Chicago Jazz and Blues Bars
10 Places That Swing

Muddy Waters. Buddy Guy. Howlin’ Wolf. The list of esteemed bluesmen who cut their teeth and fingerboards on Chicago’s South Side is nearly as long as the Lakefront Trail. Though it began as an offshoot of the booming New Orleans scene in the 1920s, Chicago’s jazz and blues scene carved out a niche of its own by adding electric guitars and an expanded palette of notes. Today, nearly a century after its rise, Chicago blues remains alive and well in venues from Uptown to Hyde Park.
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The Loop: Art Deco–Style Jazz Venue

The sounds of smooth jazz reverberate throughout this brick-lined lounge, causing the light bulbs hanging by wires above the bar to sway ever so slightly. Don’t close your eyes while listening to the soulful music—you might miss out on any number of tasteful art deco accents.

Logan Square: Family-Owned Blues Club

Founded by an Italian immigrant who came to Chicago in 1978, Rosa’s Lounge has since hosted legends such as Homesick James and Pinetop Perkins. Rolling Stone got it right when it called the family-owned club a “blues mecca for true believers.”

Lincoln Park: Chicago's Oldest Blues Bar

Open until the sun rises at 5 a.m. on Saturdays, Kingston Mines isn’t as dark as its name suggests. The mood is decidedly lighthearted during the club’s renowned open jam sessions, when musicians hop onstage to test their chops alongside professional performers.

South Loop: Electric Blues and Soul Food

A jacket that once belonged to Muddy Waters hangs from the wall in this electric blues joint and barbecue restaurant. Buddy Guy does one better than his fellow legend, showing up in the flesh to pull up a stool at the bar or pick at his guitar onstage.

River North: '50s-Era Jazz Club

Just two blocks west of the Magnificent Mile’s trendy designer stores, Andy’s Jazz Club can seem a bit out of step with its surroundings. A neighborhood cornerstone since 1951, Andy’s stays true to its roots with old-fashioned dirty martinis and live jazz every day of the week.

Dearborn Park: ‘40s-Era Jazz Club

This ‘40s-era venue has moved around Chicago a lot. Its travels have allowed it to stay in touch with the city’s music scene in the years since Dizzy Gillespie was a club attendee. In any event, the Showcase seems to be getting comfortable at its new location in the historic Dearborn Station building.

Grand Crossing: Juke Joint

There’s an auto wrecker just across the street, but that’s no matter. The warm crunch of tube amplifiers drowns out the crunch of cars being flattened outside this rocking juke joint, which evokes plenty of nostalgia for the 1970s.

North Center: Flamenco and Gypsy Jazz

Katerina’s is as much a cultural center as it is a jazz club and cocktail lounge. The calendar of live music reads like a roll call at the United Nations, with Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Japanese, and Greek music styles all represented.

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