This poster was created by Kerry Awn for the 21st Anniversary of the storied Liberty Lunch. It was a week long celebration from September 9-14, 1997. Artists on the bill were Gene Loves Jezebel, Die Laughing, Burning Spear, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Joe Ely and Sister Hazel.
This poster is offered on behalf of, and with permission by, Kerry Awn.
- 175 gsm fine art paper
- 18″ x 12″
- Matte finish
- For indoor use
In the early to mid ’70s, a local comedy troupe started the famous and still operating Esther’s Follies at this location performing weekend comedy shows and serving food and beer.
Liberty Lunch On West 2nd Street), as a former lumberyard was an unroofed space. So “The Lunch” was a spring and summer only operation whose weather permitting opening each spring was a highly anticipated and attended event. In the late 1970s Esther’s Follies moved to 6th Street to provide year-round options for their productions. The comedy club owners sold the lease to Charlie Tesar who continued operations there as a seasonal live music venue.
The most popular acts were the regular Tuesday night reggae band, The Lotions;Thursday night’s Beto and the Fairlanes and a rotation of bands on weekends including both of the afore mentioned groups plus The Uranium Savages and Extreme Heat. Cover was typically $3–5, beer 75 cents and crowds often 700-900 people who danced on dirt floor of the lumberyard drive through in front of a primitive stage. The club was a local favorite and invited guests to “Dance and Dine Under The Stars”. Shortly after taking ownership, Tesar hired Mark Pratz to assume booking bands and management of the club.
In 1981, during the demolition of the Armadillo World Headquarters, the steel beams of the old armory were purchased at auction and brought over to the Liberty Lunch site and the first of several roof structures was built. Initially it was a see through greenhouse type roof that lasted briefly until it was replaced with a more substantial and all weather permitting solid structure. The roof had four giant shoebox removable type skylight lids that let the sky and stars in and the heat and smoke out. The dirt floor was replaced with concrete and a large wooden dance floor and improved stage was built.
In the 1990s the club got another makeover with a solid front wall, stage rebuild, safety equipment and a side wall with roll up garage doors opening onto a still open air 2000 square foot side garden for fresh air, open seating and smoking. Despite the changes, Liberty Lunch grew in popularity and recognition throughout the next two decades booking high quality acts and providing Austinites and visitors a place to see their music idols up close.
During its existence in the late 1970s, 80s and 90s it featured a wide variety of music, including reggae and ska, punk, indie, country and rock.
For over 20 years the club played host to thousands of local, regional and touring acts including: Bad Religion, Dick Dale, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, The Neville Brothers, The Uranium Savages, Burning Spear, The Mighty Diamonds, Mutabaruka, The Gladiators, Timbuk3, Dwight Yoakam, The Descendants, Dinosaur Junior, The Skunks, The 13th Floor Elevators with Roky Erickson and Tommy Hall, Living Color, Billy Bragg, Jessie Winchester, Ricky Nelson, Poco, Shake Russell and Dana Cooper, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Wilco, The Replacements, The Tragically Hip, Fishbone, Ed Hall, The Wild Seeds,The True Believers, The Violent Femmes, Green Day, Beck, Alanis Morissette, Nirvana, The Foo Fighters, k.d. lang, The Smashing Pumpkins, John Sebastian, Social Distortion, No Doubt, Suicidal Tendencies, NoFX, Robyn Hitchcock, Asleep At The Wheel, Dolly Parton, Hootie and The Blowfish, Hot Tuna, Spirit, New Riders of The Purple Sage, Love Tractor, The Long Ryders, The Flaming Lips, Black Flag, Wendy O. Williams, Lucinda Williams, Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett, Omar and the Howlers,, They Might Be Giants, David Persons, Zeitgeist, Glass Eye, Jonathan Richman, Alan Ginsburg, Steven Wright, Sonic Youth, Husker Du, Bob Mould, Iggy Pop, Björk, Johnny Clegg and Savuka, Drivin N Cryin, Green on Red, Oasis, The Bossto Ed, The Skatalites, The Cramps, Ween, Dahveed, Alex Chilton, Jason & The Scorchers, 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant, The Meters, The Killer Bees, George Clinton, Jessie Colin Young, Brave Combo, David Bean and the Dishes, The Fleshtones, The Lemonheads, My Bloody Valentine, Mazzy Star, The Proclaimers, Kinky Friedman, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Butthole Surfers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Big Boys, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, John Hiatt, Todd Rundgren, Jellyfish, Dread Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly, Run DMC, John Lee Hooker, X, John Hammond Jr. and Gwar to name just a few.
The venue was forced to close to make way for downtown redevelopment in July of 1999. Its last shows included sets by the Toadies, Bob Mould, Beto y Los Fairlanes and two nights of Sonic Youth. Liberty Lunch has become notable in the history of Austin music, along with the Armadillo World Headquarters remaining open for 25 years and the Austin Chronicle Reader’s Poll winner for best club for 10 consecutive years throughout the 1990s.