If the leaves on the trees are not turning brown and temperatures are still regularly topping out above 90, then it must be getting pretty close to Halloween. We think. But one way you can be sure we're getting close to both All Hallows Eve and its Latino companion, Dia de Los Muertos, is that another "Day of the Dead Rock Stars" exhibit opens this weekend to help celebrate Cactus Music's 39th anniversary, in the store's Record Ranch annex.
We can imagine the kind of fun stuff Cactus has in store for its big 40th anniversary next year, but for now DODRS2014 (sounds Pentagon-esque, huh?) mastermind Carlos Hernandez has invited his fellow artists including Katy Seals, Dennis McNett, and Christopher Wallace, plus a performance by the Amazing Hancock Brothers (whose work is also featured in the show) that Cactus GM Quinn Bishop describes as "musical/theater/improvisational...kooky and cool." Adding to the fun, Houston bluesman Steve Krase plays an in-store in honor of his new CD, Buckle Up, at 3 p.m. Saturday if anyone feels like showing up early.
We asked the Cactus staff a few simple questions about their jobs, and they were kind enough to indulge us. Conveniently their words also make a fine canvas for us to hang some of the art you can see at the new show.
* What's the coolest thing that's ever happened to you as a result of working at Cactus?
Cristina Acuna: I've gotten to meet several of my favorite musicians through "store" hookups! Most recently we flew to Boston to see Damon Albarn and were able to meet and hang with him after the show. Along the way I've met Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Afghan Whigs, Badly Drawn Boy [and] Coldplay, to name a few off the top of my head.
Joey Mains: The coolest thing that's happened to me as a result of working here is, without a doubt, the surreal feeling of seeing a vinyl come in that you've been looking for all your life. Someone brings in a box of records they want to sell, and you see something in that box that you want, and you realize all of the history behind it.
In my case, it was an original pressing of Nirvana's "In Utero," and Foo Fighters' self-titled album. As a huge fan of both bands, I always swore to myself that if I saw originals of those albums, I would buy them at any cost... And fortunately, since I am working there, I got the first look at them, and got to take them before anyone else saw them.
Chris Wise: I've met some cool people and not the be overly sentimental, but the coolest thing is the people I get to work with. You could say that the store helped get me a record deal, and that I choked on my words when Britt Daniel came into the store but...you know.
* What do people you meet say when you tell them you work at Cactus?
Cristina Acuna: Probably the most common thing people say is, "Wow, that's so cool! Working there must be like that movie Empire Records, right?"
Joey Mains: People always kind of raise a brow and seem happy for me when they find out that I am working in a place full of music, which I love more than anything. I think it makes them realize, "hey, if he can do what he wants and be happy, I can too!"
Chris Wise: People still, to this day, are unaware that we reopened. Reaction varies.
* Why do you think Cactus is the coolest record store in TX?
Cristina Acuna: Cactus is the coolest record store in TX because we've gone past being a "store" to being a place you can hang out/meet up at. It's touching to see how many regulars have met here at in-stores and have cultivated a friendship outside of this store.
The same goes for the staff, both new and old. My closest friendships have been made and maintained because we either worked here or we met here. To say this place is like home would be an understatement.
Joey Mains: I think that Cactus is the coolest because of the people that work there. In every record store I've been to in Texas, the employees look like they all have nothing in common, or like they're not necessarily friends. Everyone at Cactus is friends with each other, and I think that I am incredibly lucky to be in a place like that.
Also, our boss, Quinn, is incredibly knowledgeable with music, and that has proven to have helped me immensely.
Chris Wise: Coolest record store in TX? I dunno man, I don't think that's the right dialogue when record stores are considered somewhat of a rarity (yet we have six in Houston). I love my store, I've been there for five years. And I love coexisting with other great record stores.
Cactus is great to me for the same reasons as others, I care about the people. That's the record store people tend to gravitate to, and in that case I think we're pretty great.
Story continues on the next page.
Quinn Bishop, the above folks on the previous page's GM, also chimed in with his thoughts.
We're very proud to be one of Houston's unique business for almost four decades, and we take pride in the fact that we are still a destination for people who love music to congregate.
Hear, hear. Now here's Bishop's official invite:
We invite you to our 39th anniversary party and Day of the Dead - Rock Stars celebration. I personally feel that are presenting the finest group show ever in the Record Ranch. This year's exhibit honoring musicians who have passed on includes the iconic and the obscure created by artists from Houston and around the country.
You'll have an opportunity to have a unique wood block printed T-shirt featuring the DODRS show image or a Halloween-themed Record Ranch Cowboy fella. Our friends at Saint Arnold are graciously providing the libations for the evening.
We know that it is a busy weekend and there are many great events around town on Saturday night. We hope that you will take the time to stop in, enjoy a Saint Arnold and wish your friendly neighborhood record store Happy Birthday.
It is going to be a great night. If you can't join us, the exhibit will be on display through January 2015.
The opening reception for "Day of the Dead Rock Stars 2014," featuring a performance by the Amazing Hancock Brothers, begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at Cactus Music, 2110 Portsmouth. No cover; the Hancocks perform at 7 p.m.
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