The Cactus Cafe was Townes Van Zandt's "home." Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Nanci Griffith, and Ani DiFranco made their names there. Billboard magazine listed the Cactus among 15 "solidly respected, savvy clubs" nationwide "from which careers can be cut, that work with proven names and new faces." On January 29th of this year, management announced the Cactus Cafe's pending closure. The ensuing story is here: <a href="http://www.SaveTheCactusCafe.org" target="_blank">www.SaveTheCactusCafe.org</a>.The Cactus Cafe is located in the student union on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. Townes Van Zandt called it his "home" and artists the likes of Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams, Shawn Colvin, Nanci Griffith and Ani DiFranco played there as they ascended the ladders of national fame. Billboard magazine listed the Cactus as one of fifteen "solidly respected, savvy clubs" nationwide "from which careers can be cut, that work with proven names and new faces."
On January 29th of this year, the student union management announced the Cactus Cafe's pending closure, due to financial reasons. The details and misinformation that ensued is a long story, and is chronicled in great detail here: www.SaveTheCactusCafe.org.
I'm writing this now because today, May 7, 2010, is the last day that the university administration will take comments on two plans that have arisen that will "save" the Cactus Cafe.
One plan fires the current management team, who have run the Cactus Cafe for nearly 30 years and established priceless relationships with thousands of recording artists and student performers. That plan replaces them with a management combination of a 3rd party concessions vendor, a student committee, a radio station, and a new manager who has no experience running a listening room (a recipe for success, no doubt).
The other plan on the table keeps the current management, implements new revenue-generating channels, increases student involvement, and taps into that same radio station (KUT, 90.5FM in Austin), to promote the venue and revive their series of "Live at the Cactus Cafe" recordings/broadcasts.
If you are familiar with the Cactus Cafe or know others who may be, I urge you to provide you input today. A brief synopsis & link to the University's blog is available here:
Thank you for your time and support of this legendary venue.
Austin Musician, UT Alumni, & 10-year UT Employee
Founding Board of Directors member, Friends of the Cactus Cafe non-profit