How Milwaukee’s Cactus Club established itself as a destination venue

How Milwaukee’s Cactus Club established itself as a destination venue

640 429

Each Thursday morning on Radio Milwaukee we — the Journal Sentinel’s Piet Levy and 88Nine’s Jordan Lee — talk about the music coming into and the music coming out of Milwaukee on Tap’d In

Piet and I both spend some of this last weekend watching the Forward Music Festival, which helped raise thousands of dollars for three local venues, including Cactus Club. On this week’s episode, we discuss the significance of that iconic Milwaukee venue, which over the years has hosted storied shows from bands like White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, Bright Eyes and Spoon — as well as countless local shows.

“I would argue that no venue has had more local bands on its stage than Cactus Club,” Piet says.

Cactus Club |

We revisit an archived conversation of Piet and I discussing some of the biggest shows that Cactus Club has hosted over the years. He also shares the building’s origins as an anarchist hangout in the 1910s, explains the story behind the venue’s iconic name, and describes how something as simple as a jukebox helped the venue become a magnet for national talent.

Stream it below.

Support from our community makes stories like the one you just read possible. Make a gift to support the team behind the programming you use and enjoy!

Like what you hear? Subscribe!

Get all of 88Nine’s podcasts delivered right to you weekly at We’ve got podcasts about music, food and film, with fresh episodes dropping every week! And don’t forget to check out our new podcast “By Every Measure,” a six-part exploration of systemic racism in Milwaukee.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee