Maceo Parker's Cold Sweat

The sax man cometh (to Antone's)

Maceo Parker's Cold Sweat

Of the many illustrious friendships forged between musicians and the club known as Antone’s, few have been as powerful as the one between Maceo Parker and the late Clifford Antone. This isn’t one of those remember-when-on-Sixth-Street tales; Parker’s time on the internationally famous club’s stage came when it moved to the third location on Guadalupe, the one most regard as its golden era.

Certainly, Antone’s status as a blues palace was well-established by the time Parker and his horn arrived there in the 1980s, yet that location needed blood like his to imprint it. Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, Clifton Chenier – the names that graced the old Sixth Street location were all dead or would soon be. It was up to players like Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, and Maceo Parker to keep the flame burning. Parker grabbed the torch and fired it up.

From atop the bar, Maceo Parker would climb up with his mighty sax and blow like the four winds: cool, warm, hot, icy. He’d earned his style performing with James Brown, plucked fresh out of college along with his drummer brother Melvin to play with the legendary Famous Flames during the 1960s. That was the Godfather of Soul’s finest hour, traveling with a horn-powered revue capable of turning earth into funk and soul heaven. “Maceo! Blow your horn!” Brown would shout and blow Parker did. “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” "Cold Sweat.” “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud).” Look at the poster. The image says it all.

Clifford Antone adored Maceo Parker. One of those shows was guaranteed to have him glued to the side of the stage, not taking his eyes off the sax man. The two enjoyed each other’s company too, and Parker became a regular at the club, a tradition carried through to today.

Parker didn’t stop with Brown. His explosive sax punched up recordings by Parliament Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band as well as his own funked-up records, including his most recent, a double CD called Roots and Grooves. The first disc is a tribute to Ray Charles while the second is appropriately titled “Back to Funk.” The date of Parker’s Wednesday show at Antone's carries bittersweet meaning – it celebrates Clifford’s birthday.

I know what Clifford would say. “Maceo! Blow your horn!”

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More Maceo Parker
Night and Day With Maceo
Night and Day With Maceo
Still blowin'

Thomas Fawcett, Feb. 19, 2008

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