The bar that every college town, by law, must have: Smoky, loud, sticky floor, and the local place for live rock music.
Regular schedule of local and big-name/small-venue bands, much more original music than cover bands. The usual beer & drink specials for a college rock bar. Downstairs is the The 8 Ball Saloon, quieter and with pool tables.
The Blind Pig was opened in 1972 when Tom Isaia and Jerry DelGiudice bought and renovated an old downtown building. They named it after the illegal after-hours gathering place the Detroit Police had raided a few years earlier, touching off the 1967 Race Riots. The facility was primarily a coffee shop at first, converting to a bar at night and serving relatively upscale drinks. Until the 1980s, the Blind Pig hosted almost exclusively nationally renowned blues acts to provide music, drawing an eclectic crowd from the surrounding area. DelGiudice started the still-operating Blind Pig Records recording label in 1975 to showcase music by many of the groups who performed regularly at the club.
Isaia and DelGiudice sold the venue in 1979 to Dave Whitmore, who in turn sold to Roy and Betty Goffett three years later. They doubled the club's space by renovating the rear portion of the building, opening the 8-Ball Saloon on the lower level and moving the stage to the more spacious top floor. The expansion made The Pig more conducive to crowd-heavy rock shows, and acts such as Joan Baez, Bo Diddley and George Thorogood. Nirvana credited the Blind Pig as their all-time favorite venue to play in an MTV interview.
Popular artists that have performed at the Blind Pig: 10,000 Maniacs, Everclear, Nirvana, No Doubt, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., The Rollins Band, Screaming Trees, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Soul Asylum, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and local acts like MC5 and Iggy Pop.
The Blind Pig started as probably A2s only straight blues club among the many other music bars in the area. The blues acts played downstairs in the kinda cramped, smokey basement. It had mostly long wood tables & benches, but there was also like a secluded, secretive concrete alcove on one side of the basement which was my favorite haunt when available drinking our Guinness drafts. My roommate & I first started going there in the early 70s as U of M students. We had attended the 1972 Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival which started us down the blues pathway. The resident bar band at the time were the Boogie Brothers & Sister Sarah Brown. The Boogie Brothers were John Nicholas on guitar, Steve Nardella on blues harp, Sarah Brown on bass & Fran Cristina on drums. Many times the Boogie Bros would back Boogie Woogie Red on piano. Red lived on the 2nd story of the Blind Pig. Many Chicago blues greats played the Blind Pig. Some that we saw there were Johnny Shines, Hound Dog Taylor & the Houserockers, Big Walter Horton etc. More information
- Wikipedia: Blind Pig (venue)
In the news
First built in 1901, the Blind Pig has gone through several changes in management and function over the years, taking its name from one of its shadier bygone purposes. “It used to be an illegal speakeasy during the Prohibition Era,” Wolfie said. “There’s a lot of history here. Hell, Jimi Hendrix played downstairs.”
- Advertisement, 1973; from the Wystan Stevens collection
- Blind Pig - Old Form New Concept, Ann Arbor Sun, October 27, 1972
Way back last spring Ann Arbor's only true Blind Pig opened its now infamous underground speakeasy to the boogiers of the community. The Blind Pig represents the old form with new content - wine and grogs, no super-firewater. Under the direction of rainbow owners Tom and Jerry (running buddies for years) began to realize its idea that it is necessary for people of our new community to come together around this old tradition in secure common clrcumstances - they concéntrate their energy on being comfortable together instead of being drunk.