Antone’s, the club whose name is perhaps most synonymous with The Live Music Capital of the World moniker that Austin carries, is up for sale. Though its soul left the club long ago, when Clifford Antone left Austin for parts unknown.
Upon Clifford Antone’s death in 2006, former Austin Mayor Will Wynn conceded, “One of the primary reasons Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World is because of Clifford Antone.”
Still the club has lived on, indeed thrived, without the passion Antone brought as a mentor to young musicians and as a shaper of the Austin music scene. Current owner Frank Hendrix admits to lacking the interest “to give Antone’s the attention it deserves.” Driven by a music visionary since 1975, it’s not likely to land with another legendary owner.
Now located in a large box masquerading as a building on East Riverside Drive, Antone’s once occupied a grungy spot in our hearts at Fifth and Lavaca. And Antone’s had been located in three earlier downtown spots, too. Antone’s, it seems, was always on the move. Like the Austin music scene itself, Antone’s had a tradition of invention, never more obvious than when it was launching careers for Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Gary Clark Jr.; and hosting blues and roots legends like B.B. King, Fats Domino, Pinetop Perkins, Muddy Waters, Clifton Chenier, Delbert McClinton.
My photograph, Moody Blues, was captured at that last location at Fifth and Lavaca, at that perfect moment when the marquee, the club sign, the Frost tower background and the sky all collided in blue. And we hadn’t yet begun to sing the blues for Clifford. ♦
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