Various Antone's: Home Of The Blues

Antone’s Nightclub in Austin, Texas came to prominence during the early ’80s when the house band, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, recorded a series of highly regarded R&B blues albums. Around the same time, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the younger brother of T-Bird Jimmie Vaughan, broke out with his first recording. The name Antone’s kept showing up in articles, alerting blues lovers worldwide to the fact that Austin had a thriving scene. The club’s namesake, Clifford Antone, a larger than life character, was born in Port Arthur, Texas near the Louisiana border. As a teenager, he frequented the dancehalls of the La La state, becoming obsessed with music. Founding Antone’s in 1975, the first musician he booked was Clifton Chenier. This 2006 documentary, shot while Antone was alive — he died in May at the age of 56 after the film was completed — is a tribute to this influential impresario. He almost single-handedly kept the Chicago blues sound alive during the late ’70s. All the musicians interviewed for the film, including Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin and B.B. King, acknowledge Antone’s generosity and the respect he had for them. The film features lots of archival footage shot at Antone’s. It’s striking how many of the musicians are no longer alive, with the DVD providing rare insight into lesser-known artists such as Eddie Taylor, Luther Tucker and Jimmy Rogers. Antone proves an elusive subject and isn’t an articulate speaker. But in one poignant moment, he’s seen silently crying while watching 90-year-old Pinetop Perkins perform "How Long, How Long Blues.” Maybe no words are needed to reveal the soul of this remarkable man. (Koch)