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Essential Austin Playlists

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Thanks to its wild heritage of genre-bending clubs, massively popular festivals and tireless performers, the sound of Austin reverberates around the world. To celebrate the upcoming release of our second edition field guide, we dug through the crates to compile these essential Austin playlists on Spotify, full of the artists and songs that put this city on the sonic map.

Wildsam Austin Essentials

A 40-track taste of the best of Austin music, across all eras and genres.


Choice cuts from every major Austin music genre. Listen in order to walk through each style, or hit shuffle and let it ride. 1-15: Country || 16-30: Indie Rock || 31-40: Rock & Roll || 41-50: Blues || 51-60: Folk || 61-70: Tejano / Tex-Mex || 71-80: Punk || 81-90: Odds & Ends. 


Doug Sahm illustration by Chris Bilheimer 


We tried to only include artists with deep Austin roots, using only recordings made during their time as Austinites. This explains why Janis Joplin, for instance, doesn't appear here. She recorded very little during her time in Austin, and only one track (a demo made as a University of Texas student) has made its way to Spotify. How we wish we could include this YouTube recording of Janis performing at Threadgill's in 1962! 

Additionally, many of the classic Austin artists, especially in the blues, punk and Tejano genres, haven't yet made it to Spotify. Rest assured, this 1965 recording of legendary blues pianist Grey Ghost would've made the list. Robert Shaw, Austin pianist and owner of the Stop & Swat grocery store from the 1930s to the 1960s, stands in on behalf of his fellow early blues giants. 

Finally, genre categorization of artists was challenging, which is part of what makes Austin music so interesting. The lines between country and blues and folk and rock and Tejano and punk are extremely blurry, and many of Austin's music innovators freely flowed across all boundaries. Doug Sahm and Alejandro Escovedo, for example, could have been listed under half of the genres on this list. 

If you have any artists or tunes that you think we missed, drop us a line at We'd love to give your favorite Austin jam a listen.

Thank you to John Spong, Austin McKenna, Chad Nichols, Xochi Solis, Leana Shefman, Robert Sanchez and Jordan Breal for your help in compiling these lists and your deep, deep record collections. 

Illustration by Chris Bilheimer