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What Austin music venues closed, opened or changed in 2021?

While dire predictions of widespread permanent venue closures during the pandemic didn’t materialize, a few shifts in the club landscape occurred.

The biggest loss was Cactus Cafe, a bar in the Texas Union building on the University of Texas campus. It had been a beloved listening room since the 1980s.

The Cactus closed briefly a decade ago before a deal was struck that allowed public radio station KUT to operate the space. That agreement expired while the Cactus was closed during the pandemic, and so far, no subsequent plan has materialized to reopen the room as a music venue.

Another historic UT campus space, Studio 6A, hosted its final concert in July when country music icon Garth Brooks played a pricey solo show to help finance public TV station Austin PBS’s move from its longtime UT location to new facilities at Austin Community College’s Highland campus. Studio 6A was home to the “Austin City Limits” TV show from 1974 to 2010, before the program moved downtown its current ACL Live base.

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In October, a dispute at Sixth Street venue the Parish over accumulated rent during the pandemic and other issues led to a lawsuit between owner Heard Presents and its landlord, which locked access to the building. Most shows were moved to Empire, a Red River Cultural District venue also owned by Heard, but the Parish’s future remains unsettled.

East Austin bar and music venue Stay Gold has become the Long Play Lounge.

Two more live music venues went through ownership changes. One-2-One Bar’s owners put the South Lamar business up for sale during the pandemic; a buyer eventually emerged and reopened the club. And Stay Gold on East Cesar Chavez Street became Long Play East when owners of the north Austin bar Long Play took over the space.

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Also in East Austin, longtime music community advocate Harold McMillan, who’s operated the outdoor venue Kenny Dorham’s Backyard for 14 years, worked with the city on plans to establish the Kenny Dorham Center, a music-centric arts hub.

And on the western outskirts of the Austin area, former hedge fund investor Steve Kuhn opened the new Dripping Springs venue Dreamland, a multi-purpose outdoor facility that regularly presents live music alongside an extensive mini-golf course and pickleball courts.

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