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Austin Chronicle: Live Music Venue Guide:

The Hole in the Wall has always been here and isn't going anywhere. It's a classic wood-paneled storefront dive, fixed at the upper reaches of the Drag at 26th and Guadalupe, that has provided grounds fit for stomping to some of Austin's greatest musical acts -- from singer-songwriters to punk rockers. This live music venue, in the same way as Antone's and the Broken Spoke, is a keystone in the foundation of the Austin music scene.

The Hole has been around since the summer of 1974, and just this past August was bought by longtime employee and talent buyer Debbie Rombach. The main room is small, dispersing about half the building's 194-person capacity between barstools, tables, and much scattered standing room. Considering the bands that regularly play the Hole -- bands like the Pocket FishRmen, Bigfoot Chester, Slobberbone, and the Orange Mothers -- the main room is also loud. There's a back room full of pool tables and video games that offers some respite if the noise or the crowd gets too thick, but you've paid your $3, and you're there to rock, so the best plan is to stake out your space and hang on to it for the duration.

In addition to the shows scheduled from week to week, a couple of regular Hole in the Wall gigs are fast becoming local institutions in themselves. On Sunday nights, the Rock & Roll Free-for-All -- so called because there's never a cover -- offers a rotating lineup of anywhere from four to eight local bands. Superego, mainstay of the lineup and musical vehicle for event organizer Paul Minor, lays claim to one of the most solid weekly gigs in Austin as Free-for-All headliners. For those with hangovers from the night previous, Mondays at the Hole feature "Unplug This," an acoustic forum for local musicians to strut their stuff in a quieter setting.

What makes the Hole home for so many fans of live music is the same thing that makes it home (in a more consistent sense) for the droves of regulars who occupy the barstools most of the day and well into the night; it's a comfortable, friendly joint where you can say what you want and drink what you want and hear some good conversation and great music for a small amount of dough.

--Christopher Hess

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