Chicago is famous for singing the blues, not in a bad way, though. The music genre got its start here during the Great Migration of African Americans from the south to big cities of the north like Chicago. Musicians often played on street corners or at the famed Maxwell Street Market, then would graduate to real stages at blues clubs, most of which were housed on the city's South Side. Now, the blues are still an important part of the city's culture, with clubs all over the city. Plus, Chicago's live music scene stretches to all neighborhoods and all types of music. Whether it's an up-and-coming local band or a Billboard pop star, a nightly piano man or a rotating roster of blues musicians, Chicago stages host them all. Find the right tune for day or night with our top picks for live music venues, concert halls and performance bars all around the city.
For HOB's Sunday Gospel Brunch, Grammy winning producer Kirk Franklin does the booking of local talent who belt out both traditional and contemporary. Fill up on an all-you-can-eat buffet of carving stations, Southern specialties and sweets. Feel free to join them onstage.
Tickets are only sold at the door for this River North blues mainstay, which makes it an easy last-minute destination. We suggest you grab dinner nearby first, as there's no food here, just drinks.
When Buddy Guy is in town, he typically hangs at his place, and every January, he graces the stage with a series of performances. If you've got some blues chops of your own, bring your instrument and sign up for the open mic on Mondays.
Besides the live music taking place on stage most nights, there are classic live music memories lining the walls. Check out local photographer Paul Natkin's photographs of some of music's greatest including David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and Prince.
Take this high-energy party atmosphere to the next level with an event for your group that lets you jump the line and includes all kinds of goodies. A simple table package for four people, in by 8 pm, comes with free cover.
Live jazz and lounge act nights at this eclectic performance venue generally take place Tuesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays, arrive early at 6:30 pm for a wine, beer or spirits tasting before the show.
While there are three tiers of tickets to the concert space, the room is small enough that all seating is great, but if you want to see Steve Earle or Don McLean or Wynonna (for example) as close as possible, go for the Premium Seating.
The downsides: No reservations, so be prepared to either get there early on a weekend night or wait for a table, and no credit cards. The upsides: No drink minimum, just a cover that's typically less than $15, and no strict dress code.
Drop into this intimate River North favorite any night of the week for an upbeat mix of pop, rock, jazz, honkey-tonk and blues. The drink menu includes more than 20 wines by the glass, and an impressive 30-plus single malt scotches.
This historic venue, founded in 1947, is famous for its nightly jazz sessions, but on Sundays, a 4 pm matinee gets under-21 crowd in on the music. It's free for children 12 and under.
Arrive early for happy hour specials of $3 featured drafts, $3 well cocktails and $3 sangria, then stay for the show. Just know that on-site tickets are only sold starting an hour before the scheduled show time.
Not only does this Lakeview mainstay offer a great live music venue separate from its bar and restaurant, but it also comes with a bit of history. The building is designated a Historic Landmark tied to its founding as a Schlitz corner tap in 1903.
Every Sunday night is open mic night at 7-10 pm, which invites anyone up on stage, amateur or otherwise. Stick around afterward to hear the pros up until 3:30 am.
During summer months, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs multiple concerts at the open-air pavilion of Ravinia, about 20 miles north of the city, with a Metra train stop at the park grounds. Pack a picnic and listen to the likes of Beethoven, Mozart and Wagner under the stars.