Clifford 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.
Local girl Carolyn Wonderland carries on Antone’s tradition;
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.