In the midst of Austin’s ever-evolving landscape, there are places and events that should never go away. Spots like The White Horse and shows like Austin City Limits are crucial to the fabric of our fabulous city. If The Broken Spoke turns into a Jamba Juice, then I’m high-tailing it to Asheville, North Carolina…
Unplugged at the Grove is one of our local institutions. Five months out of the year for 25 years, Thursday evenings at Shady Grove have been synonymous with exceptional music at the lowest price humanly possible. And thanks to long-time partner KGSR, this year’s lineup is filled to the brim with local talent.
Music With a Purpose
Since its inception in 1997, the Unplugged at the Grove concert series has become an Austin fixture. Every Thursday evening from mid-April to mid-September, Shady Grove plays host to some of the city’s finest musicians.
Lesser venues would have started charging a cover years ago, but Unplugged at the Grove has stayed completely free. According to Shady Grove owner and proprietor, Rusty Zagst, the event is all about the community.
Through local sponsors like KGSR, the lineup is a shining example of that dedication to community. From the first show to the last, every artist on the bill calls Austin home. While other events continue to look outside the city limits for bigger, more well-known acts, Unplugged at the Grove is content to keep it local.
Unplugged at the Grove Lineup for 2018
Artists like Shane Smith & the Saints and James McMurtry have already graced the Shady Grove stage this year. Moving forward into the summer, the same stage will be sizzling with more local music.
This year’s lineup reads like a who’s who of old-school Austin. Artists like:
- Asleep at the Wheel (July 19),
- Dale Watson (May 24), and
- Ray Wylie Hubbard (June 28)
…have classic country covered.
Blues is also well represented.
- Guitarist Eric Tessmer (Aug. 16) promises to shake the leaves off the pecan tree with his brand of soulful blues, while
- Bob Schneider makes his annual appearance on Aug. 23.
- And do not miss the incredible Peterson Brothers on July 12. Classic 12-bar progressions turned up to 11 with scorching guitar and soulful funk, they are continuing Austin’s blues heritage in style.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of variety.
- Jackie Venson, one of the finest young rock guitarists in Austin, will be hitting the stage on July 5.
- Winner of my SXSW 2018 Class President award, Los Coast’s (May 31) heart-stopping soul/funk will revitalize your love for Austin music, while
- The Rocketboys (June 14) will cover Shady Grove with emotional sing-along pop/rock.
And that covers only half the lineup. The full schedule can be found on KGSR’s Unplugged at the Grove web page.
Tips and Tricks
Given the cheap beer, lack of cover charge, and exceptional lineup, Unplugged at the Grove fills up quickly. Here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your experience:
- Timing – Shady Grove isn’t Blues on the Green, so plan to arrive early. Music starts at 8 p.m., so your arrival time may depend on the artist. If you’re looking to see Bob Schneider and want a table, I recommend arriving two hours early. For small bands and a lawn seat, between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. will suffice.
- Parking – Parking is extraordinarily limited and KGSR basically begs show-goers to avoid parking in the neighborhood. Luckily, many of the local business on Barton Springs open their lots. And of course, carpooling, mass transit, and old-fashioned walking are greatly encouraged.
- Drive a Subaru – In an odd-but-welcomed gesture of corporate sponsorship, there are 10 Subaru-only parking spots at the event. So find that friend with a Forester, pack it to the gills, and park in style.
- Dining – Shady Grove continues to serve food throughout the show, so there’s no risk of leaving hungry. Plus, even if you post up on the grass with a blanket, a server will come by and take orders. Giving Shady Grove your business is the best way to show your support.
Regardless of what you do, attending Unplugged at the Grove is a must-do Austin experience. In a world of massive stages and monster festivals, taking a seat at Shady Grove and listening to some of Austin’s best music is quaint, intimate, and quite lovely.
Whether you’re an ATX newbie or a salty veteran of the live music scene, there’s something for everybody during Unplugged at the Grove. All at a price that can’t be beat.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Who are you looking forward to most during Unplugged at the Grove?
The original version of this article was published April 23, 2015.