I got your six

Blind Bob’s sixth anniversary weekend

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo:Good English will play Blind Bob’s Anniversary Weekend on Aug. 29; photo: Marley Hutchinson

In the six years since Blind Bob’s opened its doors, taking over the spot that for decades was occupied by the Nite Owl, thousands of bands have hit the stage. Hundreds of thousands of drinks have been imbibed, spilled or thrown at the stage by attendees so excited by a performer that they just can’t keep a drink in their hand.

Bob and Lisa Mendenhall, along with their son Nate, took an awfully big risk opening a restaurant-bar-music venue in 2008, a time when businesses were dropping like so many beer cans on a stage. But immediately, Blind Bob’s started booking packed-out shows, with the right lineup combinations of local acts to draw what would soon become a built-in crowd.

In no time, Bob’s developed a reputation as the venue for touring bands coming through Dayton to play, and, for a while at least, shows at other venues didn’t stand a chance. Bands knew any weekend show would have a huge, enthusiastic crowd, which would eagerly pay to get in, listen to the music and line up to buy merch after the show.

It is that reputation that has built Blind Bob’s into the almost iconic, monolithic Dayton venue it now is. It is a great place to hang out, enjoy live music and, for performers, is always a blast to play. And the food ain’t bad, either.

“Blind Bob’s has always been home for us as a band,” Nick Testa, frontman for the band Nightbeast, a popular act at the venue, said. “Blind Bob’s is the incubator for our party baby. From the beginning, it’s been a relationship I will always think fondly of. It’s the combination of a positive environment and fried mac and cheese that has prompted us to play there as often as we can. And the booze is cool. [The Mendenhalls] are great people who believe in our band and community that we’ve all built together. Without Blind Bob’s, this band doesn’t exist.”

Owners Bob and Lisa Mendenhall are common fixtures at shows, often enjoying dinner and drinks at a table in the back, where they watch the bands.

“We are both amazed at how much musical talent there is in Dayton,” Lisa Mendenhall told me. “That was a happy surprise, and we knew we wanted to contribute in any way possible to furthering the music. We’ve always tried to treat the musicians well, so they will make money playing at Bob’s and want to come back. We give great credit to our staff for making Bob’s the success it seems to have become. We certainly have done better than we ever expected and try to return as much as possible to the employees and community.”

Bar manager and son Nate Mendenhall, echoed his appreciation for the staff at Blind Bob’s.

“I’ve been real lucky,” he said. “Obviously, the most important thing is to have a good crew. I have so much of the same crew six years in I had on day one, and it’s amazing. I’ve been really lucky in booking, because I had Alex [Todd] and Brandon [Hawk]. I haven’t had to go through a lot of people, because, obviously, Bob’s greatest success is because of the shows. We owe a huge debt to both of those two.”

Naturally, six years of Blind Bob’s calls for a larger-than-life party to celebrate. Nate Mendenhall explained, “We throw an anniversary party every year, because it’s such an accomplishment. A year with your doors open, you know? And you look at the stats, and it’s like ‘A gazillion percent of businesses fail in their first 12 months.’ Two years? Alright, we’re getting there, not quite as big of a deal. Three years? At three years, you’re like ‘Oh man, we have seriously beat the odds here.’ Once you’re open three years, it’s more likely you’ll succeed than that you’ll fail. Five years? Fives are always important, just because they are. And, so, six years? You’re like ‘Aw shit, now this sounds stupid.’ You know, we always try to find some way of making these anniversaries a little more special as a party, whether it’s like live screen-printing or raffles or some way to just up the party. We throw so many great parties throughout the year.”

This year’s party will include two nights of bands. Friday, Aug. 29, Dayton favorites Nightbeast, Roley Yuma, Good English and Silent Lions will play to excited show-goers. The next night, Saturday, Aug. 30, Legbone, Brett Newski and Pop Goes the Evil will take the stage. There are certain to be special surprises in store for those who attend.

What will the next six years hold for Blind Bob’s and its regulars? Though the names of the bands that grace the venue will surely change, there is no doubt the future will be filled to bursting with great music, delicious food, friendly faces and of course, wonderful, fizzing cocktails for all who enter.

The Blind Bob’s Sixth Anniversary party weekend is Aug. 29 and 30 at 430 E. Fifth St. Friday, Aug. 29, Nightbeast, Roley Yuma, Good English and Silent Lions will perform. Saturday, Aug. 30, Legbone, Brett Newski and Pop Goes the Evil will play. Each night has a $5 cover at the door for patrons 21 and up. For more information, please visit blindbobs.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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