If these walls could sing...
In the early 1990s, chili tycoon Gordon Fowler (and husband of Austin musician Marcia Ball) opened a little music club in a warehouse next to Shoal Creek. With a kitchen that served up Tex-Mex, pizza and hamburgers, La Zona Rosa showcased a reliable stream of local and international acts, from Sarah Elizabeth Campbell and Tish Hinojosa to Asleep at the Wheel and Eliades Ochoa. These shows earned the club awards (Best Ongoing Hootenanny-1992, Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows-1993) as well as a reputation according to the Austin Chronicle as “the Son of Armadillo World Headquarters.”
Through the years, the venue went through ownership changes and renovations, closing and reopening in 1995 and again in 1997, when it won the Austin Chronicle Music Award for Best New Club. Under the leadership of Direct Events, the venue was modified to accommodate two stages—one large and one small—plus roll-up garage doors and better AC. As SXSW brought legendary performers to Austin, the club saw acts including A Tribe Called Quest, Adele, Ed Sheeran, The Church, Amy Winehouse and Pete Townshend. The 2013 showcase by Prince is a crown jewel of SXSW lore—the Purple One’s show included violet wristbands, multiple costume changes, six encores, and all of his greatest hits.
It would be impossible to list all the amazing artists whose voices have echoed off the walls through the club’s 30 year run, but notable performers include Morrissey, Ed Sheeran, Gavin DeGraw, Merle Haggard, Ziggy Marley, Arlo Guthrie, David Byrne, Liz Phair, Patti Smith, Nick Lowe, Gary Clark, Jr., Franz Ferdinand, Willie Nelson, David Alan Coe, Garbage, Sonic Youth, Spoon, Dr. John, Cyndi Lauper, Gregg Allman, The Black Eyed Peas, G. Love and Special Sauce, Townes Van Zandt, Lucinda Williams, Chris Cornell and way too many more to list. Chances are, your favorite band has played in this room.