Record companies may come and go, but for blues label Blind Pig Records, the music just keeps getting better with time. VOA's Doug Levine reports on a new compilation that celebrates Blind Pig's 30th anniversary.
The 1970s weren't exactly the best of times for blues in the U.S. Disco was in full swing and rock "supergroups" were filling stadiums and arenas across the country. But, in the small university town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the blues were alive and well. That's where, in 1977, club owner Jerry Del Giudice and his friend Edward Chmelewski turned the Blind Pig Café into one of today's most prolific independent blues labels.
Blind Pig, now based in San Francisco, California, first garnered attention with recordings by blues masters Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton, Snooky Pryor, and Buddy Guy and Junior Wells.
The Buddy Guy and Junior Wells album Drinkin' TNT 'N' Smokin' Dynamite is one of Blind Pig's all-time best-selling releases, as well as albums by Magic Slim, Charlie Musselwhite, Elvin Bishop and the late Luther Allison.
But, there have been other groundbreaking titles by artists outside the realm of blues, including The Gospel Hummingbirds, Chubby Carrier, The Rounders and Reverend Billy C. Wirtz.
The so-called "deep fried and sanctified" piano man Reverend Billy C. Wirtz brings some comic relief and a keen sense of boogie-woogie blues into the Blind Pig fold. Wirtz displays his talent on "Jerry Rig" from his recent Blind Pig debut, Sermon From Bethlehem.
In addition to its 30th anniversary collection, featuring 33 acclaimed blues and American roots artists, Blind Pig Records has been celebrating all year with the Legendary Rhythm And Blues Revue Tour. Four of the label's top contemporary blues artists are featured on the tour, including Bay Area blues-rock guitarist Tommy Castro.