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Antone's: Home of The Blues DVD
Review by Rick Webb

"If the people 'aint dancing, you 'aint playing music"
- Clifford Antone

This is a well put together DVD charting the history of the famous Austin, Texas club which played an important part in the revival of interest in blues music in the 80s. It's a tribute movie to the owner, Clifford Antone, who's love for the blues led him to open a club and book musicians who were, at that time, being overlooked.

From the early days when the support of Sunnyland Slim gained Clifford the approval of the Chicago blues fraternity, through to the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Stevie Ray Vaughan and beyond, we have footage and fulsome praise of Clifford and the club from the likes of Jimmy Rogers, Pinetop Perkins, Eddie Taylor, B.B. King, Luther Tucker, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, James Cotton, Albert Collins and many others. Both Kim Wilson and Jimmie Vaughan talk extensively of their experiences playing with Muddy Waters and everybody else as part of the Antone's house band, and throughout Clifford speaks eloquently revealing his knowledge and deep passion for the music.

It's this that comes across most strongly in the end; that the motivation was always to give the musicians who played there the respect that they deserved and the opportunity to play at a time when opportunities were few.

It now seems to be common blues lore that America had forgotten about 'The Blues' until the British bands of the sixties started taking it back to them, but clearly this is not true. Just like nobody 'discovered' Son House and Muddy Waters in the 60s or R.L. Burnside in the 90s - they had always been there and there had been Americans playing and supporting blues music all along. Clifford Antone was one of them and, through his appreciation of the music and love for the musicians, he contributed to a worldwide revival of interest.

Clifford died last year and by all accounts Antone's is no longer the 'Home of The Blues' it once was but its influence remains, not least because of the musicians it nurtured. We seem to be living at a time when what constitutes blues music is changing as the originators of the current form fade away. Clifford presided at a time when they were still around and his great contribution was to cherish them.

The future of the blues may well be very different to what is documented here but what this film, and Clifford, reminds us is that what's important - the soul of the music - will remain.

 

www.antones-homeoftheblues.com