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Author Topic: The Blues Hits Austin
Old Timer
Posts: 17
Post The Blues Hits Austin
on: October 1, 2013, 01:20


When Clifford Antone opened his namesake club in 1975 at 141 E. 6th Street, he was a young man who just wanted to have the best damn blues players in the house, where he could get on stage with them and strum with them. And that he did. That very first summer night the great Clifton Chenier graced the stage. Chenier would become a regular at Antone's and eventually become a fixture on the blues circuit worldwide.

Clifton Chenier (1925-1987), a Creole French-speaking native of Opelousas, Louisiana, was an eminent performer and recording artist of Zydeco, which arose from Cajun and Creole music, with R&B, jazz, and blues influences. Antone helped the then 50-year-old Chenier gain an influence in the blues world. In 1983, Chenier won a Grammy Award, and the following year he was honored with a National Heritage Fellow and finally inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Chenier was known as the King of Zydeco and was billed as the King of the South.

Antone arrived in Austin from his hometown of Port Arthur, Texas in 1968 to attend U.T. Austin. Busted for marijuana, he decided to drop out of U.T. and get into business, following in the footsteps of his successful uncle Jalal Antone, the founder of the Houston, TX based Antone's Import Co., known for its po-boy sandwiches.

He combined his business knowledge, love for smoking a little weed and a passion for blues into the beginnings of what was to be come a world renowned music business. At the tender age of 25, Antone opened not only the first music venue on Austin's Sixth Street, but one of the first blues clubs owned by a non-black. He also helped usher in the reputation of Austin as the Live Music Capital of the World.

Albert Collins, Albert King, B.B. King, Barbara Lynn, Big Walter Horton, Buddy Guy, Buster Benton, Carey Bell, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Clifton Chenier, Clifton James, Delbert McClinton, Eddie Taylor, Fats Domino, Jimmy Dawkins, Jimmy Reed, Jimmy Vaughn & The Fabulous Thunderbirds, John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Lafayette Leake, Little Milton, Louis Myers, Mighty Joe Young, Muddy Waters, Paul Ray & The Cobras, Percey Mayfield, Pinetop Perkins, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Sunnyland Slim, Willie Dixon, as well as many other great acts perform at Antone’s over its more than 30-year history. Antone was also a mentor to numerous musicians over the years. Antone helped launch the careers of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Los Lonely Boys, Ian Moore, and Bob Schneider, among others.

But Antone's was not just about the blues. The stage has been graced by everyone from Bono & The Edge of U2, to Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, to Eric Clapton, to Dwight Yoakam to Bruce Willis and Elvis Costello.

The legendary venue has won countless awards, including numerous Austin Music Awards, as well as being named Nightclub of the Year by USA Today and the W.C. Handy Awards.

Antone made sure that the club was always open to all ages, serving cokes to the younger generation, but giving them an opportunity to hear live music.

In 1987, Antone founded a recording label, Antone's Records and Tapes. He also opened Antone's Record Shop, a record store specializing in blues and roots music.

In the early 1980s, Antone served time in federal prison for drug charges and again in 2000. After, which he lectured on social change and the history of the blues at The University of Texas, Austin Community College, and Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.

Clifford Antone passed away on May 23, 2006. On hearing of Antone's death, Austin Mayor Will Wynn was quoted as saying, "One of the primary reasons Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World is because of Clifford Antone."

The club moved to 5th and Lavaca Street for many years and is now located at 2015 East Riverside in the same block as the old Back Room and close to the current Emo's.

Antones Club is still alive and well after 38 years of serving up the finest music in Austin, while the big guy himself in his suit and omnipresent baseball cap lives on in the hearts of those who shared his love of the blues.

Visit their new website at

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