This story has been updated (see bottom).
Sometimes things work out just about perfect. That’s not always the case when it comes to music matters, including the transactions that see the ownership of legendary venues changing hands in hopes this history of the establishment will be respected by the new regime. Have you stepped foot into Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway in Nashville recently? I didn’t know Def Leppard played such an integral part of that venue’s legacy.
But you can put any concerns away that the historic Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, TX will either be razed or turned into a Karaoke Bar anytime soon. Randy Rogers of The Randy Rogers Band has purchased the property from the heirs of the founder and owner of the building, Kent Finlay, who passed away in 2015.
We’ve all heard of the “Class of ’89” in country music. That was the year that Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, and others came to power. Well have you ever heard of the “Class of ’87”? That was the year Todd Snider, James McMurtry, Bruce Robison, Hal Ketchum, and Terri Hendrix all played regularly at the old wood and tin music venue in San Marcos.
Kent Finlay’s “Class of ’87” is just one part of the legacy of the Cheatham Street Warehouse. George Strait, Randy Rogers, and Stevie Ray Vaughan all used the support of the venue that was originally opened in 1974 to help springboard their careers, and to a man they would tell you how important Kent Finlay and the Cheatham Street Warehouse were to their careers.
“Knowing that Cheatham Street’s legacy will stay in tact under the love and care of Randy Rogers fills all of our hearts,” eldest daughter Jenni Finlay says. “Randy came up performing at Dad’s beloved Songwriters Night and it’s only fitting that he takes the helm. We’re so excited about the next chapter for Cheatham Street.”
Jenni Finlay co-authored a book about her late father and the Cheatham Street Warehouse Kent Finlay, Dreamer: The Musical Legacy Behind Cheatham Street Warehouse with Brian T. Atkinson released earlier this year accompanied by a tribute record.
“I plan on honoring Kent in every way with my plans and vision for Cheatham,” Randy Rogers says. “This means so much to me personally.”
The Cheatham Street Warehouse is located not too far from Texas State University (previously Southwest Texas State) where George Strait studied agriculture. “Kent and his great little honky tonk with indoor toilets gave me and a whole host of others a place to learn our craft and to learn how to be, sing and play music onstage,” Strait says. “[I thank] Kent for believing in the up-and-coming Ace in the Hole Band with a totally unknown singer who had big dreams and for helping make those dreams a reality. I’ll never forget those days.”
And now nor will the rest of us as the history of one of the most important venues in Texas will not only be preserved, but allowed to continue forward into the future thanks to the patronage of Randy Rogers.
UPDATE: Some additional information has been released about Randy’s plans with the iconic venue. Randy is planning to keep the character of the Cheatham Street mostly in tact, but there are plans to add a permanent patio to the venue, and to add food service. Rogers has also partnered with KRR Entertainment, an Austin based event production company that co-founded Lone Star Jam and produces events at the Nutty Brown Amphitheatre, to ensure the venue continues to provide a top notch environment for both artists and fans.