13472 Bee Cave Parkway
Austin, TX 78738
Hours: Show Times Vary
Written by: Tara Smith
Photos courtesy of The Backyard
The Backyard at Bee Cave is treasured and revered as one of the finest venues in Austin music history. Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, there is no parallel to the outdoor experience offered by this establishment. Originally opened in 1993 under the inspiration of “freedom,” owner Tim O’Connor created just that: a place for friends and family of all ages to unite under the great oak trees and to enjoy legends such as Willie Nelson, Sarah McLachlan, David Bowie, and the Gypsy Kings.
In 1993, The Backyard commenced its first season, far-removed from the hustle and bustle of local sprawl. The vast open-aired lot truly offered its patrons the ambiance of a casual, natural feel. It was as if you were literally in your neighbors “backyard,” celebrating and relishing the lack of rules and restrictions enforced by traditional indoor clubs and music halls. Seventeen seasons of rock, pop, country, and blues were belted through the sound system, while music lovers of every variety gathered together in great cheer. The Backyard was not just another place to hear some legendary musicians—it had become a destination, an event, a day trip.
As urban development imposed itself upon the countryside, the Backyard began to feel the growing pains of local industry and business building up nearby. Just as Willie had opened The Backyard with his performance in ’93, he closed its doors in 2008. Tim made great headway with his vision of a family- and community-friendly venue with the original Backyard, and made it his goal to carry it on with a greater sense of permanence. From 2008 to 2010, he struggled to solidify the resolution of imperative issues that challenged the original location. Not far from the first location, Tim bought the highest hill in Bee Cave and the opportunity for music lovers to have a unique, organic experience has carried over with huge success.
“This is not Hollywood, this is Texas!” says Tim O’Connor; “We do it a little differently here because we care.” As a 16-year old who ran off to join a band, the sincerity in his endeavors could not be more transparent. Musicians play rain or shine, with sound systems rented per event to accommodate their sound necessities. The overall experience transcends generational gaps and unifies its patrons and the community—Grandparents sharing BBQ with their grandchildren on piggy back, first dates, anniversaries, or friendly gatherings. Extreme “green” practices are implemented, and plans to further mature the establishment are in place, including a proposal for solar power.
The Backyard is also home to many non-musical events, such as pet adoptions, fundraisers, private parties, and a multidude of other small community and charity events. The community feels as if this venue is “theirs”—and it is!