San Antonio club owner Blayne Tucker, a tireless live-music champion, has died

Tucker owned St. Mary's Strip staple The Mix and helped secure $15 billion in relief funds for music venues during the pandemic.

Local attorney and business owner Blayne Tucker was a shrewd behind-the-scenes advocate for San Antonio's music scene. - Courtesy Photo / Tucker Family
Courtesy Photo / Tucker Family
Local attorney and business owner Blayne Tucker was a shrewd behind-the-scenes advocate for San Antonio's music scene.
St. Mary's Strip club owner Blayne Tucker, a tireless champion for live music in San Antonio and across the country, died unexpectedly on Dec. 30. He was 43.

Although he started his professional career as an attorney, Tucker was best known as the co-owner of longtime north-of-downtown venue The Mix and for his tireless advocacy both for the Strip and independent music venues.

Tucker had high-profile claims to fame including touring the world as Austin-based blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr.'s road manager and helping the critically acclaimed artist land a deal with Warner Bros Records. Tucker also served as a partner in legendary country music venue Floore's Country Store.

Even so, he carried out much of his work behind the scenes — from lobbying for disaster relief for independently owned music venues to seeking legislation to stop overcharging by ticket resellers. Recently, he'd been working with others on a touring circuit to make indie music venues more competitive with Live Nation.

During the COVID crisis, Tucker emerged as a key advocate for the passage of the federal Save Our Stages act, which allowed indie venues to tap into $15 billion in Small Business Administration grants to survive pandemic shutdowns.

"This is the difference between extinction and survival for this industry," Tucker told the Current in 2020. "This is what we've been working for."

Tucker dealt with unlikely allies, including John Cornyn, Texas' senior GOP senator, to secure bipartisan support for the measure. He also conducted national interviews in support of the act, joining the voices of music luminaries including Willie Nelson, Alice Cooper and Billie Eilish.

"I'd say he walked pretty softly and carried a big stick," said Jeff Smith, owner of San Antonio's Saustex Records owner and a longtime music promoter. "I don't think any of that Save Our Stages stuff would have passed without his lobbying efforts."

Although Tucker was a lifelong music lover, the Clark High School grad's demeanor didn't exactly scream "St. Mary's Hipster." He favored cowboy hats and track pants over skinny jeans, and he delivered wry observations on life and the music business with an expansive Texas drawl.

Friends also remember Tucker as an avid gardener who showered them with tomatoes and other backyard bounty.

Over the years, Tucker made efforts to mediate between residents of the gentrifying neighborhood around the Strip and its bar owners. He both founded the St. Mary's Business Owners Association and served as a president of the Tobin Hill Neighborhood Association — organizations frequently at odds.

"After the shock of hearing about Blayne's death, it occurred to me that, man, we lost a big voice in the fight to protect the Strip," said Aaron Peña, owner of St. Mary's bar The Squeezebox. "Losing him has meant losing not just a friend but also an ally."

When Peña, then 28, opened his drinkery seven years ago, Tucker was among the first Strip business owners to welcome him, check on his needs and offer advice.

"He always had a communal approach to finding solutions," Peña said. "He kind of tried to look at things from every angle."

In recent interviews with the Current, Tucker said he was determined not to let heavy-handed noise and traffic enforcement damage already fragile businesses on the Strip. Many venues have experienced months of sales slumps due to the glacial pace of city construction projects.

"If the public doesn't wake up pretty quickly, they're essentially going to find themselves ostracized from the entertainment district they've enjoyed for 40 years," Tucker said.

Tucker's family plans to hold a remembrance on Saturday, February 11. Details are forthcoming. The family asked that in lieu of flowers, friends donate to the National Independent Venue Foundation or the San Antonio Food Bank.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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