The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

Live Music in Waco

Texas Music Cafe Hosts Matt Andersen

1 month ago

By Avery Ballmann

Overtaking the previous KWTX Radio Station in Downtown Waco, Texas Music Cafe brings a different kind of media to the historic building. When they’re not recording and hosting radio shows, they are creating music history in real-time by recording live albums for artists all over the world.

Texas Music Cafe is Waco’s own Austin City Limits; not the festival but the longest running music series on television for 43 years — Texas Music Cafe is not too far behind at 27 years. Executive Producer Chris Ermoian created this business to give songwriters a platform to perform and for an audience to be a part of an exclusive event and has helped orchestrate approximately 10,000 live albums.

“It’s a different deal to capture it live and it’s a lot more work on our end to do it. Most artists will spend a year making a record in the studio, we do it in one night,” Ermoian said. “So, if you can imagine all the work that goes into making a record in one year, it takes us about a month from start to finish.”

Canadian singer/songwriter Matt Andersen, who performed at Texas Music Cafe on March 5, knows a thing or two about creating albums — he’s made 14. With six cameras stationed around the venue, red lights blinking and a silent audience, it can be intimidating. However, that didn’t prevent Andersen from putting on an amazing show.

The stage is set with only a chair, acoustic guitar and a microphone — no flashing lights or fog machine, just a man and his music. Andersen’s gray coiled hair falls off his shoulders as he belts out the first soul-wrenching, beautiful note of the night and for an hour-and-a-half, he continues to grab his audience’s attention with his witty insights and gorgeous voice.

“You’ll find that the people in the audience here want to hear music uninterrupted,” Ermoian said. “And what happens is that the songwriter who writes that song forms a connection between them and the audience member. It’s like they’re singing to you.”

The 25-person audience bantered and cheered for Andersen and his opener Old Man Luedecke. The singer even made a connection with a Canadian family on the front row who were visiting Waco. Throughout his set, you can tell that Andersen is not averse to sparking a conversation and especially not to working with other artists.

“I love getting to tour with other people and get to play with other people,” Andersen said. “That’s something that I miss when I do the solo shows is not having any musicians to interact with. When it comes to writing, it helps keep things fresh for me.”

At the end of Andersen’s set, he invited Luedecke back onto the stage and they played “Easy Money,” a song Luedecke created when on a writing retreat with Andersen.

Andersen has been writing music since 2007. He crafts songs from stories of his past lovers, strangers in a bar and his family such as “Shoes,” derived from the saying his mother told him once “sometimes we need to dance with the shoes we have on.”

The Texas Music Cafe has featured and orchestrated live albums for Pat Green, Willie Nelson, Suede, Ruthie Foster and Wade Bowen. Ermoian said he receives about 10 to 15 musicians submitting music to him every day and select videos on Texas Music Cafe’s YouTube channel have hundreds of thousands of views.

“I want to find somebody that I think is still going to be doing this 25 years from now, that’s on a long-term trajectory,” Ermoian said. “I look for raw talent. We are and have always been exporting Waco to the rest of the world.”

It’s seldom to say a person was present during a live recording, but thanks to Texas Music Cafe Wacoans can be a part of an artist’s discography every month. American Country singer/songwriter Matt Mason is taking the stage next on April 5, and you can purchase tickets at their website. Matt Andersen is continuing his tour around the world until late October.

“We do it because we believe in what we’re doing,” Ermoian said. “I think it’s the coolest art project in town.”


Photos courtesy of Avery Ballmann