Geraldine’s elevates live music on Rainey Street at new Hotel Van Zandt


Looking out over an elegant bar area, a cozy back lounge, an adjoining restaurant space and an outdoor pool that faces the Austin skyline, the modest stage of Geraldine’s feels like a pretty special place for local musicians to perform.

The new venue, which occupies the fourth floor of the new Hotel Van Zandt in the Rainey Street district, will present live music seven nights a week, starting with Tuesday’s solo performance by Matt Hines of indie-folk band the Eastern Sea. It’s an intriguing development, given that much discussion about the downtown hotel boom’s effect on Austin music has been focused on conflicts between hotels and nightclubs.

The Van Zandt, part of the Kimpton chain of boutique hotels, is positioning itself as a music-friendly space. Even its name plays to that end, evoking legendary Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Large portraits of Townes, created with assistance from his son J.T. Van Zandt, adorn the walls of a second-floor lobby.

“Monday through Wednesday, we’re going to have mainly singer-songwriters, a more listening-room feel,” says Lauren Bucherie, the hotel’s music and social director. “And Thursday through Saturday we’ll kind of amp it up, a little more full-band.” Shows will start at 9 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays and 10 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; jazz brunches are in the works for Sundays.

Admission will be free for all shows at Geraldine’s, which is directly accessible from an elevator entrance along the building’s front facade. Bookings for the venue’s opening week include Drew Davis on Wednesday, Guy Town on Thursday, KP & the Boom Boom on Friday and Ben Cina on Saturday.

A look ahead into the next few weeks gives a sense of the range of genres Geraldine’s will feature, from more traditional singer-songwriters (Charlie Faye Nov. 28, Suzanna Choffel Nov. 30) to boundary-pushing indie-rockers (Ben Ballinger Dec. 2, Emily Wolfe Dec. 5) to country acts both traditional (Aaron McDonnell Nov. 26) and alternative (Harvest Thieves Dec. 4).

Bucherie says special attention was given to the construction and design of the ceiling, and to the installation of the audio system by Big House Sound. Longtime local expert Lynn Gathright will be the room’s sound engineer after serving in a similar capacity at recently shuttered north end showroom the Roost.

Bucherie came to Austin seven years ago after getting a business degree at the University of Las Vegas. For many years, she ran a company called the Sessions that produced live music events and videos, and she managed local artists including the vocal trio Keeper. She says she appreciates the Van Zandt opportunity because “I get to continue to support the creativity that I love, but it’s backed by big business.”

Geraldine’s enters the downtown scene at a time of notable transition for live music. Recent shifts along the Red River axis — like Red Eyed Fly changing to Sidewinder, Holy Mountain closing, the old Red 7 space apparently in flux — got much of the attention, but new venues opened on Congress Avenue (the Townsend) and Trinity Street (Tellers), and West Fifth Street soon will welcome the revived Antone’s.

Another hotel space, in the lobby of the new Westin Downtown, rolled out an impressive live-music schedule when it opened this summer, but it discontinued performances at the end of October. That’s not necessarily a bad omen for Geraldine’s; the Driskill Hotel’s lobby bar continues to feature live piano and acoustic performers, as it has for decades.

Bucherie says she understands Austin is changing, but she sounds determined to help manifest positive outcomes from those changes. “I was kind of nervous reaching out to everyone about the new gig, because I know people are kind of up in arms about a lot of the new buildings popping up downtown,” she admits. “But I was like, ‘No, this is different.’

“I think what has been lacking in Austin is a (hotel) space where musicians themselves want to hang out. Other cities have the Ace Hotels, or the Standards, and in those cities, musicians like to hang out there; it’s a laid-back culture and it’s fun for them. I hope that Hotel Van Zandt can become a part of that fabric.”

Symphony Square series

Though it often hasn’t been used to its full potential as a live music venue, the small outdoor amphitheater at Symphony Square on the north end of the Red River district recently received a makeover and is hosting concerts on Friday nights.

Booked by Jeremy Parker of local production company Musical Services Group, the six-week series has featured performances by Dawn & Hawkes, Walt Wilkins and the Peterson Brothers, with three more still to come before a winter break.

This Friday, Grammy-winning accordionist Joel Guzman brings his Los Aztex ensemble to the space, followed by traditional country from Doug Moreland on Nov. 27 and the eclectic Mingo Fishtrap on Dec. 4. More acts are tentatively in the works for the spring. Admission is $12 for the shows, which start at 7:30 p.m.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Music

Shiner is launching its first-ever Super Bowl commercial 
Shiner is launching its first-ever Super Bowl commercial 

The maker of Shiner Bock has made it to the big leagues with the launch of the brewery’s first Super Bowl commercial, a $1.2 million spot. It’s the first time Spoetzl Brewery is debuting a TV commercial at this level, according to a news release — and the 30-second ad will continue to air around Texas throughout the rest of the year...
Jordan Peele makes history with ‘Get Out’ Oscar nomination
Jordan Peele makes history with ‘Get Out’ Oscar nomination

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, “Get Out,” has earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director. The nomination puts him among just four other black directors nominated for the award. >> Read more trending news  The Los Angeles Times reported that John Singleton (“Boyz n the Hood”), Lee Daniels (2009&rsquo...
OSCAR NOMINATIONS: ‘The Shape of Water,’ ‘Dunkirk,’ ‘Three Billboards,’  lead nominees
OSCAR NOMINATIONS: ‘The Shape of Water,’ ‘Dunkirk,’ ‘Three Billboards,’  lead nominees

Who will be among the Hollywood elite to vie for this year’s Academy Awards? The nominations were announced Tuesday morning by Tiffany Haddish and Andy Serkis served as hosts from the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Leading the pack was “The Shape of Water” with 13 nominations, including best picture, original screenplay and best...
Hudson’s on the Bend coming back with new name and new ownership
Hudson’s on the Bend coming back with new name and new ownership

Hudson’s on the Bend was a landmark restaurant in the Lakeway area for decades. Chef and co-founder Jeff Blank turned it into a spot that could serve as destination-dinner retreat and comfortable home for regulars. He sold the business in 2016 to an owner who reopened the restaurant last year under the guidance of young...
Hi, how was it? Here’s what ‘Hi, How Are You?’ Day at the Mohawk was like.
Hi, how was it? Here’s what ‘Hi, How Are You?’ Day at the Mohawk was like.

It all came together with just two or three weeks of planning, but Monday’s “Hi, How Are You?” Day show at the Mohawk turned out to be a grand success, as many Austin musicians and hundreds of Daniel Johnston fans turned out to wish the legendary Texas songwriter celebrate his 57th birthday. Daniel Johnston...
More Stories