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KUT Names New Manager For Cactus Cafe

New Cactus Cafe manager Matt MunozThe Cactus Cafe will have a new manager beginning Monday morning. Matthew Munoz, a recording industry veteran, will replace longtime manager Griff Luneberg, who has run the Cactus Cafe for nearly 30 years.

Munoz was previously director of sales and marketing at Justice Records in Austin, a label manager at Universal Music Group’s Fontana Distribution in Los Angeles, and worked in marketing and promotion roles at Warner Bros. & Reprise Records in Los Angeles and with Arista Records in Austin.

Now he’s saddled with trying to revive a Cactus Cafe known for its intimate setting and fantastic acoustics but that has been trading on its reputation for years*.

“Throughout the interview process, Matt distinguished himself as someone who could carry on and enhance the artistic tradition of the Cactus with an eye toward financial sustainability,” said Hawk Mendenhall, KUT associate general manager and program director. “His experience collaborating with booking agents, artist managers and their artists, and record label executives, combined with his experience managing budgets and negotiating music clearance and performance contracts, makes him the ideal fit.”

This has been a rocky year for the Cactus Cafe. In February, the Texas Union announced it was closing the Cactus and ending informal classes.

That news didn’t sit well with alumni and the Cafe’s many devout patrons. An enormous effort to save the Cactus resulted in the University revisiting the decision to close it. The University decided instead to bring it under the management of KUT, UT’s publicly supported radio station.

The change was meant to make the Cafe operations financially sustainable. KUT assumed venue management responsibilities Aug. 16. Daytime operations and the bar remain under the direction of the Texas Union.

Munoz didn’t attend UT — he earned a degree in music business at West Texas A&M — but he is married to a Longhorn, so that makes him part of the family.

*Update: A reader has noted that the description of the Cactus Cafe as having been “trading on its reputation for years” is clumsy if not inaccurate. As recently at 2009-10 it was named best Acoustic Venue in Austin by the Austin Chronicle. Perhaps a better formulation would have been to stress that its popularity with students does not quite rival its former glory, and that many of the Cactus’s most fervent supporters attended UT years ago.

 
 
 

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