Chicago truly deserves credit for the evolution of jazz, blues, R&B and gospel music but when convention goers arrive in our town, few rarely experience the kind of authentic sounds and styles that propelled its true inventions. Most travelers are acutely aware of Chicago’s iconic personalities on television, like Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Mayor Daley and our sitting President Barack Obama as it relates to the personality and vibe of our great city. Without guidance and direction, only a marginal few will ever get to experience the longstanding legacy and vast range of artistry that has captured the interests of all cultures, religions, and ethnic groups -not only in America but around the world.
When convention attendees leave the conference floor to seek ideas for the best place for the biggest steak, freshest seafood or the most succulent burger, their next inquiry is always- where is the best place for live music? Because everybody loves great music especially when it’s performed live by musicians who have inherited the area’s native sound and rhythm. Not many other places on our planet can articulate America’s past, present and future than what we experience from the long list of talented musicians in Chicago. Few will ever argue that much of the great music we have heard over the past century was influenced by an ensemble of talented artists and music moguls originating out of the Windy City, far beyond the historic sounds of Motown, Philadelphia, Memphis or even Nashville.
As the proprietor of the Welcome Inn Manor bed and breakfast and host to convention visitors from around the world, it gives me great pleasure to share what I call off-the-beaten-path places for authentic music within 5-15 minutes of McCormick Convention Center, and only a few minutes from downtown Chicago- mostly located on the Near Southside of the city. What I love most are that these live music performances are almost always reasonably priced with great value and consistently authentic. These places are not always boastful, elaborate or big on fluff and glory- but always true to the curious imagination of true music lovers who want to really experience Chicago art – close up and very personal.
Live Music- Some of my favorites for live music on the Near Southside consist of a wide range of eclectic talent and really cool places worth exploring almost any day of the week. Mondays at the U of C Arts Incubator at 200 South Garfield has free jazz during the spring and summer months. The M Lounge at 1550 S Wabash hosts jazz and R&B every Tuesday and Wednesday nights with no cover charge. Close Up 2 Lounge at 400 South Clark Street is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays after 8pm with a $10 cover charge hosting jazz and R&B. On Thursday night after 8pm, the Brown Derby located at 5100 S. Prairie hosts a jazz jam session until midnight for a $5 cover charge. On Every Tuesday night starting at 9pm, there is a jazz jam session at the 50 Yard Line Lounge 300 E. 75th Street and its free. The Hyde Park Jazz Society hosts jazz every Sunday held at Room 43 located at 600 E 43rd Street starting at 7:30 and 9:30pm for only $10 cover including a jazz jam session from 9:30-midnight at its sister location at Norman’s Bistro. Reggie’s Music Joynt 2100 South State Street at hosts live Rock music with at least two bands five days a week usually with no cover charge and on occasion only $10. Perhaps the most expensive but well worth the investment at a cover charge of $20 , I am including Buddy Guys Legend located at 900 South Wabash because pure blues with an enormous range of blues styles and talents. Let’s also include the Jazz Showcase at $10-20 admissions, their close up and personal jazz venue is intimate and pure .
Again, these are just some of the great places- off the beaten path of conventional- to partake when visiting the great city of Chicago especially for those who love music!