Blues music in Chicago is legendary. Born on the city's south side, the genre now thrives in many of the city's most popular neighborhoods and culminates each summer with the Chicago Blues Festival -- the largest free blues music festival in the world. Attracting 500,000 fans every summer, this year the festival takes place June 6 through 9 in Grant Park. If you can't make the festival though, there are still plenty of spots to get your rock on all year long.
Two of the city's local gems are in Lincoln Park, just down the street from one another. Kingston Mines is like a backyard barbeque with the comfort of an indoor setting. Ribs, strong drinks and, of course, two stages with live blues music seven nights a week have made this one of Chicago's most beloved places to catch the blues.
Like everything else in the area, Chicago's downtown blues clubs are the biggest and the fanciest. House of Blues, located just off the river, often gets forgotten when discussing blues clubs in Chicago. Sure, it hosts rock, rap, R&B and other concerts from big name artists but it's still the House of freaking Blues! In addition to offering a spicy southern-tinged menu the Back Porch Stage hosts live music nightly, a great deal of which lives up to the venue's name.
Less than a block north on Halsted St. lives another renowned blues club, adequately named B.L.U.E.S. It's not quite as fancy as Kingston Mines, but remember, bells and whistles don't make it authentic. It's all about the music. And, trust us, the music at B.L.U.E.S. is never a flop. The best part is that if you want to check both places out Kingston Mines and B.L.U.E.S. often offer dual cover charges -- getting you through the door at both spots for one price. Ask the doorman or check the bars' websites for more details.
West of Lincoln Park Rosa's Lounge has been bringing blues to the Logan Square neighborhood since the ‘80s. It's a family owned, friendly, laid back place -- not quite the tourist attraction that you'll find in other venues. It's the perfect neighborhood blues club for the true fan.
And, perhaps the most famous of them all, Buddy Guy's spot is a can't-miss if you're downtown and you've got the blues. He might be 76 year's own but Guy is still Spunky enough to own and perform at his namesake club Buddy Guy's Legends (700 S. Wabash). Sure he doesn't hit the stage as often as he did in his prime but that's no worry. There's still seven nights of talented, dare we say legendary, acts here a week.
Help us keep the lights on by subscribing to Chicago Like a Local. For your efforts, we'll deliver awesome stories (like this one) to your inbox. Do we have a deal?