Jack Ingram Headlines Blaine's 20th Anniversary on Friday
SAN ANGELO, TX — Jack Ingram has been thinking about Blaine Martin, the founder of the famous San Angelo live music venue, for a long time. Four years ago, he tweeted, “Who remembers the late, GREAT Blaine Martin from Blaine’s Pub in San Angelo?"
What followed was a string of comments from fans remembering and quoting the politically incorrect Martin.
“What’s the smartest thing to ever come out of a blonde’s mouth,” once said Blaine to three blondes, a Nashville record exec tweeted back. Or, “I’m not calling you fat. You’re not fat. Your friend is fat but you’re not,” Martin was purported to have said to a group of female patrons.
When talking about Blaine, we’re getting nostalgic about the late 1990s. It was a much simpler time back then. It wasn’t cool to become offended, and no one ever heard of “safe spaces,” either. It was a world where a larger-than-life figure, an old carney-turned-garbage collection entrepreneur, founded a bar in deserted old downtown San Angelo because Blaine didn’t find one to his liking anywhere else.
What followed was the downtown resurgence. Blaine showed the city you could get a crowd downtown with the right mix of service and a small stage where up-and-comers, passers-by, and down-and-outers performed music every weekend. Blaine’s rode the wave of the resurgence of Texas Country Music led by Pat Green out of Buddy Holly’s Lubbock. Pat Green played at Blaine’s, too.
If you’re from out of town, Blaine’s is a cross between Adair’s Saloon on Commerce Street in Dallas and the Dixie Chicken at Northgate in College Station. Except, it’s cleaner and more rowdy, and ladies may dance on the tables from time-to-time.
One of the artists moving up in the world of Texas Country Music back when Blaine’s was newer was Jack Ingram. His experience is now sealed in a historical song about the Blaine Martin days released in Ingram’s latest record. The song is titled, “Blaine's Ferris Wheel,” and it's about who Ingram calls 'The King of San Angelo.' He may deny it, but with Ingram’s spoken intro, the song harkens us to an older Texas music star, Robert Earl Keen, and his intro about meeting Willie Nelson at the old Texas Motor Speedway near College Station in “The Road Goes on Forever.” Except in Ingram’s piece, it’s messier, and more West Texas.
Watch "The King of San Angelo":
Ingram frames his story around Blaine’s penchant for outrageousness. There are the special packages from Mexico, getting multiple DWIs, and convincing a San Angelo judge to let him work off his punishment in a fundraiser to break the Guinness World Record for time riding a Ferris Wheel. All of these things are true because Ingram’s stories are backed up by fellow songwriters Drew Kennedy and Josh Grider. Mark David Manders, who was another early performer at Blaine’s, will back him up too.
In 2006 Blaine Martin sold the bar, and some folks say he had to do so because authorities were after him for having too many DWIs. He moved to Arlington to take a job, but then suddenly died in his sleep in 2009. The bar was owned by the family of Steve Brown out of Midland for about seven years until the current owner, Cody Sturm, took over in 2013. Katie Bollinger co-manages Blaine’s and books the bands, like she has done since starting there as a waitress in 2007. Throughout the years, the owners have tried to maintain the heritage that makes Blaine’s a special place and landmark in San Angelo.
Today, Blaine’s is more structured, but it can still get crazy inside there.
Watch Jack Ingram in "Love You":
This weekend, starting on Friday, a full band performance by Jack Ingram kicks off a special two-day party celebrating 20 years, just like the good ‘ol days. Except Ingram is a much bigger music star now. Way back then, Ingram could only hope to fill in when Merle Haggard’s concert rider didn’t allow him to perform if it rained the same day (Ingram tells that story too).
The party will officially start Friday when Jack Ingram takes the stage to tribute and remember Blaine’s Pub from what it was and now is. The show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets and tables were still available as of Tuesday. You can order them online at BlainesPub.com. On Saturday night, Blaine’s is also hosting a crawfish boil.