The original Madison Nitty Gritty was established on October 3rd, 1968 by Madison TV personality Marsh Shapiro. The building was built in 1898 and served as a general store until the mid 1940s, when it was converted into Glen’n’Ann’s, a popular neighborhood bar until 1968. The early days of the Nitty Gritty were turbulent ones that reflected the social and political unrest of the Vietnam War era. In the late 60s and early 70s, the “Gritty” served as the informal headquarters for the campus subculture which led to many anti-Vietnam War protest demonstrations and marches. In fact, the 1970 bombing of Sterling Hall was planned by 4 anti-war activists within the walls of the Nitty Gritty. This event marked the pinnacle of the anti-war movement in Madison and a change in culture on the UW campus. During these years, the Nitty Gritty was a famous Midwest blues music venue, featuring live music 7 nights a week. The Gritty featured gigs by the likes of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Luther Allison, Bonnie Raitt, Charlie Musselwhite, Buddy Guy, and Cheap Trick. The Nitty Gritty was home to nearly all regional bands at that time. In 1970, Jefferson Airplane played a 4-hour jam with the Luther Allison Blues Band in what has become a legendary happening on the Madison music scene.
223 N. Frances St.
Madison, WI 53703