The Blind Pig's New Lease on Life
The staff - and an anonymous investor - saved the faltering club.
by Antonio Cooper
From the December, 2017 issue
The Blind Pig's historic run nearly came to an end earlier this year. In February, the downtown nightclub officially went up for sale.
Founded in 1972 as a cafe and blues club, the Pig evolved into a rock-and-roll nightclub under the ownership of Roy Goffett, who added the 8 Ball Saloon downstairs. At Roy's death in 2001, it passed to his widow, Betty. In recent years it had seemed to drift, and few were surprised when the building went on the market.
The good news is that its sale was not the end of the club. "With the help of a local businessman, the staff rose up and bought the damn thing," says talent buyer Jason Berry. "I've been here for twenty years, our general manager has been here for twenty years; and we have four managers; each of them have been here for a decade. People know people, and we've considered that one of the keys to our success."
Berry, whose modest office consists of a desktop, a cabinet, and four dry erase boards, has developed his own scheduling system. "I book for four months out. Right now we're looking at February," he says, pointing to a host of names highlighted in red and green. "The red means the booking is good to go and ready; the green means it's one or two things missing before it's official."
Some observers see a turn for the better in the quality of the bands booked at the club, which have recently ranged from local favorites such as Chirp to hip-hop heavyweight Royce Da 5'9" and indie rocker Mitski. Berry says that's just a coincidence--"we just took advantage of our natural opportunities." But he sees "a lot of untapped potential. Over the past twenty years, me and the general manager have seen a lot of things [where they said to themselves], 'Like, wow, if we were to just tweak one or two things, then everything would have went that much better.'"
Coming back from being on the brink of going out of business, Berry insists that the only thing he can focus on is "who's getting the hottest stuff now." Staring at his laptop, he says, "Don't talk to me about last year. Who's that hot act now, and who's got it?"
The Blind Pig, 208 N. First St. 996-8555. Daily 3 p.m.-2 a.m. blindpigmusic.com
[Originally published in December, 2017.]
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