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Chicago's Top Jazz and Blues Clubs

Chicago has some of the best blues and jazz clubs in the north.
Saturday Night Confessions~Green Mill Cocktail Lounge/flickr/Viewminder/http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

The Great Migration of African Americans from the south to the north of the United States numbered in the millions from 1910-1930. Several of these immigrants settled in Chicago, Illinois bringing with them the jazz and blues music scene which continues to be popular today. The north drew African Americans still facing discrimination in the south who hoped for more opportunities up north where businesses were booming and needing workers. Originally, blues and jazz musicians, mostly coming from New Orleans, played on streets and in markets until they could gain enough popularity to be seen in clubs like Ruby Lee Gatewood's Tavern for blues or Green Mill Gardens for jazz. The music helped to integrate African Americans into American culture forever leaving their stamp on the city's nightlife and its people. Music greats such as Muddy Waters, Charlie Musselwhite, Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman, and Bud Freeman are just a few of the several talented musicians that started out in Chicago. Today, Chicago continues to play host to some of America's best jazz and blues musicians. The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge and Buddy Guy's Legends are two of the best clubs welcoming local and national talent nightly.


The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, once the Green Mill Gardens, was the hang out of Al Capone in the 1920s, and it still is open today. A lit up sign of gold and green advertising cocktails welcomes you into this classy night club. Jazzy tunes greet you as you walk into the dimly lit bar. The plush booth Al Capone once frequented is available to all and is a perfect spot to sit back and feel the rhythm of the smoky tunes coming from the stage. The owner, Dave Jemilo, has worked to maintain the authenticity of the location while welcoming a more contemporary respect of music and art with the internationally famous Uptown Poetry Slam occurring every Sunday. Dancers can often be observed enjoying the soulful sounds of musicians such as Von Freeman and Wilbur Campbell.


Buddy Guy's Legends is owned by its namesake, Buddy Guy, one of Chicago's best blues musicians. Every night is a line up of both national and local acts. You might even be lucky enough to catch Buddy Guy himself on stage. The Cajun home cooking will keep your stomach content as you bob your head to some smooth blues. Menu items such as southern fried okra and jumbo gumbo will take you right back to New Orleans. Wall memorabilia includes guitars signed by some of the greatest blues musicians such as Eric Clapton and BB King. You may have to pay a $20 fee to see main acts, but the entertainment is of large venue quality in an intimate setting that makes you feel V.I.P. special. The two bars have excellent beer on tap selections, and the club, in general, has a cozy feel about it that makes the musicians approachable to their audience. Musicians frequently interact with those enjoying their music at the front of the stage and are known to mingle at the bar after shows.


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