Meet the Cactus Cafe Booking Agent, Matt Munoz

Matt Munoz serves as the booking agent for the Cactus Cafe. The venue is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

Photo Credit: Andrew Huygen

Certainly contributing to Austin’s status as “Live Music Capital of the World” is UT’s own live music venue, the Cactus Café. Since it first opened on Feb. 14, 1979, the Cactus Café has been an integral part of Austin’s local music traditions and has also been the launching point for countless well-known musicians. Operated by the University Unions, every year the Cactus Café hosts around 200 shows and entertains more than 10,000 audience members of all ages. Longhorn Life spoke to Matt Munoz, the booking agent at the Cactus, about the Cactus’ significance to the local music scene and the plans that are in store for its 35th anniversary.

Longhorn Life: What do you see to be the purpose of the Cactus Café, considering its role in the community and the opportunities it offers to local artists?

Matt Munoz:The Cactus has launched enough careers that it has developed a reputation for featuring gems in the rough. Billboard Magazine once called it a club “from which careers can be cut, that work with proven names and new faces." There is a sense at the Cactus that the no-name act you see there on a given Thursday night could go on to become a legend. The Cactus is also known for supporting local musicians and giving them one of their first breaks.

LL: What do you do as the booking agent for the Cactus Café?

MM: Eighty percent of my time is spent trying to find dates for the local and touring acts that have a relationship with the Cactus. The rest of my time is spent in a couple of different ways: trying to establish relationships with newer artists that would fit into our room and overseeing the production aspect of each show.

LL: In 2010, there was a call to close the Cactus Café due to budget cuts. How was the Cactus able to overcome this hurdle?

MM: In May 2010, the university announced a partnership with KUT Public Radio to program the Cactus Café. This was due to KUT's experience in the music industry, KUT's fund raising experience and overall support from student leadership. KUTX 98.9, The Austin Music Experience, is able to promote Cactus performances by inviting Cactus artists to perform on a live broadcast from Studio 1A.

LL: What is planned for the future for the Cactus Café?

MM: We are celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Cactus this year by bringing back favorite Cactus artists throughout the year. [It] kicks off Feb. 14 with a sold-out Iris Dement show and continues all year long with a few special shows later this year.