Chicago has many well known blues clubs. In downtown Chicago there is Buddy Guy’s Legends. It’s known as the premier blues club in the world. In the River North area there’s Blue Chicago. They feature a lot of female blues singers. Head to the north side and there is the double blues attack of Kingston Mines and B.L.U.E.S. Rosa’s Lounge is on West Armitage. Just outside the city is Harlem Avenue Lounge near Harlem & Ogden Avenues in Berwyn. BERWYN!
One club that many people may not be familiar with is Nick’s Beer Garden at 1516 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the Wicker Park Neighborhood. They feature music on Friday and Saturday. Music starts at 10:00 p.m. Most of the live entertainment is blues with the exception of an occasional singer/song writer or jazz group. The best part is there is NO COVER CHARGE.
Some of the local blues artists listed include guitar extraordinaire Toronzo Cannon, Mississippi Heat, Linsey Alexander, Dave Specter, The Special 20s, Harp great Mathew Skoller and Smiley Tilmon. Some lesser known names, but equally as talented include RJ Mischo and His Red Hot Blues Band, Little Frank & The Premiers, The Mike Wheeler Band, Juli Blue and Brother John Kattke. An occasional out of towner like Minneapolis’ Ross Kleiner & The Thrill will be worked into the schedule. Check out this link for their schedule.
It’s interesting to note that Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater opened his Reservation Blues bar just down the street at 1566 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the early 2000s and wasn’t able to sustain it successfully. The difference here is that this is a neighborhood bar that has live entertainment; where as Eddy’s Reservation Blues was more focused on the entertainment and food. Nick’s everyday drink special is a shot and a PBR for $5.00. Nothing says local neighborhood watering hole more than that.
If one is like this writer, a good brew is important while watching the entertainment. They feature a decent amount of craft beer options that include Oskar Blues (appropriate), 3 Floyds, Bells, Lagunitas, Revolution and Half Acre. They also have non-craft beer options such as Pilsner Urquell, Stella Artois, Blue Moon, Guinness and Red Stripe. There is diet beer (lite) for people who really don’t like beer.
The only problem in this over populated area is parking. If one doesn’t live in the neighborhood, public transportation is available. The renovated L train station at Damen and Milwaukee is only a block away.
The daily bar hours are 4:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Saturday’s hours are 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Sunday is 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Come early and stay late.