Edwin Cabaniss
Owner | Longhorn Ballroom / Kessler Presents

Edwin Cabaniss has kept the rich music history of Texas alive at the Longhorn Ballroom, while introducing newer artists to the Dallas market as they work their way up the career ladder to play bigger venues.

Cabaniss, an independent promoter with Kessler Presents, invested about $20 million in upgrades to resurrect the Longhorn, the facility he owns and operates, which sits on the edge of downtown Dallas.

The 70-year-old building’s roots lie in the Texas swing bands that came through town to play extended residencies. In its heyday, the Longhorn played host to virtually every style of music before it fell into disrepair and desolate with fewer shows over the past two decades.

Since the Longhorn reopened in March of this year, it’s played host to about 24 events, including 15 ticketed concerts. Cabaniss is taking it slow, as the 2,100-capacity venue went through more renovations over the summer.

For the shows that have taken place over the past six months, feedback has been tremendous from both the artists and fans attending concerts, Cabaniss said.

“It’s steeped in history and (performers) know a little bit about it,” Cabaniss said. “Colter Wall specifically picked out our room and he can play wherever he wants. It’s not like anything else in the marketplace. It’s authentic and real, and they feel it.”

Looking ahead for the rest of the calendar year, the Longhorn has 40-plus events on the books, including private rentals, which helps a lot in producing consistent revenue, Cabaniss said.

The Longhorn Ballroom is the first phase of a three-phase development that includes renovating an old two-story hotel on the property into a mixed-use structure. Cabannis has signed five tenants to lease space in the 20,000-square-foot building with four more spots to fill. The third phase involves a new amphitheater called The Backyard with flexible capacity from 3,000 to 6,000. The design has been approved and the project is going through the permitting process with the city of Dallas.

Construction should start no later than next spring with the possibility of booking concerts by the fall of 2024.

“The live music industry continues to grow exponentially and there’s always going to be a need for the indies that have their ear to the ground, recognizing the great new talent coming up,” he said. “Now, we have the venues to use that we can walk them up the line a little bit and be able to work with them longer in their process of growth.” — Don Muret

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