A massive crowd turned out at Zilker Park on Wednesday evening for KGSR’s first “Blues on the Green” of the season, a concert that celebrated both the series’ 25th anniversary and the 40th birthday of Austin blues institution Antone’s.
Jimmie Vaughan & the Tilt-a-Whirl Band headlined, joined in the latter part of their set by a “special guest” that turned out to be Steve Miller. He was a late replacement for the originally planned Gary Clark Jr. after the show moved from May 27 to June 3 in the wake of Memorial Day flooding.
The balmy night of blues drew Austinites of all ages to the stage on Zilker’s east end. KGSR’s Andy Langer said the station doesn’t offer crowd-size estimates, but a rough eyeball guess would put it at least in the 20,000 range, given that the audience stretched well back into the park’s midsection.
Vaughan and his band took the stage just past sundown and played into the night as a near-full moon began rising in the east. They were celebrating not just 40 years since the 1975 opening of the original Antone’s location downtown, but also the club’s impending return later this year to a new location at 305 E. Fifth St., after nearly two years absent from the local scene.
Many thousands were already on hand before sunset when the concert kicked off at 8 p.m. with a set by the Antone’s All-Stars, a first-rate cast of local blues players including guitarists Denny Freeman, Derek O’Brien and Eve Monsees, pianist Marcia Ball, bassist Sarah Brown and drummers George Rains and Mike Buck.
Three more Blues on the Green concerts are on tap this summer: June 24 with Shakey Graves and Riders on the Storm, July 22 with Bob Schneider and Walker Lukens, and Aug. 5 with Jamestown Revival and Max Frost.
Correction: The date of the Shakey Graves show was changed to reflect the proper date of Wednesday, June 24.