• Chicago Skyline by Mike Warot

Discovering the Chicago Music Scene

Written by Ysmay.

Chicago Blues Festival by Matthew GingerChicago Blues Festival by Matthew Ginger

Much like Los Angeles and Austin, Chicago's music scene is diverse, bustling, and vibrant. You can find jazz in Chicago almost every night of the week, as Chicago singer/songwriter Anna Fermin says "Chicago is practically synonymous with the blues and jazz." But if blues and jazz don't appeal to you, don't fret. Anna tells us Chicago is also a town with deep indie-rock roots. Those roots that have led to the birth of groups like Smashing Pumpkins, Wilco, and Urge Overkill.

"The Chicago is music scene incredibly diverse and at any given night you will find a cross cultural mélange of genres from blues and rock to jazz and classical, hip-hop and R&B (and all the subgenres in between) being represented.  From tiny coffee houses to state of the art stadiums, music is a huge part of the cultural offerings in Chicago," says Anna.

Anna Fermin is a locally performing musician (for show details visit her website), but when she isn't releasing albums (her newest album "Someday Afternoon" is now available), fronting for the band Trigger Gospel or involved with the Care International charities, Anna focuses on her role as the co-owner of a community for art, music and fashion. We call it awesome, but Anna calls it The Fulton Street Collective.


Anna Fermin by Jason ShuckhartAnna Fermin by Jason Shuckhart

The Fulton Street Collective provides support and resources to Chicago's creatives in an incubator-like environment. They believe art and creativity are necessary to nurture the health of local and global communities.

Chicago seems to believe this too for the neighborhoods in Chicago are replete with live music. "There are certainly neighborhoods with a rich history of music, like the blues clubs of the south side as well as the rock and art scene of Wicker Park," says Anna.

"But with Chicago's cultural expanse, you are almost guaranteed to find a live musical happening in any neighborhood you stumble into.  You can head to Carol's Pub for country music or The Green Mill for jazz, both in uptown.  Or perhaps head to Lincoln Park and catch your favorite indie band at Schuba's or reggae at The Wild Hare."Someday Afternoon by Anna FerminSomeday Afternoon by Anna Fermin

For great rock, you can't beat some of Chicago's classic venues. "Chicago is also home to legendary rock clubs like The Metro and The Double Door as well as the highly revered Old Town School of Folk Music, which showcases acts from around the world in an array of genres."

The popular Metro has featured a number of well-known acts including Nirvana, Fall Out Boy, White Stripes, and the Ramones. Their website has a list of all upcoming shows. Tickets are generally $8 in advance.

Chicago's live music scene isn't like any other. But what is it that really makes it unique? Anna explains, "It's the rabid and extremely loyal fans of live music that truly set the Chicago music apart from others. Perhaps it's carried over from its sports teams."

If you prefer music festivals to clubs, Chicago is full of those too. Some of the best music festivals in the nation can be found in Chicago. "Aside from Über festivals like Lollapalooza and Pitchfork, there's a myriad of neighborhood festivals that grace the city with some of the best local and regional talent around," Anna shares. "Some of the more notable neighborhood fests include Wicker Park Fest, The Boulevard Bash: Logan Square Music Festival and Taste of Randolph Street."

Chicago has a great blues scene and has been known for this since the 1930s when Robert Johnson recorded "Sweet Home Chicago." The closer you are to downtown, the more "touristy" the clubs become. In Lincoln Park you can check out B.L.U.E.S. for a great show and in Logan Square pop on into Rosa's Lounge.

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