Antone’s Reopening on New Year’s Eve
Zydeco heir C.J. Chenier breaks in the stage
By Kevin Curtin,
10:43AM, Tue. Dec. 29, 2015
When Austin’s “Home of the Blues” originally opened in 1975, the first act gracing the stage wasn’t a pure bluesman – rather the Creole moanin’, accordion squeezing, “King of Zydeco” Clifton Chenier. In a beautifully full circle affair, Clifton’s son, C.J. Chenier, performs at Antone’s surprise soft opening this Thursday.
Forty years after Chenier and another “Cliff,” club owner Clifford Antone, first crossed paths, the legacies of both departed regional icons preserver through the next generation. For Antone, it’s a group of protégés, family, and brave businessmen – namely Will Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Spencer Wells, Alex Shoghi and Susan Antone – reopening his vaunted blues venue downtown at 305 E. Fifth after two years of inactivity. For Chenier, his music lives through son and former bandmate C.J. who now leads the Red-Hot Louisiana Band on accordion. The inaugural gig will aso feature an Antone's all-star band including Marcia Ball, Derek O'Brien, Denny Freeman, Lou Ann Barton, Eve Monsees, and Georgia Bramhall.
While the historic venue’s grand opening has yet to be announced, this exquisite sneak peek – presumably lined up by Antone’s new booker Zach Ernst – has been on the books for weeks, but the new club had to pass a building inspection this week before it was confirmed. In old-school fashion, tickets ($20) are only available at the Antone's box office (305 E. Fifth) on the same day as the show, beginning at 5pm.