There’s a reason Chicago is known as home of the blues. On any night of the week there’s a club featuring live blues music. Some establishments feature it one day a week, others all seven. The point is if you come to Chicago and want to see live blues, you can. While some clubs feature local musicians, others feature artists making a stop in Chicago as part of their tours.
The amenities offered vary from location to location. Naturally bars in the city of Chicago will cost you more. The blood sucking politicians tax businesses to death. While they pad their pockets, the city and state go broke. Go figure. It’s usually worth it to venture outside the city limits.
Listed are the names of blues clubs and venues showing what they offer or lack.
Beer Geeks is located in Highland, Indiana and is a favorite of this writer. They feature Chicago blues on Tuesday nights. The same acts that perform in Chicago regularly can be found here too. As the name would indicate, they feature an assortment of micro brews. It’s a little over thirty miles from Chicago. It’s a great location for Southsiders and Northwest Indiana residents.
Harlem Avenue Lounge is another favorite located in Berwyn, Illinois just outside Chicago. They feature blues three nights a week. Tuesday’s are open mic, solo or acoustic shows. Friday and Saturday feature live Chicago blues bands.
Buddy Guy’s Legends in downtown Chicago is owned by the man who is the symbol of Chicago blues. His club always has top name talent. He even performs there every January. Sometimes some of his famous friends drop by to jam. It’s a must see spot for tourists.
Blue Chicago is located in the River North entertainment district. They’re between Ohio St. and Grand Ave. on Clark St. Their specialty is female blues singers. They have music seven nights a week.
B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted in the DePaul neighborhood features live blues 365 days a year, no exceptions. It’s a small cozy place that gets filled fast on weekends. You will know your neighbor at the next table by the end of the night. They offer the best of local Chicago blues. Admission to B.L.U.E.S. on Sunday also gets you into Kingston Mines. Kingston Mines is just down the block.
Rosa’s Lounge on Armitage Ave. is in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. They feature Chicago blues and very special guests passing through town. Regular performers include Sugar Blue and Melvin Taylor & the Slack Band. Some treats passing though have included Albert Castiglia and Joanne Taylor Shaw.
Kingston Mines is located across the street from B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted in the DePaul neighborhood. Two bands, on two stages says it all. They feature local Chicago blues every night of the week. One stage features the headliner while the second gives you an alternative.
House of Blues Back Porch Stage features blues nightly. It’s on the lower level of the venue. You can have dinner and see blues at the same time. Mostly local artists perform with an occasional out of town act like Walter Trout or Eric Sardinas. It’s also more affordable than the overpriced shows upstairs.
There are a number of other clubs that feature live blues as well as other types of music.
Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn, Illinois is just outside of Chicago. They feature a lot of Louisiana based music among other styles. Blues can be found occasionally. Check their calendar. Recent blues shows included Ronnie Baker Brooks and Tab Benoit. There is no seating available. Street parking is available.
Space in Evanston, Illinois has nightly entertainment and features plenty of blues. Upcoming shows include Shemekia Copeland, Sam Lay and Otis Taylor. Parking is available in a nearby parking lot. Reserving tables seems a bit costly though.
Smoke Daddy on Division St. in Chicago features solid blues performers along with country, swing, rock and jazz. Check their schedule. The groups perform on a small stage in the front window. Many of the shows are acoustic due to space. Division St. has become horrendous for parking now that the yuppie parking permits have taken over the street parking.
Viper Alley in Lincolnshire, Illinois had it going recently, but inexplicably stopped scheduling blues shows. Several fine shows were witnessed this past summer at this very comfortable establishment. Decent food is served. Free parking is available. There’s a hotel next door so you don’t have to drive home. There are multiple restaurants to choose from in the same strip mall.
Shaw’s Crab House Chicago features music Sunday through Thursday. Much of it is local Chicago blues. Shows begin at 7:00 p.m. Their food is excellent but pricey. Such acts that perform there include Mississippi Heat, Big Dog Mercer and Mathew Skoller.
Reggies Music Joint at 2105 S. State St. in Chicago has several blues shows coming in March. Jimmy Thackery, Devon Allman (Gregg’s son) and Pat Travers are all scheduled to play in March.
B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted
Top quality Chicago blues
Kingston Mines is located across the street
Difficult finding parking
Website doesn’t list cover charges
Low $5.00 cover charge for most shows
Free parking and plenty of it
Quality beer at reasonable prices
7:00 p.m. prompt start time
No food served
No mixed drinks or mass produced beer
It’s still a week night
Thirty miles from Chicago
Great art work
Top female Chicago blues singers
$10.00 cover charge
Expensive parking if you can find any
Buddy Guy’s Legends
Southern flavored food menu
You never know what friend of Buddy’s might show up
High $20.00 cover charge
Good luck getting a seat
Harlem Avenue Lounge
Low $6.00 cover on weekends
Limited free parking in lot, more across the street
They don’t gouge you on drinks
Bar seats if you get there early enough
No food served (next to White Castle)
Small parking lot
House of Blues Back Porch Stage
Low $10.00 cover charge in downtown Chicago
You can avoid cover charge by dining
Top local and occasional national touring acts
High parking costs and long waits after show
Excessively overpriced drinks
Solid Chicago blues talent
Two acts on two stages for one price
Beer bucket specials
Open late Sunday thru Friday
Barbeque and Cajun food menu
Across the street from B.L.U.E.S.
$15.00 cover charge a bit high, $12.00 during the week
Difficult to find parking
Top notch talent, both local and national acts
Host summer blues cruises
Owner is very active in operation of the club
Humboldt Park neighborhood
$15.00 cover charge is a bit high