Cliff's Open Road


    UK Team


    Austin, TX


    Public Television: Season 3

  • ON DVD:


Antone’s and Antone’s Records

“It was the only thing I ever could do, is hear music. I couldn’t hear what was going on in school or anything ‘cause I had music in my head all my life.”


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blues, decisions, diversity, genuine, happiness, Louisiana, money, music, performing, prison, school, texas, try


Cliff Antone grew up in the Texas-Louisiana border town of Port Arthur listening to the greats of American soul and blues. Port Arthur is technically in Texas, but it was pure Louisiana Cajun, remembers Cliff; he grew up surrounded by blues and Zydeco (a Louisiana-specific blend of Cajun music and rhythm and blues). And when he headed to Austin for college, he took the blues with him. “It was the only thing I ever could do, is hear music, I couldn’t hear what was going on in school or anything ‘cause I had music in my head all my life,” he says. So with some friends, and without any money, he opened up a blues club in Austin. People just started coming and helping, he recalls. They’d offer up a walk-in cooler, electrical work, plumbing. “It was like magic; it just happened.” He was in his twenties, so when the old blues guys who hadn’t met him yet would come to town, they’d ask, “Where’s Mr. Antone?” “I’m Mr. Antone,” he’d answer. “Well, where’s your father?” they’d ask. “He lives in Port Arthur, why?” “Well who owns this?” “I do!” They would get a laugh out of it, he says, “but they took us in because they could see we were purists; we weren’t in it for business, we were in it for the blues.” But he cautions against taking his path. “I’ve been in a lot of trouble in my life,” he says. “There’s just no reason to have to go through anything that hard. But I didn’t see it when I was a kid; we just wanted to bring the blues, so we did anything we could.” Better to go to college, he says, and get as many degrees as you can and go into business and make a lot of money and then open a nightclub or join a band. But when you ask him, he’s not sorry he did it the way he did. “I’m so happy,” he reiterates, “but I’ve paid a huge price. I’ve chosen this road and I haven’t really made any money doing this, but I’ve made the best music in the world.”

Producer’s Note: Cliff Antone died a year after this interview, in 2006, at age 56.

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