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CLIFFORD ANTONE

CLIFFORD ANTONEClifford Antone made a massive contribution to contemporary Blues, with his world-famous club in Austin, his record label of the same name, and his huge enthusiasm for Texas roadhouse Blues. When he was a kid, Clifford listened to a lot of Chicago Blues but he loved living in Texas, so the idea of bringing the best performers to his home State was born, and a few years later a fantastic venue was the result. Many legendary figures played and recorded there, and local kids like Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray and some fabulous Texas Divas honed their skills there too.

 

Clifford Jamal Antone was born in 1949, to Lebanese-American parents in Port Arthur, Texas. Then in 1968, Clifford went to study at the University of Texas in Austin, but he dropped out after a drugs bust. His interest in the Blues motivated him to start his own club to bring more live music to the vibrant University town, so he leased an old furniture warehouse on 6th and Brazos, and in July 1975, Clifton Chenier headlined the opening night. Pretty soon Antone’s had a reputation as a club with a great atmosphere, with a house-band featuring Jimmie Vaughan and Kim Wilson in The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and that reputation stayed on through several relocations. All the great Blues players graced the stage at Antone’s, including Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, BB King, Buddy Guy and dozens more. Perhaps Antone’s greatest contribution to the Blues was his championing of local acts like The Thunderbirds, Lou Ann Barton and, of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Another great local singer, Angela Strehli, worked at the club from the outset, helping Clifford promote live Blues almost every night of the year.

Local girl Carolyn Wonderland carries on Antone’s tradition;

Antone Discography
Only available on MP3 now, this great collection of live cuts captures the atmosphere at this famous venue.

ANTONE’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY


Clifford expanded his business in 1987, opening a retail record store and then launching his own record label. Angela’s ‘Soul Shake’ was one of their first releases, and she joined Lou Ann and Marcia Ball on ‘Dreams Come True’ a couple of years later. James Cotton, Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy, Memphis Slim, Sue Foley and Lazy Lester all cut great albums for Antone’s label and many more artists used the venue to record atmospheric  live sets. Clifford ran into trouble with The Law again in 2000 over some weed, serving jail-time, but he was obviously a man of broad character as he also raised a lot of money for charity and, after Hurricane Katrina, he was a major contributor to ‘Neighbours in Need’. He also ran a series of lectures in Blues History and Social Change at the University of Texas, Texas State, and Austin Community College, some of which are available on-line. Sadly, Clifford passed away in 2006, at the relatively young age of 56, but his name and his work carry on, as the club he founded is still going strong, and a recent take-over promises a rejuvenation of Antone’s.