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Storied Austin blues club Antone’s purchased

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Editor’s note: This article was originally published November 13, 2013

UPDATE: Statesman business reporter Shonda Novak has more details on the sale of Antone’s, including plans to move the club back downtown.


Austin Business Journal reported earlier today that storied Austin blues club Antone’s has been purchased. The venue has been taken over by a conglomerate of two companies referrring to themselves as Gin & Pentatonic and Blues Scalable.

Here’s the press release:

AUSTIN, TX—-Antone’s, the legendary Austin nightclub founded by Clifford Antone in 1975 that helped launch the career of Stevie Ray Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds among others, has agreed to terms of sale for an undisclosed sum. The new owners, two partnerships known as Gin & Pentatonic and Blues Scalable, are a team of investors led by well-known scientist and explorer Dr. Spencer Wells. Wells is backed by a group of seasoned entertainment, music and television professionals with deep ties to Austin.

“We’re doing this for the fans, the music lovers” said Wells upon announcement of a signed contract between parties. “Antone’s has always held a special place in the music history here in Austin and our aim is to keep that going. We believe in being good neighbors - good stewards of the brand - and look forward to many more years of bringing great music to Austin.”

Wells became aware of Antone’s availability for purchase from his brother Arnold, an Austin musician and photographer who has been a fixture on the local music scene for the past decade and who is part of the new team of owners.

“We met with Susan Antone several times in the past few weeks,” said Arnold Wells referring to the sister of founder and longtime owner Clifford Antone who passed away in 2006. “We look forward to working with her to preserve the club’s history and carve out a new path into the future.”

Gin & Pentatonic and Blues Scalable take over ownership from Frank Hendrix who bought the club in 2010.

In its long, storied history, Antone’s has welcomed some of the world’s greatest musicians to its stage, including Fats Domino, Buddy Guy, Bono and the Edge of U2, and John Lee Hooker. Texas greats (the late) Stevie Ray Vaughan, brother Jimmy Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Alejandro Escovedo, Band of Heathens and Carolyn Wonderland have also called the club home and used its stage as a springboard to national fame.

Current General Manager Jason Sabala will stay in place as day-to-day operations manager as well as all current employees. “Antone’s has a great staff and we want to keep it that way,” said Wells.

A list of the new owners and their bios are below:

SPENCER WELLS (photo) is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of ’56 Professor at Cornell University. He leads The Genographic Project, which is collecting and analyzing hundreds of thousands of DNA samples from people around the world in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the planet. Wells graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas at Austin, received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and conducted postdoctoral work at Stanford and Oxford. He has appeared in numerous documentary films and is the author of three books, The Journey of Man, Deep Ancestry and Pandora’s Seed. His fieldwork has taken him to more than 80 countries, where he has worked with everyone from heads of government and Fortune 500 corporations, to tribal chieftains eking out a precarious living in places as remote as Chad, Tajikistan and Papua New Guinea. He lives in Washington D.C. with his wife Pamela, a filmmaker.

PETER GRIESAR is a founding member and ex-keyboardist of the Dave Matthews Band and co-writer of the 1997 Grammy winning song “So Much To Say.” Besides music, Griesar has spent much of his time doing advocacy work for social causes, including ONE, the organization founded by U2’s Bono that advocates for African poverty issues. Griesar served as a producer for Nashville4Africa in 2009 and has traveled to Africa on education trips with artists Daughtry and actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. He was founder and general manager of the Satellite Ballroom, a college club in Charlottesville, Va. from 2001-2005.

PAMELA CARAGOL WELLS is a seasoned executive producer, director and show runner with a proven track record of creating highly successful, entertainment driven specials and series for the nation’s top TV networks. Graduating from George Washington University with a degree in journalism and broadcasting in 1985, she immediately began cutting her teeth in the world of non-fiction television. Soon after, Pam joined the prestigious Cronkite Ward Company. Between 2008 and 2010, Caragol Wells directed and wrote four one-hour specials for National Geographic Television’s award-winning Explorer series. NGT invited Pam to join their staff as Executive Producer in October 2010. Currently she is National Geographic Television’s Executive Producer on the Emmy-nominated hit series BRAIN GAMES and their new series called THE NUMBERS GAME.

ARNOLD WELLS is the brother of Spencer Wells and is a fixture in the Austin music scene. He is a talented blues-rock-funk guitarist who has played gigs on Sixth Street for many years, primarily with his band Liverdog. Over the past few years he has become better known as a music photographer, publishing his work in Austin 360, Rolling Stone, People, National Geographic Adventure, and Premier Guitar, among other places. He is represented by the WENN Photo Agency, and is perhaps best known for a photo of Johnny Depp taken at the Austin Film Festival that has become ubiquitous around the world. After graduating from Texas Tech University with an undergraduate degree in philosophy, he moved to Austin in 1997. Arnold has been a Stockbroker, Collection Agent, and Web Developer and was Web Administrator for the city of Round Rock for 10 years. He left the safety of municipal employment a couple of years ago to pursue photography full-time.

TAYLOE EMERY started his career as a Seattle-based music journalist for Rolling Stone and MTV before going on to serve as the Director of Creative Development for DATA (Debt, Trade, AIDS, Africa) and ONE, two organizations founded by U2’s Bono, and as a producer for the 2005 Live 8 concerts, before launching his own creative media group in 2009. That same year Emery brought the African Children’s Choir to Austin matching them up with artists Bob Schneider, Band of Heathens, Kacy Crowley and Carolyn Wonderland for a memorable night at The Parish before taking the choir to Tennessee as the Executive Producer of Nashville4Africa with Keith Urban, Faith Hill and Dierks Bentley. Tayloe has traveled extensively throughout Africa helping to lead educational and media trips for Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Tom Brady; and, also participated in the Festival au Desert in Timbuktu, Mali in 2010, the birthplace of the Blues. He now works as a producer and filmmaker living in Warsaw, Va. at his family’s ancestral home Mount Airy.

ERICK KELEMEN is a 1990 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with fond memories of many hours spent in Antone’s, when he ought to have been studying. He has taught medieval and early modern English literature and other topics at a handful of colleges and universities around the country, published a textbook about textual criticism with W. W. Norton in 2009, and is a founding editor of W. W. Norton’s blog about literature, “Fair Matter.” He now directs Fordham University’s Center for Teaching Excellence. Erick and Spencer attended the same middle school and high school as Buddy Holly and they spent many hours as teenagers trying to learn to play guitar.

DONOVAN WEBSTER is a journalist, author, screenwriter, and humanitarian with foundations to support his work in Africa and the Middle East. When not traveling, he lives with his very patient wife and family outside Charlottesville, VA.