Cheatham Street Warehouse has a new owner: Randy Rogers. The country music star recently purchased the legendary club from iconic venue owner Kent Finlay’s children Jenni, Sterling and HalleyAnna. Kent Finlay, who died on Texas Independence Day 2015, founded Cheatham Street Warehouse – the iconic Texas launching pad responsible for skyrocketing George Strait, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Randy Rogers, Todd Snider and hundreds more singers and songwriters – more than forty years ago. Additionally, Finlay’s children all grew their musical wings at the venue.
“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.” “I plan on honoring Kent in every way with my plans and vision for Cheatham,” Rogers said to the family. “This means so much to me personally.”
Finlay’s beloved Cheatham Street Warehouse has always existed for creation. Songs begin on Cheatham’s stage. They grow. Breathe. Live. Earn more miles. Finally, they mature into shape. Finlay’s songwriters night, an open mike for original songs he hosted for nearly every Wednesday night at the venue for more than four decades, nurtured singular songwriters and storytellers with stunning frequency during his lifetime. For instance, the celebrated “Class of ’87” included Americana all-stars Todd Snider, James McMurtry, Terri Hendrix, Bruce Robison and Hal Ketchum learning their craft.
“Kent and his great little honkytonk 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.”
Literally bucketsful more – including celebrated guitarists Eric Johnston and Monte Montgomery, deep-browed songwriters Owen Temple and Walt Wilkins, fiery live acts Joe King Carrasco and Charlie and Will Sexton – have emerged from his humble honky tonk stage. Additionally, legendary singer-songwriters such as Marcia Ball, Guy Clark, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, Ernest Tubb, Townes Van Zandt and dozens upon dozens more regularly stepped on the Cheatham stage throughout the 1970s Cosmic Cowboy heyday.
“Randy Rogers’ career began on the Cheatham Street Warehouse stage,” says Gregg Andrews, Cheatham Street Music Foundations board of directors president. “His devotion and loyalty to Kent as a songwriting mentor has never waivered and he’s fully committed to perserving Kent’s outstanding legacy. Through the years, Kent and his family transformed the creaky old warehouse along the railroad tracks into a songwriters’ oasis of world renown and integrity that has left an incredible mark on Texas music.”