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Chicago Blues

Sweet Home Chicago and Beyond: Music of the Windy City

With more than 250 live music venues and dozens of annual music festivals, Chicago is a music-lover’s paradise. Whether you enjoy seeing emerging artists at a late-night club or a gospel choir over Sunday brunch, Chicago’s diverse music scene offers something for fans of every genre.


Its rich history in the city has made “blues” almost synonymous with “Chicago”. Originating in the Mississippi Delta, blues moved north to the South Side of “Sweet Home Chicago” in the 1930s. Modest venues such as the Gatewood Tavern, Rhumboogie, El Grotto and the Du Drop Inn gained recognition with performances by blues legends Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Otis Spann and Muddy Waters. Waters was later joined by Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy and other southern bluesmen who set up shop in the ‘50s and ‘60s. In the ‘60s, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s “Born in Chicago” and KoKo Taylor’s “Wang Dang Doodle” earned national recognition.

Today’s blues performers remain very much a part of Chicago’s culture. Artists like Lynne Jordan, Chick Rogers, “Honeyboy” Edwards, Fernando Jones, Erwin Helfer, Corky Siegel and John Primer and The Real Deal Blues Band keep fresh talent on stages across the city. Buddy Guy has his own popular club, Buddy Guy’s Legends (754 S. Wabash). House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn), Blue Chicago (736 N. Clark) and Blue Chicago on Clark (536 N. Clark) are all downtown, while B.L.U.E.S. (2519 N. Halsted), Kingston Mines (2548 N. Halsted), Lee’s Unleaded Blues (7401 S. Chicago), The New Checkerboard Lounge (5201 S. Harper Ct.) and Rosa’s Lounge (3420 W. Armitage) offer nightly performances in the surrounding neighborhoods.

A must-see educational spot is Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation (2120 S. Michigan). The Foundation includes a blues archive and photo gallery and is located in the former Chess Records recording studio, which introduced the sounds of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Etta James, Buddy Guy, Aretha Franklin and Ramsey Lewis to the world.

The Chicago Office of Tourism recently launched its Chicago Blues Audio Tour. Narrated by Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy, over 50 minutes of conversation highlight the history of the blues and focus on how the city’s musical tradition forever changed popular music and American culture. The Chicago Blues Tour is free, available in five languages and can be downloaded at www.downloadchicagotours.com.

Chicago @dawn
Chicago @ dawn



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Source: Chicago CVB; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20100210
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