Austin still has the blues for Clifford Antone

Austin still has the blues for Clifford Antone
September 4, 2009
Gibson Lifestyle

On November 12th Austin, Texas will once again honor legendary blues club owner, the late Clifford Antone, by hosting his namesake fundraising gala - Help Clifford Help Kids. The annual fundraiser benefits American YouthWorks, a program for at-risk youth in Central Texas. American YouthWorks’ mission is to build productive lives and better communities for disadvantaged young people by giving them an education and the life skills they need to turn their lives around and be successful.

Created in 2001 by Clifford, his sister Susan Antone and several of their civic-minded friends, Help Clifford Help Kids combines Clifford’s passion for music and his devotion to helping young people in need. As presenting sponsor of the gala, Gibson Guitar is providing a stunning Gibson BB King Lucille guitar customized with Clifford’s autograph on the pickguard. With Susan’s blessing, American Youthworks is offering the guitar for auction on eBay to a worldwide audience, with all proceeds benefitting Help Clifford Help Kids. The photograph featured on the auction site of Susan with this unique guitar was taken by renowned music photographer Gary Miller.

“What my brother did to help keep the blues alive is pretty well known by music fans worldwide,” Susan says. “I think it is fitting to have fans of the blues from all over the world bid on this amazing Gibson guitar that was Clifford’s favorite model. He’d like that.”

Clifford Antone founded the legendary Antone’s Night Club in 1975 at the early age of 25. He was revered for his unwavering support of both blues music and blues musicians. Antone dedicated his life to this passion and happily shared it with every blues legend, sideman, and struggling newcomer that walked through his door, providing the resources he had to help musicians survive and succeed. Clifford opened his heart and his stage to blues greats like Muddy Waters, BB King, Jimmy Reed , John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, James Cotton, Albert Collins, Koko Taylor, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Fats Domino, Pinetop Perkins, and Hubert Sumlin just to name a few. The Fabulous Thunderbirds, featuring Jimmie Vaughan and harmonica player Kim Wilson, became the first house band at the club. Clifford is also credited as being an early mentor for Jimmie Vaughan’s little brother Stevie Ray.

Antone was quoted by the Austin American-Statesman as saying, “When I finally heard the Chicago Blues, man, it was like I finally discovered what had been in my mind my whole life.” Today his sister Susan keeps the club thriving in the heart of Austin’s music scene, true to the traditions and beliefs her brother started almost 35 years ago. Clifford passed away in 2006 followed by a wake of sorrow from a city that recognized his role in making Austin’s moniker “Live Music Capital of the World” ring true. Earlier this year, Clifford Antone was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis, Tennessee.

The walls of Antone’s are full of memorabilia, photographs and sounds documenting the musical history for which the club is so well known. The spirit and rhythm of all the musicians who have visited Antone’s fills the club, and that’s what makes it what it is today.

Though thousands of great Gibson guitars have graced the Antone’s stage over the decades, very few if any have had the potential significance of accomplishing so much to further the dreams and legacy left behind by the great Clifford Antone.

“It’s such an honor to have Gibson Guitar’s support with this one-of-a -kind chance to continue Clifford’s dream of helping children,” Susan says. “I can’t think of a better tribute to my brother than to combine his love of Gibson guitars, music, and kids by putting this wonderful guitar into the hands of a fan of Clifford and the blues.”

To bid on this stunning Gibson BB King Lucille guitar customized with Clifford’s autograph on the pickguard, visit The auction will run from September 3 through September 30. For more information on Help Clifford Help Kids fundraising gala or American Youthworks, visit
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