At The Blind Pig, one of Ann Arbor’s most storied attractions for local and touring musicians to perform at, the aromas of beer, popcorn and hardwood floors instantly greet patrons at the door.
Visitors are engulfed in the Blind Pig’s fumes as they wander from wall to wall, inspecting the large collection of historical, music memorabilia on display – remnants of mythical past performances at the venue and bar on South First Street in downtown Ann Arbor.
As far as The Blind Pig’s staff is concerned, the ‘Pig is the epicenter of Ann Arbor’s burgeoning music scene.
Jared Angle The Washtenaw Voice
Jared Angle The Washtenaw Voice
“The Blind Pig is the only rock venue in Ann Arbor,” said a sound technician at many of The Blind Pig’s shows who would only be identified as Wolfie. “If you wanna hear rock music, you gotta come here.”
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.”
With prestige running high due to its historic concerts, the ‘Pig’s booking manager, Jason Berry, is well aware of his venue’s national reputation as the pull for big acts. Renowned Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli, is scheduled to pack the pub with his group Idle Warships on Oct. 28.
“Our name rings out to New York. We’re pretty big on the hip-hop touring circuit.” Berry said. “But the city itself is the biggest advantage.”
Enjoying the capture audience of Ann Arbor’s surrounding college campuses, Berry, like his technician, is firm in his belief of the Blind Pig’s musical monopoly on Ann Arbor.
“It’s the only place in Ann Arbor to bring big tours,” Berry said. “Many up-and-coming acts are taken here as a test by their agents to see if they got what it takes.”
The Blind Pig’s position as a stepping stone for new talent to break themselves in on a large scale is revered across Ann Arbor. When Nick Geil, a nuclear engineering major and the social chair of the Triangle Fraternity on U- M campus, decided to raise funds for Habitat for Humanities, he looked no further.
“Over the summer, I really took charge of the fundraising and decided to organize benefits of our own. Habitat is our nationally associated charity, so we want to raise money for them and hopefully get a build date,” Geil said. “We wanted to have a concert for our friends to play, and the Blind Pig is the place to go in Ann Arbor.”
Dubbed “Trianglepalooza” the concert featured five local bands ranging from funk to garage rock and ended the night with electronica DJ, Wakeless.
Drew Hill, 20, of Ypsilanti, felt honored to play on the same stage as many of his heroes.
“The MC5, the Stooges, those are some of my biggest influences,” Hill said. “The coolest part about it is that they’re from right here!”
Urging fellow Ann Arborites to enjoy the Blind Pig’s concerts as he has for more than 30 years, Dick Whaley, 52, host of Grey Matters on WCBN Ann Arbor, respects the diversity and sees the end result as being a vast multitude of quality concerts.
“Twenty days out of the month, you get really great bands coming through here,” Whaley said. “They keep an open mind and definitely see music as an expansive and intellectual art-form. It’s got character; you can’t beat that.”