Port Arthur’s Museum of the Gulf Coast adds five to halls of fame
By Ken Stickney
Five men with Southeast Texas connections were voted for permanent inclusion into the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur on Thursday, including a musician; the owner of a legendary Texas blues club; an historian and preservationist; and two elite basketball players.
Museum director Tom Neal listed the five as:
- Clifford Antone, born in Port Arthur. Antone, who founded Antone’s blues club in Austin in 1975, developed a passion for the blues in Louisiana “juke joints” like Lou Ann’s and the Big Oaks Club, which eventually became models for his own club in Austin. He founded his own record label and his club hosted blues and R&B legends such as Muddy Waters, Marcia Ball, John Lee Hooker, Fats Domino, Buddy Guy and B.B. King.
- J. Chenier, born in Port Arthur. Chenier is the son of Grammy winner Clifton Chenier, the “King of Zydeco” and also a Music Hall of Fame member. C.J. played accordion and sang, eventually playing alongside his famous father. He has released numerous records, appeared at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival, played on Paul Simon’s “The Rhythm of the Saints” album, and appeared on Austin City Limits.
- William Seale, historian, author and preservationist. Born in Beaumont and a former Lamar University faculty members, Seale’s restoration projects include the state capitols of Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and include consultations on other capitols. He is the editor of White House History, the journal of the White House Historical Association; and has authored numerous books on the White House and other historic structures.
- Earl “The Pearl” Evans was a Parade All American at Abraham Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, played college ball at Southern California and UNLV, and played in the National Basketball Association during an injury-shortened career. Lincoln coach James Gamble called him “the best player I’ve ever coached.”
- Kendrick Perkins, professional basketball. The Nederland native and Ozen High graduate jumped from the prep ranks to the NBA in 2003. He played for the Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, and has played in shorter stints for three other NBA teams. Among his distinctions: He played on eight consecutive NBA teams that won division titles.
Neal said the five were voted upon by the Port Arthur Historical Society Board of Directors, chaired by W. Sam Monroe. It governs the inductions. Sixteen of the 20 members were present.
There are specific guidelines for inclusion into each hall, but, in general, guidelines for election include ties to the Gulf Coast and demonstrated bodies of work that show regional, statewide, national or international impact. “It’s not an arbitrary thing,” Neal said.
Antone and Chenier will be included in the museum’s Music Hall of Fame, Neal said. Seale will be inducted in the Notable People Hall of Fame and Evans and Perkins will be entered into the museum’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Neal said some 200 people with connections to Southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast have been voted into the museum since 1988. The first group preceded the Museum of the Gulf Coast itself.
That initial class was inducted into the Southeast Texas Music Exhibit, which was housed in the Gates Memorial Library at Lamar State College Port Arthur, during a 1988 “birthday bash” for the deceased Janis Joplin. The event was held at the Port Arthur Civic Center and “drew thousands,” including Joplin’s siblings, Neal said.
He said there may be as many as three separate induction ceremonies to accommodate the various schedules and situations of the inductees.