Live Music Capital of the World: 5 Austin musicians you can’t miss

In 1991 Austin was proclaimed the “live music capital of the world” after discovering the city has more music venues per capita than anywhere else in the USA. With over 250 live music venues and a mix of long-time musicians and bands playing daily, it’s hard to miss great music while visiting Austin.

Visiting several venues every week, we’ve gotten to know the scene and the people that make it what it is. Austin has an endless supply of amazing talent, but we have a few favorites. Check out our pick of five musicians you can’t miss when visiting Austin.

Guy Forsyth

This Texas native has been a staple on the Austin music scene for over 20 years and has won several Austin Music Awards over that time, including “best male vocalist” in 2005. He is mainly a blues musician but also includes a little bit of rock, R&B, jazz, pop and folk into his music.

This singer, songwriter also plays the guitar and harmonica. He’s opened for Ray Charles, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan and many more blues icons. Guy tours all over the USA and Europe regularly but calls Austin home. When in town, you can find him at places like ABGB, Saxon Pub and more.

Shelley King

King is an absolute force when she steps on stage. You can’t help but watch her take down the house with her soulful blues, country, rock and folk performances. Originally from Arkansas, she’s been on the Austin music scene for almost 20 years and served as the first female Texas State Musician.

The singer, songwriter and guitarist’s work expand beyond her own performances. Her song “Texas Blue Moon” was duetted by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood. Shelley tours the USA regularly. While in Austin, you can catch her at places like the Continental Club, Saxon Pub and more.

Dave Insley’s Careless Smokers

Insley was a born to be a musician. He’s played in several rock and country band since the 80s and has toured all over the world with them. The Kansas-born, roots country musician is known for his baritone voice. He’s lived all over the USA, but especially fell in love with the Southwest. Living in Arizona for a number of years, he was named the state’s best songwriter in 2005.

Insley moved to Austin ten years ago and can be found performing all over the city often with his road band the Careless Smokers. He’s a regular performer at places like the White Horse, where his country swagger matches the hip honky tonk to perfection.

Nash Hernandez Orchestra

Started in 1949, the Nash Hernandez Orchestra is Austin’s longest running big band. At the band’s start, all of the initial musicians were Hispanic and taught to play by Nash himself. They went on to make their own name in Tejano music and the orchestra has filled their place with new great talent decade after decade.

Nash was a trumpeter that got his start in Fredericksburg, TX, performing with German polka bands. He’s received recognition not only from the City of Austin and State of Texas for his contributions to the community, the city’s music scene and Latino music, but also former Vice-President Al Gore. He passed away in 1994, but his legacy lives on with the 12-man band of drummers, saxophonists, trumpeters and more who still perform all over Austin, directed by Nash’s youngest son, Ruben Hernandez. You can find them regularly at Donn’s Depot.

Eric Tessmer

Eric and his band mates are the perfect example of young artists with amazing talent coming to Austin to make it in the live music scene. Performing all over the city, their bluesy, rock music is sure to get you out of your seats and stompin’ your feet.

Check them out regularly at places like Antone’s, Saxon Pub and more.


Want to see all these acts and more Austin musicians? Join us for our Austin Live Music Crawl every Friday and Saturday. You’ll tour around the city going to Austin’s class live music venues and seeing shows handpicked by our very own local musicians.

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