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Playing For Pinetop: Blues Legend To Be Remembered Tonight At Antone's

Pinetop Perkins, who passed away yesterday, will be remembered by his colleagues tonight during a live performance at Antone's.
Photo by Jack O'Diamonds
Pinetop Perkins, who passed away yesterday, will be remembered by his colleagues tonight during a live performance at Antone's.

Legendary bluesman Pinetop Perkins, who passed away in Austin yesterday at the age of 97, will be remembered in a tribute concert tonight at Antone's. Perkins would often play Tuesday nights at Antone's before his death Monday of cardiac arrest, according to club owner Susan Antone.

"It's going to be the Blue Tuesday Band with Derek O'Brien, along with just a ton of guest players who will come in and do some guest songs, people who love Pinetop," Antone told KUT News, specifying that doors will open at 7 p.m. and music will begin at 7:30 p.m.

"Pinetop has always been such a generous person and such a humble person and such a funny person," Antone said. "If I had to say something all in all, his piano playing said a whole lot about Pinetop, and the fun and the glee that came out in his music."

Antone said there would be a modest cover charge for tonight's performance to help cover expenses of some of the players, whom she would not reveal specifically for fear of drawing audience members away from their shows later in the week. But she suggested it would be some well-known Austin musicians.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been made, Antone said, but she was expecting they would be made by Perkins' manager, Pat Morgan, who is flying in from Hawaii.  Antone said she is picking up Morgan this afternoon at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Pinetop was born in Belzoni, Mississippi in 1913 as Joseph William Perkins. He told the National Endowment for the Arts that he assumed the name Pinetop because he used to play Pinetop's Boogie Woogie, a song first recorded by Pinetop Smith, an influential blues pianist who died in 1929 at the age of 24.

Perkins was among the original Mississippi Delta bluesman and was already well-known when he first met Susan Antone and her husband in 1975. Perkins moved to Austin in 2003 and famously subsisted on a diet of McDonalds and cigarettes.

"He always called McDonald's 'McDaniel's'," Antone said.

KUT's David Brown filed this piece this morning telling us about Perkins' legacy.

The Associated Press has more background on Perkins in this obituary piece. You can hear Pinetop Perkins' live performance on KUT in 2007 here.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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