Port Arthur honors music-star natives Chenier, Antone
C.J. Chenier joined his father, the late “King of Zydeco” Clifton Chenier in the Museum of the Gulf Coast Halls of Fame on Thursday. So did their late friend and fellow Port Arthurian, Clifford Antone, the man who helped build status as the “Live Music Capital of the World.”
“I think between myself and Clifford Antone getting this honor, I’m pretty happy,” Chenier said with a smile.
The musical duo shared more than a hometown. Antone booked Chenier’s father as the first act when he opened his namesake club in Austin. Chenier later would play his second show there after he joined his father’s band.
“Clifford loved Port Arthur and he loved being from Port Arthur more than anything in the world,” said Janelle Antone, his younger sister.
The event began with a speech from museum director Tom Neal, who spoke of Antone’s many achievements and his impact of the world of blues. But he, too, highlighted the impact Port Arthur had on the music mogul.
“Antone said his love of the blues started right here,” Neil said.
Clips from the documentary “Antone’s Home of the Blues” were shown. It features such performers as Willie Nelson, B.B. King and Buddy Guy speaking on the club’s early days.
Antone family members accepted the honor on his behalf.
“I think this award would mean the most to him out of any, because it’s from Port Arthur,” Janelle Antone said.
When the spotlight turned to Chenier, Neil began by introducing the musical legacy from which he came, namely his father. He then went on to detail C.J.’s illustrious career, starting with his first show, in Bridge City.
“They call him the Crown Prince of Zydeco,” Neil said, as Chenier let out a laugh.
Neil went on to detail Chenier’s multiplatinum records and world tours before showing footage from throughout the years of Chenier playing his accordion and singing. Chenier then delighted the audience with a live performance.
“I’m humbled, I really am,” Chenier said. “Everybody wants to be known at home. It’s where you want to be recognized. I’m just happy that this happened.”