1600 W 5th Street
Austin, TX 78703
Hours: Mon-Fri 2pm-2am, Sat 6pm-2am
Written by: Dan Murray
Behind his trusty piano, smooth-singing crooner Donn Adelman is the conductor of the unique, low-key Austin institution that is Donn’s Depot. Donn’s rolls at its own pace on West 5th Street, on the other side of the figurative tracks from the wilder downtown bar scene.
The Depot name is literal, and the place has a lot of character accented with a few cobwebs. The building actually is an old Missouri-Pacific train depot; it was moved by rail to its current location more than 30 years ago. The seating areas are real train cars, and the women’s restroom is a relic caboose. Donn’s institution status is literal as well: Adelman has been on the Austin music scene since 1961, and he opened the Depot in 1972. Lesser bars have made grander claims.
Sometimes joined by son Matt on drums, Donn holds center stage on Tuesdays and Thursdays, leaving the remaining nights for other acts. Donn has Las Vegas performances under his belt and looks and plays the part. What you’ll hear from Donn and the acts he books: Sinatra, big band, country, blues, jazz and classic rock dating to the ‘50s. Metal and hip-hop are pretty much out. The crowd, for the most part, is more old school, too.
“It’s our life, it’s our business and it’s our fun, too,” Donn Adelman says, “We have a lot of fun doing what we do. … We enjoy entertaining people. … We’ve been here for 33 years, so I think we know what we’re doing now.”