Rod Raymond Gets Hogged During Homegrown Show
by Paul Whyte
Saturday, May 6 brought in the final night of the Homegrown Music Festival, ending off a fun filled week where local talent was featured throughout the Twin Ports. It’s not unheard of to have some lighthearted pranks happen during the festival, but tensions arose at the end of the night at the Blind Pig on Superior Street, which ended up in a confrontation between the establishment’s staff and a local band. The Duluth Police Department also responded to the rather interesting yet crude jab at business owner Rod Raymond after being called by the establishment’s staff.
The final act to play that night at Blind Pig was Chasm of Czar, an instrumental metal act. During their set a fair number of patches depicting owner, Rod Raymond, as an illustrated pig with the words “Filthy Pig” underneath the image were distributed at the show. Conor Glenn of Chasm of Czar explained that, “they were all over in different places at the bar, on tables and in the bathrooms. I saw at least 20 or 30 people wearing them. We were the last band of the night and we were all wearing them.” While the band said they were wearing the patches in “protest” to Raymond’s “lifestyle,” so far no one has taken responsibility for making or distributing the patches.
According to a person who was in attendance that night, the manager of the establishment had kicked Chasm of Czar out of the establishment while they were trying to get their music equipment out once the shows were over. They confronted the band, they confiscated some of the patches, and had called the police. “She was raving the whole time that their band was never going to play Homegrown again or any of Rod's venues.” When the police arrived, the person who saw the incident said, “they were talking to one of the band members and I think they were basically denying having involvement but then said, ‘but he is a f***ing pig so I totally support this!’ The cop was amused…The band punked out the venue they were playing.”
The band Chasm of Czar claims that they found the patches at the venue and went on to wear them while not directly involved in the stunt. The actual confrontation between them, staff and the police did not occur until they were trying to leave, “She (the Blind Pig Manager) said we had to leave, which is what we were doing anyways, but she kept locking the door while we still had gear inside and then she called the cops because we wouldn’t leave even though she had our property inside the venue. Cops showed up, confiscated a few more patches and then everyone went home,” said Glenn.
The establishment seems to believe that Chasm of Czar was directly involved, Media Relations person, Marissa Saurer stated, “The band Chasm of Czar decided to use Homegrown as a platform to protest Rod Raymond personally with some vulgar patches that portrayed Rod as a pig. This is not timely by any means, and is certainly not in the spirit of Homegrown. Unfortunately, our General Manager overreacted. JTA (Just Take Action) is all for free speech, but is saddened that a great Duluth cultural event would be used in such a negative way.”
By “timely,” Saurer is referring to past incidents where Raymond had been accused of sexual harassment while he was a fitness director at UMD. Raymond has not faced any formal complaints in over five years and some disciplinary action was taken by the university.
In recent months, Raymond has been called out on social media repeatedly, but Saturday’s incident put issues of sexual harassment back to the forefront with posts discussing both the recent matter at hand as well as Raymond’s past behavior.
In 2015, Raymond and business partner, Tim Nelson parted ways. Together they had owned Fitger’s Brewhouse, Burrito Union, Endion Station, and Tycoon’s which is now the Blind Pig under the company name Just Take Action. “I just want to go on record that I will do whatever I have to to protect my businesses and my deserving employees,” said Raymond. “In the spirit of Homegrown and positivity I'm hoping we can move forward and not hurt the craft businesses in the HArT (Historic Arts and Theatre) district that are already struggling to keep Duluth a vibrant music and arts rich community.” Raymond mentioned that he may seek legal council in dealing with the incident and the resulting backlash on social media.