The Austin Lounge Lizards are arguably the perfect pairing of their hometown’s slogan, “Live Music Capital of the World,” and its unofficial motto, “Keep Austin Weird.” Since 1980, the Lizards have been spoofing the topics American families try to avoid at the Thanksgiving table: subjects like politics, religion, romance, and themselves. With pointed lyrics, precise harmonies and instrumental expertise, the band has become legendary for its satirical skewering through song.
The Lizards originated in 1976 in New Jersey, when Hank Card (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Conrad Deisler (vocals, lead guitar, mandolin) met as mutual history majors at Princeton University (not prison, as sometimes thought) and started songwriting together. Following graduation, both Hank, a native Oklahoman, and Conrad, a Tex-Cali-Connecticut-Venezuelan, ended up in Austin. University of Georgia philosophy graduate and banjo/dobro player Tom Pittman completed the founding-troubador trifecta in 1980, and the Austin Lounge Lizards was born.
With a series of talented fellow players and writers, the band began playing dates around Austin and across Texas. Soon, they had developed a widespread following of loyal Lizard fans, and by 1987, began appearing at festivals and concerts throughout North America and in the United Kingdom. Five-time winners at the Austin Music Awards, the Lizards have played many celebrated festivals, including California’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and Strawberry Music Festivals, New York’s Grey Fox and Florida’s Stringbreak Festivals, Canada’s Vancouver and Edmonton Folk Festivals and Summerfolk, the Americana and Iron Bridge Festivals in the UK, and the Kerrville Folk Festival close to their home in Texas. They have also performed at dozens of prestigious concert venues, including The Barns at Wolftrap (Vienna, VA), the Freight & Salvage (Berkeley, CA), the Kuumbwa Jazz Center (Santa Cruz, CA), John Ascuaga’s Nugget (Sparks, NV), Eddie’s Attic (Atlanta), The Ark (Ann Arbor, MI), Calgary Folk Club (Alberta, Canada), the Bass Performing Arts Center & McDavid Studio (Fort Worth), McGonigel’s Mucky Duck (Houston) and Austin’s own Cactus Café.
After more than three decades, Tom retired from the band to his luxurious mansion in Asheville, NC, in 2011. But the Lizards continue. Most recently, in December 2016, two former Lizards rejoined the group. The band is now made up of Hank, Conrad, Tim Wilson (fiddle, mandolin, vocals) and Kirk Williams (electric bass, vocals).
With their unique amalgamation of highly literate Ivy League roots; an appreciation for folk, country, bluegrass, and rock and roll musical styles; creative influences such as Frank Zappa, Spike Jones, George Jones, Homer & Jethro, and the Rolling Stones; and an unquenchable thirst for the absurd, the Lizards specialize in musical eclecticism, excellence and extreme entertainment.