Wild, Wild Night at the Cactus (For Now)

Logo courtesy of University of Texas

You should have seen us, Blue Eyes and I, out on a Friday night past 9. Our neighbors invited us out, they have little kids too and all of us had babysitters. Our dancing plans didn’t work out, so we ended up at the Cactus Cafe to see the Asylum Street Spankers. I liked their songs, but I liked their performance even better. They were fun and funny and had a great energy about them. Wammo told great stories about lunch boxes and beer. Christina Marrs’ last song was naughty, more naughty than I get at my naughtiest and she was on stage with her clothes on.

I loved the Catcus Cafe too, it is an intimate setting, you can see the expressions on the faces of the musicians, you can hear every instrument separate from the others, it feels like you are in your living room. And besides that, it is the perfect place for the 40+ year old music fan, with comfortable chairs, shows that don’t start too late and good coffee in case you are worn out from the kids.

A few days later, I saw the story that the University of Texas is considering closing the Cactus Cafe to save money on their budget. Wow, this got me to thinking.

So many great people have played there so many times, Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Shawn Colvin, Kelly Willis, well, I could go on and on. A venue with that much history feels more like a person, like a good friend who always remembers your birthday or a favorite park where your kids played when they were young. It would be sad to lose the Cactus Cafe.

Well, some say, it isn’t the top objective of the university to provide live music to the 40+ crowd. You have to be drinking age to get in, so most students can’t use it at all. Well, not all UT students are eighteen, I was twenty-six when I was a student there, and how about those graduate students? Older students are people too! And as John Kelso pointed out here, it isn’t like this is the only place on campus that attracts non-students, the 100,000 capacity Royal-Memorial Stadium isn’t built just for students.

Well, I say, who is running this place? It is full every time I go and the cover charge is pretty high and they sell drinks, so how exactly does this place not make money? Maybe some students from the UT’s business school could get together with students from KVRX, the college radio station, and help out. There should be a way to make money from this.

There is an effort now to raise private funds to keep the Cactus Cafe open or maybe relocating it to the Alumni Center, more info is here. I hope these efforts work, because Blue Eyes and I might get out after 9 more when our kids are a little older, and it would be nice to have a place to go with comfortable chairs, early shows and a nice cup of coffee.

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