Best Blues & Jazz in Chicago
A trip to Chicago without a night in a blues bar is like a deep-dish pizza without the cheese. Just plain wrong. With this in mind, we list some of our all-time favourite jive dives, from the city famous for creating its own brand of urban blues.
Blues nightclub Kingston Mines is Chicago’s oldest juke joint in the heart of Blues Alley. Catch regular gigs with a cover charge, plus a free Sunday night jam. Doc’s Kitchen dishes up Southern-style ribs, chicken wings and Louisiana catfish from 7.30pm, to soak up that sociable boozin’.
Family-owned and operated by an Italian immigrant passionate about old-school Chi-town blues, Rosa's Lounge hosts a broad church of styles, from trad legends to Chicago modernists and second-gen sons of the blues. A packed schedule of talents from L’il Ed Williams to Pete Galanis makes this a cult classic pitstop.
Billing itself as the world’s premier blues club, 1989-founded Buddy Guy's Legends hosts acoustic lunch and dinner sets followed by evening house band sessions and shows. Electric blues veteran Buddy Guy plays in January, and often props up the bar.
Foodies should beeline for Smoke Daddy, which hosts not only live jazz and blues acts nightly, but cleverly accompanies it with smokin’ hot, lip-smacking Southern-style BBQ fare.
Jazz more your vibe? Al Capone’s favourite hang Green Mill teams jazz – from trad to bebop, contempo and improv – with quaffable old-fashioned cocktails and Sunday poetry slams. Nice.
Kingston Mines / 2548 N Halsted St / +1 773 477 4646 / 7.30pm-4am Mon-Thu, 7pm-4am Fri, 7pm-5am Sat, 6pm-4am Sun / kingstonmines.com
Rosa's Lounge / 3420 W Armitage Ave / +1 773 342 0452 / 8pm-2am Tue, Thu-Fri, 8pm-1am Wed, 8pm-4am Sat / rosaslounge.com
Buddy Guy's Legends / 700 S Wabash Ave / +1 312 427 1190 / 5pm-2am Mon-Tue, 11am-2am Wed-Fri, noon-3am Sat, till 2am Sun / buddyguy.com
Smoke Daddy / 1804 W Division St / +1 73 772 6656 / 11am-11pm Mon-Thu, till midnight Fri, 10am-midnight Sat, till 11pm Sun / thesmokedaddy.comGreen Mill / 4802 N Broadway Ave / Uptown / +1 773 878 5552 / noon-4am Mon-Fri, noon-5am Sat, 11am-4am Sun / no res / greenmilljazz.com