Where to hear great blues and jazz in Chicago

Music lovers crowd Chicago’s blues and jazz clubs where legendary figures as Von Freeman, Franz Jackson and Eddy Clearwater have played.

The city’s annual Chicago Blues Fest and Chicago Jazz Fest are popular events that take place during the summer. Past performers of the Blues Fest include Ray Charles, B.B. King, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor while the Jazz Fest shows off Chicago's vast jazz talent alongside national and international artists to encourage and educate a jazz audience of all ages.

Luckily one doesn’t need to wait for the free festivals to enjoy live music in Chicago. Many clubs offer nightly performances 365 days a year.

Green Mill is perfect for those who appreciate live jazz in a very cool, speakeasy atmosphere while Rosa's Lounge lets you enjoy live blues without the unnecessary pretentiousness of a club-like atmosphere.

Kingston Mines offers free or discounted cover to students, members of the military and seniors.

Chicago’s jazz and blues clubs are cozy, dimly lit and have soul. Don’t be surprised if you’re seated alongside one of Chicago’s greats who is enjoying the music on his or her day off or just after finishing their own set.

Established in 1989, this tiny venue is open 365 days a year, and Lonie Walker, who founded the place, still plays three nights a week. Live music is offered nightly to an incredibly eclectic group of patrons. Jazz and blues are the main focus,...  Read More

It's tiny, a bit dingy and crowded. In other words: the perfect place to see live blues. The walls are covered in history of blues and Chicago icons and small tables bring you up close and personal with others, one of whom might be a blues...  Read More

Lincoln Park

This spot's mantra ("Hear the music, drink booze and talk loud") is strictly enforced. With two stages and the only 4am-liquor license among Chicago's blues clubs, Kingston Mines is packed nightly. Local blues and jazz artists often stop by here...  Read More

From Dizzy Gillespie on down to Roy Hargove, jazz legends have been playing owner Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase since 1947. The club has moved multiple times over the decades but has settled in comfortably in this acoustically refined South Loop...  Read More

Attempts to appear seedy only partially veil this club's polished interior and yuppies and tourists often show up. The mellow blues joint offers jam sessions on Monday nights and local acts perform Sunday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday...  Read More

Andy's Jazz Club

Andy's Jazz Club originally opened in 1951 to entertain the pressman from the city's burgeoning newspaper industry at that time. Today the jazz club features local performers that cover a range of styles from traditional and swing to bop,...  Read More

Blue Chicago on Clark

Blue Chicago on Clark mainly showcases female vocalists who really know how to sing the blues. The mellow and soulful sounds that emanate from this spot are legendary. The room is small, long, dimly lit and tavernesque with a stage at one end....  Read More

Remember those places where the musicians just want to play to people who love to hear their music? Rosa's Lounge is that kind of place. No frills, just a classic joint to hear great live blues without the unnecessary pretentiousness of a...  Read More

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

Trendy folks and jazz aficionados regularly flock to this cool joint. Once a hangout of Al Capone, Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson, the place has tons of character. It was also a speakeasy during Prohibition, meaning that Green Mill retains a...  Read More

Blues Heaven Foundation
Photo courtesy of Photo by Jamie Bartosch

The former home of Chess Records studios, where some of the greatest blues music of all time was recorded, has now been converted into a small but interesting museum and live music venue. While concerts are often sporadic, there are free, live...  Read More


Meet Jamie Bartosch

Jamie Bartosch is a lifelong Chicagoan who thinks her hometown is the greatest city in the world. She is an award-winning newspaper reporter, a freelance travel writer, and the mother of two great kids.