George Jones
Antone's
March 28, 1979
11” x 17” (27.9cm x 43.18cm)

The second incarnation of the club was far removed from its Sixth St. crib not only in space, but to a degree, in character. By far it was the flavor of the music on stage that changed most, acquiring a new dimension. That dimension would be country. And it would have two distinct natures: one would be the touring greats of country’s golden age – Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Tanya Tucker and others. The other would be the post-cosmic cowboy group of flowering local talent – Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Joe Ely, and above all, Doug Sahm. This bill of course addresses the first group.

George Jones was very huge then; no one huger I suspect. Look closely, and you’ll see that the character of my work during this era shifts as well. Here I’ve taken a very conservative approach; practically no bordering, straight-forward graphic, and interesting but simple lettering. The only non-conformative in it are the marching “Antone’s”; absurdity, even that as benign and tepid as this, enhances communication. Beyond all that, I simply did a careful study of the man’s face. Since I couldn’t hear his voice, I focused on his eyes.

  

This was a poster redone. In 1980, George Jones dominated country music. The sheer mass of his talent had propelled him from the Orange Triangle in the ‘50s in an almost perfect arc to the top at this decade’s start. As happens quite often, the environment of live entertaining – in the wake of vast success - is often informed with torque and pressure, as well as the natural inclination to mitigate those effects -- as well as the means to do so. Antone’s had booked him earlier in the year, but George did not make it. “No-show Jones” was a moniker he wore sometimes in those days, and which in this case was true. However, he re-booked almost immediately and I set about changing the date on the artwork. This was among the first of the country greats that Clifford Antone booked, and as a longtime fan I was appreciative of the work. It was an incredible performance by a giant at the top of his form.               


Like Clifford Antone, George hailed from southeast Texas, but found his inspiration in classical country and western music that permeated the southern states as opposed to the Zydeco and blues that had moved Clifford so deeply. And Mr. Jones learned it well. Perhaps no other singer since Hank Williams had such a signature vocal sound. At the time of this performance, George’s career had already peaked and complications such as his marathon drinking and his divorce from Tammy Wynette earlier in the 70’s put a serious brake on his live performances as the decade drew to a close. Nevertheless, after a false start, the country legend showed up at the doors of Antone’s that wet and cold night.

       It was a memorable show, and marked the pinnacle of Clifford’s foray into country bookings that characterized the second incarnation of the club on Great Northern Boulevard. On time, on the mark and stark raving sober, George’s performance was magic. The vocals were velvet and a packed hall provided the acoustic resonance that was often missing when empty seats exposed the flat surfaces that often killed much of the music in the former furniture showroom.

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