As far as the American Midwest goes, Chicago is the major center of music and entertainment. No one can argue that some of the most influential styles and artists of the contemporary American music are connected to Chicago. There was a time when Chicago was the place to be if you wanted to break in the industry. Actually, even today many aspiring musicians move homes to Chicago specifically for that purpose.

The Chicago Blues

The particular style of blues that had been developed in Chicago was notable for utilizing a broad spectrum of instruments such as electrically amplified guitar, drums, piano, bass guitar and sometimes the saxophone or harmonica. Many of the traits of the Chicago Blues actually influenced to a great extent the formation of another pretty important musical genre, e.g. rock and roll. The Chicago Blues uses a more extended palette of notes in comparison to the traditional six-note blues scale. We can go at a great length about the specifics of the Chicago Blues and why it is so important, but it would be to no avail. The best thing you can do is go and hear it performed live. One of the best occasions to do so would be annual Chicago Blues Festival, where you can hear some of the great names in the genre perform.

The Chicago Jazz

The specific form of jazz that is typical for Chicago was formed after 1917, when a great number of musicians came to the city from places such as New Orleans, bringing along the so called hot jazz (or Dixieland) styles. It was the favorite music of the Chicago gangsters, but in more recent years the jazz scene of Chicago continues to be just as vibrant and exciting as ever. The Chicago Jazz Festival, which has hosted performances by the likes of Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Ella Fitzgerald, Anthony Braxton and Von Freeman, continues to be one of the major events of the year in the city.

Other popular genres

The influence of the Chicago music scene extends beyond jazz and blues though. The Chicago soul, hard-rock, hip-hop, house, and gospel music scenes are equally vibrant and popular. Naturally, we cannot miss to mention classical music too. There are several pretty great orchestras that are working in the city at the present moment. Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Sinfonietta are all going to be worth your while, so next time there are tickets available to their concerts, you should not miss your chance to go out and hear them. We can guarantee you are not going to be disappointed.

Some notable names

It would not be possible to enumerate all the great musicians who have lived and worked in Chicago over the past century. Some of the most notable names however cannot be missed, such as:

  • Muddy Waters
  • Junior Wells
  • Howlin’ Wolf
  • Nat King Cole
  • Gene Ammons
  • Benny Goodman
  • Bud Freeman

And those are just the tip of the iceberg