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Emo's to give Antone's a hand with club operations

Patrick Caldwell

Legendary blues venue Antone's has partnered with Red River Street stalwart and punk rock club Emo's, according to an announcement Monday night from Emo's owner Frank Hendrix. Susan Antone, sister of club founder Clifford Antone and since the mid-1980s head of a board of directors that has ownership of the venue, will continue to serve as part owner and to book shows. Emo's management will take over daily operations, running the bar and assisting with booking.

"Emo's management is coming on to operate the bar and handle other operations so (Susan Antone) can spend more time booking and spending time with the customers, which is what she's very good at," Hendrix said. "Back during South by Southwest, Susan approached me and talked to me about trying to help her with the operating of the club. And we said we'd explore it, and it's taken months and months to finally come to an agreement. But Susan's not going anywhere. We're just going to fatten up the calendar and tighten up the operation."

Hendrix said Emo's general manager Jason Sabala and bar manager Bill Corsello will both be brought on board to assist with operations of Antone's, which celebrated its 35th anniversary last month. New Emo's booker Kevin Hoskins also will book some shows at Antone's; both venues use Austin's C3 Presents for national touring acts. Hendrix said that the financial specifics of the deal were still being hammered out, but that no money had changed hands as part of the arrangement so far.

"We're still working out all the fine details. It's a partnership going forward to try to make Antone's grow," said Hendrix, who bought Emo's in 2000. "Hopefully, we'll make some more money, and they'll make some more money, and that will be shared, but we haven't really worked any of that out. But going forward nothing huge is going to change."

Hendrix also denied that the arrangement was the result of any financial difficulties on the part of Antone's. He said instead that the arrangement was intended to lessen the stress on Susan Antone and allow her to focus on the aspects of the business she enjoys — including booking bands and dealing directly with patrons — as well as freeing her up to pursue creative endeavors. "For one person to do the whole deal that she's done is a tremendous responsibility," Hendrix said. Clifford Antone died in 2006.

As for the variety of acts that Hendrix and the Emo's team will bring to Antone's, Hendrix said the club's patrons can expect to see more indie rock bands, but he also hopes to keep the focus aimed on blues with an eye toward cultivating young talent.

"They've already had White Denim playing there, so we're going to bring in a few more indie rock acts," Hendrix said. "But we're going to focus mainly on promoting some more blues shows and also looking for some younger blues acts. But Antone's is always going to be the house of the blues here in Austin. That's not going to change."

pcaldwell@statesman.com; 912-2559