I’ve been away from Austin for nearly two weeks, but a big news item over the last few days has sent my mind racing right back there even as I sit at the bottom of France. Clifford Antone, founder and owner of blues club Antone’s, has died. He suffered a fatal heart attack a few days ago, at the age of 56. A staple of the Austin music community, Clifford Antone and his club are about as integral to why people call the town “The Live Music Capital of the World,” as anything else.
Antone’s is one of the only clubs that brought just about every genre of music, and music fan, under its roof. I’ve seen everyone from The Flatlanders to Prince Paul to the Old 97’s to Neil Finn to Asleep at the Wheel to The Scabs in that club at some point. It’s the place where I officially fell in love with the magic of SXSW parties, the year Universal Pictures hosted an after-party for our premiere of Ed TV, and the room was on fire with Elizabeth Hurley and Matthew McConaughey slow dancing, while Ron Howard and Woody Harrelson held court. It’s also the site of a legendary night when U2, who were in town for the Joshua Tree tour, hopped onstage to join the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughn (who was essentially discovered at that club).
Just three weeks ago, Jarren and I stopped in to Threadgill’s for some dessert, and we saw Clifford Antone having a meal. He was by himself, but only for about a minute. Within moments, restaurant staff and patrons stopped by to pay their respects and say hello to an Austin legend. It doesn’t get more Austin than Clifford Antone, and it doesn’t get much sadder than the day he passes.