From tiny, dimly lit blues clubs to large and legendary jazz mainstays, Chicago is known for being home to some seriously passionate music makers. We’re a musical mecca with jazz roots, but whatever your beat—Indie, Rock, Hip Hop, Salsa or Soul—you’ll find it live in Chicago any night of the week. And what artist doesn’t dream of screaming “Hello, Chicago!”? Chances are your tour stops here.
Acoustic guitar and harmonica-based blues migrated from the Mississippi Delta up Highway 61, arriving officially in Chicago when Muddy Waters moved to the South Side in 1944. Catch these soulful sounds at legendary Chicago venues like Buddy Guy’s Legends, Kingston Mines and B.L.U.E.S.
Jazz greats Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong brought the sound of string base and fast-paced riffs when they were jiving in Chicago in the ‘50s and ‘60s. These celebrated artists made such an impact that the city would launch the Chicago Jazz Festival, one of the largest free jazz concerts in the world. Get your groove on at these classic Chicago clubs: The Green Mill Jazz Club, The Back Room and Andy’s Jazz Club.
Enjoy an unforgettable evening with the classics at the Symphony Center, home of the extraordinary Chicago Symphony Orchestra, or the famed Lyric Opera of Chicago at the Civic Opera House. And on select summer evenings you can soak in the soft sounds of the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus—the nation’s only free outdoor classical music series.
Take a seat or stand up and dance at a variety of venues as diverse as what’s playing at them. See some of the greats at the famed The Chicago Theatre or hip House of Blues; catch artists on the brink of stardom at Metro in Wrigleyville; rock out at Wicker Park’s Double Door where alternative bands turn up the base; get intimate at Schubas Tavern in Lakeview with a music hall in back of the tavern featuring indie, folk and country bands; and head to the historic Uptown theater district to hear big name bands jam on stage at the Aragon Ballroom and Riviera Theatre.
Chicago festivals have been known to draw a crowd. Rock out with music aficionados at Lollapalooza, the Blues Festival, Taste of Chicago, Pitchfork Music Festival, The Stars of Lyric Opera and many more throughout the summer. And find an eclectic mix of music discoveries set against the spectacular skyline at the popular Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz series and New Music Mondays series at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Live music, skyline views, picnic lunches/dinners and lake breezes — what’s not to love?