By Steve Knopper Chicago Tribune – Apr 22, 2022 at 5:45 am
Blues survives, always, in Chicago. Even after the darkest phases of the COVID-19 pandemic; clubs erected parking lot stages; reduced capacity; pivoted to virtual concerts; and raised funds through GoFundMe, PPP loans and government grants. And they continue to tap into the city’s mythological blues history — the 85-year-old guitar hero Buddy Guy, as ever, runs his Loop nightclub, Legends, and veterans from John Primer to Jimmy Burns are always on stage somewhere. Although B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted recently closed its bright-blue, rundown North Side building, the rest of the heavy-blues clubs are back to nearly full strength, if not seven nights a week, then Thursdays through Saturdays. Here are eight of the best places to check out the music locally, from blues-only fixtures to more eclectic newcomers.
Epiphany Center for the Arts (201 S. Ashland Ave.): This church-turned-arts-campus books live events on various stages to go with its art studios and gallery. Amid a lineup heavy on jazz, Friday is R&B-soul-blues night, starring headliners like former Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly bassist Bear Williams and swinging guitarist Breezy Rodio. They may not be the type of household blues names you’d find at Kingston Mines, but they’re presented in a luxurious setting in a 42,000-square-foot space. “This place is like a fortress,” says Linda Cain, managing editor and founder of the Chicago Blues Guide. “They have stained-glass interiors that are preserved like it was when it was a church.” More at 312-421-4600 or epiphanychi.com
About Epiphany Center for the Arts
Conceived with the vision to return Epiphany to a place for people to congregate, the shuttered, historic Church of the Epiphany has been preserved and adapted into the Epiphany Center for the Arts, an iconic cultural hub “For the Good of Art, Entertainment and Events.” Thoughtfully designed, the exemplary 42,000-square-foot campus located on the artsy edge of Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood boasts three distinct venues (Epiphany Hall, The Sanctuary and The Chase House) and a stunning array of amenities. The campus also features eight galleries that serve as a platform for a diverse selection of artists from Chicago and beyond. Epiphany’s exhibitions showcase the work of women, the LGBTQIA community, artists of color, and the disability culture. Epiphany’s top priority is to curate programming that is inclusive, while providing a place established artists can collaborate with emerging ones. Epiphany’s programming serves to unite community and artists alike while “Bringing Chicago Together.” Visit www.epiphanychi.com to learn more.