Few cities can lay claim to a blues heritage like that of Chicago. Generations of bluesmen have brought their music here – drawn by the allure of a big city stage and audiences hungry for that distinct sound pouring from guitars, harmonicas and gifted voices. Top blues clubs include:
- Buddy Guy's Legends (South Loop), owned by the legendary blues guitarist himself — a Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Famer who has won 6 Grammy® Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. His famed nightclub keeps the blues tradition alive on Chicago's South Side with local, national and international acts (you can catch Buddy when comes to play headlining shows each January). BASICS: Live music 7 days a week. Ages 21+ after 8pm. Tickets sold online and at the door. No reserved seating. Admission $10/20. Open late 2am (3am Saturdays). Full lunch and dinner menu.
- Kingston Mines (Lincoln Park), where for nearly 50 years, the two stages of this late night blues hangout have been a fixture on the city’s North Side. At the largest and oldest continuously-operating blues club in Chicago, get your fill of Southern-style fare from Doc’s Rib Joint while two alternating bands play non-stop. BASICS: Live music 7 days a week. All ages. Tickets sold online and at the door. Reservations accepted. Admission $6-15. Open late 4am (5am Saturdays). Full dinner menu.
- Blue Chicago (River North), located in the bustling nightlife district adjacent to The Magnificent Mile and downtown Loop, is a friendly music club and bar circa 1985 with a lively corner stage and well-priced drinks. BASICS: Live music 7 days a week. Ages 21+ only. No advance tickets or reservations. Admission $8/10. Open late 2am (3am Saturdays).
Fueled by passion and a large migration of African Americans from the South, Chicago became the home of a unique and influential form of jazz. Jazz greats Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong brought their sounds here. Some of the best places to hear jazz now are:
- Green Mill Jazz Club (Uptown), one the country’s longest continuously-running nightclubs still packs a crowd into the narrow space and serves up great drinks, history and jazz performances. Dating back to 1907, this former speakeasy has been a staple since the days of Al Capone and Prohibition and is always worth the trip from downtown. BASICS: Live music 7 days a week. Ages 21+ only. No advance tickets or reservations. Admission $4-$15. Open late 4am (5am Saturdays).
- Jazz Showcase (South Loop), which as Chicago’s oldest jazz club, has been presenting jazz since its inception in 1947. The highly-respected institution boasts 170 seats in its home at historic Dearborn Station and a stellar lineup of top local and visiting musicians. BASICS: Live music 7 nights a week. All ages. Tickets sold online and at the door. VIP seating available. Admission $10-30.
- Andy’s Jazz Club (River North), with a prime nightlife location just two blocks from The Magnificent Mile and downtown Loop. Make a table reservation for dinner or come early to secure seats, though the open space has views all around the stage. BASICS: Live music 7 nights a week. Ages 21+ after 7pm. No advance tickets. Reservations accepted. Admission $10/15. Full dinner menu.