The Go-Go’s Kathy Valentine Fave 5 Live Music Venues in Austin Texas
“I’m well past the stage where I want to be smashed in the front, or craning my head to look at the band,” says the multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from her hometown of Austin, Texas. “I want more comfort when I’m out. If I can’t get a good sightline I’m probably not going to stick around. Been there, done that. It’s like vacation; I’d rather stay at a nice hotel then go camping.”
Valentine picked up the guitar at a young age and quickly began participating in a thriving and diverse Austin music scene that gave us such notables as singer-songwriter Jimmie Dale Gilmore, absurdist rockers The Butthole Surfers, bluesman W.C. Clark, and more recent acts like Black Pumas and rapper Mama Duke. It was in Austin that she got on stage for the first time at the behest of legendary Tex-Mex rocker Doug Sahm and formed early punk act The Violators in 1978. At the age of 19 Valentine picked up and moved to L.A., formed The Textones (where she wrote what would become the Go-Go’s hit Vacation), and was coaxed into swapping electric guitar for bass in the Go-Go’s.
She still straps on her guitar for other gigs when not touring with the reunited Go-Go’s, but Valentine does so much more. Released during the early days of the pandemic, her memoir All I Ever Wanted has picked up rave reviews and a scheduled softcover reprinting later in the summer. She’s pursuing a degree in English, developed a side gig as a public speaker, and continues to play with a wide range of musicians. With her fellow Go-Go’s she’s awaiting word on whether the band will be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in May; public voting continues until April 30.
Living in Austin when not on the road, Valentine appreciates what music adds to a community. Here’s a list of her five favourite venues in town:
“I’ve been going to Antone’s since I was a teenager. It’s moved around 5 or 6 times over the years but the essence of what it’s about always stays the same. Antone’s started out as ‘The Home of the Blues’ but now there’s more varied booking. I can drop in on a Tuesday night and see someone like Gary Clarke, Jr., and that’s where all the city’s blues royalty play as well as lots of touring bands. It’s where I first saw the Fabulous Thunderbirds.”
The Continental Club
“There’s something about The Continental that’s quintessentially Austin. It’s over on South Congress, a fabulous place with a great stage and sound system. Interestingly, every time I play there, most of the people who come up and say hi are visiting from out of town. It’s got the reputation as somewhere you want to check out when you’re in town.”
“The same guy that runs The Continental Club (Steve Wertheimer), opened a place called C-Boy’s, also on South Congress. He kind of modeled it off of Detroit r & b places. It’s got a small stage on the ground, really just a corner of the room for the band to set up, a small dance floor, and red leather booths. It’s very vibe-y. A friend of mine started a Western type band and, before the pandemic, that’s where I’d see them.”
The Broken Spoke
“Whenever I have visitors like my English relatives come to Austin, I bring them to the Broken Spoke because it’s so authentic. You just can’t find places like this anywhere else. It’s a legacy Austin joint for country and western swing that’s been there forever. There’s a great atmosphere, Texas two-step lessons where you practice on Thursdays for a couple of hours, and then a band starts playing and you can test out what you’ve learned. The club has been there since 1964; you can see some phenomenal live music, eat some chicken fried steak if that’s your thing, and do some boot scooting.”
“A newer place to check out is the Moody Theatre, which is also called ACL (Austin City Limits) Live. They have great floor space if being down in front is your jam, and sometimes they put out seats depending on what kind of show it is. I’ve seen a lot of excellent shows at ACL Live, like Metric, Blondie, and Tony Bennett. The Go-Go’s have played there, which was fun. The sound is great, and they’ve designed it so there are no bad seats; it’s not so big that you feel like you’re too far away if you’re in the back row.”
Andrew Murray is a journalist and jobbing musician in northern Alberta. He lives with his wife, two dogs, and several amiable ghosts in a turn of the 20th century house built by a prominent politician. Andrew has written for newspapers, horror and food magazines, business periodicals, and ad campaigns, but he especially enjoys interviewing hair metal musicians.