Our 35th: Historical Timeline

cactus_cafe_welcome1930s The University of Texas operates a student diner, The Chuckwagon, which eventually became the location of the Cactus Cafe.

1960s The University of Texas closes The Chuckwagon and opens Potpourri, a snack bar that doubles as a performance space.

Janis Joplin is rumored to have performed at Potpourri during her time at the university.

1970s The loss of the Alamo Lounge, an official performance space in the Texas Union, birthed the plan for the Cactus Cafe.

The Cactus Cafe officially opens for business February 14, 1979.

The Cactus Cafe primarily serves as a cafe during the week and as a music venue on weekends.

1980s In the early 1980s the Cactus Cafe becomes a popular venue for cover bands booked by the student activities office.

Charla Ann Baker, the first Cactus manager, hires Griff Luneburg as a bartender. (1981)

Nanci Griffith is the first artist for which the Cactus charged a cover. Students paid $1 and non-students paid $2. (November 1982)

Charla Ann Baker leaves. (1983)

Chris Lueck is hired as a work-study bartender by Cactus manager Dave Berry. (1983)

Griff Luneburg becomes manager and assumes responsibility for booking talent. He soon hires Susan Svedeman as a bartender and, together, Lueck and Svedeman, become resident bartenders.

The Cactus Cafe begins hosting KUT Radio’s “Live at the Cactus.”

Townes Van Zandt, the influential songwriter, calls the Cactus his “home club.”

Butch Hancock starts performing (he has played the Cactus more than 200 times to date).

Eliza Gilkyson and singer songwriter Bob Neuwirth perform at the Cactus. (Dec. 16, 1989)

Bruce Newman makes his final appearance hosting the weekly open mic night after serving as host for more than two years. (Dec. 19, 1989)

1990s Butch Hancock begins a six-night stand, “No Two Alike,” playing 140 original songs without repeating one. (Jan. 31, 1990)

The Cactus Cafe hosts a Woody Guthrie tribute. (Summer 1990)

The Cactus hosts Butch Hancock’s release party for the first 14 cassettes offered through his “No Two Alike” tape-of-the-month club. (Sept. 6, 1990)

Bill Monroe, largely considered the father of bluegrass, performs. (Sept. 28, 1990)

The Cactus hosts KUT’s “Folkways at the Cactus,” a live broadcasted fundraiser, featuring Jimmy LaFave, Betty Elders, Bill Oliver and others. (Oct. 6, 1990)

Hal Ketchum performs at the Cactus despite diminishing and infrequent local performances after signing to Curb Records. (Nov. 28, 1990)

Yon Darbro begins hosting open mic nights. (1991)

Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and Robert Earl Keen Jr. play the Texas Union Ballroom. (Feb. 15, 1991)

Upon moving to Austin from California after being dropped from RCA records, Lucinda Williams plays a three-night set with opening act Beaver Nelson. (April 25-27, 1991)

The Cactus Cafe becomes a smoke-free venue long before the city of Austin mandate. (June 6, 1991)

Dixie Chicks perform at the Cactus, before worldwide fame, accompanied by Top of the Marc. (Aug. 1, 1991)

Still early in her career, Ani DiFranco gives her first performance at the Cactus. (Dec. 5, 1991)

Karen Poston begins hosting open mic nights. (1995)

Townes Van Zandt had been scheduled to play at the Cactus, but due to his death three weeks earlier, the event is changed to remember and celebrate his life. Jimmy LaFave, Alejandro Escovedo and Mickey White perform on those evenings. (Jan. 22-23, 1997)

2000s Austin Music Hall of Fame inductee Billy Joe Shaver performs. (July 26, 2003)

Shawn Colvin, Loudon Wainwright III, Robert Earl Keen and The Gourds play for the Cactus Cafe’s 25th anniversary. (2004)

The Cactus Cafe hosts the Django Reinhardt Jazz Festival. (2005)

Butch Hancock begins the tradition of hosting an annual tribute to Townes Van Zandt at the Cactus.

The Cactus holds a Wood Guthrie Birthday Tribute and chooses Butch Hancock to host. (2009)

2010s In January, the University of Texas announces plans to close the Cactus Cafe due to university budget cuts. (2010)

“Friends of the Cactus Cafe” is created in support of keeping the venue open. (February 2010)

The Governor’s Texas Music Office and the Center for Texas Music History send letters to the university in support of keeping the Cactus open.

The university announces a partnership with public radio station KUT 90.5 to manage programming at the venue with the bar being managed by the Texas Union. (May 19, 2010)

KUT begins formally programming the Cactus. (Aug. 16, 2010)

Recording industry veteran Matthew Muñoz is named manager of the Cactus Cafe. (Sept. 13, 2010)

Credit card transactions and online ticket sales are introduced. KUT invests more than $100,000 to upgrade the lighting and sound system.

The Artist-in-Residence program, sponsored by Lone Star Beer, begins giving up-and-coming local artists a month-long residency. Each quarter, a select artist performs a show free to the public every Monday. The artist also receives exposure on KUTX via the Song of the Day, the Austin Music Minute, KUTX social media, and other KUTX digital platforms. (April 2011)

The Cactus partners with the Austin Classical Guitar Society to create the Classical Cactus Series. The series presents performances by local and regional classical guitarists the last Thursday of each month. (Fall 2011)

The Views and Brews discussion series launches featuring thought leaders from around the community discussing a wide range of ideas, from the history of jazz, to sports, to politics, to arts and popular culture.

The Stage to Studio program invites open mic night winners to record a song in the KUTX studios. The favorite song, voted from a KUTX online public poll, is selected as a KUTX Song of the Day. (2013)

Posted on February 22nd, 2015 by Todd Callahan.


Comments are closed.

social network social network