The Austin music scene is in shock after hearing the news that the University of Texas is planning on closing the Cactus Cafe due to a cost-cutting decision made by the Board of Directors. Normally the Cactus (and "Informal Classes," another program they are closing) are self-sufficient, but in this recession they have been costing the University ~$120K per year to run. In other news, UT football coach Mack Brown became the highest-paid coach in college football history as of last month - bringing in over $5 million per year. Yes, you can point out that he is not paid from the same fund. It's not going to make any of us feel any better or be any less mad about this. [source 1][source 2]
The Cactus is one of the best listening venues in the country. It holds 150 people... 150 people intently paying attention to the music. It's quite a phenomenon. I was trying to make a list of people we've seen there just since 2001 when we moved to this area. It's not complete by any means:
Johnny A, Eliza Gilkyson, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jimmy LaFave, Infamous Stringdusters, Michael Fracasso (with Patty Griffin and Charlie Sexton), Eric Johnson (2X), Adrian Legg, The Greencards, South Austin Jug Band, Teddy Thompson (2X), Beth Orton, Marty Stuart, Glen Phillips, Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers, Sara & Sean Watkins (ex-Nickel Creek), Sarah Jarosz, Alasdair Fraser, Brobdingnagian Bards, Chris Thile & Mike Marshall (2X), Band of Heathens, Marshall Ford Swing Band, Sonny Landreth (with Cindy Cashdollar and Redd Volkaert), Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers), Alejandro Escovedo...
We've got wonderful memories from there. The Cafe goes back 25 years. Townes van Zandt and Lucinda Williams were regulars there. Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen would play there for free on weeknights before they could bring in a cover charge. Townes Van Zandt played there more than 100 times, according to Griff Luneberg (the man in charge of all things Cactus Cafe - except for ordering it closed) Here's a nice writeup in the paper from 2004, with some historical background.
Interested in following this?
[website: Save the Cactus]
We normally didn't shoot video at the Cactus so as to not violate house rules, but when Sarah Jarosz took the stage for guest spots it seemed to be given a nod of OK.
Sarah with Sara and Sean Watkins (My Morphine, Gillian Welch cover)
Sarah with The Punch Brothers (Blue Night, Bill Monroe cover)