AUSTIN, Texas – Feb. 7, 2014 – The Cactus Cafe, one of Austin's iconic acoustic music traditions, will mark its 35th anniversary with a yearlong celebration beginning Feb. 14.
Americana singer-songwriter and Cactus favorite Iris Dement will kick off the anniversary celebration with two sold-out performances Feb. 14 and 16. Throughout the year the Cactus Cafe will feature special Texas Union Ballroom concerts, including "Southern Soul Assembly Tour" (April 7) and "Over the Rhine" (May 2).
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell is proclaiming Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 "Cactus Cafe Day" in recognition of 35 years of service to the community. The proclamation will be presented during the Feb. 13 city council meeting.
"The local music scene is constantly changing, so we're thrilled that the Cactus has endured for 35 years thanks to the artists, audiences and Cactus staff that came before us," said Cactus Cafe manager Matt Munoz.
"We continue to evolve as a music venue with the goal of engaging new audiences — the artist-in-residence program and Views and Brews are good examples — and finding new sources of revenue," he continued. "We are working on a new fund raising strategy, which we hope to roll out during our anniversary year."
Since opening on Feb. 14, 1979, the Cactus Cafe has earned a national reputation by showcasing top local, regional, national and international acoustic music acts, while identifying and nurturing new talent. Legendary artists Ani Difranco, Dixie Chicks, Patty Griffin, Butch Hancock, Sarah Jarosz, Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Old Crow Medicine Show and Lucinda Williams performed at the Cactus early in their careers.
In 2012, the Cactus launched its artist-in-residence program to provide a platform for talented local artists to reach new audiences. Each quarter, an artist has a month-long residency where they perform every Monday. In an effort to broaden artists' exposure — and thanks to sponsorship by Lone Star Beer — these performances are free.
Artists in residence receive exposure on KUTX via the "KUTX Song of the Day," the "Austin Music Minute," KUTX social media and other KUTX digital platforms. Featured artists have included David Ramirez, Emily Wolfe, "Hello Wheels," "Wood and Wire," "Lost and Nameless Orchestra," Lilly Hiatt, "The Carper Family" and Jack Wilson. Lang Freeman is the February 2014 Cactus Artist-in-Residence.
While musicians and singer-songwriters continue to be a mainstay at the Cactus Wednesday through Saturday nights, the Cactus is exploring new content in order to engage new audiences. For example, the Views and Brews discussion series invites thought leaders from around the community and university to discuss a wide range of ideas, whether it’s the history of jazz, sports, politics, popular culture or art in a casual setting.
Upcoming Views and Brews discussions include: Nobel laureate and theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg (Feb. 11); and "The World at War, 1914-1928," (Feb. 25) examining deeply personal experiences of The Great War.