In the summer of 1986 I was moving from Houston back to California and stopped in Austin to see Clifton Chenier and his Red Hot Louisiana Band at Antone's ("Remembering Clifton, the King of Zydeco," by Don Snowden, Dec. 20).
I hadn't heard a single song by Chenier and his band, but knew the name courtesy of Marcia Ball and Buckwheat Zydeco.
But what a show. He looked near 70 years old and just this side of death. He had to be helped on stage, and he took a seat and never said a word. You could see the pain on his face, but he still put in a healthy 30 minutes during each set.
He played the way most people breathe--no visible effort, it was just there. Red hot blues, R&B and zydeco filling up a smoked-out club for hours.