Why I Love the Cactus Cafe and Will Continue to Speak out on it’s behalf

Posted on March 1, 2010 by Sara Hickman. | 2 Comments

My thoughts on the Cactus Cafe are @ http://www.zenlala.com. Join me to save it, won’t you?

SARA HICKMAN: What the Cactus Cafe Means To Me

For me as a performer, the “memory makers”, besides the people and the travel,
are the remembrances of a stage: the ambience, the quality of the sound, the people who are
in charge of a venue I’ve been asked to play.

The rare thing about the Cactus Cafe is that, among owning those fine qualities,
it also has history, and it has longevity. To perform on a legendary stage that has
hosted songwriting legends—from blues to folk to pop and instrumental—is becoming harder
and harder to find in a world that wants new, fast, convenient. Cactus Cafe is about risk,
about depth, about opportunity (for the listener and the performer) and about culture.
It will be there long after students graduate, long after many of we performers pass on.
There is a beauty to that that must convince others to keep the doors open.

And let’s not forget Griff, Chris and Susan…people who have dedicated half their LIVES,
their hearts, to keeping what makes the Cactus unique and special. This is an added
blessing to what keeps Cactus a venue I enjoy—knowing the faces who have become
an integral part of the Cactus itself, people I have grown to consider friends, consider family.

So, for me, Cactus Cafe is always about returning home. It represents the essence of a city that
prides itself on community, culture, music and nature. I will always feel a pinch of nervousness
mingled with enthusiasm when I have an impending Cactus show—it’s a sacred space,
a place to share my songs, my words, my thoughts, my SELF. To clarify, I feel like I’m returning home
on that stage because the sound is crafted to allow me to be heard—much like a smaller
version of Carnegie Hall, that same buttery ease of delivery—and I know the audience is
diverse, it’s eager, it’s ready to absorb and reflect on what I want to share. The audience
represents a microcosm of the world beyond…

To take away an historic part of what is Austin would be to throw the baby out with the
bathwater. There is no other place in Austin where the eclectic, esteemed performers (Jane
Siberry, Mike Doughty, Alejandro Escovedo, Robert Earl Keen) can mix with the up and coming (Betty Soo,
Ruthie Foster, Emily Elbert) and create an environment of interesting sound. There is, I repeat,
no other home in Austin for this one-of-a-kind mystical moments of song.

We’ve lost Armadillo Headquarters, Chicago House, Liberty Lunch and Electric Lounge.
And, now, should someone be foolish enough to sign off on closing the Cactus, they
will have the eternal stain of removing the most precious of jewels that UT has maintained,
and maintained because the Cactus brings together the community, the students, the staff while
providing an oasis for those thirsty to see a myriad of amazing talent in an intimate,
quality listening room.

2 responses to “Why I Love the Cactus Cafe and Will Continue to Speak out on it’s behalf”

  1. Brad McCarty says:

    Happy Birthday (a few days late) !

  2. Robyn says:

    The first time I ever saw you was at the Cactus…I think it was ’89.  You passed out toy instruments to the audience.  And when I told you that I’d decided to come see you that night instead of going to watch “Gone with the Wind” for the umpteenth time, you signed my album of “Equal Scary People” by writing “thanks, because I give a damn!”. And YES you DO!  Thanks for that memory!

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