Chicago, capital of the blues

Chicago is a cultural city of the first importance. This bustling city is also the birthplace of blues music. It was here that the Chicago Blues was born.

Even today, Chicago is soaked in music. Blues, but also jazz (this is where the word jazz was invented), and in the 80s house music was born in Chicago at the Warehouse Club.

The capital of Illinois offers its residents and visitors numerous clubs and festivals all year round.

Jazz & blues neon in Chicago

Jazz & blues neon in Chicago

- © rawf8 / Shutterstock

Chicago, city of the blues

The blues, initiated by slaves in the Mississippi Delta, was born somewhere in the middle of the cotton fields in the southern United States.

After the First World War, during the Great Depression, many black workers came to look for work in the northern capitals, particularly Chicago. It was in the city's most disadvantaged southern neighbourhood that this music developed in the 1930s.

This is how the blues made its appearance in the metropolis. Here, traditional blues was complemented by additional instruments. In this sense, it was no longer a single musician who played, but a group. The music became more rhythmic and urban.

Musician playing guitar

Musician playing guitar

- © Joos / Shutterstock

Where to hear the blues in Chicago?

The city is home to a large number of places where you can listen to the blues while enjoying a drink. Here is our selection:

  • House Of Blues: this chain of bars can be found in several of the country's major cities. Chicago, of course, has its own address. Depending on your mood, you can take in a concert, eat out or why not combine it with a gospel brunch on a Sunday?

  • Kingston Mines: blues club in Lincoln Park. This club has been around since 1968 and is a must for Chicago nightlife. The place is often very popular and is open seven days a week.

  • Blue Chicago: another authentic address. Quality concerts with experienced musicians.

  • Green Mill: a renowned jazz club on Broadway Street in the heart of Chicago. As well as offering jazz and slam shows, the venue is famous for its former links with the local mafia and a certain Al Capone!

  • Buddy Guy's Legends: this club belongs to the famous blues musician Buddy Guy. The big names in blues regularly perform here.

The entrance to the House of Blues in Chicago

The entrance to the House of Blues in Chicago

- © Rolf_52 / Shutterstock

The many festivals dedicated to blues and jazz are not to be missed!

The Chicago Blues Festival is nothing less than the biggest free blues festival in the world! Blues music takes centre stage for 3 days in June.

The Chicago Blues Festival attracts an average of 500,000 people. Several stages are set up in Millennium Park. In all, more than fifty concerts liven up this corner of the city. Admission is free.

Chicago Jazz Festival, where you come to listen to jazz, sister music to the blues!

The festival takes place on the first weekend in September. It's also one of the most famous events in the country. This time it's devoted to jazz music, with a succession of international and local artists.

The festival takes place in Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center and other parts of the city. Admission is free.

Chicago Music Festival

Chicago Music Festival

- © Julien Hautcoeur / Shutterstock

Where to sleep in Chicago, not far from the clubs and entertainment?

The Chicago Downtown Autograph Collection hotel is ideally located, close to the famous House of Blues club. A perfect address for blues aficionados.

In addition to its ideal location, the standard of this 4-star hotel is very high. The hotel has a spa, a bar, a gym and private parking for a fee.

Chicago's most important shopping district, the Magnificent Mile, is just a few hundred metres from the hotel. In this temple of shopping, you will find many luxury boutiques and restaurants.

Chicago Downtown Hotel, Autograph Collection Chicago
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Chicago Downtown Hotel, Autograph Collection

Hotel close to all the city's attractions, including the famous House of Blues.
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The amphitheatre in Chicago's Millennium Park

The amphitheatre in Chicago's Millennium Park

- © Creative Family / Shutterstock

Practical information

👉 When to go to Chicago to listen to the blues?

You can come to Chicago all year round, but most of the entertainment takes place in spring and summer.

There's always an event, a concert, a lively music club in Chicago. However, it is during festivals that the atmosphere is at its height.

How do I get around downtown Chicago during the festivals?

The city has excellent public transport links, with an efficient metro and bus network. Frequencies are increased during the festivals.

If you're going to be out late, you'll want to take a taxi, which is also plentiful in this lively city.

The Chicago Transit Authority coordinates the bus and metro networks.

Where can I park in downtown Chicago during the festivals?

Coming by car is clearly not the best solution. Parking spaces are rare and expensive. You'll certainly have to use one of the underground car parks.

This is especially true during festivals, which attract a lot of visitors.

by Editorial Team
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