The label, currently headquartered in San Francisco with offices and warehouse in Chicago, got its start in the small basement club of a bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan called the Blind Pig Café. The bar derived its name from a Detroit-area slang term ("blind pig") denoting an after-hours illegal club or speakeasy.
In the 70's Ann Arbor was a hotbed of musical as well as political activity - the famous Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festivals were organized by the Rainbow Peoples Party, successor to the White Panther Party - and the Pig seemed to be in the middle of it all. A virtual Who's Who of blues and roots artists played the tiny Pig stage at one time or another - artists such as Otis Rush, Roosevelt Sykes, Bonnie Raitt, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Asleep At The Wheel, Jimmy Rogers, and Hound Dog Taylor, to name but a few.
Inspired by the incredible performances and the desire to share them with a larger audience, bar co-owner Jerry Del Giudice conceived of the idea of recording these artists. In 1977 he enlisted college friend Edward Chmelewski and they established Whole Hog Inc. and began releasing LPs under the Blind Pig Records imprint.
Though the label started by recording blues masters such as Horton, Sykes, and Johnny Shines, and went on to release recordings from blues icons such as Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, Luther Allison, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, James Cotton, and Hubert Sumlin, Blind Pig never sought to become strictly a traditional blues label. Over the years, the label has been responsible for establishing a younger generation of artists representing a more contemporary take on the genre - "blues-rock" if you will - Jimmy Thackery, Roy Rogers, Coco Montoya, and Tommy Castro.
The label has also released other types of American "source" music such as rockabilly, R&B, zydeco, soul, gospel, roadhouse rock, and Americana. Recently it's showcased the comeback of Fleetwood Mac legend Jeremy Spencer and pushed the roots envelope with newcomers The Rounders. This eclectic approach has garnered the label Grammy nominations in the fields of Blues, Gospel, and Country.
Blind Pig kicked off the celebration of its "pearl" anniversary this past fall with the release of the 30th Anniversary Collection, a set of two CDs and a bonus DVD that retails for the price of a single CD. Subtitled "Pearls From Swine," the set's 33 audio tracks and 6 video performances offer three hours of music and celebrate the distinguished label's three-tenths of a century as purveyors of the finest in blues and American roots music.
The label continued the celebration by co-sponsoring the just-concluded Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue Tour, which featured Blind Pig artists Tommy Castro, Deanna Bogart, as well as Magic Dick and Ronnie Baker Brooks.
Blind Pig's first CD releases for the year include Painkiller from perennial favorite Tommy Castro, Magic Touch, a modern/retro album from new discovery vocalist/harmonica player John Nemeth, and a refreshingly original Wish I Had You from a young alternative roots band called The Rounders.