How Texas Music Cafe Was Born
In 1997, three brothers sidelined their own aspirations of stardom and turned their focus to producing a television program that might afford other musicians a chance in the spotlight. Going all-in, they built a platform to showcase local and regional undiscovered talent, and took on faith that what they envisioned, if meant to be, would find a way.
What began as a passion project quickly transformed into a life-long commitment to supporting “the little guy” in “the music bizz”. This is how The Texas Music Cafe® was born.
Rewarded for their vision when PBS picked up the show for distribution to 81 regional markets. The initial PBS broadcast ran from 1997 to 2002 and at its height appeared weekly in 94 million households, before a new distribution deal was put together with Austin Music Network, MeTVAustin, and other outlets.
Around the same time, Texas Music Cafe® joined The Armed Forces Radio and Television Services(AFRTS) which broadcast The All-You-Can-Eat Texas Music Cafe® to Service Members and families in 167 foreign countries.
Between their move from PBS in 2002, back to PBS in 2015, a worldwide distribution deal with VH1 would die on the vine amid industry shake ups and corporate buyouts.
Starting in 2018, Texas Music Cafe® brought all their distribution back in-house and fully embraced the new online platforms that would afford them more control and creative flexibility.
Throughout the 2020 pandemic, TMC doubled-down on their commitment and partnered with Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau, Creative Waco, Lindsay Liepman, Rogue Media, and Keep Waco Loud, pooling resources and pushing for relief to Artists whose livelihood was side-lined due to restrictions on public gatherings. For many artists this provided the needed community support to stay the course in their musical endeavors. Combining newly created footage of local artists alongside archive footage of local legends Billy Joe Shaver, Ruthie Foster, and Willie Nelson, Texas Music Cafe® released 11 episodes on ABC TV across 14 Texas counties and hired over 50 local artists in the process.
In 2021, TMC launched a songwriter showcase hosted by local celebrities. The program gained YouTube views for local artists, gave $500 to the contest winner, and donated a $1000 TMC advertising sponsorship to the local nonprofit Music Association of Central Texas (MACT).
2022 saw a new songwriter contest titled Jonna Mae’s Kitchen, (hosted by singer-songwriter, MACT member, Jonna Mae) featuring 15 regional artists. The contest winner Alex Coba (Houston) wowed the crowd and pocketed $1000 cash.
2022 culminated in Texas Music Cafe® returning to a physical location in Downtown Waco. Around the corner from the Magnolia Hotel on Washington Avenue, TMC built a new Television studio open to the public for attending live tapings, and providing a venue throughout the week, hosting local, regional, and national performers to appear outside the barrooms and play to a live studio audience where the focus is on the quality of the production and accessibility of the fans.
With Waco receiving new state funding for live music concerts and Texas Music Cafe hosting their own special events, 2023 holds great promise for live music in Central Texas to meet markets like Austin and Dallas on their own terms.
January 2023 finds Texas Music Cafe® hosting both Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton for performances, and participating in a city-wide creators conference presented by Rogue Media. New Distribution Channels will have streaming available on 30 different platforms including Spotify and Apple Music. A second season of Jonna Mae’s Kitchen is scheduled to appear, and unseen footage from Texas Legends Willie Nelson, Willis Alan Ramsey and Billy Joe Shaver are set to hit the airwaves.