imgres-5An easy flowing biography with intimate details chronicling his life. Kent played an immeasurable role in shaping Texas music and helped launch the careers of some of the biggest stars in music history – Texas Monthly

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Cheatham Street Warehouse book, due out March 2, 

marks one-year anniversary 

of iconic musical mentor, songwriter and venue owner’s death 


AUSTIN, Texas — The highly anticipated book about an influential music man and his venue, Kent Finlay, Dreamer: The Musical Legacy Behind Cheatham Street Warehouse, hits shelves March 2, 2016 through Texas A&M University Press. “To have been able to listen to Dad unravel his yarns and capture his wisdom, wit and words like fireflies in a jar has been one of the greatest joys of my life,” says Jenni Finlay, who wrote the book with Brian T. Atkinson (author of I’ll Be Here in the Morning: The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt). “Kent Finlay, Dreamer will help keep him alive and with us forever.”  

Finlay, who passed away last year on Texas Independence Day at the age of 77, gained fame by developing aspiring artists for more than four decades. You know the names: George Strait. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Todd Snider. James McMurtry. Eric Johnson. Randy Rogers. The list goes on forever. Each songwriter is an unmatched talent with one common thread: Finlay launched their careers from the stage at his legendary Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas. Finlay simply was the most respected lyrical editor and talent scouter in the Lone Star State and a singular songwriter himself.

Kent Finlay, Dreamer: The Musical Legacy Behind Cheatham Street Warehouse tells his story through Jenni’s intimate interviews with her father about an entire life dedicated to music, along with Atkinson’s detailed conversations with songwriters about his stunning influence. “[Kent’s] part of Texas music history is huge,” says country superstar George Strait in the book’s foreword. “He and his great little honky tonk gave me and a whole host of others a place to learn our craft and to learn how to be, sing and play music on stage. I’ll never forget those days. Thank you, my friend. You are The Man.”

“Songwriter. Mentor. Curator. Teacher. Historian,” longtime acolyte Owen Temple says in the book. “Kent Finlay has helped create the best of what Texas music has been and is.” “Kent’s impact on Texas music — all music, really — is undeniable,” Atkinson says. “He nurtured a community purely devoted to the art and craft of songwriting and the results speak for themselves. Like Ray Wylie Hubbard says in the book, Kent was a guru, a Yoda. He could spot a sincere songwriter a rifle shot away.”

Indeed, Finlay made no bones. His 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 for more than forty years, developed talent with stunning frequency.

Clearest evidence: The Class of 1987. “That was the most exciting year,” said Finlay, who opened the legendary San Marcos, Texas-based venue in October 1974. “The regulars at songwriters night were me and a bunch of nobodies: Todd Snider, James McMurtry, Terri Hendrix, Bruce Robison, Hal Ketchum, John Arthur Martinez and sometimes Tish Hinojosa. Those were the basic regulars and nobody had every heard of them.” However, those young writers understood the gig’s value. “Cheatham Street would let me play my songs,” McMurtry says today. “That took balls back then.”

Additionally, Eight 30 Records will release the accompanying Dreamer: A Tribute to Kent Finlay on March 2. The album features more than a dozen Finlay disciples — notably, deep-browed songwriters McMurtry, Walt Wilkins, Slaid Cleaves and Adam Carroll — offering their versions of his original songs. The record also includes the first-ever duet between college friends and longtime Kent Finlay admirers Randy Rogers and Sunny Sweeney. Full track list:

Dreamer: A Tribute to Kent Finlay

 “I’ll Sing You a Story” • Terri Hendrix

“Bright Lights of Brady” • Walt Wilkins

“Comfort’s Just a Rifle Shot Away” • James McMurtry

“Yesterday’s Oatmeal” • Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay

“Still Think About You” • William Clark Green

“Be Nice to ’Em Son” • Adam Carroll

“Between You and Me” • Randy Rogers and Sunny Sweeney

“The Plight of the Bumblebee” • Steve Poltz

“I’ve Written Some Life” • HalleyAnna

“Mines of Terlingua” • Owen Temple

“Taken Better Care of Myself” • Jon Dee Graham

“Lost” • Slaid Cleaves

“The Songwriter” • Matt Harlan

“Hill Country” • Jamie Wilson with the Hill Country Choir

Read a chapter excerpt, George Strait speaking about Kent Finlay, in Texas Monthly:


For more information about Kent Finlay, Dreamer: The Musical Legacy Behind Cheatham Street Warehouse, please contact Conqueroo:

Cary Baker • (323) 656-1600 • cary@conqueroo.com

For more about TAMU Press, contact Christine Brown: (979) 458-3982 • christinebrown@tamu.edu