafave, Ray Benson, Carolyn Wonderland, Marcia Ball as “country”? Hardly. Yet these are the sorts of all-star Austin acts that I hope will be regularly presented as headliners on the stage at The Stage — for a decent ticket price and full-priced drinks — to provide visitors to The Live Music Capital with a truly memorable show to savor when they head home.
However it shakes out, The Stage is clearly a welcome addition to the music offerings Downtown and on East 6th. As a business owner just a few blocks west of the new venue I can attest that the area is streaming with people all day long these days, 7 days a week, looking for things to do and seeking that globally heralded Austin vibe and live music reputation. Between the Convention Center, all the great Downtown hotels, and our many new urban residents, business has never been better.
Now…if only we can lure Antone’s back to East 6th where that legendary venue began, then we’d really have some live music anchor tenants to brag about again! Gotta work on that some more.