Dozen Street: Exploring an East Austin diamond in the rough

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“Ladies and gentlemen, your liver is looking out for you.”

These wise words came from a man dressed in an all white suit (complete with a matching fedora) to an audience of five. Six, if you include the bartender, Ace. This in sum, encompasses the essence of Bluesday at Dozen Street.

Dozen Street is an “art-bar” on East 12th Street that’s tucked away between a restaurant that claims to have the best Cajun food and other austere alcohol palaces. Driving past, Dozen Street can be spotted easily with its mosaic-style mural entirely made up of shards of mirrors, one out of the many mural works done by artist, Stephanie DiStefano.

Inside, the “art lounge and bar” emulates the definition of Austin – or at least the Austin I imagined before coming here five or so years ago. A little shabby, a little dirty, a lot of personality. From the bathroom to the backyard, it’s decked out in mix-matched decor and wall art. It’s like walking into an antique shop, except this one has exceptionally cheap drinks and free pool.

Every Tuesday is Bluesday at Dozen Street, a weekly event when the Blues Posse hosts an impromptu jam session with anyone brave enough to join. My Director and I had the pleasure to enjoy their mix of original songs and covers in an almost private setting, making us, rather than them, the center of attention.

With his raspy voice and harmonica in hand, the lead singer, “Mr. Jamie,” who sported an eclectic, but fitting outfit complete with an emblazoned white jacket, told us personal stories about his startings as a musician and urged us to dance along to his band. They were phenomenal – not what I expected out of a group of men their age, but nonetheless, belted out some of the greatest blues tunes and impressed us with their dance moves. When it came time for us to leave, he asked us to stay and listen longer, but being the college students that we are, we couldn’t.

After just one night there, I could tell I had found a gem. It’s places like Dozen Street that make searching through grimy dive bars worth it – sometimes you’re lucky enough to spot a diamond in the rough.

PHOTOS: Arielle Avila, On Vinyl Music Staff Writer