Texas Music Café

By: Jennifer Paul

Type: General Entry

Published: April 28, 2015

Updated: October 20, 2016

Texas Music Café is a variety music television and radio program airing across the United States and Canada on PBS and other outlets. Waco-based film producer Chris Ermoian, along with his brothers Jeff and T. J., started Texas Music Café in 1997. By 2010 the show was distributed free of charge to public broadcasting stations across North America. It features live musical performances from a broad range of artists, including Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Terri Hendrix, Lloyd Maines, Billy Joe Shaver, Marcia Ball, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Ruthie Foster, and many others. The stated mission of the Texas Music Café is to “boldly go where commercial radio and television fear to tread, seeking out and exploring new music of all styles, archiving music for future generations, and expanding the musical horizons of viewers.”

The first six seasons of Texas Music Café were filmed in a 10,000-square-foot recording studio in Waco, Texas. Subsequent episodes have been filmed at Texas State University and Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, the MusicFest in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Hog Creek Ice House in Waco, and elsewhere.

In 2007 Texas Music Café changed its format when it partnered with the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University and Austin-based Texas Music magazine. In addition to featuring live musical performances, Texas Music Café worked with the Center for Texas Music History to add historical photos and film footage, interviews, and narration in order to strengthen the educational component of the series. This broadened the scope of Texas Music Café from being primarily entertainment-based to also providing historical information related to Texas music. In recent years, Texas Music Café has expanded from a thirty-minute to a sixty-minute format. It is now filmed in high definition and Dolby Surround and is broadcast globally on the Internet.

In 2009 the Texas Music Café episode titled “Cheatham Street Warehouse: Class of ‘87” won a bronze Telly Award for outstanding video and film production. The show highlighted Kent Finlay’s Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas, and the now-prominent artists who appeared at the venue early in their careers through a live performance filmed onsite. Performers included James McMurtry, Bruce Robison, Lloyd Maines, Todd Snider, Terri Hendrix, John Arthur Martinez, Hal Ketchum, Big John Mills, and Kent Finlay. Other episodes include performances by Too Smooth, Billy Joe Shaver, Star de Azlan, Joe Ely and Joel Guzman, Barbara Lynn, the Randy Rogers Band, Reckless Kelly, and the Band of Heathens.

Texas Music Café has been featured in a variety of publications, such as Texas Bound for Music, where it was compared to the award-wining PBS series Austin City Limits in terms of being an important showcase for Texas music talent. The program had more than 10,000 hours of footage by early 2014, and in January 2015 provided free national distribution to 300 public television stations.

Gary Hartman, History of Texas Music (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008).Joe Nick Patoski, “Angels and Outlaws,” Texas Bound for Music (April 2010). Texas Music Café (http://www.texasmusiccafe.com), accessed August 27, 2015.

  • Music
  • Business, Promotion, Broadcasting, and Technology

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Jennifer Paul, “Texas Music Café,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-music-cafe.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 28, 2015
October 20, 2016

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