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Antone's Home of the Blues

Koch Vision // Unrated // June 6, 2006
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Louis Howard | posted July 2, 2006 | E-mail the Author
Clifford Antone was born and raised on the southeastern tip of the Texas coast in Port Arthur,a city that is something of a crossroads between Louisiana and Houston, Texas. That fact has made Port Arthur something of a conglomerate for all manner of music- blues, soul, pop, jazz, rockabilly, rhythm and blues and more. When Clifford left Port Arthur for someplace better than the hard-scrabble town, he took the blues along with him, much in the manner that Janis Joplin did when she had left it. Winding up in Austin with a number of diverse musicians, he opened a blues club in a city renowned for country music. Thirty years later the club endures with Antone as the emcee, (as I understand it, he died before this DVD was released in the U.S.) introducing the acts with such words as "wonderful" and "legendary" to the clubgoers. His visions for the establishment were born of his passion for the old greats who were no longer given their due as artists, in spite of the fact that much current music can be traced directly back to them. Clifford made the effort to give them a venue with which to continue plying their trade, as well as a way for them to interact with the young lions coming up in their stead.

The idea took off. In Chicago the word got around about this little blues venue in Texas where the old and young lions rocked the joint and the owner treated everyone as if they were his favorite customer. The names that have been on his marquee over the years is a who's-who of music, and not confined to just the blues- Muddy Waters, Fats Domino, Sunnyland Slim, Jimmy Reed, Gatemouth Brown, Johnny Copeland, Albert Collins, Ray Charles, James Brown, B.B. King, Sam and Dave, Buddy Guy, Sue Foley, Kim Wilson, George Jones, Willie Nelson and Ray Price have all played Antone's Home Of The Blues. He's had The Fabulous Thunderbirds as his house band, and the stage has seen a young Stevie Ray Vaughn hold his own against the likes of Albert King.

An interesting 99 minute documentary, this film basically consists of scads of interviews, mostly given by blues legends that played at Antone's club, interspersed with lots of stage footage of the players doing their thing. Depending on what you're looking for when watching this disc, it works very well and it is a bit disappointing. In telling Clifford's story it succeeds with flying colors; reminiscences are plentiful. The music footage is super as well, but its likely to leave the viewer wishing for extended takes of the greats pkaying. Antone obviously had a vision to bring forth a venue in which his customers were truly entertained and treated like family, by way of both the acts he brought to his stage and the deference he paid to his patrons.

Its hard to believe so many greats didn't have work during those years, but in the anecdotes told here that was the case; blues performers like Eddie Taylor and John Lee Hooker were calling Antone looking to play his club rather than him having to seek them out. Its always fun to listen to guys like Taylor and B.B. King tell stories, and this documentary doesn't disappoint. Clifford himself has lots of stories to tell about the people who have played his club; the man's zeal for the blues genre is genuine and he is quick to praise these performers regardless of what fame they acquired. One gets the feeling that Anotone's club was a kind of blues summit meeting more than anything else, and the players were there because they loved both the man and the opportunity to be a part of that magic.

Video-

Presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen, the footage here for the most part looks super. Colors are vibrant, blacks are solid. The picture is sharp and clean. Great transfer on the whole. Where all the great performance footage from throughout the decades came from I have no idea, but it looks very good.

Audio-

Audio here is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Looking at this as more a documentary than a concert disc, the track compliments the subject well. Voices are clear and easy to understand and the music presented is quite listenable.

Extras-

Additional Insights From The Players- Pretty self explanatory. More footage is given here with B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Kim Wilson, Pinetop Perkins, Willie Smith, Calvin Jones and Hubert Sumlin, giving their own interpretations of the blues as well as telling stories such as long card games on the tour buses, their interactions with one another when playing the club, and how they came to play for Clifford. These pieces are fairly short, averaging a minute or so in length.

Final Thoughts-

If you like the blues, this is a fine little film with some great footage of the greats doing their thing on stage and paying homage to a man who made alot of great shows come together over the course of his life. My only wish is that there was more of it. Recommended.
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