CLASSIC CONCERT: T-Bone Burnett @ Cactus Cafe / Austin, TX / August 12, 1992

T-Bone Burnett - Cactus Cafe 8-12-92

I made many trips to see shows in Austin, the so-called “live music capital of the world” when I lived in San Antonio.  Each week, I eagerly picked up a copy of the free weekly Austin Chronicle at San Antonio’s Hogwild Records to pour over the concert listings. One venue that I kept a close watch on was the Cactus Cafe.

The Cactus is an intimate comfortable room in a University of Texas campus building on the famous Guadalupe Street drag. It has a bar serving food and drink, and the artists perform on a small stage tucked in the corner. Opened in 1979, the Cactus survived an attempt to shut it down in 2009, and it still operates today. It has always been a great place to see both established and rising local singer-songwriters as well as the occasional national touring act.

One such touring act was the tall Texan, T-Bone Burnett. Today, Burnett’s name seems to show up everywhere as a soundtrack producer for film and television. Back in 1992, he dabbled as a record producer while being a fairly active solo artist. I first saw him play live in 1984 when he toured as the opening act on Elvis Costello’s American debut solo tour.  At this Cactus Cafe show, T-Bone again played solo, this time in support of his just released record, The Criminal Under My Own Hat.

It’s no secret that I record most shows that I attend. I do so for the sake of documenting musical history in addition to my own personal listening pleasure. For whatever reason, I did not record this one, and sadly neither I, nor anyone else I know can recall much about the show. A friend of mine, who also usually records shows, saw the previous night of T-Bone’s tour in Dallas. He managed to meet Burnett before the show through some mutual friends and made the mistake of asking him if he could record. Burnett asked him not to since the Fort Worth native said it would make him nervous in front of some family and friends.

Sadly, these two shows are nothing more than a faint memory; however, here is a photo of a cool autograph that I got after the show that night.

T-Bone Burnett - LP


  1. Martha Quinn · · Reply

    Funny, you say you don’t remember much about this concert, but to me it was one of those concerts that rose to the level of religious experience. I had heard T-Bone that morning on John Ailli’s show, Ekektikos on KUT. He talked about songwriting and of aspiring to write a song as simple yet perfect as You Are My Sunshine. And at the end of the show that night, someone called out and requested it. He played You Are My Sunshine and had everyone in the room sing along. It was amazing — one of those rare intimate moments between artist and a small audience (maybe 75?). I was just writing a letter to a friend who is a music historian, and described the night to him. I went looking to see what year it would have been – knowing it was early ’90s, and was happy to find your post from 5 years ago.

    1. Gosh – after 1,700 concerts and all those years, I wish I had a memory like you…or a recording of thw show!

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