Antone’s Record Shop remains hallmark of Austin’s live music scene with rich history, lively community

Trisha Dasgupta, Senior Life&Arts Reporter

In 1975, after relishing in the beginnings of what promised to be a booming blues scene, Clifford Antone decided to open one of the first nightclubs on Sixth Street. 

Driven by his passion for blues, the now revered Austin icon uplifted musicians he loved, whether old blues legends or young artists new to the scene. Soon, the nightclub gained popularity and spurred the creation of the Antone’s Records label and eventually Antone’s Record Shop in 1987. 

Just a 10-minute walk from campus, Antone’s Records remains a staple in Austin’s music scene, withstanding the trials of a constantly evolving music industry, maintaining its rich history and staying true to its strong city ties. 

“There are people like Muddy Waters who have only been heard on record before and all these great blues legends who will come through town,” said Mike Buck, co-owner of Antone’s Record Shop. “We’ve had a lot of great people come here and perform at the store. There’s been a lot of good music come through here.”

Buck met Antone in 1975, two years before he started playing drums for The Fabulous Thunderbirds, the house band at Antone’s Nightclub during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. 

A decade later, Buck joined Antone as he opened Antone’s Record Shop in 1987. Working at the record store ever since, Buck became the owner in 2006 following Antone’s passing.

“I’ve worked during hard times and have gone on the road with different bands, but I always come back here,” Buck said. 

Buck’s former bandmate and longtime Austin musician Don Leady said he also shares a long-standing connection to the store, with Antone’s Record Shop being the sole distributor of his past six CD releases.  

“Seven years ago, I started putting up a bunch of records on my own, and Antone’s always supported me,” Leady said. “They’ve always been happy to help anybody that wants to do something over there. Everybody loves Antone’s.”

Antone’s Record Shop’s history and devotion to live music first drew co-owner and musician Eve Monsees. Monsees started working at the store as a teenager in the early 2000s. 

“One of the first times I played Antone’s, I was 15 and Clifford got us to sit in on the night with a guitar player named Hubert Sumlin, and we played with (influential blues musician) Howlin’ Wolf,” Monsees said. “As a kid, to me, the biggest thing you could ever do is play at Antone’s and be accepted in that group.”

Throughout the years, promoting Texas-made local blues stayed a top priority for the record store, Leady said.

“It’s my favorite record store in town because they put out more than just the commercial stuff,” Leady said. “There aren’t a lot of record stores that put out bluesy or Americana type of music.” 

Connected by a love for music, Monsees said the current community at Antone’s Record Shop keeps the store’s decadeslong passion for local artistry alive.

“Sharing that excitement with people about all kinds of music (is what makes Antone’s special),” Monsees said. “Because we’re so close to campus, we get a lot of students who are buying their first record player or buying their first record. It’s really exciting to share that moment … (and) share that passion with people.”