A version of this article was originally published in the 2024 Chicago Visitors Guide.

Wayne Baker Brooks knows a thing or two about the blues — and Chicago. The famed blues-rock guitarist has graced the stages of the city’s most iconic blues venues during his more than 30-year career.

Wayne grew up in the city’s south side, living in Bronzeville, Englewood, and other neighborhoods. His father Lonnie Brooks was a Chicago blues master, and Wayne grew up with a front row seat to an iconic era in Chicago-style blues and watched his father play alongside talents like Koko Taylor, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and more.

Wayne Baker Brooks
Wayne Baker Brooks

“I remember being at Chicago Fest at Navy Pier, he was performing and doing his thing, the crowd was going crazy,” says Wayne. “That’s where my dad’s iconic version of ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ comes from. It was the first time I realized my dad was a superstar.”

As a teenager, Wayne started playing guitar with his father’s band and eventually went on to form his own group, the Wayne Baker Brooks Band. Today, Brooks is a music legend in his own right.

A Chicago Blues Hall of Famer and recent Chicago Music Award winner for Best Blues Entertainer, Brooks has shared a stage with some of the genre’s biggest names and toured the world with his band. But no matter where he’s playing, he’s still a Chicagoan at heart.

“I’m repping Chicago everywhere I go,” Wayne says. “This is where the greatest blues men and women live. Nowhere on earth do you have a concentration of great musicians in one spot like this, and that’s what makes the place unique.”

Here are just a few of Wayne Baker Brooks’ favorite places to play and hear blues music in Chicago.

Kingston Mines

Kingston Mines has been around for a long time. The music never stops. It’s two stages so you won’t be waiting for a break, you jump right straight in. People sit there all night long and listen.”

Kingston Mines
Kingston Mines

City Winery

City Winery is intimate, you’re up close and personal. They’ve got good wine and food, and top-notch acts. The staff is wonderful. The stage is really roomy, I can move around and act a fool up there and have a good time. Just a good vibe.” 

Buddy Guy’s Legends

Buddy Guy’s has always been a home to me. I played my first gig in Chicago here. It’s where I honed my craft and learned to be an entertainer.”

Buddy Guys

Reggie’s Rock Club

Reggie’s is a great venue and they try to do as much blues as possible. The sound system is amazing there, and the staff is amazing. They really take care of you, as an artist and a patron.”

Rosa’s Lounge

“I like Rosa’s a lot. It’s off the beaten path and an authentic family-owned blues joint. It’s always packed when you have a big name playing there because people love the joint.”

Chicago Blues Fest

Chicago Blues Fest is like the mecca of blues music. People flock to Chicago — not only local residents, but people from all over the world. I’ve performed in 45 different countries, and people around the world fantasize about coming to Chicago for Blues Fest.”

Chess Records

Chess Records is a piece of American music history — it’s also a Chicago landmark and you can sign up for a tour of the building. Hit records were being pumped out of this place. This is where people like Muddy Waters helped change the course of music. I think it’s important for people to know about their American music history. If you don’t water your roots, how do you expect the tree to go?”

Find more places to experience the city’s signature style of blues music in Chicago.