"Antone's Home of the Blues" chronicles Clifford Antone and his legendary Antone's music club. For some thirty years Antone supported the blues with a single minded passion and zeal, treating blues legends like royalty and encouraging a generation of youngsters to carry the torch. Antone died a month before this film was released on DVD and one couldn't think of a more fitting epitaph. All of Antone's burning passion and love for the music is brought to life through amazing live performances, photographs and reminiscences all stitched together in this heartfelt tribute.
What made Antone's so special for blues lovers and especially musicians was Antone's absolute love and respect of the music which is so deep it's almost hard to put into words. As Antone himself states: "We never thought of ourselves as a club owner or promoter. We were blues fanatics period." Like car salesmen, club owners have a bad reputation but Antone ran his club less as a business and more as place to honor the music he loved; he overpaid the musicians, didn't bother with contracts and even helped with medical, bills, instruments and the like. He treated them with all the reverence and respect they should have got during their careers but never did. This was true not only of artists such as Jimmy Rogers, Otis Rush and Albert Collins but also of those unsung heroes like Eddie Taylor, Luther Tucker and Hubert Sumlin who were so influential yet were ripped off and marginalized most of their careers. As B.B. King related: "He was a guy that long before other people latched on to the blues ...he knew about them, supported them, promoted them. He did it all. So I think we that play the blues ...owe him alot."
The film is narrated by Clifford himself, Derek O'Brien, Angela Strehli, Kim Wilson and others intercut with interviews with Jimmie Vaughan, Willie Nelson, B.B. King as well as mixing in some priceless archival performance footage of Albert King, Muddy Waters, Albert Collins, Eddie Taylor, Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rogers, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many, many others. In addition to these legends, Austin itself was a hotbed of young talent boasting the Vaughn brothers and Kim Wilson among others, all who Antone actively encouraged. Antone brought these two groups together, a dream come true for these youngsters who got a chance to play with their idols. The whole atmosphere was like a family affair and the film is particularly good at illustrating this point. As Kim Wilson notes: "Muddy Waters took us in like family."
"Antone's Home of the Blues" evokes a magical atmosphere of stunning performances, mutual respect and one man's boundless passion for a music that too often was disrespected and marginalized. Antone loved the music and the musicians and they loved him. The bond between the two is perfectly illustrated at the film's end as we see Pinetop playing a gorgeous solo version of "How Long Blues" as Antone looks over his shoulder, his head in his hands, in tears. It's a moment that sums up his feeling for the blues, a feeling that was mutual and brought out the very best in the artists who gave it everything they had, night after night. After watching this film it's easy to agree with Joe Ely who said: "We thought it was the greatest place on earth."
- Jeff Harris for Bad Dog Blues
“The film…brings to life, through the magic of archival videotapes and photographs, such American music legends as Muddy Waters, Albert Collins, Clifton Chenier, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and others far too numerous to mention. Throw in a mix of interviews with such living legends as B. B. King, Jimmie Vaughan, Willie Nelson and ZZ Topp’s Billie Gibbons, intercut with Clifford and friends reminiscences over dinner and drinks, and “Antone’s: Home of the Blues” does a tremendous service by preserving precious Americana.”
— Merle Bertrand, Film Threat, March 15th, 2004
“Clifford Antone’s respect and love for blues artists and their music is so unique and special that it defies description…until this film. ‘Antone’s Home of the Blues’ captures the magic that is Antones, and the special relationship between Cliff Antone and the musicians who have become his life’s passion.”
— Dave Adelson, HITS Magazine, E! Entertainment Television
“This film chronicles the influence a name and a venue can have on an entire musical movement. With interviews from the likes of Jimmie Vaughan, Willie Nelson, and B.B. King…as well as archival performance footage of Albert King, Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughan, we get an intimate idea and vision of just how big a role Antone’s played in music history.”
— Brad Holbrook, Austin Chronicle, March 12th, 2004
‘Home of the Blues’ spotlights an institution that honored and helped sustain the careers of veteran bluesmen during one of the blues’ lowest commercial periods. Clifford Antone's commitment to the journeyman musician is reflected in the film’s focus on relatively unsung heroes such as Eddie Taylor, Luther Tucker, Jimmy Rogers and Sunnyland Slim. Antones’ alum Stevie Ray Vaughan will likely draw in the crowds, but the highlights are the exciting performances of his mentors, which are certain to create new fans.
— Scott Barretta, former editor Living Blues Magazine
Photo by Watt Casey
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