Like so much in the SoCo area, the Continental Club
has a decidedly-retro look and feel. And unlike many places, it’s not simply a matter of “retro hipness”, because the club’s roots go all the way back into the 1950’s. The affinity for what is good from a past age extends to the music schedule as well, for it was at the Continental Club that I got to hear artists such as Barbara Lynn
and Classie Ballou
live for the first time. Many legends of soul, rockabilly and rhythm-and-blues perform regularly at the Continental Club, while its upstairs room sometimes features modern or even avant-garde jazz. Those who are going to the Continental for the first time should be aware of some of the place’s unique characteristics. It is extremely small, and depending on who’s playing, it may be full to overflowing. Cameras are not permitted (at least during SXSW). And if you’re able to sit at all, you’ll likely have to sit beside someone you don’t know. But, aside from the Ponderosa Stomp
in New Orleans, Austin’s Continental Club is one of the few places you’ll get to hear living legends of American music performing live, and in a setting that is era appropriate at that. Treasure every legendary artist’s performance if you get to hear them here, as it may be the last time you’ll get to hear them. As fate would have it, I was standing in front of the Continental Club on two different occasions when I learned of the deaths of Eddie Bo and of Alex Chilton.