Go early to get a seat, or plan to stand and dance in the small area in front of the stage. The Austin club can get hot, dark, loud, crowded, and well, almost uncomfortable. For both clubs, I recommend foam ear plugs; cutting the sound down 30 decibels allows me to hear more of the music, and seems to cut out some of the noise from the audience. Unlike some of the town's "listening rooms," the Continental Club seems to draw a noisy crowd, with people attempting to shout out drunken conversations over an already loud band. One bonus is that the owner, Steve Wertheimer, collects vintage automobiles and hosts the Lonestar Roundup car show. If there is a custom car event in town, there might be an informal show when cars park near the club. A block south, you can get great pizza by the pie or by the slice at Home Slice.
The Continental Confidential newsletter provides inside tips to upcoming events. The people are friendly and the music is good. The music starts early and goes late into the night, every day. Weeknights and happy hours are a great time to visit the Continental Club.
If you visit regularly, you can hear music evolve, sometimes literally over generations. Some of the regular musicians have been playing there so long, their drinking-age audience had not yet been born. Musicians develop material for new albums during their weekly gigs; James McMurtry's Just Us Kids and the Mother Truckers' Let's Go to Bed are two recent examples. Jon Dee Graham hasn't yet stepped into the studio to cut tracks for his next album, but he's already playing the songs live for us each week. The Continental Club is an incubator for music that reaches a world-wide audience when the albums are released.