Hope Springs Eternal: The Line-Up

Here's an anniversary present for Clifford Antone he didn't get to see.

A few days ago, I was sitting in the back of Antone's Record Store with Susan Antone and longtime scene vet/store manager Al Ragle. A young UT student named Steven Palkot showed up and introduced himself, saying he was interested in writing about the Antone's legacy for a class and perhaps parlaying it into a piece for The Daily Texan.

It was, as Al, Susan, and I looked at each other in amazement, a hope-springs-eternal moment. There in the doorway, amid CDs from Zuzu Bollin, posters of Doug Sahm, and LPs by O.V. Wright, was the future: Someone young and fresh wanting to know, "Where did this all come from?"

It made me recall a summer afternoon in 1976, when I was 22 and the world was new. I'd gone downtown with Austin Sun music editor Bill Bentley to the Sixth Street Antone's on the pretext of some paper business, but really because I knew B.B. King was sound-checking.

I got shooed out, but wandered next door with Bentley to OK Records, where writer Joe Nick Patoski and guitarist Bill Campbell were jawing with owner Leon Eagleson. The high-ceilinged store had no air conditioning and was cooled only by fans, and we sat around on metal folding chairs with some Lone Star beers, whiling away the hot afternoon with Slim Harpo on the turntable.

Suddenly, B.B. King walked into the store with a smile as big and warm as the sun outside. He stopped and talked to us, signed my album, then rifled through some stacks of albums. B.B. was digging Slim Harpo, his head bobbing and his fingers miming the licks of "Tip On In" as he looked at titles. I stared unabashedly, thrilled to be in the golden glow of a genuine legend.

As quickly as he appeared, he was whisked out of the store. Steven Palkot, if you hang out at Antone's, I promise magic will happen. As Antone's celebrates 26 years of making memories, a batch of new ones is around the corner.

The celebration kicks off Friday, July 6 at 5pm with KGSR's 5:01 Blues, hosted by Jody Denberg. The evening's show (21 & up) starts at 8pm with Linda Freeman & Wine Wine Wine followed by Toni Price and R.L. Burnside.

Saturday 7 features a 6pm early show with Monte Montgomery and a late show with Jake Andrews opening for R.L. Burnside. Sunday 8 brings four relative newcomers to the Antone's stage in Damesviolet, Active Radio, Ultrasonic, and Los Lonely Boys.

Monday 9 has the We Three Kings tribute to B.B., Freddie, and Albert with scheduled guests including Denny Freeman, Carolyn Wonderland, David Murray, Paul Ray, Charles Reiser, Adam Temple, John McVey, and Derek O'Brien. Tuesday 10 brings a salute to John Mambo Treanor with an all-star Resentments revue and a rare appearance by the Vanguards; Guy Forsyth's wicked blues close the night.

Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 feature two great 6pm shows with a salute to Chicago by Pinetop Perkins, Big Bill Morganfield (see accompanying feature), Hubert Sumlin, Bob Margolin, Calvin Jones, and Willie "Big Eye" Smith, among others. Regulars La Tribu play Wednesday's late show, with Bob Schneider stepping in on Thursday (10pm both nights).

The closing weekend, Friday 13 and Saturday 14, features Sue Foley opening for Jimmie Vaughan and is likely to guest star a glittering array of Chicago bluesmen.

"There's magic in the blues," as Clifford Antone says. Total magic.

  • More of the Story

  • Those Magic Moments

    Clifford Antone reminisces from prison on 26 years in the blues business.

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