Antone’s Nightclub Celebrates Its 48th Anniversary with Summer Concert Series
The iconic Austin establishment will honor the occasion with an impressive live music lineup
Antone’s Nightclub, Austin’s premiere blues venue, will celebrate 48 years of business this July 15. To commemorate Antone’s rich history, the legendary space will host a series of shows running from June 24 to July 28.
Attend a summer concert to hear the best blues, soul, swamp pop, rap and zydeco you can find in town. If you’d like to catch the entire series, a limited quantity of Super Tickets are available for purchase. One Super Ticket includes your name on the guest list for all anniversary shows, 5 drink tickets, 5 Cliffy Dogs and a commemorative screen print poster. Visit their calendar to see the full lineup of artists.
In the early 1970s, founder Clifford Antone opened a sandwich shop on Sixth Street. Antone quickly changed course, as his love for music and musicians eventually took charge and transformed the business into one of the most buzzing places to see live blues bands in the city. While rent increases and other challenges caused Antone’s Nightclub to switch locations a number of times, the establishment once again stands downtown on Fifth Street, just a few blocks away from it’s original standing. Clifford Antone’s passing in 2006 marked an immeasurable loss for the music community, but his legacy continues to live on today.
We spoke with General Manager Mallory Bellinger to discuss Antone’s Nightclub’s accomplishments, the anniversary festivities, and what’s to come.
Congratulations on 48 years! How does it feel for Antone’s to have made such a feat, especially now when Austin is changing so rapidly.
We realize the unique position that we’re in to be able to say, wow, 48 years and we’re still going forward. We feel very lucky and blessed to be in that position, whereas so many other venues and just favorite spots in Austin continue to get taken over by the growth and expansion that’s happening here. For us, we just keep doing what we’re doing and it feels like putting one foot in front of the other and yet at the same time it obviously has this huge weight to it. We recognize the importance of the role that we play for musicians and music goers as well to be able to say that they’ve been going to Antone’s since ’70s. That’s just so unique.
How will the anniversary concerts be different from your usual programming?
The big draw is that we bring in a ton of legacy acts and folks who’ve been playing the club for years and years. We also invite people that we’ve always wanted to play the club. For example, this year our opening night is going to be with Marcia Ball and Irma Thomas. Irma Thomas is known as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans.”
The lineup is intended to reflect Clifford’s dream lineup, and should reflect something that he might have booked when he was still living and still with us. It’s very special to our devoted following, what we call the OG Antone’s crowd, who have been coming there since the ’70s and ’80s and ’90s. We get to see these familiar faces, these beautiful people who have aged with grace and who remember all the good things about Austin and the way things were back in the day here. It brings back a really familial, warm environment and feels like an ever-present reminder of how important it’s to keep doing what we’re doing in the way that we’re doing it.
There have been so many moves in Antone’s history, and now it’s finally back downtown. How has returning to the area impacted the club?
It draws upon the nostalgia of being right back where things began. I do think that being in the heart of downtown, in the middle of hotels and convention center and all of that is a huge factor as to why we can continue to host blues music and remain successful at it. We have a crazy amount of foot traffic.
What keeps Antone’s going strong after all these years?
I think what makes Antone’s special is the soul of where it began with Clifford Antone. He was a friend to all artists. Because of that, he was able to get Muddy Waters to come hang out and be like a family member. BB King was one of his best friends. What Cliff did was so rooted in caring about these musicians and wanting to foster and showcase their talent. And because that is the heart of how Antone’s began, I really believe that that’s why there’s so much magic around the space and around the community that makes up Antone’s. That’s why people keep coming back. Antone’s really is more of a community than just a building or a geographical location on a map.
What are some plans for Antone’s future?
We’re working on a huge project right now which is the World Famous Antone’s Museum of the Blues. We’re hoping to open the museum in 2024. Clifford’s sisters Susan and Janelle are playing a major role. The two women were both super involved in the club back when it started and they’ve got so many special stories and photos. It’s a large undertaking in terms of gathering artifacts. We’re working with artist managers, family members and estates to be as thorough as possible.
Tickets to celebrate anniversary series are on sale now.