Saturday, August 21, 2010

BUTCH HANCOCK at Cactus Cafe 8-14-10

This show was special.  The main reason for that being it would be the last night the Cactus would be operating under the management team that built this room into a national treasure with a world wide reputation.  To close out this era, they had Butch Hancock play 5 straight nights and he would not repeat a song.  You could buy a pass to the entire series titled "No Two More Alike" for $70 or pay at the door for single shows.
Hadn't made it to any of the shows until the final night and I really wanted to be there for it.  As did half the city, I think.  The doors were opening at 8pm for an 8:30 start.  We got in line at 5:30 and there were already 10 people ahead of us.  Turns out the earliest arrivals were there at 5PM!
All week the shows had been filled with special guests.  Night 3 I think it was, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely played the entire 2nd half with Butch.  In essence, a most intimate Flatlanders show.  I know Jimmie LaFave played on another night.
So...the final night was full of expectations on guests, excitement along with some sadness as we don't know what the future holds with the new management coming in (KUT, the local NPR station, is taking over the music operation).
The show was, of course, spectacular.  Butch played a handful of songs to open and then brought Jimmie Dale Gilmore to the stage.  Jimmie played a bunch of songs with Butch, probably 6 or so.  At one point, while Jimmie was on stage, he brought up BettySoo and they did Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty!"  Oh my God, it was so good.  BettySoo's soprano voice blending with Butch and Jimmie was an incredible treat for all of us.  I didn't video because I didn't have a good sight line but there is a good one here:
After the break, Butch brought Joe Ely up!  He did 2 songs.  The one I remember most was "She Never Spoke Spanish To Me."  It was gorgeous.
After that came a debut of "Split & Slide III" which must have lasted 20 minutes!
He closed the night with another Townes song "To Live's To Fly."  Couldn't get more perfect than that.
As far as concerts go, this was a night of nights and that is what I will try to remember.
There was a fiasco to start and it really put a dark cloud on the entire evening.  It didn't need to be that way and it's very sad the final night had to break down like it did.
As I mentioned at the start, lining up started at 5pm.  The Cactus has never had reserved seating and it's always been first in line, first in the door.  On the final night, management changed the rules but didn't even bother to come out and tell us.  It wasn't until they opened the door at about 8:10 and yelled out for all pass holders to form their own line and they'd be going in first.  Not to mention, they had reserved seating already for special guests which took up probably the first 4 rows.  So now, you're letting the 70 pass holders in on top of the already very limited seating.  That left a whole bunch of people who were standing in line for 3+ hours without a seat and some without getting in, period.
It's one thing to change the rules but to do it like they did, without notice, at the last minute, was such a complete lack of respect for their customers.  Had they, at a minimum, come out at 5PM, 5:30, 6:00, whatever and at least announced what they were doing and started forming the pass line, people could have known where they stood, chances of getting in, a seat, etc...To top it off, once they let the pass holders in, they still wouldn't let the rest of us in.  Just in case more pass holders showed up at the last minute, I guess.  Even though up to the final night, pass holders knew they had to be there in line, early, with the rest of us.  That was pretty much the breaking point.  People were pissed and I mean pissed.  Management made no attempt to explain things.  They just did what they did.  Like we didn't matter.  It won't be forgotten.  Older folks who can't stand (hence the 3 hours in line to guarantee a seat or so they thought) ended up walking out and that wasn't right.  Long time patrons deserve a better fate than what they received from the Cactus management on its final night.  Lastly, he was arrogant and smug about it.  I saw an older couple asking for help to find seats and were ignored and basically shown the door.  Me, I don't mind standing but the other 3 people I was with, left.  I went in and headed for the bar to belly up.  Someone I know came up and said they had an open seat so I did get a chair.
I couldn't help but think of the many of us who tried to save this management team's fate.  Money, meetings, rallys, letters to the UT powers.  And in the end, this was our thanks.  So wrong.  So unnecessary.
It does make the change coming quite a bit more palatable.  The new regime can't possibly be any more rude and disrespectful to their long time customers.

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