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A Guide to Chicago for Music Lovers

So, you're visiting Chicago, and you've already made the most important decision: you're visiting Chicago Music Exchange. While it's easy to spend a few hours (or an entire day) in our showroom, we are only open until 7pm, leaving your evening open for adventures.

Audio Archaeology

Audiophiles, it's imperative that you head North and visit Audio Archaeology while you're in town. Located on the border of Edgewater and Rogers Park, this storefront holds a modest selection of vinyl records and lots of cool vintage turntables and consoles.


Schubas is one of Chicago most loved small venues. Housed in an old Schlitz brewery, this bar showcases a diverse lineup of bands, from indie to jazz, live music nightly, and acoustic brunches on Sundays. A cozy room in the back houses performances, and the sound is phenomenal. 

Hungry before the show? Pop over to the adjoined Harmony Grill beforehand and enjoy a delicious meal.

Reckless Records

Reckless Records is nothing less than a Chicago staple. With three locations in the city (one location in particular brought to fame by High Fidelity), the record stores are no longer a small operation. They boast an awesome selection of local vinyl and an overwhelming inventory of LPs and 7-inches. If you're looking for something, you will find it. Bring all of your dollar bills and maybe even a small snack if you plan on browsing, you'll be there for a while.

The Hideout

The Hideout is warmly known as "Chicago's Most Loved Small Venue", and with good reason. The cozy 100 year old balloon-frame house (built in only two days) is different than most venues, and you can feel that the minute you walk through the doors. The Hideout hosts all kinds of music including alternative, indie, free jazz, country, punk, and post rock. The stage has been graced with every one from Jack White to Neko Case, Jeff Tweedy to Mavis Staples. It's a place where musicians come to play like it's their last night on earth. You can feel these are people who don't just want to make music, they HAVE to. It's in their bones. Whether you come for a night of music, art, poetry, or performance, you won't be disappointed.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

You don't have to be a classical musician to enjoy the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The CSO performs well over one hundred concerts each year at its downtown home, The Symphony Center and at the Ravinia Festival on Chicago’s North Shore. Make plans to see a live performance and experience the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a way not even their best-selling recordings can capture.

The Chicago Symphony Center on Michigan Avenue hosts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, classical, and jazz concerts.

The Green Mill

The Green Mill opened in 1907 as "Pop Morse's Roadhouse" and became known as The Green Mill only a few years afterwards. It's got quite the history, being one of Al Capone's favorite spots during the Prohibition, and now attracts many popular jazz and blues acts. Inside, it's comfortable and nostaligic, like stepping back in time, and you can always catch a good show.

Wondering how to get to the Green Mill? Simple. It's just a block West of the Lawrence Red Line stop.

Buddy Guy's Legends

Looking for some good ol' fashioned Chicago blues? Head on over to Buddy Guy's Legends. Buddy has been a pivotal part of the blues scene, influencing everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan. It is one of the last blues clubs left in Chicago and regularly hosts incredible musicians such as Eric Claption, Junior Wells, and Buddy himself. When he's in town, you can normally spot him at the bar.

And if you're hungry, Buddy Guy's Legends has a delicious menu of Louisiana-Style cajun food. Head on over to feed your soul with blues music…. and maybe a catfish po'boy with a side of jambalaya, too.

Music Festivals

If you want to do Chicago right, plan a trip around any of the wonderful music festivals happening here. Into Jazz? Come visit for the Chicago Jazz Fest. Into something with a bit more attitude? Head to town for Riot Fest, stay for the record stores and abundant cafes. There are so many music festivals that happen in Chicago, you could plan an extended summer vacation around them.

There's a reason Chicago is the third largest city in the United States. The city is known for the great blues musicians who call it home - Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, and Bo Diddley, to name a few -  along with an awesome roster of rockers like Wilco and Smashing Pumpkins (among others). Chicago is a city with a rich music community, and we're proud to be a part of it.

Alyssa Welch
Alyssa Welch